Monday, July 31, 2006

On the Road Again

All is well out here on the open highway. Ok, it's not like this is any sort of cross-country odyssey. In fact, Ottawa isn't particularly far away at all. Still, all is well. As hoped, it has been a good opportunity so far to visit with friends. I can only hope the rest of the time goes as well (I'm sure it will). Bon week to y'all.

Friday, July 28, 2006

How happy are you?

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Canada is the 10th happiest country in the world. At least according to a researcher at the University of Leicester. It does make for an interesting discussion piece. They seemed to find that health, wealth and education were the main areas of concern. But that doesn't mean that those with the most toys win. I was happy to see that Bhutan was 8th on the list. A country that is not necessarily the wealthiest is doing something (or many things) right. Money doesn't always buy happiness, I guess. Maybe it just rents it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Around and About with Follow-Up

After having missed some quality posting time due to a quick adventure to Peterborough, I am about to miss a bunch more. Tomorrow will see me head to Ottawa in the evening as the start of my holiday. I'm looking forward to the chance to see friends and family and to see some new places/people/things with good company. I trust I'll have plenty to blog about on my return (and definitely plenty of photos). I may even post something in the midst of it all. Stranger things.

In the meantime, is Wal-Mart's effort to "Green" itself likely to change the average consumer's approach to "being Green"? Discuss.

FOLLOW-UP: The Duffelupagus wins the un-prize for sharing the first thoughts on the matter. I just have to make mention of the concept of bias in the media for a moment. Everybody is biased. That is all. No, not really. It's to be expected that everybody will write with a bias (I know I certainly do). That being said, some media-consumers (don't kid yourself, you are a consumer of the media) don't recognize that bias applies to our sources of information and "news". Whether it is another take on the reasons behind the current terrible conflict in Lebanon and Israel or just the general daily decisions about what to say and what to leave out in the news, we must be savvy consumers. It seems that sometimes these memebers of the media try to paint themselves as being beyond reproach. Well, I would venture that the author of the Wal-Mart article I linked to chose to wear his allegiances on his sleeve. My feeling is that if you feel it important to use the term "left-wing elites" in an article, then you do not consider yourself a part of that group. Interesting way to share your beliefs. Staying with Wal-Mart, Chicago has joined Santa Fe and Albuquerque in New Mexico; San Francisco, California; and Washington in demanding that "big-box stores" pay their employees a living wage. Sounds interesting to me. Not such a bad idea, though as seems to have been done in the past, Wal-Mart appears ready to set-up shop right outside of city limits. So, this adds more to your discussion topic: Are self-directed corporate efforts more effective than government policy-making?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Still Here

I know it's been a little while since I wrote anything. Just wanted to let you know I'm still here. I headed back to Peterborough last week to visit some old haunts and spend some time at the camp I used to work at. If it taught me anything, that's that "real" jobs are for losers. I had a summer where I took time off from my "real" job to work at camp. Nothing like being paid to play. :) This doesn't mean I have retirement in my future, but it sure was nice to touch in to that experience and my memories of being there.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Living Conveniently

It wasn't all that long ago that I wrote about having had the great opportunity to see David Suzuki speak about his life. It's amazing how easy it is to fall back into one's old ways of living and thinking. Thankfully, I had another opportunity to shake my complacency. Tonight I saw An Inconvenient Truth.

Al Gore's lament for the state and future of the planet is easily dismissed (or at least weakened) by the perception amongst some that it is purely an exercise in political gamesmanship. I feel that such an approach doesn't give the film it's due. That, and the likelihood of Al running against his former running-mate's wife for the Democratic nomination seems about as good as getting George W. to fully endorse the film. It's a shame that Al's history (and potential future) stands in the way of people experiencing this film.

Sure, he falls victim to some over-simplification but he also manages to pretty starkly outline where we stand, where we've come from and what the possible outcomes of our continued life of convenience may be. It reminded me of the blissful ignorance that I have let envelop me from time to time. It reminded me how thankful I am to be currently making my way in the world at a career that (hopefully) has a greater likelihood of helping than hindering the state of the world and those on it. Most importantly it reminded me to be aware and not to default to taking the easy way.

As a start, see the movie or gather information in some other way. Consider some of the efforts that are recommended on the film's website. Join David Suzuki's Nature Challenge. Do something. Just don't do as we've always done: be outraged, then promptly forget about it (as I have done with Harper backing out of Kyoto and so many other things). What's the quote? "If we keep doing what we've always done, we'll keep getting what we've always got." That's not good enough. For us, and whoever comes next.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Let your fingers do the talking

I was considering this weekend the wonders that electronic communications provide. It is truly a marvel, the things that we can accomplish with the help of our phones, computers and the like. I can see images of my brother's experience in Europe, hear stories of friend's travels across one of the many "'Stans" of Central Asia and can talk with my grandmother who I don't get to see often enough. All great and wonderful things. That being said, this technology can also serve as an excuse not to connect more directly. This opportunity was not lost on corporations as the self-checkout at the grocery store and the ATM at the bank will attest. Suddenly we can avoid personal contact. Employers can avoid employing (as many as they would otherwise). More and more, technology seems to be about us doing more for ourselves. In and of itself, that's not such a bad thing. But, when it undermines our social interactions, I'm not so keen. I love that I can know all about the brand new addition to some friend's family (a baby, not a motorcycle) through their blog but saddened to a point that "catching-up" means reading through the archives rather than chatting over a nice cool drink on a patio. Mmmm, cool drink. Mmmm, patio.

P.S. The Kingston Buskers Rendezvous was this weekend. I posted some of my pics to my Flickr site. If you're in town, Ottawa's Buskerfest 2006 is on the first weekend of August.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ooga Chakka!

You've probably heard the original of "Hooked on a Feeling". It figures prominently in the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack. You have also probably experienced the joy of David Hasselhoff's acting in Baywatch or maybe even Knight Rider (Oh, those were the days). Well, this is your chance to experience the two together.

It also saves you from having to listen to something every time you load the page like the last time I included a video. Again, sorry Gramma, you won't get to see this. You might just consider yourself lucky. This is one of the strangest things I've seen in a while but I've been talking about it/showing it to people so much I thought it necessary to share it more broadly. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I don't know about where you are but summer here in Kingston is a fine thing. The weather has been nice. Warm, but not unbearable. Sunny but not drying us out. And having water down the street, an entire Great Lake at that, is not too bad. I even had my first drive on the 1000 Islands Parkway tonight (east of Kingston along the St. Lawrence River for those of you who are wondering what it is I'm talking about). Gotta love a nice road along the water. Made even better by the fact that it has a paved trail along beside it for 50 something kms. It almost makes me want to live in Gananoque or Brockville. Emphasis on the almost. Even there though, summer is good.

This weekend is the 18th annual Kingston Buskers Rendezvous. I'm glad it's a "Rendezvous". That's much better than a conference, get-together, or even a festival. My camera will be keeping me company this weekend. Did I mention I enjoy summer?

Monday, July 10, 2006


I find it patently impossible to believe that you have access to the internet to read this but don't already know that Italy won the World Cup. Working from that definitive, it is at least possible that you don't know that the retiring captain of the French side, Zinedene Zidane, head-butted an Italian player in the chest and was sent off in his last international game. What a shame. I wanted France to win because I wanted him to go out on top. The trusty fairytale ending, but sweatier and with soccer balls. Once he was out, I couldn't bring myself to care quite so much. I don't think there is any real justification for what happened but I cannot believe that he would do that without some provocation. Again, that is not an excuse but what on earth could have been said for him to react that way?! I've heard rumours that he was called a "terrorist". Again, no matter what is said on the field it cannot warrant such a response. But, if true, what has sport come to? Where is "Fair Play", the motto by which FIFA (who runs the World Cup) operates? Really, it is just a damn shame.

All that being said, I have previously mused about how our energy would be much better spent in many areas that are not related to sport. Now that the tournament is over, we can go back to focussing ourselves on truly pressing matters. There are plenty of them out there. Take your pick.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

What is that? -->

For those of you with Macromedia Flash Player, there has appeared a little slide show of sorts on the right side of the screen. Even though the link to my Flickr page is first on the list of links, sometimes it slips by unnoticed. Nothing like a little visual reminder. The slide show is of actual photos in my collection. I hope you enjoy. If not, keep it to yourself. ;)

Friday, July 07, 2006

You're not cool

How good are you at hearing things you don't want to hear? I bet your first reaction to the title of this post was to say: "he's an idiot and doesn't know what he's talking about". Sounds to me like thou doth protest too much, even if you may be right. ;) It's all fine and dandy when it's something stupid like that which usually comes from my mouth. How about when you and your significant other "need to talk"? Nobody wants to hear that, though in that situation they may be more inclined to resign themselves to whatever is coming, even if that means reacting explosively.

What then when they are things that effect the world in a much more tangible way (understanding that relationship-related stuff feels like it effects your whole world)? In my experience, the most common reaction is to get defensive. To close your ears to what you are hearing. Believe it or not, this came up in a conversation over a relaxed outdoor dinner. Donating blood (as a subject of conversation) moved to donating organs to organ harvesting particularly as it relates to Falun Gong/Dafa followers in China. A report by two "prominent Canadian lawyers" was released this week about the (alleged) practice of harvesting some 40,000+ organs for transplant from unwilling Falun Gong/Dafa followers leading to their deaths. Who wants to hear that? Really? Nobody. But there are those that don't want to hear it such that they will automatically denounce it (ie. get defensive). Others are likely "only" to be sickened by the thought. I'd personally like to be amongst the latter group. I want my mind to be open. I like to think that's why I often play the "devil's advocate" coming back with a "yes, but what about...?" That could just be me candy-coating my unwillingness to hear and believe something. Avoiding the knee-jerk response to those things is still something I need to work on. Maybe, just maybe, we'll all work on it and become a little more understanding in the process.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Deutschland v. Italia

0 - 2.

Most of you probably know that Saturday, July 1 was Canada Day. I spent the day in Ottawa. Just like with Pride Weekend in Toronto, everyone should experience it. Canada Day in downtown Ottawa is worth experiencing, especially during the day, before the drunkeness takes over. Just be prepared for more red and white and less three-way kissing (at Canada Day, that is).

For those of you who thought you were really smart knowing that July 1 was Canada Day, I bet you don't know what Sweden's National Day is. I didn't even know until this year, and I still managed to get it wrong (damn multi-cultural calendar!). From now on you will know that June 6 is Sweden's National Day. Go on, impress your Swedish friends, or at least eat some Swedish Berries. Mmmmm, Swedish Berries.

Speaking of National Holidays, today, July 4, is Independance Day in the US and if you want to celebrate with the Soca Warriors, Trinidad & Tobago celebrate their Independance Day on August 31.