Friday, June 30, 2006

Like Buying a Game-worn Jersey, But Better.

It's Canada Day tomorrow, which I'll celebrate by walking for Olympic athletes, then recreating the best tailgate party the group of football fans I belong to had last year on this very holiday. Sure, we don't have a team any more, but we have a tape of last year's game, a tent, a couple of BBQ's, a parking lot...all the makings of a good time.

Browsing the Canada Day articles, I came across these little known facts:

3. The flag at the Peace Tower flies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is changed on a daily basis, usually early in the morning and by a designated Parliament Hill building employee who receives training on how to perform the task.

4. Flags on the East and West Block are changed weekly.

5. Once a flag is drawn, it goes to the office of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, before it is eventually distributed to people who have requested it.

6. Want one? You'll have to be patient. There is a 10-year waiting list to receive a flag that has flown on the Peace Tower. The wait is five years for a flag that has flown on the East or West Block. Anyone interested should put the request in writing and send it in: by mail to Public Works and Government Services Canada, Office of the Minister 18A1, Portage Place III, 11 Laurier St., Gatineau, Que., K1A 0S5; by fax to: (819) 953-1908 or by e-mail to Only one flag per household is allowed.

Actually...if the waiting list is that long, then perhaps it's not as little-known as I thought...

In any event, in the standard THIT spirit of asking myself if I should do something and answering myself with "Why not?", I'm about to send an e-mail to get on the list. I look forward to the response I'll get in 2016, which is properly sooner than I'd ever get a response from Ravishing Rona Ambrose.

Ah well. The battle continues.

I wonder how many trees I have to hug to get to hug Rona Ambrose? for thought. Or not.

Party Past Canada Day!

The Council of Canadians are planning a little shindig for President Bush on July 6th! Isn't that sweet? ;-) I may just take an extended lunch and go join the fun!

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be in Washington Thursday, July 6th, which coincides with George W. Bush’s birthday. Join Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians at a birthday bash for George Bush in front of the PMO, where we'll ask Stephen Harper to limit his generosity to a card and good wishes.

Our government has already handed Bush our troops for use in his “war on terror.” We signed away our right to energy security in NAFTA. Harper’s letting Bush keep $1-billion worth of the lumber tariffs the U.S. government took from us illegally. And Bush knows he need only ask before we hand over our fresh water, too.

The Council of Canadians fears that Harper will further compromise Canadian sovereignty in areas of foreign policy, trade and security, and we hope to raise awareness about how much the Prime Minister has sacrificed without public consent during his short reign.

Show Harper you can be a good neighbour without giving it all away.
  • What: A birthday party for Dubya (free cake and loot bags!)

  • Where: Outside the PMO, in front of the NCC Info Centre at Wellington and Metcalfe

  • When: Thursday, July 6, noon to 1 p.m. (bring sunscreen, noisemakers and a party hat!)

  • Why: Because we can, because it’s fun, and because we’re sick of giving pieces of Canada away

  • Who: Come one, come all. This is a Council of Canadians party and everyone’s invited!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

My Dog is Cool.

If I have to be honest with myself, I know that's a bold-faced lie. Oscar has personality, no doubt, but he's hardly The Fonz in dog form. Evidence below.

No doubt some will say he takes after his paternal figure.

Regardless, thankfully for me, the question is being asked literally. My Dog is Cool is a fun little program that the Animal Protection Institute has started to draw awareness to the danger (and stupidity) of leaving dogs in hot cars for extended periods of time.

I'll print up their card and submit Oscar's pic to the cause. It's about time he started contributing something as a mascot/sidekick besides barking at roller-bladers, stealing my food and farting in his sleep.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

It's Not My Fault that Rona Ambrose is Hot....

...but it'll probably be used against me anyway so I have to be careful how I choose my words.

It's a matter of personal opinion, of course, but I find Canadian Minister of the Environment Rona Ambrose to be hotter than a firecracker.

That's bad, because I plan on asking her out on a date. And that could be misinterpreted.

Now of course I'm happily married (see the previous post. I risked my life CAMPING for this woman. What more proof do you need??) and to the best of my knowledge (and according to her bio) so is the smoldering Rona. And that shouldn't surprise anyone. How could a brainy fox like that go unhitched for any significant length of time??

I'm still going to ask her out (next time she's in Ottawa) because it won't be THAT kind of date. I'm not asking her to come with me to my prom or anything.

I want her to come and see An Inconvenient Truth with me.

Mrs THIT and I went to see this earlier tonight. We both enjoyed it, at least as much as one can enjoy such a bleak view of the current state of the world. At least it leaves you with the message that something can still be done, assuming it's 100% accurate (and as you know, I have a hard time taking all these claims at face value).

But one of the problems with this type of movie is that the majority of folks who see it will be those who least need to. Christine (Mrs THIT) and I are already pretty environmentally aware and careful. Are we perfect? Hardly. But many people could stand to be as imperfect as we are, if you catch my drift.

And that's the thing with red-hot Rona. Even aside from the fact that the political party of which she's a part is not particularly known for environmental friendliness, there's really little in her bio to indicate that she has any experience dealing with environmental issues. She may be very well qualified, for all I know, but it's impossible to determine whether this is a job, or something legitimately close to her heart based on her background alone.

For some reason, I get the sense that she hasn't seen this thing. So I'll offer to take her to see it next time she's in town. I'll pay (call me old-fashioned). Hell, it's my idea, so I really should, though I have a feeling that she makes far more than I do. Call it a hunch. Afterwards, we'll sit through the credits long enough for her to give me her take on it, then that's it. She can go do her thing, and I can go home to my wife and wiener dog.

I don't think that's too much to ask. I'll prepare my e-mail tomorrow and see what happens. I've already written to her before to ask about their (the Conservative Party) take on wind power. I never received a response, but I just assumed that Smokin' Rona was too busy being hot. Hopefully the next time she's in town she has a spot open on her schedule for this Treehugger in Training.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The THIT's Great Wilderness Adventure!

The Wife, the wiener and I have just returned from our camping trip to Fitzroy Harbour. It was my second visit, but my first extended one (the first time we just spent the day at the beach).

Now I may love nature (actually, let's not call it love. It's more like "respect"), but nature doesn't seem to dig me all that much. And this despite everything I do to try to make her life better. Ungrateful b!tch!

If you click to enlarge the picture above, you'll note a gushing, squirting, gaping wound under my left knee. I got that from having to fight off one of the vicious wild beasts at Fitzroy. The blood loss made me a little loopy, so I don't recall what it was that got me; either a large mosquito, or a kodiak bear. For the sake of telling the story in the future, it'll be the kodiak.

We also came across a porcupine, which caused me to utter the following heroic phrase "Christine, I swear to you without any shame whatsoever that if that thing comes towards me, I'm running like a son of a bitch the other way". I believe that's very similar to the speech Mel Gibson gave before going into battle in Braveheart.

I'd camped before, but for some reason I was still surprised at how big the insect were. Maybe I'd gone later in the year before when they'd...huh...shrunk? No, that's pretty dumb. Anyway, I now believe that perhaps not all dinosaurs are extinct after all. One "flyer" was big enough that I felt it when it landed on me. Mrs THIT also struggled with them. Here's a picture of Christine fighting off an insect of undetermined origin.

Artist's Rendition

Anyway, for all that, it was a nice time. Oscar kept us safe by barking himself hoarse at every toddler that might have jeopardized our existence, and we had fantastic weather with the exception of the first night. It rained the equivalent of what Noah got after he built that big-ass boat a few years ago, but in about a 5-6 hour span. We didn't care; we had turned in by then, and more importantly our days were hot and sunny.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Ralph Lauren Drops Fur


Ralph Lauren, long recognized as a leader in fashion, is now also a leader in compassion since he announced a precedent-setting decision to stop using fur in any of his apparel or home collections for purely ethical reasons.

The Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation had apparently been considering eliminating fur from its lines for some time, but its decision was accelerated after Ralph Lauren, the chair and chief executive officer, himself witnessed the hideous abuses endured by animals on Chinese fur farms.

Lauren viewed grisly undercover video footage of fur farms in China, which produces more than half of the finished fur garments imported for sale in the United States, and after a series of meetings with PETA in February and March 2006, his company committed to pulling all fur from its shelves.

Full Release.

Dorky Kong.

While I tend to prefer animal or environment-based causes anyway, I guarantee you this is one I'll never spend a penny or a second of my time on. Good Lord...

An addiction center is opening Europe's first detox clinic for video game addicts, offering in-house treatment for people who can't leave their joysticks alone.

Video games may look innocent, but they can be as addictive as gambling or drugs — and just as hard to kick, says Keith Bakker, director of Amsterdam-based Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants.

Bakker already has treated 20 video game addicts, aged 13 to 30, since January. Some show withdrawal symptoms, such as shaking and sweating, when they look at a computer console.

His detox program begins in July. It will run four to eight weeks, and will include therapy sessions, wilderness excursions, healthy lifestyle workshops and possibly medication.

Research into video gaming is still in its infancy, and researchers haven't agreed on how to define addiction. But many experts say it's clear many of the young people who show dependency on video games are in trouble.

"We have kids who don't know how to communicate with people face-to-face because they've spent the last three years talking to somebody in Korea through a computer," Bakker said. "Their social network has completely disappeared."

Get them playing The Sims. That might help.

Anyway, Full story here.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I'm Embarassed For This Bear

His bear friends will never let him live this down. They'll be all, like, "Dude, you got chased up a tree by a cat".

Of course, bears don't talk. But if they did that's what they'd say.

Jack, a 15-pound orange-and-white cat, cat sits under a treed black bear in a backyard in West Milford, N.J., Sunday, June 4, 2006. When the bear climbed down, the cat chased it up another nearby tree. Neighbor Suzanne Giovanetti thought Jack was simply looking up at the bear, but soon realized the much larger animal was afraid of the hissing cat. The cat's owners called it away and the bear ran off. (AP Photo/Suzanne Giovanetti)

Lucha Va Voom

Sometimes when I post something here, I'm concerned that maybe I'm stating the obvious. I proceed anyway, since I stated from the beginning that when it comes to this whole environmental thing, I have some learning to do.

This is another one of those times. You probably know this already, but when it comes to needing inspiration and wisdom, there's always one place you can turn to:

Mexican wrestlers.

I poke fun, but really, it's certainly better than NOT doing anything, and they might reach a number of young people. So truthfully, I respect that they took the time to do that.

However, I'm something of a wrestling fan myself (TNA wrestling particularly and Team Canada's Petey Williams specifically) and I have to say...I don't know if those two dudes dressed as chickens are actual wrestlers or just doing that for the ad, but that has to be among the lousiest gimmicks in some time. Yikes.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Hat Trick.

HAYLEY WICKENHEISER - national hockey hero, devoted mother. And environmentalist.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist with the national women's team is doing her part to stop pollution, lending a hand with the Clean Air Champions project.

Standing in the shadow of the Peace Tower yesterday, Wickenheiser spoke about changes in her lifestyle to become more green.

She drives a hybrid vehicle, rides a bike to places she would normally drive, turns off the lights in rooms at home that don't need to be lit, and hangs the laundry on a line instead of tossing the load into the dryer.

"It's little things like that that maybe people take for granted, and maybe we can think about it a little more to make a difference," she said.

The Clean Air Champions initiative is aimed at young kids and their parents to make choices like Wickenheiser in their daily lives.

Several current and former national-calibre athletes have signed on with the program to spread the word.

It's the idea of David Chernushenko, who is attempting to become the leader of the federal Green Party.

Wickenheiser became more aware of the problems of air pollution during last winter's Olympics in Turin, when several Canadian athletes became sick after taking short outdoor runs near the athletes' village.

The team's athletic therapists and doctors attributed the illnesses to polluted air.

"It just raised an awareness in me," said Wickenheiser. "There's two things that I'm passionate about -- the environment and the health of our kids."

Full article

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hold Fast.

Yay, us! Even though we're not under any kind of solid contract yet, we've received mortgage pre-approval for the next house, with an expected closing of May or so of next year. That works out great and is pretty well what we'd hoped for.

Here's an abbreviated article from a recent "New Homes" magazine.
Tamarack Homes’ designs are all about details – lots of them – from superb building design and construction to finishing and appointments.

All Tamarack homes are independently accredited as ENERGY STAR homes. That means homeowners save on energy costs due to special upgraded construction and technologies according to ENERGY STAR guidelines. Every home has a special furnace with an ECM motor that reduces energy use by 80 per cent and a fully ducted heat-recovery system with separate ducts running to all the wet rooms (baths, kitchen, laundry). These rooms will have push button timers to remove air contaminants right at the source.

Homeowners will enjoy more comfort, climate control and much better air quality. Better construction technologies throughout and extra insulation enhance these homes and will be appreciated by residents.

Also in each townhome, Tamarack includes upgrade features that are typical of their high-end single-family homes, which they can enjoy from the day they move in!

Every home has a flush garage and interlock-stone walkway from the driveway to the entrance.

All manor townhomes are big and bright. They have nine-ft. ceilings, wonderful open-concept designs and are filled with quality features. Ceramics and hardwood floors on the main level are standard, as are the gorgeous Muskoka kitchens with raised bar counters, beautiful cabinetry and 40-inch upper cabinets.

On the second floor you have optional designs: choose to have the laundry room on the second floor, or create a luxury ensuite. Just imagine, from top to bottom, Tamarack completely finishes everything in these manor townhomes, including the basement.

You’ll also find a lovely fireplace on the main floor and a deck leading to the rear yard.

All Tamarack communities reflect a special emphasis on the environment, with the use of trees and native vegetation to provide wholesome outdoor spaces.
Findlay Creek Village offers a wonderful opportunity for homeowners wishing to live in the relaxing south end of the city. This community is perfect for those seeking a more peaceful setting in a conservation environment. A four-metre living fence acts as a natural landscape buffer between homes. The new homes are integrated beautifully with the wildlife habitats. All the conveniences of South Keys and the Hunt Club areas are close by, yet, Findlay Creek is a community with trails and easy access to nature and conservation areas. All around are the environmentally protected lands of the South Nation Conservation Authority.

For more information...visit the website at

Nine-foot ceilings? Thank God! Finally, I can stop beating my head against the light fixtures.

Our model is named the Dunvegan. Unless you're one of the few people in the world not totally knowledgeable about the history of Scottish castles, you don't need me to tell you that Dunvegan Castle has been, and continues to be, the stronghold of the MacLeods for going on 800 years now.

You know who's a MacLeod? This bad sumbitch right here:

Remember the movie Highlander? Man, that was a great movie! If you decide to purchase it based on my vague review, make absolutely certain that you purchase the full length version. The initial video version chopped off some historical scenes that made the movie clearer, as well as some wicked swordfighting towards the end. And make sure to not watch the sequel. It's bad enough to make you contemplate suicide.

So that's where we're at! Things could still go south (figuratively, instead of literally like we plan to) but I don't see that happening now. Our experience with the Tamarack folks has already been more positive than our dealings with the clowns at Ashcroft.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Go Clean and Green!

A new contest from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance. It's retroactive to January 1st, right around the time I started this blog. Nice timing!

Maybe I'll enter. There's certainly no harm...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Rio Green Day.

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico is creating an environmental reserve about nine metres wide and about 1,000 kilometres long on the Texas border, a "green wall" to protect the Rio Grande from the roads and staging areas that smugglers use to ferry drugs and migrants across the frontier.

Much of this border zone is remote and inhospitable - generally too rough to hike through unless you're a black bear or a pronghorn sheep, species that have flourished in the area's deserts and mountains.

And that's the way Mexico wants to keep it.

While the proposed Rio Bravo del Norte Natural Monument is only about nine metres wide, it will connect two large protected areas south of the river. When a third nature reserve, known as Ocampo, is created this year, the protected areas in Mexico will form a "wall" of millions of hectares of wilderness, matching Texas' Big Bend parks metre-by-metre along the border.

"This stretch of border is the safest one we have. It's safe because it has wilderness on both sides," said Carlos Manterrola, who heads the environmental group Unidos Para la Conservacion.

Big Bend National Park has had some problems with migrant and drug trafficking, but superintendent John King says extending protected areas on either side of the border will likely keep the problem from getting worse.

"When you have a roadless area, you make it more difficult for these activities to happen," King said.

Full article

Sunday, June 04, 2006

All Right, I'm In.

I signed up earlier tonight for the 3K Walk portion of the HBC Run for Canada event. I always enjoy the Olympics and I don't mind contributing a little something here even though this isn't a charity as such.

Over the years, people have often said that Canadian athletes are underfunded, so this is neat opportunity to do a little something about it. Anyone wishing to participate can do so by clicking on "Ottawa", then the "donate" button, the "pledge a participant" option and looking me up by name (spelled exactly as I've done at above right, with the hyphen). Make sure to select the 3K event. This link might work but I'm not certain.

The only downside is that I can't bring Oscar. :-( No dogs allowed. But then he would have slowed me down considerably as he stops to sniff every blade of grass on the way, and I have places to be later that day.

Canada Day spent suporting Canadian Olympic Athletes. I could think of worse things to be doing...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Green Tea Soda

This was a little discovery from Mrs THIT, picked up at a local Farm Boy. Steaz (click onthe bottle for their website) claims...

We have searched the world over, from the Sun drenched fields of Florida to the fog shrouded, mystical mountains of Sri Lanka to find the purest ingredients that set our beverage apart. Micro-brewed beverages, USDA organic certification and kosher certification are the results of our pursuit of perfection.

Not bad. I'm having the root beer now, and I have to admit that it tastes more like cream soda to me. Plus, this stuff is not as fizzy as you'd expect soda to be, so I'm not really crazy about that one. But I had the ginger ale last night and enjoyed it a whole lot. Give it a try if you're looking for a little variety.

Mais c'est Génial!

PARIS, May 23, 2006 - Eco-labels reflecting CO2 emissions became a legal requirement for all new cars sold in France this week as part of the country's climate change policy.

A series of seven color-coded labels indicate CO2 emissions per kilometer of all new vehicles sold in France. The French government hopes the labeling scheme will not only inform consumers, but also pushing carmakers to improve their performance as a similar scheme for electrical equipment has successfully done.

Full article

Neat idea. Now maybe the government can introduce its population to an invention called "soap". :-)

Kidding, kidding...

Goes Both Ways.

Canadians will occasionally bitch about pollution coming fromthe States. Well there may be a message certain people on both sides of the border here.

In a landmark cross-border pollution case, a Canadian mining company agreed yesterday to pay millions of dollars to assess whether pollution it dumped into the Columbia River damaged wildlife and public health in Washington state.

The study could ultimately lead to a broader cleanup plan, though the company has not committed to pay for such an effort.

Yesterday's settlement between Teck Cominco Ltd. and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency marks the first time a foreign company has voluntarily agreed to compensate for contamination it has created in the United States. Teck Cominco spent nearly a century dumping slag from its British Columbia zinc smelter, which then traveled downstream and settled in Lake Roosevelt, created by Washington's Grand Coulee Dam.

"With this historic agreement, we have moved from opposite sides of the table to sit down together as environmental problem solvers," Michael Bogert, EPA's regional administrator for the Northwest, said in a telephone conference call. "By delivering results through cooperation over confrontation, the Bush administration is avoiding years of inefficient litigation."

Full article here.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Anyone see a certain irony here?

There will be a joint meeting of the Yarmouth Planning Board and the town's tree warden Wednesday, June 21 at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall to discuss the proposed project of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
IFAW seeks the removal of trees along Summer Street as part of an overall plan to construct its new headquarters at 264 Willow St., site of the former Goldstar Nursery.