Friday, August 29, 2008

That's more like it, Home Depot!

A while back, I posted about how useless Home Depot had been for us when we moved into our new house (over a year, time flies...). This recent news makes up for a lot though.

The Home Depot Inc. has started a national program to help people recycle compact fluorescent light bulbs at all of its 1,973 U.S. stores.

The Atlanta-based home improvement retailer's Canada division began a similar program in November 2007. The new program in the United States is the first one made widely available by a retailer, Home Depot said.

Customers can bring in any expired, unbroken compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, and give them to a store associate at the returns desk. The bulbs will be turned over to an environmental management company for recycling.

"With more than 75 percent of households located within 10 miles of a Home Depot store, this program is the first national solution to providing Americans with a convenient way to recycle CFLs," said Ron Jarvis, senior vice president of environmental innovation for Home Depot.

In a related move, Home Depot (NYSE: HD) also will switch from incandescent bulbs to CFLs in its light fixture showrooms in U.S. stores by fall 2008. The move will save it $16 million a year in energy costs.


Good news, and I didn't know it already existed in Canada.

We have a CFL here that's burnt out. We were told (though I'm not convinced) that as much as it is said that CFLs can last 15-20 years, they can also last just a few weeks or months. Regardless, we have a CFL that needs doing away with and now know how to go about it. Way to get back on the good side, HD!

Change for Good

Recently, I had the misfortune of having to fly on Air Canada.

Actually, that's not entirely accurate. I made the unfortunate decision to fly with them. I needed to get to Calgary and could have flown with Westjet, but for the same price, Air Canada offered an uninterrupted flight.

Or so I thought. We had to land in Winnipeg to deal with a technical issue in the wings. I don't know much about flying, but I do know this: Wings are very useful.

It was interesting to see people's reactions. Most are so used to this kind of service from Air Canada that it gets shrugged or laughed off.

I would I could say I was inbluded in that group. But at least while using up my entire repertoire of French profanity shortly after the announcement was made (and not the lame France French stuff like "merde". The hardcore French Canadian stuff like...well, you know...), I was reminded of an occurence on a flight that sister-to-THIT took earlier this year. She told me about spare change being collected during the flight and how it was meant to be used. I asked the airline about it and here is the response I received:

Cathay Pacific and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) joined forces in 1991 to launch "Change For Good", an inflight fundraising programme designed to collect unused spare change from passengers to help underprivileged children in over 150 developing countries around the world.

Cathay Pacific is delighted to raise almost HK$10 million through the generosity of its passengers in the 2006/07 fundraising year. Most of the money raised will go to UNICEF to help in its projects to improve the lives of underprivileged children around the world. In addition, HK$700,000 of the Change for Good proceeds will be donated to the Cathay Pacific Wheelchair Bank to help local children with neuromuscular diseases in Hong Kong.

To date, Cathay Pacific has raised more than HK$80 million from the "Change for Good" programme.

Coolness. And they're not the only ones. Maybe Air Canada should join the club, as it were. I've contacted them accordingly and hope they see some value to becoming involved in such a program.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What do you get the girl who has everything?

Well, she probably doesn't have a solar-powered bra.

My first thought when I heard about the solar bra was that it had to be a joke. I heard about it on morning radio, and you know that's like. They're all the same. They do little newsbits then end with an outrageous, pointless story, the validity of which has to be questioned (like the time they told the story of a guy whose swimming pool was stolen. That would take some effort!).

Actually, that's not entirely true. My real first thought was that a woman who needs a "powered" bra of any kind will never starve to death. No doubt Maxim magazine will make her famous.

But my second thought was the above. Actually, I still think it's a joke. I'm all for new ideas and concepts, but this is so dumb-assed that it gives fodder for those who think that environmentalists are all obsessive weirdos.

Can't wash it or wear it in the rain. Sounds ideal! I would think that come a point, washing it is pretty much a necessity, but what do I know?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

This post is not about Brett Favre

Not really.

Hey, have you heard? Brett Favre retired, then decided he wanted to keep playing, so he came back, but his team didn't want him, so they traded him to New York and it really sounds like he doesn't want to go there but his only other option is to retire for real this time, I guess.

That run-on sentence finally coming to an end, I want to highlight a sports pet peeve of mine. The frequent claim that pro athletes play "for the love of the game".

Bullshit. How often do you hear of a pro athlete retiring and playing just to play? Like with a local team, for the hell of it, where he makes no money (maybe even pays to play), gets little attention, endorsement deal, perks, etc. I would say quite rarely.

Hey, have you heard? The Olympics are on!

I love the Olympics. If there was a medal for watching the Olympics, I would make my country proud. My e-mail address starts with the grammatically incorrect "teamcanadas" because it was created to receive newsletters from the various sporting organizations (the grammatically correct version was not available).

You want to talk about love of the game? Here you go. There are no guarantees that an athlete will turn an Olympic medal performance into a lucrative career but there they are going through intense preparation for an opportunity to compete.

Get a load of this guy...

...courtesy of Vicky Hall and today's Ottawa Citizen:

Kyle Shewfelt's journey from the seat of a wheelchair to the pinnacle of his sport, the Olympic Games, could very well grace the next installment of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

The Canadian gymnast broke both his legs 11 months ago in training for the world championships in Germany. Today, the reigning Olympic floor exercise champion tumbles back into the spotlight in qualifying action at the National Indoor Stadium.

But talk to Shewfelt and he'll tell you there's an equal -- if not better -- inspirational story on the Canadian men's artistic gymnastics team. His name is Nathan Gafuik. He rooms with Shewfelt on the road.
Gafuik suffers from a rare condition called Addison's disease, which prohibits the body from producing adrenaline.

As a result, he tires easily. He struggles to recover from injuries -- and gymnasts spend virtually their entire lives with all kinds of aches and pains most of us never encounter.
"If he gets into a weird place, you can just tell," Shewfelt said. "His eyes glass over. He gets a little shaky and starts talking weird. You have to get on it right away because he can die. Easily."

Earlier this year, Gafuik split his ear open on the parallel bars during a friendly competition against the United States.

The training staff rushed him to Foothills Hospital in Calgary as a precaution.

"For a normal person like you or I, our adrenaline would kick in," Shewfelt said. "But not for Nathan. His body works against him."
From the tender age of six, Gafuik showed tremendous promise and had the coaches whispering about the future Olympic medallist in their midst. But then Gafuik crashed. At the age of 11, his improvement stopped. And so did his growth.

Other boys turned into men. Gafuik's development was suspended in time. His coach, Tony Smith, couldn't figure out why. No one could, until Gafuik ended up in hospital in 2005 with severe dehydration. The doctors finally came up with an explanation for all the troubles.

The mystery solved, Gafuik could have quit, but he decided to keep chasing his Olympic dream. In 2004, he went to Athens as a reserve gymnast for the Summer Olympics. At one point, his nickname was Alter-Nate, due to his constant role as a spectator for major events. But not now. Along with national champion Adam Wong, Gafuik is considered one of Canada's top all-around gymnasts.

"We've got all his medications at the right level," Smith said. "We downplay the Addison's all time. We try not to use it as a reason for any type of failure."

If Shewfelt ever starts feeling sorry for himself, he looks over at Gafuik and knows he's not the only one who fought daunting adversity to get here.

"What he does with what he has been given in life is pretty phenomenal," Shewfelt said. "He's an inspiration."

Indeed. So how's he doing early on?

The strongest Canadian team ever assembled crashed out of the men's Olympic artistic gymnastics competition Saturday at the qualifying stage. Defending Olympic floor exercise gold medallist Kyle Shewfelt? Done. The team itself? Eliminated.

The only survivors to be found in the debris field were Nathan Gafuik and Adam Wong, who cracked the top 24 on all six apparatus to advance to the all-around final.

You go, boy.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Christian the Lion

No, I didn't get this from friggin' Oprah...