Thursday, March 30, 2006

Good, But...What Took You So Long??

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency turns to renewable power. I can't help but respond with sarcastic applause. Full press release here.

(Washington, D.C. - March 23, 2006) In a case of practicing what they preach, today EPA announced 100 percent of its power consumption at its Washington, D.C. headquarters will be supplied by green, renewable power. In addition, the vast majority of energy at over 30 regional and laboratory facilities will come from sustainable sources.

"America's energy supply tomorrow requires action today," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "For 35 years, EPA has been greening our nation's landscape. By committing to alternative, renewable power sources, the agency is meeting the President's call to green our nation's energy."

EPA has contracted to purchase nearly 260 million kilowatt hours of green power each year for 10 of the agency's offices and 21 laboratories, which places the agency among the top three green-power consumers in the country. Only the U.S. Air Force and Whole Foods Markets buy more green power.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Maybe Another Day...

Westboro Beach, Ottawa -

Saturday, June 17, 2006

We are proud to host the second annual Ottawa Riverkeeper Triathlon. The Riverkeeper is the first outdoor triathlon of the Eastern Ontario season and it is right in downtown Ottawa on the shores of the Ottawa River. This early season outdoor swim event is held at one of Ottawa’s best kept secrets – Westboro Beach, on the Ottawa River Parkway. The restoration/conservation of the beach area and immediate river area is the result of a partnership between the Westboro Beach Community Association, Ottawa Riverkeeper, Newport Restaurant, the NCC and the City of Ottawa.

triathlon swimmers

Swim Triathlon Team Challenge: Swim 500m – Cycle 20Km – Run 5Km

Paddle Triathlon Team Challenge: Paddle 5Km – Cycle 20Km – Run 5Km

I couldn't possibly do this. I can't run worth a damn. I look like a cartoon. This is kind of what I would look like if I went running with Oscar.

Except that Oscar doesn't wear tennis shoes. He also isn't green. Apparently he's "brindle" though I don't know if that's a colour or a pattern. I started to look it up, then I was reminded that I don't really care all that much.

Do They Have Something Against Fingers?


Capitol Records have air-brushed cigarettes from an original picture featured on the cover of a Beatles four-CD box set, in a bid to fit in with more health-conscious times.

The Capitol Albums, Vol. 2 - which marks the first appearance on CD of the U.S. versions of Rubber Soul, the Help! soundtrack, The Early Beatles and Beatles VI - will see the Fab Four's former tobacco habit and two of Ringo Starr's fingers magically erased.

Previous Beatles reissues also had their artwork changed - when I Want to Hold Your Hand was re-released in 1984 by EMI records, Sir Paul McCartney's cigaretty was removed from the original cover.

A U.S. poster company also digitally removed the same Beatle's cigarette from its poster of the 1969 album Abbey Road three years ago.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

I Would Leap Over it in a Single Bound...

However, these folks expect me to climb the stairs.

Well, it's done. I'm officially registered to climb the CN Tower. I went to the gym this morning, got on one of those death-dealing stairmaster machines, and climbed 50 damn floors worth. I didn't collapse or soil myself, so I'm confident I can pull this off without embarassment.

My travel arrangements are set. I'll be staying at the Skydome Hotel (I'm not calling it the Rogers Center) so I'll be close by. If you recall, I refuse to fly now so I'm taking the train there and back leaving early Friday and returning late Saturday. No doubt after all that climbing I'll be looking forward to sitting on a train for four hours.

I have a very modest goal of raising $100. They (the WWF) set you up with a website, though you can't make many changes to it. You can add text, but you can't modify theirs, which I guess is understandable.

If the link above doesn't work, then please go to the main page, click "sponsor a climber" and search for "Fournier".

Other than that...Wish me luck!

That Was Fast...

Yesterday, Christine at one point told me she was going to Home Depot for...huh...something. I probably wasn't listening very closely.

Usually, when she goes to the grocery store for something specific, she'll ask if I want anything. She seldom asks me this when she goes to a place like Canadian Tire or Home Depot. She must have been lightly surprised when I said "Ooh! Can you get me some compact fluorescent light bulbs?!" But she did that for me, despite what she saw as an unfortunate lack of selection.

Turns out a 3-pack cost about $15. She got the A-type showing on this page. Globe's (a Montreal-based company) claim:
"Globe enersaver bulbs use up to 70% less energy and last up to 6 times longer than regular lights bulbs! That's significant savings and perfectly suited for foxy treehugging types!"
All right, so I made up that part after "savings". Still, I may contact them to sugget the add it, so I think it sort of counts.

These guys are 7-watt bulbs but apparently the equivalent of 40-watt'ers. We'll use them in the crawl space (though it's not like we spend much time down there so I don't see much benefit to that) and in the two lamps in the main bedroom. In fact, I'm going to go make the change now!

Damn...I've never been so excited to change a light bulb in my life...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hungry Hungry Hippo.

A three-month-old baby pygmy hippopotamus swims by his grazing mother at Henry Doorly Zoo Friday, March 24, 2006, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)


BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- China will slap a tax on chopsticks and a range of goods ranging from yachts to petrol in a bid to save trees and protect the environment.

Plans to impose a 5 percent consumption tax on both disposable wooden chopsticks and wooden floor panels would help curb the plundering of timber resources and efforts to protect the environment, the Ministry of Finance said.

Disposable chopsticks used up 1.3 million cubic metes of timber each year, depleting the country's forests, the ministry said.

From April 1, China will make its biggest adjustments to consumption taxes in 12 years, with its newly stressed national goals of slashing energy consumption and stemming environmental degradation in mind.

The move was aimed at "promoting environmental protection and economizing on resources while better guiding the production and consumption of certain products," the ministry said on its Web site.

Among the most significant changes will be adjustments to car taxes, with levies poised to rise as high as 20 percent for highly polluting vehicles with larger engines.

China would also broaden the scope of oil products subject to consumption levies to include fuel oil, jet fuel and naphtha and lubricants, as the government leans more on pricing mechanisms to curb the country's rampant use of energy.

Adjustments were also made to level new consumption taxes on golf balls and equipment, yachts and luxury watches and to scrap charges on skin care and shampoo products, once seen as the privilege of the wealthy, but which have become commonplace as incomes have risen.

China's most common hard alcohol, known as baijiu, would be taxed at a flat level of 20 percent for the first time, it said.

The Finance Ministry did not say how the move would impact Chinese efforts to spur domestic consumption as a bigger driver of growth alongside exports and investment.

The Other CFL.

Compact Fluorescent Lights. They can't possibly let me down anymore, or cost me more, than the Canadian Football League has. Damn Renegades...I'm still sore about that.

We're going Bullfrog on Earth Day. Have I mentioned that? I know I've talked about Bullfrog before but I don't know if I'd specified when we were doing it. Anyway, that's when.

About these bad boys, the Energy Star site says...

If every household in the U.S. replaced one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), it would prevent enough pollution to equal removing one million cars from the road. CFLs provide high-quality light, smart technology, and design, requiring less energy while lasting longer than typical incandescent bulbs.

...and probably cost an arm and a leg. However, my understanding is that "lasting longer" equal 6-10 times longer. That's not too damn bad. So we'll probably investigate this right around the time that we switch to Bullfrog (Earth Day, if you haven't heard...) and use the "require less energy" part to offset the fact that Bullfrog costs a little more.

Plus they look kind of cool. For a light bulb.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


All right. I went to the gym today and they moved everything around. I tried to get myself a stair-climber but I couldn't locate one. I instead snagged one of those glider thingies that's kind of like cross-country skiing but without quite the same range of motion. It was as close as I could get.

I'm proud to report that I did not heave all over myself. A good first sign. I'm going to check on the finances of the whole thing this weekend. Being that the CN Tower Climb is April 29th, I'll be almost exactly a month removed from the event. If I can fully commit, I'm doing so by the end of the day Sunday.

As far as Renegade DoNations go, I've heard that one of the team staff members wants to help me get that off the ground. Nice that I got someone's attention. In fairness, I understand that most teams don't sell their single-game tickets by now, but I just wish someone had shared that with me before I'd gotten into planning it full-tilt. Ah well. Hope it all works out. Wish me luck.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Renegade DoNations

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge (in spirit, if not in stature) Ottawa Renegades fan. In the summer of 2004, I got together with a group of fans and started something of a fan club called Renegade Nation (and our man Skully above is our bad-ass logo).

Of late, that team has struggled financially and there have been grumblings that they might fold outright. Following a conversation with one of the other fans on the Renegade Nation, it was decided that we take matter into our hands a little bit, and create some interest ourselves.

The resulting idea was Renegade DoNations (see the play on words there? That was my idea! Blew my own mind with that one...). The plan was this:

-- We buy enough single game tickets to get the group rate.
-- We encourage people to buy those discounted single game tickets.
-- Those tickets would then be mailed to me.
-- I would donate them to youth-oriented charities.

It was working smashingly, with the team's help in terms of amounts I'd need to buy, etc. I had Big Brothers on board, CAYFO, and another charity run by a gentleman in Renegade Nation called Live Work Play. I was getting a good response, and things were moving along very quickly. I was hitting two birds with one stone; team support and charitable help, while having a grand old time doing it.

Christine last night asked me if it was the kind of thing I could see myself getting into more seriously.

Maybe. Maybe not.

I received an e-mail at work this morning from the Renegades as a response to my offer to buy four tickets. They told me that single-game tickets were not yet on sale.

I see. They've known about this project of mine for four or five days now. They quoted me the prices. Yet when I try to buy, after having convinced folks to purchase about a combined 40 tickets...I get told that they're not prepared to sell me tickets.

Why wasn't this made clear when I first inquired? Why do you quote me prices to something I can't buy?

I have no patience for that sort of thing. And if I were doing this as a living, it would drive me nuts. I'm reminded of a story from a few years where a car was donated to a lady on welfare, and she turned it down because it was yellow. She doesn't like yellow, see...You try to help and the recipient of that help walls you up.

I'll go on with Renegade DoNations anyway, of course. I love the idea regardless.

But by the time tickets become available, the team's finances will likely be figured out. The need for a show of support will not be as great (or the team will fold), which will mean that it'll be harder to convince folks to participate, which means that fewer charities benefit. This is likely a blown opportunity and it frustrates me. That's why "maybe not".

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Rubber Soul

Not crazy about the idea of a hemp wallet? Go with recycled rubber, baby!

And while that same site has a number of preachy shirts and such, this one finds a different way to make a point...

Ontario First to Subsidize Solar Power

All right, I'm back. I'd been sick on Tuesday and Wednesday, and went to a concert last night, leaving little time to save the world. But I woke up this monring and saw that it was still here so that's good.

A headline that grabbed my eye yesterday. Christine has had the itch to change homes for a little while now (oh, I so look forward to moving the bed down my narrow, narrow staircase...) and thought as an option to look for land just outside the city and have our own built, but as "green" as we want it to be (which is pretty green). It may not be financially feasible, who knows? But it's worth looking into because homes in town are ridiculously expensive anyway. And it's not like we're in any real rush.

So this article drew my attention. I don't know how it would affect our own situation; we'd prefer to actually use the power we generate. But it's nice to see that some encouragement is there.

Ontario will soon offer Canada's first subsidy to homeowners or businesses that install solar electric power.

The incentive - 42 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced - is to be announced Tuesday by Premier Dalton McGuinty, industry sources said Thursday.

To produce solar power, an average house would need a system that costs $20,000 to $30,000 and all the electricity generated would be sold to the local utility.

It would be worth $1,000 to $1,500 a year but homeowners would continue to buy their power from the utility at the current rate which is now under 6 cents a kilowatt-hour. With the energy savings, the system could be paid off in 20 to 25 years. That's when the main payoff begins, since the equipment is expected to last 40 to 60 years.

Although among the most generous in North America, the program won't cover the entire cost of installing equipment that converts the sun's energy into electricity. The solar subsidy will be part of a new incentive plan known as Standard Offer Contracts.

Under the contracts, those who generate electricity from solar and other renewable sources will be paid for all the power they produce. The other sources -- mainly wind, but also wood waste, manure or other biological sources -- will earn 11 cents a kilowatt hour. The contracts will run 20 years and apply to projects with a generating capacity of up to 10 megawatts, or enough to supply about 3,300 average homes. The contracts are expected to lead to the installation of about 15,000 solar systems, with a total capacity of 40 megawatts. After that, growth should speed up until, by 2025, solar capacity hits 1,200 megawatts.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It's a Day Later...

...and I'm sitting here thinking...If this CN Tower Climb is "tempting"...Why the hell don't I just do it?

I don't have a good answer to that...So I think I'm going to do it.

First things first; I need to check if I can get the time off. Getting to Toronto from here is not an issue, but I have to check on accommodations as well. If I can cover those bases...Then I'm in.

I also don't want to go there, start climbing 1700+ stairs, have a heart attack halfway through, pass out and crap my pants. I'm going to start taking the stairs at least once a day at work. That's 11 floors. Yeah, I know; the CN Tower is ever-so-slightly more than 11 floors worth of stairs! But how else am I to simulate 1700 steps?? I don't know what else I can do. Maybe carry something up, like my bookbag. Or Annicka.

Wish me luck.

Monday, March 13, 2006


"Don't worry, it's fun and you will be at the top faster than you know it."
Well, I'm sure that's bull$#!t. :-) But I still might like to do it. Will investigate the possibilities...

You Make a Strong Case, Golden Girl!

To be taken with a grain of salt, of internet bill alone would cripple the entire concept.


About 2 years ago my wife and I were on a cruise through the western Mediterranean aboard a Princess liner. At dinner we noticed an elderly lady sitting alone along the rail of the grand stairway in the main dining room. I also noticed that all the staff, ships officers, waiters, busboys, etc., all seemed very familiar with this lady. I asked our waiter who the lady was, expecting to be told that she owned the line, but he said he only knew that she had been on board for the last four cruises, back-to-back.

As we left the dining room one evening I caught her eye and stopped to say hello. We chatted and I said, "I understand you've been on this ship for the last four cruises". She replied, "Yes, that's true." I stated, "I don't understand" and she replied, without a pause, "It's cheaper than a nursing home".

So, there will be no nursing home in my future. When I get old and feeble, I am going to get on a Princess Cruise Ship. The average cost for a nursing home is $200 per day. I have checked on reservations on a Princess and I can get a long term discount and senior discount price of $135 per day. That leaves $65 a day for:

1. Gratuities which will only be $10 per day.
2. I will have as many as 10 meals a day if I can waddle to the restaurant, or I can have room service (which means I can have breakfast-in-bed every day of the week).
3. Princess has as many as three swimming pools, a workout room, free washers and dryers, and shows every night.
4. They have free toothpaste and razors, and free soap and shampoo.
5. They will even treat you like a customer, not a patient. An extra $5 worth of tips will have the entire staff scrambling to help you.
6. I will get to meet new people every 7 or 14 days.
7. T.V. broken? Light bulb need changing? Need to have the mattress replaced? No Problem! They will fix everything and apologize for your inconvenience.
8. Clean sheets and towels every day, and you don't even have to ask for them.
9. If you fall in the nursing home and break a hip you are on Medicare; if you fall and break a hip on the Princess ship they will upgrade you to a suite for the rest of your life. Now hold on for the best! Do you want to see South America, the Panama Canal, Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, or name where you want to go? Princess will have a ship ready to go.

So don't look for me in a nursing home, just call shore to ship.

PS: And don't forget, when you die, they just dump you over the side -- at no charge.

Took The Plunge!

The good news is...I ordered me a hemp wallet from The bad news's coming from California by UPS. Crap! I thought it'd be from Toronto.

But wait! Is that really a bad thing? Fortune recently listed "America's Most Admired" companies and among them was UPS. Read on:

UPS. Tops on our Most Admired list of top ten socially responsible firms for the third consecutive year, Big Brown does good for its workers, the environment and, not least, the global economy -- by delivering 14.8 million packages a day to more than 200 countries. It's no exaggeration to say that if UPS were to shut down, much of global commerce would grind to a halt.

The $42.6-billion-a-year Atlanta-based company is a leader in sustainability and philanthropy. It strives to increase the fuel efficiency and decrease the emissions of its massive fleet, in part by deploying about 1,500 alternative fuel vehicles that are powered by electricity, natural gas, propane and hydrogen. Meanwhile, UPS's corporate foundation gave away about $43 million last year, focusing on hunger, literacy and voluntarism.

What's most impressive about UPS, though, is its commitment to its people. It hires lots of immigrants and poor people and offers them a chance to pursue the American dream. Many UPSers, as they are known, join the company after high school or college, drive a package car or work in an office and stick around for 30 or 40 years, until they retire. They do so because the company provides good pay, health-care benefits, tuition assistance, a stock purchase plan, a chance to advance and a shared sense of purpose. Moving all those packages around is no easy task. Words like teamwork and loyalty and community still mean a lot at UPS.

Starbucks. A pioneer in the area of corporate responsibility, Starbucks broke the mold in the fast-food industry by offering health-care benefits and stock (called "bean stock") even to part-time workers. It is now forging partnerships with coffee growers around the world that are designed to give growers a fair price for their beans -- often higher than the so-called Fair Trade price -- and to promote sound environmental practices. Starbucks also seeks to become more "green" at the retail level by, for instance, offering a 10-cent discount to customers who bring their own cups.

"They are innovative, distinctive, commendable and unfortunately not copied by many other companies," says David Vogel, who teaches at Berkeley's Haas School of Business and is the author of The Market for Virtue: The Potential and Limits of Corporate Social Responsibility. Seattle-based Starbucks generated $6.4 billion in revenues last year.

Full list here.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sweden Continues to Kick Ass!

Christine pointed this out to me this morning; a letter in the Ottawa Citizen (Thursday's edition) which seems to dispel myths about incinerators.

I admit that I was also of the belief that it might release crap (I don't believe that's the scientific term, but you know what I mean...) into the air. It's from Magnus Schonning, the press attache at the embassy of Sweden. Read on.

As a Swede who is concerned about the environment, it's rather interesting -- and somewhat sad -- to follow the current debate in Canada about waste management, landfills and waste incinerators.

In Canada, incineration plants are seen as hazardous to human health and the environment as a whole. In Sweden, the government has set national targets to reduce household waste going to landfills while promoting incineration as a safe way to take care of the waste and generate heat and electricity.

The amount of household waste in Sweden has fallen sharply and the share going to landfills is now less than 10 per cent of the total. Today, Sweden has 29 plants incinerating 47 per cent of all household waste and generating 9.3 terrawatt hours of energy, or about two per cent of our total energy supply.

How have our two countries come to such different positions on waste incineration? The answer may be that many Canadians base their opinions on outdated information.

For example, Councillor Peter Hume said, "Governments looked at incinerators as alternatives to landfills in the late 1980s, but they were rejected for environmental and health concerns due to toxic emissions.''

It's true that in the 1980s incinerators had problems with the emissions of toxic substances, especially highly toxic dioxins. However, in Sweden, modern technology has reduced these emissions drastically, with a 90- to 99-per-cent decrease in emissions of mercury, lead, cadmium and zinc during the years 1985 to 2004.

Sharon Labchuk, the Green Party's environment critic, expresses very legitimate concerns about dioxins. Unfortunately, she too is getting her facts from outdated sources.

Fifteen years ago, 18 Swedish waste-incineration plants emitted about 100 grams of dioxins per year. Today, dioxin emissions from all 29 Swedish waste-incineration plants amount to a total of 0.7 grams. Quite a significant improvement.

When one considers that uncontrolled fires in Swedish landfills (smaller in number and size than in Canada), emit between five and 30 grams of dioxins each year, with traffic and industrial processes adding another 20 to 55 grams each year, it surely must be better to burn household waste in a controlled setting with appropriate filters.

Magnus Schonning,

Press attache,
Embassy of Sweden

You know who else is from Sweden? Annicka.

63 Turbines = Power for 40,000 Homes

Way to go, 'toba!!

ST. LEON -- The winds of change are blowing in Manitoba.

All 63 turbines at the province's first wind farm are now turning, capturing enough wind energy to power about 40,000 homes.

"When these things are turning, we're making money, you're making money and we're all happy," said Dave Kerr, the director of AirSource and Algonquin Power Income Fund, the private sector company that developed the farm.

The first generator started putting out power last April and the 63rd one was up and running last week.

The St. Leon wind farm is the first independent power project in Manitoba, and is now yielding 99 megawatts of power, Kerr said.

A partnership with Manitoba Hydro means all the energy captured by the turbines flows into the power grid and is either exported or consumed in the province.

"Algonquin and Manitoba Hydro are working together in this pioneering project to integrate this electricity into our system," said Vic Schroeder, chairman of Manitoba Hydro.

The $210-million project in south-central Manitoba will result in $100 million in expenditures, $30 million in taxes and $9 million in rental payments to land owners.

Kerr said the partnership between AirSource and the provincially-owned utility has been very rewarding.

"There's always growing pains but this has been a very successful partnership with Manitoba Hydro," said Kerr, noting all the money to develop the farm came from private sources except an incentive grant from the federal government.

Energy Minister Dave Chomiak said the province will be home to many more of the 80-metre windmills during the next decade.

"There's no question, we put out a proposal for another 1,000 megawatts of wind to be developed over 10 years," said Chomiak. "We've had an overwhelming response to that."

Chomiak said there were enough wind farm proposals from the private sector to harvest 10,000 megawatts of power.

Landowners renting land for wind farm development stand to profit handsomely, said Chomiak.

"It's literally a cash crop," the minister said.

"As a native of St. Leon I'm very proud to be standing here today near the piece of land which is the highest point of Pembina Mountain and is owned by my dad," said Brigitte Martel, 19.

She said the wind farm is creating opportunity for young people.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Greenest Vehicles in 2006.

I don't know what most of this stuff means, but I thought some might find it interesting anyway...Credit to Grist Magazine for the links.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Donate Without Worry.

I've been looking for something like this for some time.
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance (the Alliance) helps donors make informed giving decisions and advances high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public.
Even with the better-known names, you just never know. It's nice to have that extra reassurance, and with that high level of detail. See EarthJustice as an example.

And in case you're wondering, you're likely familar with what the BBB stands for; Better Business Bureau.

Morning Ditty.

A little something that I came across this morning, which adds to the response that I received from the Department of Fisheries. This is from an extensive article in a paper called The Epoch Times.

A 2002 Canadian Veterinary Medical Association investigation concluded that 98 percent of seals taken during the hunt "are killed in an acceptably humane manner." But Turcotte points out that a group of independent veterinarians, invited by the IFAW to observe the hunt in 2001, stated in their report that the hunt results in "considerable and unacceptable suffering" for the young seals.

Wow, how did they miss that when they e-mailed me their response? But at least the first part supports a portion of their claim. They didn't outright lie, they just told me the part they wanted me to know.

The article is quite good, and does the best job I've seen of explaining it from both points of view.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

New Link: Green for Good is the first company to bring a variety of natural, healthy, environmentally friendly and organic products from different companies together on one central web site giving consumers one-stop shopping for green products. The company currently showcases more than 2,000 products made by more than 40 merchants, but Kaufer pointed out that will soon change. “Due to the investment we made in our company’s infrastructure, we now have the capability to rapidly increase the number of products offered on We are busy signing deals with dozens of new partners across the country who will be selling their products on the site. It won't be long before we triple the number of both products and vendors featured,” he said.

Sounds good to me. They're based in Washington state, mind you, so if you're not crazy about the conversion, shipping, etc there's also the option of, which is based in Toronto.

My wallet's falling apart on me and I believe I shall invest in a nice hemp one, just to see if that stuff's as strong as it's said to be. If it can handle a few months next to my glutes of steel, it can handle anything.

Christine has warned me to not carry it with me to the airport around the drug-sniffing dogs. I roll my eyes in your general direction, lass! Pay attention, I've already sworn off flying.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Another Breakdown in Communication.

Zoocheck Canada

Here's a bunch I'm not sure about. Click on the logo for their website.

For more than 20 years, Zoocheck has been a leading voice for the protection of wild animals. We are the only Canadian organization with a specific focus on captive wild animal issues and problems.

I can certainly get behind any group that wishes to prevent animal abuse in zoos and circuses. That goes without saying. But I tried to find out whether they are opposed to zoos entirely and I'm not sure that I received an specific answer to my inquiry. Here's what I got:

Zoocheck Canada is generally opposed to the keeping of wildlife in captivity for entertainment, recreation, tourism and commercial purposes, or for personal amusement. We are not opposed to legitimate sanctuaries, retirement centers, specialist facilities or conservation breeding centers. In all cases, the biological/behavioural needs of the animals must be placed as the highest priority. that a yes or a no? I believe it's a yes. But I think that a zoo (a well-maintained one) can have an educational benefit that a circus won't have. And a circus can still function with clowns, acrobats and a fat bearded chick, so there's no real need for animals in captivity. I'm not sure I'm on board with these folks.

Still At It...

So I haven't forgotten about the seal hunt. After receiving some info from them (below) I found that, not suprisingly, it clashed with that provided from the IFAW et al. But something that did jump out at me in a newspaper article was that the limit and exact date for this year's hunt had yet to be set.

Really? But why, pray tell! So I asked and received the following response...
Unfortunately, since our service only offers basic
information on the programs and services of the Department
of Fisheries and Oceans / Canadian Coast Guard, we cannot
provide the information you requested.

We have, however, forwarded your request to a
representative who will assist you further.
Imagine that. Governmental run-around. And go figure, I didn't get an answer from this mystery, unnamed representative. We'll wait until tomorrow, if I haven't gotten an answer I'll ask specifically who my inquiry was sent to.

WWF Championship.

No, not the wrestling kind (which I'm told is pre-determined anyway). They changed their name to WWE a while ago under pressure from the World Wildlife Fund. That WWF has a tournament going to determine the world's favourite animal. Click the logo, yo.

Well, I guess I can play along...but there's no way that a dragonfly is beating out a dolphin tomorrow. Are you kidding me?? It won't even be close...

Sunday, March 05, 2006


I'm surprised at how trendy this is becoming, but certainly pleased.

-- Aspen Skiing Company (ASC), operator of four ski mountains and two hotels in Colorado, has made a landmark purchase of renewable energy certificates from wind farms to offset 100 percent of its electricity use. The purchase is the largest in the history of the U.S. ski industry, according to the company.
With the purchase, ASC joins other leading businesses like Whole Foods, Fedex Kinkos, Starbucks, Nike and Patagonia in purchasing large amounts of renewable energy. The 21,000-megawatt hours (MWh) purchase keeps 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, out of the atmosphere each year. Most of these businesses are members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Green Power Partnership, a voluntary program seeking to increase the use of green power among leading U.S. organizations.

A significant number of businesses are now buying renewable energy certificates to offset their electricity use and to demonstrate their commitment to supporting clean energy; companies like Johnson & Johnson, Herman Miller and Staples.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Everyone Can Sleep Soundly Tonight.

Our washer crisis has been averted. Everyone can rest easy. It seems that the damaged part is repleacable, and we're going to test it out soon. Mum, you just saved yourself a laundry visit. ;-) Congratulations.

Check out my new lid, man. As promised to the lovely Laurie from IFAW, who sent me that response I mentioned below, I just went shopping on their site. Got me that cap, except I got it in khaki green, 'cause I'm a soldier, baby. A warrior, if you will, for this big spaceship called Earth. Lock and load. It'll be my "war hat" when I spend my Friday nights saving the world. Whoooooooo!!

Hey, you know what's really good? Honey Dijon Kettle Chips.

Yeah, I sounds like a weird mix. And the first one might make you wonder what the hell you're eating. But a try a few and see if you're able to stop. They're terrific. They claim "No trans fat, no MSG, no guilt". Having eaten a whole large bag in one evening, I can't swear to that last one...but I love 'em. As someone reviewing these on a vegan site said: "I think you all are losers if you don't like Kettle chips!" There you go. Hard to argue with that logic.

They're having a vote now to determine their next flavour. I can't imagine martini-flavoured potato chips, but since I don't eat chicken wings anymore, maybe the bleu cheese ones would be a nice reminder. Ah, decisions...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I Would Call Mine "Mortimer"

Warning: I don't believe that the above is a real moose.

OSLO, Norway (AP) - A small Norwegian town was quickly running out of moose Thursday after offering to name each animal after its sponsor in a research project.

"We have four or five left, but they are going fast," said Helge Sines, head of forestry for Vegaarshei township in southern Norway.

Township wildlife officials wanted to put radio tracking collars on 25 moose, so they could study their movements for two years. But the project was too expensive, at more than 400,000 kroner (about $68,000 Cdn).

So they enlisted the moose themselves to do a little fundraising.

For a donation of 5,000 kroner ($845 Cdn), the team will name a moose after a sponsoring company, organization or individual.

"It doesn't cover the (full) amount per animal, but without the goodwill of these sponsors, we wouldn't have been able to go ahead," Sines told The Associated Press.

So far, the sponsors have been companies, leaving the moose with names like Telenor, the Norwegian telecommunications group, and Interoptikk Brillehjoernet, an opticians' chain.

"We never intended to go out and promote this, but the sponsorship project was mentioned in one line, one subordinate clause, on the town's home page (Wednesday), and things took off," Sines said.

"We 'sold' five moose this morning alone," he said.

As part of the deal, moose sponsors can track their namesake on the Internet, although personal meetings are not on the agenda.

"We leave the moose in peace," said Sines. "We do not take people to visit the moose. We don't want to do anything to stress them."

The project intends to track moose movements, summer and winter pastures, grazing preferences, estimated death rates, and research methods of reducing the risk of collisions between moose and trains or motor vehicles.

Solar Energy Lights up a Negev Village

There is no sign on the main highway to the Israeli town of Arad in the northern Negev telling you where the village of Drijat is. Only when you have driven down an off-road for four kilometers do you finally see the homemade sign.

But behind the anonymity of the village is an achievement that makes it unique. It recently became the first community in the country - and in the world - to be outfitted with a multipurpose solar electricity system for providing power to the entire village.

The project, initiated by The Ministry of National Infrastructure, The Negev Development Authority and MK Shimon Peres' office for developing the Negev and Galilee, has lit up the streets and mosque of this tidy little village.

Situated at the foothills of the Hebron Hills, Drijat is the only Palestinian Arab village in the Negev. The residents traditionally are agricultural laborers as opposed to Bedouin nomads. The 850 residents of Drijat all belong to the same clan - Abu Hamad. The village was established 150 years ago by the Abu Hamad family from Mount Hebron, who lived in caves they carved in the center of the village.

After the establishment of the State of Israel they built permanent stone houses.

Until recently Drijat, like many other Arab communities in the Negev, was not recognized by the government. This meant it was not connected to the water, power or other services. After fighting the bureaucracy for decades, two years ago the villagers finally won formal recognition from the state. And now the government is trying to make up for lost time in providing fundamental services to the residents of Drijat.

To accomplish this, they hired Interdan, a private Israeli natural-electricity company, to carry out the actual installation and management of the project. The energy is collected by eight solar photovoltaic panels fitted on the roof-tops, then stored in a DC battery system which converts it to AC. It provides a stable current of the same quality as the electric company provides (or would provide were it hooked up to the village!) according to Interdan, the batteries will supply electricity at night and on cloudy days - for four days without direct sunlight, a rare occurrence in the Negev desert.

"What is unique is that we are trying to convert the entire village to a modern solar village, not just installing individual systems to run telephones, like they do in Africa," Gil Nezer, Interdan's marketing director, told ISRAEL21c.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

But Can It Handle My Skid Marks?

Crap. We may be on the market for a new washing machine. Our current one has gone all goofy. It'll run for a while, then stop for a while, then start up again for a while, then stop again for a while, the re-start again, then stop for a spell...

You probably get the idea...

March is a three-pay month for me, and also the month in which the company I work shells out its annual bonus. With that extra coin, I was looking forward to a fat stack of comic books sometime this weekend, but no. This had to happen. Isn't that always the way?

Oh well. If anyone took the time to view the money-saving tips on the Green Party site that I linked earlier, you'd know that the gentleman who hosted those made many of his switches while changing homes. So perhaps we'll be able to turn this lemon into lemonade and take an unscheduled plunge with the help of the fine folks at EnergyStar.

Along the same lines, we've talked about going Bullfrog soon. I've still to come across anything but positive words for them, and we figure that if that continues we'll make the switch, appropriately enough, on Earth Day. Seemed like a good time.

Take a Bow, IFAW.

Regardless of that seal hunt issue, I believe I'm going to get involved with the International Fund for Animal Welfare this month.

While waiting for a response from the CVMA (which has yet to arrive), I wrote to the IFAW to ask a very simple question.

Their website features several different campaigns. But right at the moment, I'm more concerned about the seal hunt. So I wanted to know: If I donate specifically through the seal hunt campaign page, can I be asured that my funds will go towards that cause entirely?

The answer? No. But I appreciated that they admitted that, and explained why.

Previously, we have offered our supporter the opportunity to have their donation restricted to a specific campaign. What we found was that the administrative costs associated with allocating each donation took up a tremendous amount of time. It was not a cost effective way to support our work. In fact, it was proving to be very ineffective.

To tell you the truth, I didn't think it was realistic, and if the lady who replied had given me a "no problem" response, I'd have been suspicious. So I thanked her for her answer, and plan to do a little shopping on their site this weekend.