Monday, August 27, 2007

These Shoes Better Be Made For Walking

I may have a lot to do before long.

I'm not good at buying sneakers. I don't think I'm a cheap person, but there are certain things I don't like spending big money on. Sneakers are among them.

So I usually go cheap. And have to replace my purchase a few months later. It also takes no time until they start to smell like a friggin' bog, that may be a whole other issue.

The last time I went shopping for sneakers, I said to myself "Self, for once, go all out and spend more than $17 on a pair of sneakers. Live a little, dawg!"

And I did. I spent about $33!

It didn't help. Those sneakers sucked too. They might have lasted a little longer but only marginally so. And some peice of plastic (or something) broke in the back at some point, inside, and is gashing the back of my foot mercilessly. Verily, a walk to my mailbox has turned into a bloodbath.

Ah, but now I'm taking the plunge for real!

I recently came across a site called They As you might have guessed, they sell "ecosneakers" among other types of footwear made from recycled tires, organic cotton, etc.

I've actually looked into this before. A couple of the natural product stores I've been to have had more "naturally produced" sneakers on display. They're usually a little more expensive than a mini-van and uglier than a bowling shoe. Both of those factors caused my interest to be minimalized.

But I'm pretty pleased with the Simple Shoes selection. So I went ahead and ordered a pair today.

Some details:

Just because a shoe is planet-friendly doesn’t mean that it has to look like a hippie clod-hopper. So we’ve developed a line of sustainable sneakers called ecoSNEAKS™. The men's Sno Tire is made from these sustainable materials:

  • Washed leather and organic cotton canvas uppers
  • Organic cotton linings
  • PET laces
  • PET pedbeds
  • Yes, that outsole used to be a car tire
  • Vulcanized rubber sidewall, toecap, and heelcap
  • 100% post consumer paper pulp foot forms
  • Your new favorite sneaker.

  • I'm going to pretend for a moment that i actually knew what PET was and share that peice of information with you too:

    ...recycled plastic bottles are collected to create PET (polyethyleneterephthalate)...


    I hope I'm pleased with my purchase because they're probably going to see some severe use. Earlier this year, a lady that works for the same company I do added a link at the bottom of her e-mails which led to her Weekend to End Breast Cancer team page. Remembering how encouraging I found it when people contributed to my CN Tower Climb last year, I decided to make a small donation to one of her teammates.

    I happened to speak to that teammate recently and asked about the walk. Discussing it made it seem like an interesting challenge.

    The Weekend to End Breast Cancer benefiting the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation is your chance to discover what it means to be a hero. During one amazing weekend, June 6-8, 2008, thousands of women and men will join forces in Ottawa to walk 60 kilometres and make a real difference in the fight to end breast cancer.

    60 kilometres over two days. I'm strongly considering it. I heard that every mile you walk adds an hour to your life. After this, I'll be damn near immortal.

    That'd be cool.

    Target: DMX!

    So Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick pleads guilty to animal abuse charges and now awaits sentencing on december 10th. That means no football in 2007, and assuming he gets at least a year in jail (as expected), none in 2008 either. Being away from the game that long, it's likely that he'll never play in the NFL again.

    I understand that the maximum sentence could have been up to five years. Even taking into account that he (eventually) admitted to his guilt, only getting one would seem light, particularly in light of his involvement.

    Ah, but what's this?

    Rapper DMX is in hot water after Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies, on a tip of animal cruelty, found animal carcasses, a cache of guns and a half pound of suspected illegal narcotics at the oft-troubled musician's Cave Creek, AZ, home. According to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office, the investigation into alleged animal cruelty is ongoing...

    No charges or arrests have been made. Friday's (8/24) search was prompted by reports that pit bulls kept by the rapper at the home in rural north Phoenix were not being given enough food or water. A dozen pit bulls were seized, the bodies of three dogs were dug up in the yard and a variety of assault-style weapons were taken from the home, Arpaio told the Associated Press.

    DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, was not home during the search.

    However, DMX's lawyer, Murray Richman, told the news agency on Saturday (8/25) that he had no knowledge of narcotics at the home. He said a caretaker was caring for the dogs and "all sorts of people" were staying at the home.

    Richman said DMX, a staple at nightclubs around town, had not been at the home in months. Arpaio told the newspaper that witnesses said they had seen him in the Cave Creek area more recently than that.

    Man alive. DMX's bullshit (Sorry...alleged bullshit) story and Vick's are near identical. Claiming "I'm never there" while others say otherwise and blaming those that supposedly are.

    Wonder if the "tip" that led to the search came from Michael Vick? The similarities and timing are just too strange. I don't recall ever hearing of a celebrity getting busted over this sort of thing, but now two in the space of a few months?

    I'm sure that lovely record cover above will help DMX's case, too.

    Monday, August 20, 2007

    Can I Just Take a Picture or Something Instead?

    From the Worldwatch Institute:

    Panda Dung makes Green Souvenir

    The Research and Breeding Center for Giant Pandas in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan Province, is offering a new line of panda-themed souvenirs made from the animals’ manure, Chengdu Daily reported. The center, home to some 60 giant pandas, has launched a program that enables it to recycle hundreds of tons of excrement from its residents annually into handicrafts, paper, and even bamboo carbon. The locally made handicrafts, which include puppets, fans, and brush pots and combine regional cultural features with images of China’s “national treasure,” have caught the eyes of many panda-loving tourists, the Daily reported.

    The innovative souvenirs have created a new source of income for the center, which used to spend between 5,000 and 8,000 yuan (US$662–1059) a month treating the pandas’ waste. The products are officially titled “green handicrafts made from panda dung” because of their environmentally friendly features, and some even retain the smell of fresh bamboo, the giant panda’s major food source.

    As a kid, I occasionally made green souvenirs too, but I thought it was because I ate too much relish in my hot dogs.

    Saturday, August 18, 2007

    When Buying Organic Pays

    Grist Magazine's advice section recently directed a reader seeking information about organic foods to a Consumer Reports article that I found useful and that I thought I'd share. It deals with which organic foods are best to purchase.

    Being that there's some debate as to whether buying organic is worthwhile (mostly based on how organic "organic" actually is) the input is welcomed. Mind you, I'm not sure if the details included reflect the situation in Canada, but it's should be useful as a guideline, at the very least. Here is the basic breakdown...

    Buy These Items Organic as often as Possible

    Apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, and strawberries.

    Meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy.

    Baby food.

    Buy These Organic if Price is No Object

    Asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, kiwi, mangos, onions, papaya, pineapples, and sweet peas.

    Breads, oils, potato chips, pasta, cereals, and other packaged foods, such as canned or dried fruit and vegetables.

    Don't Bother Buying These Items Organic

    Seafood, cosmetics.

    ...With full details in the article itself. The products are separated based on cost increase of buying organic as well as the level of pesticide that you'd be avoiding.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Animal Laws in Ontario 115 Years Old??

    I knew laws were not strong, but I didn't know they were this ancient. They were written in 1892.

    This came to my attention while hearing about Tre Smith, the gentleman who saved a dog from a hot car. Of course, when faced with a judgement call to make in a high-pressure situation, one is often the victim of hindsight.

    From CTV:

    A handful of activists rallied at the Toronto Humane Society offices on Wednesday in support of an investigator, who was suspended after he handcuffed the owner of a dying Rottweiler to his SUV.

    Tre Smith's suspension from active duty represents a reversal of fortunes for the animal cruelty investigator, who is being reviewed for actions that stem from the July 31 incident.

    Smith smashed a car window to rescue the dog, which was gasping for air and foaming at the mouth inside the sweltering SUV, when he arrived on scene.

    Initially, Smith was lauded for saving Cyrus, the 50-kilogram Rottweiler.

    But Smith's actions came under review after the dog's owner alleged he was beaten while left handcuffed to the vehicle.


    At the time of the incident, Toronto Humane Society spokesperson Lee Oliver said he was fully supportive of the officer's actions in handcuffing the dog owner.

    "He was jeopardizing the rescue operation and was threatening the safety of people at the scene," Oliver told CTV News.

    "He handcuffed him to the car to neutralize that threat."

    However, the owner of the dog alleged that passersby beat him and that he was bleeding when he was eventually taken away by police officers.


    Smith will no longer be allowed to work on the frontlines while the incident is being investigated.

    I don't really have a problem with the investigation. There's nothing to indicate that it's of the "witch-hunt" variety, and if Mr Smith had to go to such lengths it's not surprising that his superiors would want to review the situation.

    At the end of the day though, I feel pretty confident that there's one less person out there who thinks that leaving his dog in a hot car is no big deal. And the publicity from this situation may result in a much-needed update to anti animal abuse laws. So...Thanks, Tre!

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    Anti-Wrinkle Pizza

    Not surprisingly, it's meatless. :-) maybe one day, for the hell of it, we'll make an effort to build this bad boy.


    A so-called "anti-wrinkle" pizza created by a nutritionist in southern Italy has caused a stir, with pizza purists protesting against the desecration of the national dish, La Stampa newspaper reported Monday.

    The "primula" pizza is made up of three times the amount of fibre found in a classic pizza and boasts that it contains more magnesium and iron, thanks to its ingredients, including wholemeal flour.

    At least eight vegetables or sauces in the pizza allegedly create the anti-oxidant effects against ageing: tomatoes, rocket, garlic, courgettes, basil, mushrooms, carrots and spinach.

    The formula was devised by Eugenio Luigi Iorio, a nutritionist and biochemist at the University of Naples, in collaboration with Cosimo Mogavero, owner of a restaurant called La Fabbrica dei Sapori (The Taste Factory) restaurant.

    Pope Benedict XVI apparently loves the "anti-age" pizza, according to the newspaper. He ate one of the pies during a party for the Vatican guards catered by Mogavero.

    But the new invention has its detractors, including the True Neapolitan Pizza Association, which says the wholemeal flour in particular prevents the characteristic crust from forming.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    One Joint = Five Cigarettes

    I'm posting this because I've known people that have tried to convince me that smoking pot is no big deal. It may not be as bad as other drugs, but one shouldn't mistake that for "not being bad".

    In any event, by no means am I knowledgeable about this, so I'm laying it out and that's it.

    I wonder what those that defend pot based on medecinal usage say in response to news that it's also equivalent to five "cancer sticks".

    LONDON (Reuters) - Smoking one cannabis joint is as harmful to a person's lungs as having up to five cigarettes, according to research published on Tuesday.

    Those who smoked cannabis damaged both the lungs' small fine airways, used for transporting oxygen, and the large airways, which blocked air flow, the researchers said.

    It meant cannabis smokers complained of wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness, the study by experts at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand found.

    The researchers tested 339 people -- those who smoked only cannabis, those who smoked tobacco, those who smoked both and non-smokers.

    The study found only those who smoked tobacco suffered from the crippling lung disease emphysema, but cannabis use stopped the lungs working properly.

    "The extent of this damage was directly related to the number of joints smoked, with higher consumption linked to greater incapacity," said the authors of the report published in the medical journal Thorax.

    "The effect on the lungs of each joint was equivalent to smoking between 2.5 and five cigarettes in one go."

    The British government is considering whether cannabis should be reclassified as a more serious drug because of the dangers associated with stronger strains.

    So Much for Paradise.

    As advertised, we went to the Farmers Market at Lansdowne Park earlier today, but overall we weren't overwhelmed.

    In fairness, the Ottawa Super Ex is coming so the market had to move. Still, it wasn't quite what we were looking for. It may just depend on what one is looking for. For a wide variety of produce and crafts, go to the Byward market. The Farmers Market has some produce, but also baked goods, jams, etc. If that's more to your interest, go there. We'll probably give the Farmers market another try in about a month or so to see if the location change didn't have more of an impact than we know.

    While I'm going subject matters from past posts, I should mention that we did, in fact, make our way to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard on Thursday evening. We went to the Walkley road location around 8PM...And there was a line-up to outside! I don't know if this location is normally that busy, but being that someone walking by asked another person in line why there was such a long line, I suspect it isn't.

    Therefore, the staff there deserves a fair bit of credit. The line moved quickly, and these people were very enthusiastic despite what must have been a crazily busy day, so more power to them. I hope to come across results of this little event at some point.

    Earlier in the week, I was also pleased to take advantage of a great deal by the University of Ottawa.

    Their football seasons ticket structure was announced recently; $20 for four home game, half of which goes to NCAFA. NCAFA is the region's youth football organization.

    I was extremely pleased to hear about this. Last year, single games cost $10 each, so the savings are incredible. And still the university will be sharing the income. As a result, I'm going to do some sharing of my own.

    Last year, when the Ottawa Renegades CFL franchise was facing suspension, I'd attempted to start a program of sorts by which people could purchase tickets and donate them to charity. The league couldn't be bothered to acknowledge my existence so it never happened, but I'd already contacted several organizations and felt lousy that I couldn't follow through.

    Well, it may not be on the same scale, but I'll follow through now. I've purchased three seasons tickets (one for myself, naturally). The other two will go to the Boys and Girls club, Big Brothers, etc, if they'll have them. For an extra $20 or so, I'll get to the games, and tie up an irritating loose end from last April.

    Go Gee-Gees!

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    Paradise in a Parking Lot

    A couple of years ago, a gentleman I'd only known online visited Ottawa from Tennessee. He stayed on the Quebec side in the hotel across the street from the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

    I was not able to get time off work, and so I trudged from downtown to his hotel, going around the Parliament Buildings and across the bridge to Gatineau. As I was doing so, it struck me that there's a lot of this town that's right at my fingertips but that I don't take advantage of. I'm sure that's true for a number of people; in fact I recall my father-in-law saying that very thing when we visited Calgary (where he resides) in 1998.

    I've kept that little reminder in the back of my mind for some time and I'll occasionally apply it. I'll go read on the steps of Parliament on lunch breaks, for example.

    It popped into my head again recently as Christine and I started our vacation. I saw an article in a magazine about the Ottawa Farmer's Market (from which the title of this post came) held at Lansdowne Park every Sunday morning. Doesn't sound like much, I'm sure, but it's a nice little area, as is the Byward Market. So why not take advantage of it?

    We weren't able to go to the Farmer's Market either of the past two Sundays, so we instead hit the Byward Market yesterday. Oh man.

    I recall that the previously-mentioned father-in-law would always come back from that place pleased. I never really understood the big deal. I do now, particularly since I try to whenever possible to eat locally.

    We came home with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peppers, nectarines, zucchini, carrots, onions...All told we probably spent about $20. And of course the freshness can't be beat.

    So we're making this a habit now. The plan is to hit the one at Lansdowne on Sunday for the sake of comparison but unless its level of quality is far superior (or inferior, I guess) we'll probably jump back and forth between them every week or two. I'd recommend it for anyone in their respective neighborhood. I doubt you'll be disappointed.

    Human Skin To Replace Animal Tests

    From time to time you hear about a technological breaktrhough that blows your mind. Other times you wonder why it took so long.

    For me, this is the latter. Not because I expect anyone to show concern for animals, but for the sake of accurate results I would have thought they'd accomplish this earlier.

    From New Scientist Magazine.

    Stretched taut across the top of a vial, the thin cream-coloured material feels almost like rubber.

    Barely 1 centimetre in diameter, this is a sample of Episkin - a reconstructed human skin which has been approved for testing if cosmetics are likely to irritate the skin. It is the first complete replacement for animal testing.

    Although cosmetics and skincare giant L'Oréal has been developing reconstructed skin since the 1980s, the search for animal alternatives became urgent in recent months with the introduction of two pieces of legislation. In December 2006, the European Union introduced REACH, which calls for more than 10,000 chemicals used in cosmetics to be tested for skin irritancy by 2019. At the same time, the EU's cosmetics directive bans the use of animals in such tests from 2009.


    Tessonneaud's team grows the skin layers on collagen, using skin cells called keratinocytes left-over from breast surgery (see Diagram). The team can test the safety of cosmetics by simply smothering the skin in the product. They can then check the proportion of cells that have been killed off by adding a yellow chemical called MTT which turns blue in the presence of living tissue...Independent tests showed that in some cases Episkin was able to predict more accurately how a person would react to products than animal tests, she says.

    Episkin improves on animal testing in other ways too. For example, it can be adapted to resemble older skin by exposing it to high concentrations of UV light. Adding melanocytes also results in skin that can tan, and by using donor cells from women of different ethnicities, the team has created a spectrum of skin colours which they are using to measure the efficiency of sunblock for different skin tones.

    "This is a great advance - not just for animals but for people, who will finally have a safety test that is relevant to them," says Kathy Archibald of the anti-vivisection group Europeans for Medical Progress, London. She says animal skin often differs dramatically from human skin in terms of sensitivity.

    Saturday, August 04, 2007

    Miracle Treat Day

    For several years, prior to moving to moving to our current area, Christine and I were in the habit of making Thursday nights something of a treat night to help close out the week. We'd normally order food to be delivered from a restaurant called House of Lasagna (on Merivale road in Ottawa. Try their...well...lasagna). Hmmm...good!

    We've now moved too far away to have them deliver, so we've gotten out of the habit in the few weeks that we've been in the place. Frankly, if it was up to me, I'd make the trip but the Mrs seems far less enthusiastic nowadays.

    Ah, but I think I can talk her into going out to DQ for a Blizzard! This coming Thursday is Miracle Treat Day, during which...

    Blizzard proceeds from participating North America locations will benefit your Children's Miracle Network hospital. Proceeds are sale price minus cost of ingredients.

    And about the Children's Miracle Network...

    Children's Miracle Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children¹s hospitals across North America. Each year the 170 Children's Miracle Network hospitals provide the finest medical care, life-saving research and preventative education to help millions of kids overcome diseases and injuries of every kind.

    It appears as though the local Children's Hospital is involved so come Thursday, I believe we'll need little convincing to treat ourselves for charity.

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    Running For His Life

    Good story that I happened across while reading the Ottawa Sun.

    WINNIPEG -- Tired of watching his relatives die young and overweight, Cole Choken changed his life and dropped 100 lbs.

    The Winnipeg man, who used to polish off four pizzas in an evening, now promotes healthy living and is attempting to jog to Winnipeg from Calgary to raise money for diabetes research.

    "I went to ... all-you-can-eat restaurants with my uncles and my grandpa. We'd just eat away," Choken, 21, said yesterday from Calgary.

    "Everybody (in my family) passed away young because of diabetes and eating too much."

    Two years ago, Choken feared he would follow suit. He had ballooned to 320 lbs. and would stay up at night ordering restaurant food.

    "He'd go to bed and he'd start ordering pizza and chicken," said his mother, Brenda Choken.

    "I'd see four large boxes of pizza and one box of chicken ... in his bedroom, empty."

    Choken decided he had to change his ways. He was helped, he says, by a dream in which he saw himself standing on a highway with an old man telling him to run.

    So he started running, although it was a tough battle. He vomited halfway through his first attempt to run across Winnipeg.

    His body soon got used to the strain, and as he changed his eating habits, he lost more weight and the running became easier.

    Last October, Choken ran to Winnipeg from Grand Beach -- a distance of about 80 km. He says anyone can go from obese to marathon-ready, if they're determined.

    "Just start off slowly, just do a block. Sooner or later, you'll get farther and farther," he said.

    "It's the best feeling in the world. You feel good, you feel healthy."

    Choken was scheduled to leave Calgary today on his 1,300-km journey, and hopes to arrive in downtown Winnipeg by Sept. 8.

    His mother and other supporters will ride along in a trailer, where Choken will sleep. Eventually, he hopes to run across Canada and raise even more money for the Canadian Diabetes Association.

    He's also had some exposure in a Halifax newspaper. More power to him.