Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Would You Take Health Advice From This Man?

One would think not. Clowns are creepy bastards anyway. The New Brunswick Department of Education agrees. With the first part anyway. Story on Canada.com:

OTTAWA - In a Canadian first, the New Brunswick government has banned McDonald's corporate mascot Ronald McDonald from its elementary schools, but says the fast-food giant's controversial healthy living show can stay.

The province's Department of Education made the announcement Monday after discovering the corporate clown had visited some schools this fall to promote McDonald's Go Active Canada program. The interactive show stars Ronald McDonald, who introduces video clips from Canadian Olympians delivering personal messages about leading a healthy lifestyle.

"You wouldn't use Joe Camel cigarettes to talk about your cessation program. It just doesn't fit,'' Jason Humphrey, spokesman for the Department of Education, said Monday in the wake of the ban.

Education Minister Kelly Lamrock elaborated in a letter to school boards, saying the brand-driven marketing "creates a contradictory and confusing message... Specifically, the use of brands reasonably known to be identified with unhealthy lifestyles is unacceptable.''

But critics say the province is going only halfway, pointing out the government has failed to take the next logical move by banning the McDonald's video pitching healthy living from its elementary schools.

New Brunswick schools can also continue sign up with McDonald's GO Active Fitness Challenge that can earn them up to $500 in sports equipment. Last year, 330 schools across Canada participated in the fitness challenge.

Ronald McDonald is still making the rounds in schools in other provinces, most notably in British Columbia, where the mascot turned up recently to deliver his healthy-living message on behalf of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics; McDonald's is a top sponsor of the Games.

Erika Shaker, an education research fellow at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, says the issue that has boiled over in New Brunswick is part of a larger trend.

She described it as a perfect storm of cash-strapped schools looking for ways to raise money converging with companies like McDonald's keen to rebrand themselves.

"This is part of a wider movement of companies associated with foods that are not considered healthy and repositioning themselves as being interested in health. But it's not just a question of healthy foods, it's trying to refocus the discussion on active living,'' said Shaker. "And of course the backdrop to all this is the consistent underfunding of public schools.''


McDonald's has had a tough time rebranding itself since the 2004 release of the Academy Award-nominated documentary Super Size Me.

Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ate three McDonald's meals a day for one month. At the end of the experiment, he had gained 25 pounds and suffered severe liver disfunction, a condition his supervising physicians attributed to his high-fat, high-carb diet.

McDonald's isn't the first company to feel pressure from the education sector.

The soft-drink industry has withdrawn voluntarily its carbonated drinks from elementary schools in Canada. And a few years ago, Kraft Foods announced it would stop all in-school marketing of some of its products, including Oreos and Kool-Aid.

Now Licking Batteries Will Seem Like a GOOD Idea.

From the Scifi.com blog:
...a new battery created by Japanese inventor Susumu Suzuki gets its power from an even cooler source: water. The size of a AA battery, the little energy source gets juiced up with just a tiny amount of water — even licking it will do the trick. The thirsty batteries can last far longer without degrading than normal batteries and could cost a mere 1/10th the price of their alkaline cousins if they were to be mass produced. And the best part? The mostly carbon-based batteries are much less damaging to the environment when they get tossed in the trash. Sounds good to us, but time will tell if these guys will replace the copper top.

A Bike You Can Fit in the Palm of Your Hand!

All right, perhaps not literally, as one of the pictures on their site would have you believe...

The point was to make it easy to carry. Once you have the folding instructions down, the whole thing weighs about 12 pounds and is about two feet long. Unfortunately, it'll also run you about $400.

Those dimensions would be hard to beat though. I recall that city buses here used to have racks in the front for people who wanted to bike to a certain stop, clamp their bicycle to the front of the bus, then ride the rest of the way to their destination. They've done away with most of those now though, but folks wishing to resume that sort of traveling, rather than drive to a Park 'n' Ride, could now carry their vehicle onto the bus.

And a guy my size would finally get the opportunity to look like one of these two:

Thursday, November 23, 2006

That's An Awful Lot Of Hugs...

From a Mail and Guardian article dated November 8th, 2006:

Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai on Wednesday launched a massive drive aimed at curbing global warming and related environmental damage by planting a billion new trees by the end of next year.

On the sidelines of a key United Nations climate-change conference in Nairobi, Maathai announced the start in January of the Billion Tree Campaign to combat rampant deforestation, reverse desertification and reduce soil erosion.

Maathai won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Greenbelt Movement, which she founded to promote human rights and sustainable development by planting trees first in her native Kenya, then throughout Africa and the world.

"In the year 2007 we shall target over a billion trees," said Maathai, the first African woman honoured by the Nobel committee, noting that trees provide natural protection against the effects of climate change.

"We want to commit ourselves to action and we want to call the whole world to participate in this action," she said, calling on the people around the world to get their hands dirty while diplomats haggle over treaties.

"We know the signs and we know the data ... but what is really important even long after this conference is what we do," Maathai said. "That is why this campaign is so important."

Trees are key to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere generated by the use of fossil fuels and every year an average tree converts 12kg of the gas into enough oxygen for a family of four per year, according to the UN.

But, replacing trees lost by deforestation over the past decade will require planting an area the size of Peru, a task equivalent to planting 14-billion trees every year for a decade, the UN says.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bullfrog's Green Index

A list of the organizations that make the greatest use of Bullfrog's renewable power.

Good to see the WWF logo on there. Always encouraging to see an organization practice what they preach.

Would love to see my employer's logo on there. I believe I'm going to scan the employee directory in order to find a contact person to whom I'll pass along the suggestion. They'll likely come to consider me a pain in the ass, but at least they'll have plenty of company.

I Ain't Buying No Goat.

When I climbed the CN Tower earlier this year for the WWF, I thought of bringing my IFAW ball cap for the simple reason that it's my headwear of choice when I'm saving the world. I wasn't sure if that would be frowned upon though, because I didn't know whether charities tend to be competitive between one another. So I decided against it after all so as to not inadvertently plunge the entire proceedings into chaos.

Well, some charities must have some level of communication because last week I received a World Vision Canada catalogue. I've never had a single solitary thing to do with that charity, so someone somewhere ratted out my personal info, it seems.

Well, better this than the offers for diplomas, mortgages and pecker pills that I routinely get in my e-mail inbox. So I decide to have a flip, and you can too right here.

Of course, when Christine handed it to me, I thought it was a standard catalogue, like one of the holiday ones you'd get from Sears. Imagine my surprise at the headline "A Holiday Heifer Brings Milk And More". No doubt, but I don't recall Christine ever lamenting the fact that we don't own our own cow. There's another that states "Pigs Make Plump And Perfect Presents". Ha! Finally an answer to the question about what to buy the person who has everything! I'd make a bet that (s)he doesn't have that!

Once my spell of bewilderment wore off and I clued in to what I was actually reading, I liked the idea. They're certainly not messing around! While you have several modestly priced options, you could also shell out a cool $15,000 to drill a well!

That's somewhat out of my reach. So here's the plan: With my pay of December 22nd, I'm going to select something a little more...affordable...and give my Christmas gift that way. Then starting December 26th, I'm going to start hoarding nickels. And whatever total I come to by Christmas 2007, I shall donate.

I have no idea what total I'll reach. I just know that from week to week, I won't miss a couple of nickels out of my wallet. Besides, that thing's American-made so the change pouch on it is rather small. They don't need room to store loonies and toonies, right? So for me, space is sometimes an issue.

And it gets heavy too! Sometimes I have so much change back there that my wallet weighs a quarter ton. My pants end up hanging halfway down my arse, like those kids that loiter in shopping malls wear them. Lousy punks!

But I digress...

While I'm all for this concept, I know I won't be able to bring myself to buy animals. I understand the potential benefits, but no can do. I probably don't have to explain why.

World Vision have enough options involving health and education that I doubt I'll struggle to find something to get behind. I particularly like the category "gifts that multiply" in reference to gifts is matched multiple times by sponsors and such. Example:

Mom kept you warm and safe. Show her how much you care by clothing 25 children in her name. Thanks to donations from Canadian companies, your gift will multiply 6 times in impact to give brand new clothes and sturdy shoes to impoverished children in poor countries like Georgia, Romania, Armenia, and others. You'll help protect these little ones from sickness, embarrassment, and poor school attendance. And for many, these could be their first new articles of clothing ever!

Sounds good and fits right into my "gain without pain" strategies. So when the day comes, I'm going to try to maximize my bang for my bucks. In the meantime, anyone interested can read the FAQs.

Monday, November 20, 2006

And Now Back to my Regularly-Scheduled Masculinity

Mrs THIT and I had our appointment this past Saturday with the Tamarack Homes design center. Previously, we'd been walked through the cost of upgrading this and upgrading that, but now came the time to actually make decisions and stuff.

Oh my...it was not pretty to see. I got all into it and stuff! It took two and half hours, and Christine admitted later to getting fed up.

Not me! I was just getting warmed up! I used words like "contrast" and "depth" and I believe I even used them properly! I made reference to texture and how the light hitting certain tiles would make them appear different...oh, it was simply heavenly!

When asked by the designer later about what the rest of my day would consist of, I first thought of dabbling in flower arrangements while sampling fine wines. Or perhaps I would work on my cross-stitching.

Then it hit me. I was actually going to a college football game, then to a local pro wrestling show. What the hell was happening to me? I was becoming like those guys on the HGTV shows (not that there's anything wrong with that. Or them. But they're annoying).

So I took the rest of the afternoon to restore my manhood (such as it is). This dude helped:

He was in the main event of the wrestling show I went to. His name is "Original Sinn", though I believe that may be a pseudonym. He's pretty bad-ass, even if his manager is an evil rubber duck.

Now that my mind has been restored to its partial cromagnon state, I do have one request to women everywhere who plan to speak to men about decorative matters anytime in the future.

Use real colours.

Here are some colours that you claim exist: Pearl. Eggshell. Cream.

They don't. There's only one way to describe those pseudo-colours: White. If you're so concerned that that it's "not really white", then say "off-white". Or even "dark white". We'll get it.

The exception to this rule: Football. The Michigan Wolverines do not wear yellow. It's maize. Louisville wears cardinal red specifically and...uhm...well, I think it's cream. But it sounds less girly when it makes reference to football.

Otherwise, for most guys going through that process is hell (and if it isn't, we kind of have to pretend that it is) so please, at least communicate clearly.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Being that friends and family have been supportive of my little missions over the past few months, I jumped at the opportunity to return the favour when a buddy of mine in the States mentioned doing a little charity walking of his own for the above bunch.

The mission of the Fannie Mae Foundation Help the Homeless Program is to raise awareness of and funds for Washington metropolitan area organizations that are working to prevent and end homelessness, with an emphasis on programs that help homeless people return to independent living. The Help the Homeless Program also fosters volunteerism in service to the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless.

The logo above links to my friend's donation page, but anyone wanting more information on the walk and/or organization can obtain it from there as well.


Another nutty coincidence...

CANBERRA, Australia - The drought gripping Australia could be the worst in 1,000 years, government officials said, as Australia started to draw up emergency plans to secure long-term water supplies to towns and cities.

The drought affecting more than half of Australia’s farmlands, already lasting more than five years, had previously been regarded as the worst in a century.

But officials from the Murray-Darling river basin commission told a water summit of national and state political leaders on Tuesday that analyses of the current prolonged drought now pointed to the driest period in 1,000 years.


A spokeswoman for the Murray-Darling Basin Commission said the current consecutive years of drought had not been observed in the 114 years since records were first kept.

She said mathematical and probability analyses of the current dry spell found Australia was moving into what was possibly a one-in-1,000-year drought.

“We don’t have the records to substantiate a one-in-100-year drought any more -- it’s beyond that,” she told Reuters.

Lack of winter rain has meant record-low inflows into the Murray-Darling river system, which drains an area the size of France and Spain combined and provides water to Australia’s major agricultural areas.

The average inflow of water into the Murray River, which flows through three states, is 11,000 gigaliters a year. In the past five months it has received less than 600 gigaliters. One gigaliter is one billion liters.

Green groups have warned that towns and cities along the river system could run out of water if the drought goes into another year.

Prime Minister John Howard used the water summit to announce moves to investigate how to secure log-term water supplies for towns and cities along the Murray River.

The summit also approved a new weir across the Murray to provide emergency water, if needed, for the South Australian capital of Adelaide, a city of about one million people, which draws 40 percent of its drinking water from the Murray River.

But Howard, who remains skeptical about the impact of global warming, declined to publicly declare the drought the worst in 1,000 years. “All I know it is a very bad drought. It is the worst in living memory,” Howard told reporters.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Canada's Last Great War Veteran

Another fine idea. The Dominion Institute has started a petition to have a state funeral for last survivor of World War I when he passes away as a symbol of gratitude towards the many who made the ultimate sacrifice. Unfortunately, they were aiming for 100,000 signatures by now, and mine was 66,000-something, but they are not submitting it for another month or so, so there's still a little time.

"We the undersigned feel enormous gratitude for the sacrifice made by all the Canadian Armed Forces through the ages in defence of this country and its values; acknowledge the very special nature of the sacrifice made by those who fought in the First World War in appalling conditions and with terrible loss of life; note that only three First World War veterans remain, and urge the Prime Minister that their sacrifice, and all of those they served with under arms from 1914-1918, be celebrated by offering a state funeral to the family of the last veteran of the First World War resident in Canada."

The Dominion Institute will send the petition on behalf of its signatories to the Prime Minister of Canada on December 11, 2006.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


What a terrific idea.

GoodSearch is an Internet search engine with a simple concept and unique social mission. GoodSearch enables you to help fund any of hundreds of thousands of charities or schools through the simple act of searching the Internet.

The company was founded by a brother and sister team who lost their mom to cancer and wanted to find an easy way for people to support their favorite causes.

It's simple. You use GoodSearch.com like any other search engine (we've partnered with Yahoo! to ensure great results), but each time you do, money is generated for your favorite cause.

Last year search engines generated close to $6 billion in revenue from advertisers. Think about what your favorite cause could do with even a fraction of that money!

The company's goal is to direct as much money to the organizations as possible, so we're not spending a lot on advertising. That's why we need your help in spreading the word!

I'm going to make it a point to use this from now on. I attempted to add this to my browser so that I could go to it automatically, but so far have failed. but typing "goodsearch.com" is not much different for me than typing "google", is it? again, helping without hardly trying.

The other downside is that this is American based. There were a couple of charities here I'd have preferred to help, but for the time being, I'll settle for a few of the big boys, like th eWWF or IFAW. Click the logo for more details.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

You're Going to Save Energy if it Kills me!

Here's something I saw advertised on the side of a bus the other day.

Six of Ontario’s largest local electricity distribution companies (LDCs) along with the Ontario Ministry of Energy are working cooperatively under the name powerWISE® to deliver this multi-year, initiative designed to promote energy conservation to consumers and reduce the demand for electricity in their respective service areas.

Why does this stuff have to be promoted? Never mind the whole environmental bit for a second. Even if you don't believe a word of that "global warming/climate change" stuff, you're looking at saving money by doing something as trivial as changing a light bulb. Who wouldn't be interested in that?

I've mentioned before that I'm a big believer in compact fluorescent lights. I also recently explained that I'd suggested to the fine folks building our next home (Tamarack Homes, childishly referred to by some as "Tabernak Homes") that they partner with Project Porchlight to include CFL's in their welcome package.

While Project Porchlight was willing to play ball, Tamarack was not. For one thing, they apparently already include CFL's in their new homes, so adding one more wouldn't provide huge benefits (you can be damn sure I'm going to inspect this claim very closely). But the gentleman who replied to me also said that people will occasionally replace them with the regular kind. Reasons for this were unstated, but I assume that it's because some CFL's will sometimes take a few seconds to achieve their full brightness.

Insane. Probably the same kind of people who drive an extra half mile to find a gas station that sells gas at 0.20 cents cheaper.

Well the next owner of this dump...huh...delightful abode likely won't do that! When I bumped into a Project Porchlight display on Earth Day this year, they gave me my freebie CFL. I replaced the burnt out Christine impulse buy that we had in the backyard (a purple light, for crying out loud. We couldn't see a damn thing back there...) with that one. You can't really see in there to tell that it's a CFL though.

Now, those very same Project Porchlight folks unexpectedly dropped off another one recently. I weathered driving rain and snow early on Sunday and replaced the light above the garage.

So now the buyer got himself a decent price AND he's going to save a few bucks because of me. You're welcome, stranger.

Friday, November 03, 2006

WWF Photo Contest Results

Is there a more majestic and dignified-looking animal in the world than the proud ostrich?

Okay, there are probably several hundred...but they don't all win the WWF's Photo Contest!

Check out more of the outstanding photography here and don't miss the "honourable mentions" at bottom right.

Next year, Oscar is SO slam-dunking this thing...

Stand Up Count

Remember the Stand Up event? Well above is the final tally if people who participated.

Huh...Don't count them. Read the number they're writing out. here are some specifics:

Official Guinness Verification:
The world record for the most people to 'Stand Up Against Poverty' in 24 hours was set on 15 - 16 October 2006 for the United Nation's Millennium Campaign and involved a massive total of 23,542,614 participants in 11,646 events around the globe.

Africa - 3,624,381
Arab Region - 516,949
Asia - 18,195,126
Europe - 894,854
Latin America & the Caribbean - 54,901
North America - 163,066
Oceania - 93,337
Of course, even in a crowd of 23,000,000+ they have to find a way to highlight your THIT! The camera not only loves me, it seeks me out!

All right so check out the following picture. You may need to click on it to enlarge it.

See that brick building in the back? Of course you do.

Towards the right of the picture, there's a black stand for posters and such. Got it? Good.

In front of that, there a tall dude with brown hair. Look around his right shoulder.

Yep. That's MY hair and part of my forehead.

Damn paparazzi...


I found these folks interesting, and falling right in line with my philospophy of helping without hardly trying.

Whenever a company or individual chooses to host their Internet website with us we will make a donation worth 20% of their fees to their favourite charitable organization. This fundraising opportunity is free, has no obligations and can result in a substantial source of recurring funds.

It just so happens that I have an ass-ugly site (Geocities) about football in the Ottawa region. It's renewal is up November 15th, so I'll investigate what these guys have to offer. Why not?

And also of importance to me is their can-con; they're based out of Montreal.