Sunday, April 29, 2007

Crickets Everywhere are Grateful.

Disney cleans up its ride.

ANAHEIM – The trains that fueled the dream for Walt Disney and his empire are being fed a steady diet of cleaner-burning, more environmentally friendly biodiesel.

The magic ingredient: soybean oil.

Since January, the four operable trains that run along the Disneyland Railroad have been injected with the orangey-yellow liquid (resembling apple juice), with workers slowly weaning the steam locomotives off of ultra low sulfur diesel. The trains are now a mix of 2 percent diesel and 98 percent soybean oil, known as B98.

It's a move that more and more companies are undertaking as legislators stress "green" alternatives in the face of climate change reports and dependency on foreign oil.

For Disneyland, the switch to biodiesel saves as much as 150,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year, while potentially reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80 percent, Disneyland Resort spokesman Bob Tucker said Monday.

"The decision, once we knew the trains would perform well, was an easy one," said Frank Dela Vara, technical director for Disneyland's Environmental Affairs.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

You Are Here.

Happy Earth Day! Give the nearest tree a hug today. ;-)

Feel like doing a little Earth Day online shopping? Treat yourself (and someone else) to a BOGO solar powered flashlight.

Shed Light on African Wildlife
AWF is working with BoGo Light to bring cheap, durable, and low-impact handheld lights to communities in wildlife areas around Africa. You can help by purchasing a BoGo Light on Earth Day.

The BoGo Light utilizes solar-rechargeable batteries to provide an inexpensive source of light. For countless many in Africa, light is a precious commodity. Kerosene lamps are typically the only source. They are not easily affordable, not always safe, and contribute to global warming.

When you purchase a BoGo (“Buy One, Give One”) Light, AWF will also receive one (1) light to give to game scouts, students and other conservation partners in Africa. Additionally, AWF will receive $1 dollar from SunNight Solar Enterprises for every light sold. It’s a technology that benefits people and the earth alike.

Be sure to select the African Wildlife Foundation as the recipient of choice on the BoGo Light website.

Buy a BoGo Light for yourself, and someone in Africa will receive a free light!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

One Step at a Time.

I'll admit right from the top that I'm not sure if my example really applies here.

I was walking to my bus stop the other morning and the advertisement on one side was for the Bell Walk for Kids Help Phone. Their function is quite clear...

Every day, Kids Help Phone counsellors answer calls and online questions from across Canada. No matter what the problem or concern, our counsellors are there to provide immediate and caring support, information and, if necessary, referral to a local community or social service agency.

Very nice, and I'm sure not always an easy job.

It jumped out at me because of the Virginia Tech shooting earlier in the week. Typically, when something like this happens, you hear that the shooter was a loner, picked on, etc.

I don't know if that's the case in this situation because to tell you the truth, I refuse to give him the attention he so obviously wanted. I watched that night's news coverage, but when I saw on Yahoo's main page later that night that he had taken the time to send details to media outlets, I made it a point to look the other way. I have no interest in playing along with his dying (and killing) wishes.

That said, I got picked on a bit as a kid (because of my size. I'm a little over five feet tall so was an easy target), but I know some people received it far worse than I did. Frustrating as I found it (and don't get me wrong, it never reached the stage of depression, long-term unhappiness, etc.) I can't imagine what some of the people who had it really bad went through.

I don't know if the option to call these lines enters the mind of those subjected to the worst of it, but hopefully this event and the press it generates gives someone the right idea.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Just Another Reason to Hate Cell Phones.

Not that I needed one. I think cell phones are a pain in the @$$.

No, not my cell phone. I don't own one. Yours.

Cell phones have introduced a phone new outlet for rudeness in a society that wasn't in a need for it. Just once I'd like to go through a whole day without hearing one go off.

Hey, I know they can have a useful purpose. And used for those functions, I have nothing against them. What I hate is when they're used in restaurants, buses, gyms, public washrooms, etc.

Seriously, if you're in the john, can your conversation not wait the length of time it takes for you to...huh...finish the job? Even if it can't, can I ask for the courtesy of not being submitted to your "And she goes...and I'm like..." drivel while I'm trying to complete mine?

Now they may have found yet another fine use for cell phones. Killing bees.

Artist's Rendition: Not an actual bee.

A new study by a German university has suggested that mobile phones and other radio-emitting devices could be killing bees.

Researchers at Langer University in Koblenz said that radio interference from devices like mobile phones could be causing a dramatic decline in bee numbers.

The study suggests that the radio waves scramble bees' internal navigation systems, leaving them unable to find their hives.


Bees are vital to humans, since they pollinate over 80 per cent of the world's crops. In many cases bees have also been domesticated to the point where they can no longer live without human support.

But there are other reasons for the decline in bee numbers. Increased use of organophosphate pesticides seriously damaged European bee stocks a decade ago, and predators and fungal infections have also been cited as reasons for declining numbers.

Full Story.

In fairness it's not a complete certainty yet.

Of course, I felt the need to highlight the portion about pollinating, because I imagine that 98%+ of the population would never consider doing away with their precious cell phones over a few thousand bees.

Mind you, even if the impact became common knowledge, I still don't think people would give up cell phones or reduce their usage because once people get used to a luxury, they're very reluctant to go back. How many people do you know who have drastically reduced their automobile usage since the price of gas starting getting nuts a couple of years ago? My guess is very few. I gather the same would be true with cell phones.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Been a While Since I Broke a World Record...

I think I might be getting the itch again. You know, you break a world record or two, you just start looking forward to the next one. ;-)

The Ontario WORLD RECORD WALK 2007 is aiming to break the existing Guinness World Record for the largest number of people walking one kilometer simultaneously (current record held by Western Australia with 100,915 Participants – September 2006

Okay, but...what's the point? I mean, when you've broken as many world records as I have, even though you get itchy, you still need a reason. Any idiot can grow his ear hair five inches...

Radhakant Bajpai of Naya Ganj, Uttar Pradesh, India, has hair sprouting from the centre of his outer ears (middle of the pinna) that measures an incredible 13.2 cm (5.19 in) at its longest point.

...but if I'm going to participate in a grueling...huh...1km walk, I need to know why.

The World Record Walk 2007 will start a "walkolution" aimed a creating a culture of walking by:

  • Connecting with the WALK21 ( message of "Putting Pedestrians First"
  • Encouraging Municipal leaders to sign the International Charter for Walking (
  • Putting the public focus on and educating the people of Ontario about the benefits of walking and active transportation (

All right then. I shall investigate further. I have no idea why they chose a Wednesday to do this; it hardly makes it more convenient, but it might make for a decent excuse to take a day off work.

Oh, well there you go! I've just found my motivation!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

"C" is for "Carrot"?

People make me laugh sometimes...

Yesterday, a front page article in the local newspaper ripped Ottawa hockey fans for daring to boo Pittsburgh's young star player Sydney Crosby when the two teams played here on Wednesday night. Essentially, the writer said that it was a classless act.

Mrs THIT this morning pointed out to me that in today's "letters to the editor", more space is dedicated to that "debate" than any other topic covered for as long as we've been getting that paper. Way to tackle the big issues, Ottawa!

So now I'm clicking through some of the links on the blog. I decide to glance at, the Urban Legends reference page and a favourite of mine. And I came across another "hot topic" threatening society.

That's right.

Do I even have to say it?

The Cookie Monster.

Feeling threatened by a perception that the nazis that write Sesame Street would stoop so low as to change the Cookie Monster's eating habits and make him a "Big Brother" like brain-washing type in favour of *gasp* good nutrition, someone started a petition to ensure that by no means would this television icon be altered from his current cookie-munching, furry, googly-eyed state.

I know, I know...the point was to speak against political-correctness. But seriously, is there no better outlet? Even if it were true, the point was not to change his name for the sake of not offending someone (which is what political-correctness is, by my understanding). The point was to promote good nutrition among children.

And that's what makes it even more ludicrous. It wasn't even true.

I forget what it was now, but a couple of years ago I was discussing with Mrs THIT how much effort I was putting into some ultimately pointless endeavour. The fact that I forget what it is now should speak volumes as to how pointless it was.

I recall ending my point by saying that I should have so much energy and drive for a goal that's acutally, you know, meaningful. I didn't even really realise this until I actually said it. I remember that I sort of surprised myself in that it hadn't occured to me right up to that moment.

I know I don't have all the answers and that different things have different levels of meaning for different people. I suppose I just wish that the energy directed towards fighting against booing hockey players and maintaining the "integrity" of kiddie show characters was applied to more ultimately significant goals.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

CFL Fans Fight Cancer

Well, that's one way to spend the offseason...

A fan of the Canadian Football League' s Winnipeg Blue Bombers has taken it upon himself to raise funds to be applied towards the fight against cancer. His plan is quite simple:

a) Have t-shirts made.
b) Sell said t-shirts.
c) Give profits to a cancer-based charity.

So simple even a Toronto fan would get it!

Ottawa doesn't have a football team at the moment, and my rants on the subject could fill a blog of its own (in fact, I do have one, but it's not relevant so I don't post about it here). Regardless, when this Winnipeg fan (named Cam, whom I've never met in person but have known online for a while) chose to include Ottawa anyway in his project, I thought I'd make myself useful.

Here are the shirt designs.

I understand they plan on making them in kids' sizes as well.

I'm not exactly sure how this is going to work yet. Cam wants the funds to remain in the city in which they were raised, which is fine, but with no team, CFL fanhood here is not great. It's not like I can bring a batch to games to sell; there are none.

I'll buy one for myself and wear it to local Semi-pro / University / Junior / Varsity / Midget games, and contact those various clubs in the event that someone(s) is (are) interested in purchasing some, but ideally I'd just as soon pass along the link and have people make their own purchases.

We'll see. Ultimately, for me, I like the idea of participating in a good cause, coast to coast, with folks who share a similar interest. And if I end up being the only one who buys one, Cam'll have one more sale than he would have had without me, regardless of where the funds end up.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Keep Your Pants On in New Zealand.

From Radion New Zealand News:

A move by the Government that could result in streakers being jailed has been labelled as absurd by the Green Party.

The Government has introduced a supplementary order paper to the Major Events Management Bill, which could result in a person who illegally invades a pitch at a big event being sentenced to three months' jail or fined up to $5000.

Green MP Keith Locke says streaking is an area of considerable amusement for New Zealanders and has become part of the country's sporting culture.

He says the move is aimed at the multinational corporations that plan to advertise at the Rugby World Cup.

Nice to know that things are so good in New Zealand that they can take the time to debate such things.

I guess ultimately I don't have strong feelings over this huge issue, but overall I think that if I'm at a sporting event in New Zealand, I'd rather the locals keep their kiwis wrapped up, if you follow my meaning.

Where Good Cars Go When They Die.

Why, Car Heaven, of course...

Car Heaven aims to help Canadians reduce their personal impact on the environment by providing a better choice for their old, higher-polluting vehicle.

I was made aware of this program through a green communities newsletter. They say: "...this program doesn't reduce the overall number of cars on the road, but it does remove the higher polluting ones."

The Clunker Counter is approaching 50,000, which is a pretty impressive number for a program started in July 2000.

At first I didn't quite see the point. It seemed like little more than taking a car off its blocks in the back yard and getting rid of it. I like the recycling aspect of it, of course, but it was this part that sold me (from the Ontario program):

If your (GM) vehicle is a 1995 model or older and still on the road, you may be eligible to receive $1,000 towards the purchase of a new GM vehicle.

Ah! Now you're talking my language, buster!

When people find out about this blog, I sometimes get told that they'd love to take part in some of the things that I post about, but they don't have the time and/or money (yeah, because I'm swimming in cash).

For that reason, I'm always more partial to programs that offer a benefit of some sort as encouragement. That way, it makes it harder for people to come up with an excuse.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Save Animals From Chapped Lips!

Or something. I didn't read it very closely.

I'm kidding. In fact, I got a newsletter from the Animal Protection Institute. Frankly, for me they're largely useless because their action alerts usually involve U.S.-based issues. I can't write to my congressman when I'm asked, and if I wrote to a specific one that they suggest, I doubt that the pleas of a Canadian would have much impact. But I like to see what they're working on, so I remain subscribed.

API's newsletters include a section about other ways to help (and refreshingly, they don't all involve making a monetary donation).

Recently, one caught my eye. A company named My Lip Stuff offers three different kinds of lip balms created specially for the API.

My Lip Stuff & the ANIMAL PROTECTION INSTITUTE (API) have teamed up to bring you an awesome way to soften your lips & show your support for API and their cause with a donation from My Lip Stuff!

My Lip Stuff will donate 50% of the retail price of these special edition lip balms to help API in their efforts to help the animals. That means for every tube of My Lip Stuff with the API logo on the label that you purchase for $3.00 we will donate $1.50 to API!

Thanks for the mathematical example. ;-) Furthermore...

Not only are these lip balms CCIC Leaping Bunny certified (never tested on animals), the My Lip Stuff company is also dedicated to using "green power" from renewable resources such as wind, water, or landfill gases; and the products never contain any harsh ingredients such as petroleum or mineral oil.

Mind you, they don't have much for guys so I'm kind of out of luck. But they're trying! They have something called "Panty Raid" lip balms.

I'm not sure that I understand though. Maybe I should google "Panty Raid" and see what I come up with.

Fly Right, Part Two.

Earlier, I posted about a site called, through which you could book flights with Westjet. Westjet would then make a donation to Offsetters, who would then work towards neutralizing the carbon emissions caused by your trip.

THIT-in-law Kathy (Mrs THIT's sister) sent me link the other day to a page on a Air Canada's website which looks at the other side of green travelling; destinations.

Air Canada has given me plenty of reasons to hate them over the years, but if I had to fly on one of their planes to get to these places, I think I'd be able to overlook some past wrongs. ;)

I believe this is the one I'd choose...

4. Hix Island House, Vieques, Puerto Rico

A modernist Caribbean hideout designed by Toronto architect John Hix, this property consists of four poured concrete houses spread over 12 lush hilltop acres. Very much a stylish boutique hotel, it was also built with sustainability in mind: Silver and copper anodes clean the pool instead of chlorine; electricity and hot water are solar-powered; and trapped rainwater and recycled water from shower and kitchen drains nourish the property's guava, banana and papaya trees. Rooms are built on angles to capture the trade wind, so that the near constant breeze provides natural cooling – a rarity in air-conditioning-obsessed Puerto Rico.

...But I'd "tolerate" any of them. Good on Air Canada to make the suggestion.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Make Mine Chocolate

I've been using Goodsearch fairly regularly now. I don't often need to make use of a search engine, but when I do I turn to them.

Goodsearch has many charities to which funds can be directed. And recently, they started to highlight one as their "charity of the day". If nothing else, it makes you realise how many are out there that you've never heard of.

One such, most appropriate for the time of year, is Make Mine Chocolate.

The “Make Mine Chocolate!™” Mission

Each year, unwanted, former Easter rabbits fill local rabbit rescues and humane societies. The goal of the “Make Mine Chocolate!™” campaign is to break the cycle of acquisition and relinquishment by educating the public about the responsibilities involved in keeping a companion rabbit before a rabbit is brought home. More...

Thinking About Acquiring A Rabbit Or Already Have One?

Visit The Interactive Bun to find the information you need to decide if a rabbit is the right companion for you and your family.

Makes sense.

I've never really understood people who thrust this responsibility on others as a gift. It's like saying that as a present, I'll hand over a 2-year old for you to care for for the next decade. Hey, but he's cute! Enjoy!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Check Out These Nuts!

Taking a stroll in downtown Ottawa yesterday morning, Mrs THIT (who really should be writing this blog nowadays, since she comes across a fair chunk of the information I post about before I do) stumbled into a bag of "soap nuts" in one of the stores that we visited.

She called me over, and I was intrigued if for no other reason than to find out what she had beheld that could possibly make doing laundry appear interesting.

Well, little did I know! She had come up with soap nuts!

Here's a description I found when I googled the term.

SoapNuts are the shells of a seed from trees grown throughout India and Nepal. These shells give a soapy substance when they come in contact with water (the seeds are discarded) and it’s said that 1kg of the nuts can wash 100 loads. Simply pop 6-8 shells in the cloth bag and throw them in your washing machine – these will last about 3-4 washes. Your wash will come out clean, but without a smell, so if you like the scent of clean clothes just add a few drops of essential oil to the wash beforehand. SoapNuts can also be used for other things as well, like washing windows, cars or pets.

They're also terrific for an endless source of juvenile humour, so I'm totally on board. This is something else we'll try when we get into our new digs.