29 November 2005

I'm ALIVE, Saskatoon Berry!

Hello strangers - I haven't posted a new blog entry in a LONG time. The new training program and the shitty weather hasn't really given me a whole lot of inspiration, but here goes...

On the weekend of the 18th & 19th my mom and dad were in Red Deer to visit my brother, sista-in-law, and my new niece Trezlie. My cousin Scott and his wife Jen and their three daughters were over at Owen and Chloe's for dinner on Saturday night. Owen had to work on Sunday, and the women wanted to shop, so I spent most of the day hanging out with my dad and solving the world's problems.

Grandpa and Trezlie

Grandma and Trezlie

Chloe & Trezlie

Scott & Jordyn



I thought I'd add a few shots of the chinook clouds that blew through town on the following Tuesday to give you another view at they moved east from Jeff's house over downtown. The Chinook Arch can be quite dramatic, and the temperature can change 10-15C in a matter of minutes when the big ones roll through.

Chinook Arch, November 22

Chinook Arch, November 22

Last weekend was very busy. Friday night started out at a farewell party for my friend and running mate Darren who is moving to Vancouver this week. Another one heads for the Left Coast. I practically know more people in Vancouver now than I do in Calgary! After the party at MoneyPennies, Patrick and I went to a fundraiser for the Apocalypse Scooter Club put on by our friends Noel and Allie. It was a lot of fun with DJ Melo-D playing funky soul and lots of titties from the Kabuki Guns burlesque. Afterwards Pat and I went to Pulse because Darren and crew were supposed to be going there after MoneyPennies, but alas they didn't show up. We hung around for the dance performances - they showed off their titties too. I was quite impressed by the amount of female breasts I saw that night without making an effort!

Saturday morning was running, workout at Peak Power, Apollo curling game at NHCC, and immediately home to get ready for the Telus Mobility Xmas party. What a non-stop day. I needed lots of prayers before the dinner in order to maintain my sanity and kill the hangover and lack of sleep from the night before. A lot of wine at the dance afterwards made things even more painless. We slithered home once the lights came on.

Joe & Reid @ Telus Mobility Xmas Party, November 26

Joe & Reid @ Telus Mobility Xmas Party, November 26

Joe had to work at Swan's on Sunday, so Ryan and I went down there to watch the Grey Cup after we burned some CDs and shopped for groceries. I won $25 from the Q1 score in the Pool, so that helped to buy drinks at the end of the night.

Ryan, Kirsten, Reid @ Swan's

This week is pretty frenzied. The final round of layoffs at work swept through the office today, and I found out that we were pretty close to losing one body off of our team, however the situation worked in our favor and we're still intact (and still short-staffed). Oh well. I was praying (in several ways) that I'd get the layoff papers. I'd be nice to try something different. I'm pretty ambivalent either way. Joe and I are working through our mortgage pre-assessment this week. There was a townhouse that opened up in Inglewood on the weekend, but we won't have our ducks lined up in time to put an offer on it. We drove past it on Sunday. I think we can find something better, so I'm not really concerned about this one.

I'm quite relieved to say there's NOTHING planned for next weekend, save for the obligatory running, workout and curling. It would be nice to stay low profile this weekend. I have tons of work to do on the Synergy Club financials that I'd like to take a big bite out of this weekend, since the Xmas party season starts in full earnest the following weekend.

27 November 2005

World's Ugliest Dog dies at 14

Wed Nov 23, 2:47 PM ET

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Sam, the tiny dog whose hairless body and crooked teeth earned him a reputation as the World's Ugliest Dog, has died.

The pooch died Friday, just short of his 15th birthday, his owner said.

"I don't think there'll ever be another Sam," Susie Lockheed said, adding: "Some people would think that's a good thing."

Sam won the ugliest dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair this summer for the third year in a row. The pedigreed Chinese crested had made appearances on TV in Japan, radio in New Zealand and in Britain's Daily Mirror tabloid. He also had met Donald Trump on a talk show set.

Lockheed said she initially was terrified of Sam when she agreed to take him in as a rescue dog six years ago on a 48-hour trial basis. Although she fell in love with him, his appearance repulsed her then-boyfriend and prompted the man to break up with her.

Later, however, Sam became a matchmaker by bringing together Lockheed and her current beau, who saw a picture of the two on an online dating site.

Lockheed said she had Sam euthanized after she learned Sam's heart was failing.

She said she's felt a little lost ever since, and is sleeping with Sam's favorite toy — a stuffed bear he picked up and carried home.
(AP Photo/Santa Barbara News-Press, Rafael Maldonado, File)

25 November 2005

The Argument Sketch

From "Monty Python's Previous Record" and "Monty Python's Instant Record Collection"
Originally transcribed by Dan Kay (dan@reed.uucp)
Fixed up and Added "Complaint" and "Being Hit On The Head lessons" Aug/ 87
by Tak Ariga (tak@gpu.utcs.toronto.edu)

The Cast (in order of appearance.)
M= Man looking for an argument
R= Receptionist
Q= Abuser
A= Arguer (John Cleese)
C= Complainer (Eric Idle)
H= Head Hitter

M: Ah. I'd like to have an argument, please.
R: Certainly sir. Have you been here before?
M: No, I haven't, this is my first time.
R: I see. Well, do you want to have just one argument, or were you thinking of taking a course?
M: Well, what is the cost?
R: Well, It's one pound for a five minute argument, but only eight pounds for a course of ten.
M: Well, I think it would be best if I perhaps started off with just the one and then see how it goes.
R: Fine. Well, I'll see who's free at the moment.
R: Mr. DeBakey's free, but he's a little bit conciliatory.
Ahh yes, Try Mr. Barnard; room 12.
M: Thank you.

(Walks down the hall. Opens door.)

M: Well, I was told outside that...
Q: Don't give me that, you snotty-faced heap of parrot droppings!
M: What?
Q: Shut your festering gob, you tit! Your type really makes me puke, you vacuous, coffee-nosed, maloderous, pervert!!!
M: Look, I CAME HERE FOR AN ARGUMENT, I'm not going to just stand...!!
Q: OH, oh I'm sorry, but this is abuse.
M: Oh, I see, well, that explains it.
Q: Ah yes, you want room 12A, Just along the corridor.
M: Oh, Thank you very much. Sorry.
Q: Not at all.
M: Thank You.
(Under his breath) Stupid git!!

(Walk down the corridor)
M: (Knock)
A: Come in.
M: Ah, Is this the right room for an argument?
A: I told you once.
M: No you haven't.
A: Yes I have.
M: When?
A: Just now.
M: No you didn't.
A: Yes I did.
M: You didn't
A: I did!
M: You didn't!
A: I'm telling you I did!
M: You did not!!
A: Oh, I'm sorry, just one moment. Is this a five minute argument or the full half hour?
M: Oh, just the five minutes.
A: Ah, thank you. Anyway, I did.
M: You most certainly did not.
A: Look, let's get this thing clear; I quite definitely told you.
M: No you did not.
A: Yes I did.
M: No you didn't.
A: Yes I did.
M: No you didn't.
A: Yes I did.
M: No you didn't.
A: Yes I did.
M: You didn't.
A: Did.
M: Oh look, this isn't an argument.
A: Yes it is.
M: No it isn't. It's just contradiction.
A: No it isn't.
M: It is!
A: It is not.
M: Look, you just contradicted me.
A: I did not.
M: Oh you did!!
A: No, no, no.
M: You did just then.
A: Nonsense!
M: Oh, this is futile!
A: No it isn't.
M: I came here for a good argument.
A: No you didn't; no, you came here for an argument.
M: An argument isn't just contradiction.
A: It can be.
M: No it can't. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.
A: No it isn't.
M: Yes it is! It's not just contradiction.
A: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.
M: Yes, but that's not just saying 'No it isn't.'
A: Yes it is!
M: No it isn't!

A: Yes it is!
M: Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.
(short pause)
A: No it isn't.
M: It is.
A: Not at all.
M: Now look.
A: (Rings bell) Good Morning.
M: What?
A: That's it. Good morning.
M: I was just getting interested.
A: Sorry, the five minutes is up.
M: That was never five minutes!
A: I'm afraid it was.
M: It wasn't.
A: I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to argue anymore.
M: What?!
A: If you want me to go on arguing, you'll have to pay for another five minutes.
M: Yes, but that was never five minutes, just now. Oh come on!
A: (Hums)
M: Look, this is ridiculous.
A: I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to argue unless you've paid!
M: Oh, all right.
(pays money)
A: Thank you.
short pause
M: Well?
A: Well what?
M: That wasn't really five minutes, just now.
A: I told you, I'm not allowed to argue unless you've paid.
M: I just paid!
A: No you didn't.
A: No you didn't.
M: Look, I don't want to argue about that.
A: Well, you didn't pay.
M: Aha. If I didn't pay, why are you arguing? I Got you!
A: No you haven't.
M: Yes I have. If you're arguing, I must have paid.
A: Not necessarily. I could be arguing in my spare time.
M: Oh I've had enough of this.
A: No you haven't.
M: Oh Shut up.

(Walks down the stairs. Opens door.)

M: I want to complain.
C: You want to complain! Look at these shoes. I've only had them three weeks and the heels are worn right through.
M: No, I want to complain about...
C: If you complain nothing happens, you might as well not bother.
M: Oh!
C: Oh my back hurts, it's not a very fine day and I'm sick and tired of this office.

(Slams door. walks down corridor, opens next door.)

M: Hello, I want to... Ooooh!
H: No, no, no. Hold your head like this, then go Waaah. Try it again.
M: uuuwwhh!!
H: Better, Better, but Waah, Waah! Put your hand there.
M: No.
H: Now..
M: Waaaaah!!!
H: Good, Good! That's it.
M: Stop hitting me!!
H: What?
M: Stop hitting me!!
H: Stop hitting you?
M: Yes!
H: Why did you come in here then?
M: I wanted to complain.
H: Oh no, that's next door. It's being-hit-on-the-head lessons in here.
M: What a stupid concept.

Ever wonder what Venus feels like? Coming soon to a planet near you!

Greenhouse gases at highest level in 650,000 years

An ice core about two miles long -- the oldest frozen sample ever drilled from the underbelly of Antarctica — shows that at no time in the last 650,000 years have levels of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane been as high as they are today. The research, published in today's issue of the journal Science, describes the content of the greenhouse gases within the core and shows that carbon dioxide levels today are 27% higher than they have been in the last 650,000 years and levels of methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas, are 130% higher, said Thomas Stocker, a climate researcher at the University of Bern and senior member of the European team that wrote two papers based on the core. The last time carbon dioxide levels were as high or higher than today was probably tens of millions of years ago, said Richard Alley, a Penn State University geophysicist and expert on ice cores who was not involved with the analysis.
(Chicago Tribune 051125)

I guess this could go either way, Global Warming or Global Cooling depending on what expert you listen to, however I think the evidence is undeniable that things are irrevocably changing (climate change is FREAKIN' REAL, you naysayer losers) and most likely to create much hardship, displacement and challenge to the generations following us. We've sold out our childrens' and grand-childrens' futures to keep the greed & gluttony oil party of the present going. Shameful.

Replant the American Dream

By David Ignatius

When I lived abroad, Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. It was a chance to scrounge up a turkey, gather foreign and American friends, and celebrate what America represented to the world. I liked to give a sentimental toast when the turkey arrived at the table, and more than once I had my foreign guests in tears. They loved the American dream as much as I did.

I don't think Americans realize how much we have tarnished those ideals in the eyes of the rest of the world these past few years. The public opinion polls tell us that America isn't just disliked or feared overseas -- it is reviled. We are seen as hypocrites who boast of our democratic values but who behave lawlessly and with contempt for others. I hate this America-bashing, but when I try to defend the United States and its values in my travels abroad, I find foreigners increasingly are dismissive. How do you deny the reality of Abu Ghraib, they ask, when the vice president of the United States is actively lobbying against rules that would ban torture?

Of all the reversals the United States has suffered in recent years, this may be the worst. We are slowly shredding the fabric that defines what it means to be an American.

Not so long ago our country really was seen as different. Foreigners queued up outside any institution that called itself an "American university," hoping for a chance at their piece of the dream. My own ancestors were educated at such a college, and their children's and grandchildren's success in the new land was part of a global chain of American affirmation and renewal

We are eating up this seed corn. That's what I have seen in recent years. We inherited incredible riches of goodwill -- a world that admired our values and wanted a seat at our table -- and we have been squandering them. The Bush administration didn't begin this wasting of American ideals, but it has been making the problem worse. Certainly George W. Bush has been spending our international political capital at an astounding clip.

When I began traveling as a foreign correspondent 25 years ago, I thought I understood what the face of evil looked like. There were governments that used torture against their enemies; they might call it "enhanced interrogation" or some other euphemism, but it was torture, and you just hoped, as an American, that you were never unlucky enough to be their prisoner. There were governments that "disappeared" people -- snatched them off the street and put them without charges in secret prisons where nobody could find them There were countries that threatened journalists with physical harm.

As an American in those days, I felt that I traveled with a kind of white flag. We were different. The world knew it. We might have allies in the Middle East or Latin America who used such horrifying methods. But these were techniques that Americans would never, ever use -- or even joke about. That was our seed corn -- the fact that we were different.

The United States must begin to replenish this stock of support for America in the world. I would love to see the Bush administration take the lead, but its officials seem not to understand the problem. Even if they turned course, much of the world wouldn't believe them. Sadly, when President Bush eloquently evokes our values, the world seems to tune out. So this task falls instead to the American public. It's a job that involves traveling, sharing, living our values, encouraging our children to learn foreign languages and work and study abroad. In short, it means giving something back to the world.

We must stop behaving as if we are in a permanent state of war, in which any practice is justified by the exigencies of the moment. That's my biggest problem with Vice President Cheney's anything-goes jeremiads against terrorism. They suggest we will always be at war, and so it doesn't matter what the world thinks of our behavior. That's a dangerously mistaken view. We are in a long war but not an endless one, and we need to begin rebuilding the bridges to normal life.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving each year, the Wall Street Journal republishes twin editorials that evoke America's special gifts: "The Desolate Wilderness" and "And the Fair Land." They describe the pilgrims' fears as they departed Europe in 1620, and the measureless bounty they and their descendants found in the new land. The spirit we celebrate on Thanksgiving Day is our most powerful national asset. We need to put America's riches back on the table and share them with the world, humbly and gratefully.


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The China Opening Of 2005: Don't Ask

By Peter Baker

BEIJING, Nov. 20 -- After all the pomp and circumstance, after all the mind-numbing statements in all the mind-numbing meetings, President Bush finally seemed happy.

He slipped into athletic shorts, plonked a helmet on his head and jumped onto his mountain bicycle ready to race off with the Chinese Olympic bicycling team.

"How do you say, 'Take it easy on the old man'?" he asked jovially.

Not to worry. They did.

For an hour Sunday afternoon, the commander in chief took a break from the worries of the world and pushed himself against a half-dozen twenty-something athletes for a bracing ride around a Beijing training facility. At an appearance with Chinese President Hu Jintao just a few hours earlier, he had seemed flat and listless, his voice drained of energy, but zipping over the rugged trails put some air back in his tires.

"Remind you of Crawford?" Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press shouted at him as he raced around a bend.

"Better than Crawford!" he replied.

For the president, it was a rare moment of fun on an otherwise dreary overseas trip. In five years in the presidency, Bush has proved a decidedly unadventurous traveler, an impression undispelled by the weeklong journey through Asia that wraps up Monday. As he barnstormed through Japan, South Korea and China, with a final stop in Mongolia still to come, Bush visited no museums, tried no restaurants, bought no souvenirs and made no effort to meet ordinary local people.

"I live in a bubble," Bush once said, explaining his anti-tourist tendencies by citing the enormous security and logistical considerations involved in arranging any sightseeing. "That's just life."

The Bush spirit trickles down to many of his top advisers, who hardly go out of their way to sample the local offerings either. A number of the most senior White House officials on the trip, perhaps seeking the comforts of their Texas homes, chose to skip the kimchi in South Korea to go to dinner at Outback Steakhouse -- twice. (Admittedly, a few unadventurous journalists joined them.)

First lady Laura Bush usually has more interest in looking around. In Pusan, a bustling port city perched on the sea against the backdrop of woodsy foothills in southeastern South Korea, she went to the Metropolitan Simin Municipal Library to read to orphans and the Pusan Metropolitan Museum to check out an exhibition of traditional costumes and palatial silk flowers. Here in Beijing, she explored the Ming Tombs, the underground chambers where 13 emperors are buried.

She has had little luck enticing her husband into joining her over the years. The first time the Bushes traveled to China together in their current capacity, she had to tell him to slow down as he tried to race through a tour of the Great Wall. She once persuaded him to go to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, only to see him burn through the place in 30 minutes. He dispensed with the Kremlin cathedrals in Moscow in seven minutes. He flatly declined an Australian invitation to attend the Rugby World Cup while down under.

Bush's lack of adventure on this trip seemed all the more apparent given what else he had to do. Particularly in Pusan, where the 21 presidents and prime ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum were meeting, Bush's schedule was heavy with official acronym-driven events that could put even the wonkiest to sleep.

Over two days at APEC, Bush and the others talked about the DDA negotiations and the Bogor Goals in advance of the WTO meeting. He discussed the one-China policy and the three communiques, not to mention the second session of the fifth round of the six-party talks on North Korea. Bush met with the ASEAN folks and the ABAC folks on the sidelines of the meetings at the BEXCO facility. No word, though, on whether he read the CTI report on the TILF activities, which discussed "the revised/enhanced CAPs."

The president's only concessions to sightseeing were visits to ancient temples in Japan and South Korea with the leaders of those nations. At the Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto, Japan, originally constructed in 1397 as a shogun's residence, Bush wandered past the sacred Buddha relics amid an exquisite garden and pond.

As Bush was led into the temple, he removed his shoes per custom.

"I wonder if my socks have any holes," he fretted.

Laura Bush told him not to worry.

Afterward the president rendered a spare, one-word verdict. "Beautiful," he declared.

At the Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju, South Korea, first built in 751 and rebuilt after invaders destroyed it, the Bushes examined the wooden buildings and stone pagodas as a gong sounded solemnly and female drummers pounded on drums suspended on racks. The Bushes joined with their South Korean counterparts to ring a large green metal bell. Each couple took one side of the four-foot-long wooden pole suspended by chains, pulled it back and let it go to slam into the bell. The foursome let out seven gongs.

Bush also gamely put on a pastel blue Korean turumagi coat with the flowing sleeves and the bow on the front, just as the 20 other leaders did for the final APEC photograph. It's a tradition for the host country to provide matching native wear for all the heads of state and governments. Bush usually grins and bears it, just as his friend Russian President Vladimir Putin does. Afterward, White House counselor Dan Bartlett noted, "It's a race usually between he and President Putin to get it off."

The other race, the one between him and the Chinese athletes, went predictably enough. The athletes, three men and three women, dutifully let him win Bush was hardly fooled. "It is clear that I couldn't make the Chinese Olympic cycling team," he noted later.

Seeming reinvigorated after changing back into his suit, Bush decided to take questions from the pool of reporters following him. After some back and forth about Iraq and China, Ken Herman of Cox News Service asked why in the earlier session with Hu the president had "seemed a little off your game."

"Have you ever heard of jet lag?" Bush asked.

"Yes, sir."

"Well, good. That answers your question."

Herman had another. But Bush had had enough and headed for the exit.

Except that the double doors he picked to leave through were locked.

Sheepishly, Bush turned back to the press. "I was trying to escape," he said. "It didn't work."

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I've found it very troublesome from the beginning of the Bush Administration that the leader of the free world finds no interest or stimulation in foreign cultures, let alone pop culture. He lives in a hard-shell bubble, indeed.

Movin' On Up (To the East Side)

So it's official. Joe and I are looking for some property. We've set up an appointment with a broker next week to get the ball rolling. We figure we should be eligible for quite a sizable mortgage, however we only want to be spending close to what we are now on monthly payments. If we get a place for $250K, less $20K down payment, we would be looking at around $1000/month mortgage payments (plus condo fees, taxes, etc, etc.). I'm pretty excited to start looking. We're still intending to find a place to live where we still don't require a car. I'm inclined towards the new townhouse condo developments in Inglewood (close to downtown and C-train, but no local grocery store...), however we wouldn't rule out Sunnyside or Bankview either. I've pretty much ruled out downtown now. At one time I thought one of the new high-rise condos might be the best option, however now I realize the demand premium on their prices is far more than I deem necessary or reasonable. In that light even if we bought in Inglewood the demand for property in the ring communities around downtown is going to soar over the next five years. It's time to make the leap and get in the game!

Myers-Briggs Personality Type indicator

Since everyone has or is doing this, I thought I'd share....

Your Type is

Strength of the preferences %
Introverted - 33
Intuitive - 56
Thinking - 78
Judging - 44

To outsiders, INTJs may appear to project an aura of "definiteness", of self-confidence. This self-confidence, sometimes mistaken for simple arrogance by the less decisive, is actually of a very specific rather than a general nature; its source lies in the specialized knowledge systems that most INTJs start building at an early age. When it comes to their own areas of expertise -- and INTJs can have several -- they will be able to tell you almost immediately whether or not they can help you, and if so, how. INTJs know what they know, and perhaps still more importantly, they know what they don't know.

INTJs are perfectionists, with a seemingly endless capacity for improving upon anything that takes their interest. What prevents them from becoming chronically bogged down in this pursuit of perfection is the pragmatism so characteristic of the type: INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion "Does it work?" to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms. This in turn produces an unusual independence of mind, freeing the INTJ from the constraints of authority, convention, or sentiment for its own sake.

INTJs are known as the "Systems Builders" of the types, perhaps in part because they possess the unusual trait combination of imagination and reliability. Whatever system an INTJ happens to be working on is for them the equivalent of a moral cause to an INFJ; both perfectionism and disregard for authority may come into play, as INTJs can be unsparing of both themselves and the others on the project. Anyone considered to be "slacking," including superiors, will lose their respect -- and will generally be made aware of this; INTJs have also been known to take it upon themselves to implement critical decisions without consulting their supervisors or co-workers. On the other hand, they do tend to be scrupulous and even-handed about recognizing the individual contributions that have gone into a project, and have a gift for seizing opportunities which others might not even notice.

In the broadest terms, what INTJs "do" tends to be what they "know". Typical INTJ career choices are in the sciences and engineering, but they can be found wherever a combination of intellect and incisiveness are required (e.g., law, some areas of academia). INTJs can rise to management positions when they are willing to invest time in marketing their abilities as well as enhancing them, and (whether for the sake of ambition or the desire for privacy) many also find it useful to learn to simulate some degree of surface conformism in order to mask their inherent unconventionality.

Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ's Achilles heel. While they are capable of caring deeply for others (usually a select few), and are willing to spend a great deal of time and effort on a relationship, the knowledge and self-confidence that make them so successful in other areas can suddenly abandon or mislead them in interpersonal situations.

This happens in part because many INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals; for instance, they tend to have little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation (which most types consider half the fun of a relationship). To complicate matters, INTJs are usually extremely private people, and can often be naturally impassive as well, which makes them easy to misread and misunderstand. Perhaps the most fundamental problem, however, is that INTJs really want people to make sense. :-) This sometimes results in a peculiar naivete', paralleling that of many Fs -- only instead of expecting inexhaustible affection and empathy from a romantic relationship, the INTJ will expect inexhaustible reasonability and directness.

Probably the strongest INTJ assets in the interpersonal area are their intuitive abilities and their willingness to "work at" a relationship. Although as Ts they do not always have the kind of natural empathy that many Fs do, the Intuitive function can often act as a good substitute by synthesizing the probable meanings behind such things as tone of voice, turn of phrase, and facial expression. This ability can then be honed and directed by consistent, repeated efforts to understand and support those they care about, and those relationships which ultimately do become established with an INTJ tend to be characterized by their robustness, stability, and good communications.

Great careers for INTJs

Here are just a few popular and often satisfying careers for people whose Personality Type is INTJ.

Intellectual property attorney
News analyst
Design engineer
Biomedical researcher
Network integration specialist
Software developer
Freelancer writer
Media planner
Chief Financial Officer
Desktop publishing specialist

How to Love an INTJ

- Be an attentive and respectful listener.
- Appreciate my competency and creativity.
- Give me plenty of privacy and time alone for me to pursue my interests in depth.
- Try not to pressure me to share my feelings before I'm ready.
- Be honest and direct about what you need.
- Above all - respect my independence and need to live my life according to my own standards.

22 November 2005

I Have...

More things to learn about each other from....I have:

(x) smoked a cigarette
(x) crashed a friend's car.
(x) Got drunk with a good friend
( ) stolen a car
( ) been in love (or something like it!)

( ) been dumped
(x) shoplifted
(x) been fired
( ) been in a fist fight
(x) snuck out of your parent's house

( ) been arrested
(x) gone on a blind date
(x) skipped school
( ) seen someone die
(x) been to Canada

(x) been to Mexico
(x) been on a plane
( ) purposely set a part of yourself on fire
(x) eaten Sushi
(x) been skiing.. snowboarding

(x) been moshing at a concert
(x) taken painkillers
(x) love someone or miss someone right now
(x) lain on your back and watched cloud shapes go by
(x) made a snow angel

(x) flown a kite
(x) built a sand castle
(x) gone puddle jumping
(x) played dress up
(x) jumped into a pile of leaves

(x) gone sledding
(x) cheated while playing a game
(x) been lonely
(x) fallen asleep at work/school
(x) used a fake id

(x) watched the sun set
( ) felt an earthquake/tremor
(x) touched a snake
(x) slept beneath the stars
(x) been tickled

(x) been robbed
(x) been misunderstood
(x) pet a reindeer/goat
(x) won a contest
(x) run a red light

( ) been suspended from school
(x) been in a car crash
( ) had braces
( ) eaten a whole pint of ice cream in one night
(x) had deja vu

(x) danced in the moonlight
(x) liked the way you look
(x) witnessed a crime
(x) questioned your heart
(x) been obsessed with post-it notes

(x) squished barefoot through the mud
(x) been lost
(x) been to the opposite side of the country
(x) swum in the ocean
(x) felt like dying

(x) cried yourself to sleep
(x) played cops and robbers (and Cowboys & Indians)
( ) recently colored with crayons
(x) sung karaoke
(x) paid for a meal with only coins

(x) done something you told yourself you wouldn't
( ) made prank phone calls
(x) laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
(x) caught a snowflake on your tongue
(x) danced in the rain
(x) written a letter to Santa Claus

(x) been kissed under a mistletoe
(x) watched the sun rise with someone you care about
(x) blown bubbles
(x) made a bonfire on the beach
(x) crashed a party
(x) gone roller-skating (or blading)

(x) had a wish come true
( ) worn pearls
(x) jumped off a bridge
( ) ate dog/cat food (The dry type)
( ) told a complete stranger you loved them

( ) kissed a mirror
(x) sung in the shower
( ) had a dream that you married someone
( ) glued your hand to something
(x) got your tongue stuck to a flag pole

( ) kissed a fish
(x) sat on a roof top
(x) screamed at the top of your lungs
(x) done a one-handed cartwheel
( ) talked on the phone for more than 6 hours

(x) stayed up all night
( ) didn't take a shower for a week
(x) pick and ate an apple right off the tree
(x) climbed a tree
(x) had a tree house

( ) are scared to watch scary movies alone
( ) believe in ghosts
( ) have more then 30 pairs of shoes
( ) worn a really ugly outfit to school just to see what others say
( ) gone streaking

( ) gone doorbell ditching
( ) played chicken
(x) jumped into a pool/hot tub/lake with all your clothes on
(x) been told you're hot by a complete stranger
(x) broken a bone

(x) been easily amused
(x) caught a fish then ate it
(x) caught a butterfly
(x) laughed so hard you cried
(x) cried so hard you laughed

(x) cheated on a test
(x) have a Britney Spears CD
(x) forgotten someone's name
( ) French braided someone's hair
(x) gone skinny dipping in a pool (and a lake)

( ) been threatened to be kicked out of your house
( ) been kicked out your house
(x) have had a fantasy over someone you love as a good friend
(x) sun tanned naked , half an x for half naked
(x) ran naked in the rain

And the dominos begin to fall...

Ford poised to follow with cuts

Ford executive Mark Fields is no doubt watching closely as his rivals at General Motors attempt to sell a restructuring plan that would close 12 plants and eliminate 30,000 jobs. Fields, who was appointed president of Ford's Americas unit in September, is scheduled next month to submit to the board of directors his own plan to overhaul the money-losing company's production in the hemisphere. Analysts expect the Ford plan will be nearly as painful as the one GM announced yesterday and possibly more difficult to accomplish. At the same time, North America's second-largest car maker is negotiating with its United Auto Workers union to slash post-retirement health benefits by as much as US$1-billion a year. As with GM, Ford will be counting on the agreement of its unions to eliminate jobs and cut retiree benefits, and will be looking to bolster investor confidence to support its sagging share price and improve its junk-status credit rating. Ford has relied heavily on trucks and SUVs to maintain its sales in North America. But like GM, it has seen its margins squeezed by intense competition caused by overcapacity in the North American market, and by a sharp decline in the sale of larger vehicles because of soaring gasoline prices.

On Friday, Ford announced it would eliminate 4,000 salaried jobs or 10% of its white-collar work force in North America. Ford chairman and ceo Bill Ford plans to unveil the broader restructuring plan by late January, and has warned it will include plant closings and the loss of thousands of jobs. Analysts at the independent Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, MI, expect Fields to recommend the elimination of 20,000 jobs and at least five major assembly plants, although they believe Canada will be largely spared.
(Globe and Mail 051122)

Toyota seen coping after gaining crown

Toyota may soon supplant General Motors as the world's largest automaker, but there is little evidence to suggest the company will suffer the same fall from grace as its bloated US rival, analysts say. As GM cuts as many as one million cars from the nine million it churned out last year, Toyota is expected to produce 9.2 million vehicles next year. That doesn't include cars from new Canadian and US plants Toyota is slated to open over the next few years in a bid to catch up with its surging market share. Scaling back isn't even in Toyota's sights for the foreseeable future, said Rebecca Lindland, senior analyst at Global Insight in Lexington, MA. "Toyota's plants are running at 110% capacity," she said. "Toyota, as well as Honda and Nissan, can all use more plants in North America." But that growth may come with a price and Toyota is showing its first signs of growing pains as top management worries the company's reputation for quality is taking a hit. Indeed, Toyota has started a "back to basics" program in the wake of its largest ever vehicle recall last month when it called back 1.25 million vehicles. The firm's European division head described the recall as a "very serious concern" for Toyota and warned that rivals are gaining ground against the Japanese automaker in quality surveys. But analysts note that Toyota is much smarter than GM when it comes to reading the market. "Even as Toyota continues to climb, they are always watching their back," Lindland said. "GM, Ford and Chrysler were in this bubble where they said, 'We're the biggest, we're the best and nothing is ever going to happen to us.' As a company, Toyota's much more aware of the competition than the Big Three has ever been."
(National Post 051122)

China frets over auto-capacity glut

Chinese policy makers -- and some investors -- are getting worried there might not be enough customers to buy all the cars coming off the country's assembly lines. By 2010, a top government official warned last week, total annual production capacity will exceed 20 million vehicles, while demand will be nine million. "The industry is facing a grave overproduction situation," said Chen Bin, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission's industrial department. Global auto makers including Volkswagen, General Motors and Toyota have announced plans to invest further in China, in some cases tripling capacity. The market has experienced a surge of entrants and new models in the past five years: In 2000, only 15 passenger models were available. Today, 32 brands are producing more than 125 models, according to industry consultant Automotive Resources Asia. China's annual production capacity already is more than eight million units, within striking distance of Germany, the world's third-biggest auto manufacturer after the US and Japan. About five million vehicles were sold in China in 2004. For foreign manufacturers in China, the export possibilities so far offer little solace. Auto makers such as DaimlerChrysler -- with a newly expanded plant on the outskirts of Beijing -- are trying to figure out how to use China's cheap labor the same way the computer and textiles industries have. But no manufacturer has been able to profitably export significant amounts of cars.
(Wall Street Journal 051122)

21 November 2005

A, B, 3's

A is for Age: 33
B is for Build: slim athletic(wouldn't say swimmer's build -- that's too much of a stretch..)
C is for Career: Computer systems analyst
D is for Dad's name: Stuart
E is for Essential items to bring to a party: Beer and wine
F is for Favorite article of clothing: other than my cycling skinsuits? J/K - My Kenneth Cole shirts
G is for Goof off thing I do: surf the Net
H is for Hometown: Grandview, Manitoba
I is for Instrument you play: Piano
J is for Jam or Jelly you like: Wildberry & Saskatoon Berry -- YUM!
K is for Kids: Gizmo and Bandit
L is for Living arrangement: Shitty apartment in a shitty building on a shitty street in a shitty neighborhood in downtown Calgary
M is for Music I like: Dance, Electronica, House
N is for Name of your first pet: Buffy
O is for overnight hospital stays: Always problems with my tonsils in the past -- tonsillitis, tonsillectomy, if it begins with 'tonsil', I've been there.
P is for Phobias: Drowning
Q is for Quote you like: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -George Santayana
R is for Reason for blogging: Feeding my creative urges, need to speak up about important things going on that people aren't paying attention to.
S is for Siblings: Brothers Owen and Warren (deceased 1993 RIP)
T is for Texas, ever been: I've been in DFW airport before -- does that count?
U is for Unique trait: Very fast on foot and bike
W is for Worst traits: Can be a push-over at times, esp. in situations I'm not committed to.
X is for X-Rays you've had: Teeth, Hip after being hit by a car - that's about it.
Y is for Yummy food you make: How 'bout mom's old fashioned pasta salad?
Z is for Zodiac sign: Capricorn - I'm such a goat

A is for Anal Sex: What do you think? Is there any other type of sex?
B is for Boxing: Stupid - embarrassment to the progression of the species
C is for Compulsions: Chasing bikes/runners ahead of me, no matter who it is
D is for Deviant Behaviors: Where do I begin? I've got so many...
E is for Ego: Fear of failure
F is for Favorite thing about yourself: Physically? I guess my legs & butt. I love men's legs (and butts). Mentally? My resolve to stick with something until its completion.
G is for Gluttony: Sex, drugs and music? Overindulge in all three.
H is for Homosexual Acts: What do you think? Are there any other types of acts? If you had asked about Heterosexual acts, I probably would've had to think about it for a minute or two.
I is for I.Q.: Not sure, but I thunk it might is decreasing daily.
J is for Jesus: Great PR man until his demise, unfortunately.
K is for Killing: Last life I ended? You mean this week? I can't get into this right now...
L is for Lungs: Do you smoke? If so, what? Everything I can get my mouth around.
M is for Middle name: What is yours? Jonathan
N is for Name of your first celebrity crush: Jon Erik Hexum (remember CoverUp? Yowsa - he was beautiful).
O is for Orgasm: When was your last one? Saturday.
P is for Pockets or Purse: What's in yours? Keys, wallet, change, memory stick.
Q is for Question: What's one you hate being asked, or hate to ask? What do you do for a living? Who cares? There's so much more to a person. I guess it's a pretty safe icebreaker for a lot of people.
R is for Right handed or left handed? Southpaw all the way -- I do play some sports right-handed though.
S is for Swear words: Which ones do you most frequently use? The F-bomb
T is for Theft: What's the last thing you stole? You mean this week? Just kidding. I was involved in a dine-and-dash a year or so ago that I still guilt over.
U is for Unusual pleasure you enjoy: A cigarette after a hard cardio workout -- headrush! Whee!
W is for Weirdest item you've purchased: You mean this week? Many non-cyclists would question some of the stuff I walk out of bike stores with.
X is for eX: Is there one you think of? Ken -- why didn't timing work out for us? I'm glad it didn't in the long run - look at what I have now!
Y is for Youth: When you were 9, what did you want to be when you grew up? Architect
Z is for Zoo: What exotic animal would you like to have as a pet? Chimpanzee

WAR! -- maybe?

Posted on Wed, Nov. 16, 2005
In challenging war's critics, administration tinkers with truth
By James Kuhnhenn and Jonathan S. Landay
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON — President Bush called Democratic critics of how he sold the Iraq war to the world "irresponsible" five times Thursday during a brief news conference in South Korea.

Bush said he agreed with Vice President Dick Cheney, who on Wednesday had accused some unnamed senators who oppose the administration's Iraq war policy of lacking "backbone" and making "reprehensible charges" that Bush and his aides "purposely misled the American people on prewar intelligence."

Cheney's rough-edged remarks, and the president's unequivocal endorsement of them, were the latest in the Bush administration's new campaign to challenge critics of how it sold the war, accusing them of twisting the historical record about how and why the war was launched. Yet in accusing Iraq-war critics of "rewriting history," Bush, Cheney and other senior administration officials are tinkering with the truth themselves.

The administration's overarching premise is beyond dispute: Administration officials, Democratic and Republican lawmakers and even leaders of foreign governments believed intelligence assessments that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. That intelligence turned out to be wrong.

But Bush, Cheney, and other senior officials have added several other arguments in recent days that distort the factual record. Below, Knight Ridder addresses the administration's main assertions:

ASSERTION: In a Veterans Day speech last Friday, Bush said that Iraq war "critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs."

CONTEXT: Bush is correct in saying that a commission he appointed, chaired by Judge Laurence Silberman and former Sen. Charles Robb, D-Va., found no evidence of "politicization" of the intelligence community's assessments concerning Iraq's reported weapons of mass destruction programs.

But neither that report nor others looked at how the White House characterized the intelligence it had when selling its plan for war to the world and whether administration officials exaggerated the threat. That's supposed to be the topic of a second phase of study by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

"Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that was not part of our inquiry," Silberman said when he released the panel's findings in March.

The Senate committee concluded that none of the intelligence analysts it interviewed said they were pressured to change their conclusions on weapons of mass destruction or on Iraq's links to terrorism.

But the committee's findings were hardly bipartisan. Committee Democrats said in additional comments to the panel's July 2004 report that U.S. intelligence agencies produced analyses and the key prewar assessment of Iraq's illicit weapons in "a highly pressurized climate."

And the committee found that after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, analysts were under pressure to avoid missing credible threats, and as a result they were "bold and assertive" in making terrorist links.

In a July 2003 report, a CIA review panel found that agency analysts were subjected to "steady and heavy" requests from administration officials for evidence of links between Iraq and al-Qaida, which created "significant pressure on the Intelligence Community to find evidence that supported a connection."

ASSERTION: In his speech, Bush noted that "more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate - who had access to the same intelligence - voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power."

CONTEXT: This isn't true.

The Congress didn't have access to the President's Daily Brief, a top-secret compendium of intelligence on the most pressing national security issues that was sent to the president every morning by former CIA Director George Tenet.

As for prewar intelligence on Iraq, senior administration officials had access to other information and sources that weren't available to lawmakers.

Cheney and his aides visited the CIA and other intelligence agencies to view raw intelligence reports, received briefings and engaged in highly unusual give-and-take sessions with analysts.

Moreover, officials in the White House and the Pentagon received information directly from the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an exile group, circumventing U.S. intelligence agencies, which greatly distrusted the organization.

The INC's information came from Iraqi defectors who claimed that Iraq was hiding chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs, had mobile biological-warfare facilities and was training Islamic radicals in assassinations, bombings and hijackings.

The White House emphasized these claims in making its case for war, even though the defectors had shown fabrication or deception in lie-detector tests or had been rejected as unreliable by U.S. intelligence professionals.

All of the exiles' claims turned out to be bogus or remain unproven.

War hawks at the Pentagon also created a special unit that produced a prewar report - one not shared with Congress - that alleged that Iraq was in league with al-Qaida. A version of the report, briefed to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and top White House officials, disparaged the CIA for finding there was no cooperation between Iraq and the terrorist group, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence disclosed.

After the report was leaked in November 2003 to a conservative magazine, the Pentagon disowned it.

In fact, a series of secret U.S. intelligence assessments discounted the administration's assertion that Saddam could give banned weapons to al-Qaida.

In other cases, Bush and his top lieutenants relied on partial or uncorroborated intelligence.

For example, Cheney contended in an August 2002 speech that Iraq would develop a nuclear weapon "fairly soon," even though U.S. intelligence agencies and the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency had no evidence to support such a claim.

The following month, Bush, Cheney and then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice asserted that Iraq had sought aluminum tubes for a nuclear-weapons program. At the time, however, U.S. intelligence agencies were deeply divided over the question. The IAEA later determined that the tubes were for ground-to-ground rockets.

A recently declassified Defense Intelligence Agency report from February 2002 said that an al-Qaida detainee was probably lying to U.S. interrogators when he claimed that Iraq had been teaching members of the terrorist network to use chemical and biological weapons.

Yet eight months after the report was published, Bush told the nation that "we've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaida members in bomb-making and poisons and gases."

Meanwhile, lawmakers didn't have access to intelligence products that may have been more temperate than what they got, even after they investigated the prewar intelligence assessment. For instance, the Director of Central Intelligence refused to give the Senate committee a copy of a paper drafted by the CIA's Near East and Southeast Asia Office examining Iraq's links to terrorism.

Lawmakers didn't see the main document concerning Iraq and WMD - the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate - until three days before their vote authorizing war. The White House ordered the NIE compiled only after lawmakers, including the then-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., demanded it.

The resolution that authorized use of force against Iraq didn't specifically address removing Saddam. It gave Bush the power to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq" and to "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."

ASSERTION: In his Veterans Day address, Bush said that "intelligence agencies around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein."

CONTEXT: Bush is correct in saying that many intelligence agencies, particularly in Europe, believed that Saddam was hiding some weapons of mass destruction capabilities - not necessarily weapons. But they didn't agree with other U.S. assessments about Saddam. Few, with the exception of Great Britain, argued that Iraq was an imminent threat, or that it had any link to Islamic terrorism, much less the Sept. 11 attacks.

France, backed by several other nations, argued that much more time and effort should have been given to weapons inspections in Iraq before war was launched.

ASSERTION: Stephen Hadley, the president's national security adviser, told reporters last Thursday that the Clinton administration and Congress perceived Saddam as a threat based on some of the same intelligence used by the Bush administration.

"Congress, in 1998 authorized, in fact, the use of force based on that intelligence," Hadley said.

And Rumsfeld, in briefing reporters Tuesday, seemed to link President Clinton's signing of the act to his decision to order four days of U.S. bombing of suspected weapons sites and military facilities in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.

CONTEXT: Congress did pass the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which stated U.S. support for regime change in Iraq and provided up to $97 million in overt military and humanitarian aid to opposition groups in Iraq.

But it didn't authorize the use of U.S. force against Iraq.

Clinton said his bombing order was based on Iraq's refusal to comply with weapons inspections, a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions that ended the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Knight Ridder Newspapers correspondents William Douglas and Warren P. Strobel contributed to this report.


GM's big shakeup
Automaker ups job cuts to 30,000 jobs as it shuts plants, facilities in plan to save $7B a year.
November 21, 2005: 10:42 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - General Motors Corp. said Monday it would cut 30,000 jobs and close or scale back operations at about a dozen U.S. plants in a bid to save $7 billion a year and halt huge losses in its core North American auto operations.

The cuts, equal to 27 percent of the company's hourly work force, are 5,000 more than the 25,000 jobs GM had said it would cut in June. Many of the cuts would start next year, GM said Monday, despite job protection provisions in its union contract that runs through September 2007.

The automaker said the plan is aimed at saving $7 billion a year by the end of 2006.

GM Chairman Rick Wagoner said the cuts were what the troubled automaker needed to turn around its operations but he wasn't ready to predict when GM will return to profitability. He also wouldn't promise this would be the end of job cuts and plant closings.

"As we sit here today, it's our best guess and well thought out analysis," Wagoner said.. "If we've learned anything in the last five years, it's that there's no guarantees in this business or any other business."

He said he had received support from the company's board of directors and from its employees as he moved forward with the cutback plans and that he had no plans to leave the company. Some investors and analysts have lost confidence in Wagoner given the company's spate of troubles this year. (Full story).

"I've given no thought to anything but turning the business around," Wagoner told reporters, adding that he believes his experience with GM should help him lead that effort. "I wasn't brought up to run and hide when things get tough. I'm convinced that's the way that things get righted."

He said the moves were not due to any pressure by the board. "We're not taking these actions because of any pressure on me," he said. "We're taking these measures to get the business right."

Stock rallies, but ...
Some investors liked the move, and GM (up $0.12 to $24.17, Research) stock rose about 1 percent in morning trading, though the stock is still down about 45 percent this year.

But at least one industry analyst was not impressed.

"The plan is essentially as expected, meaning not terribly aggressive," UBS analyst Rob Hinchliffe wrote in a note to clients, adding that the company's market share, which has been sliding, may fall further. He kept a sell rating on the stock and a price target of $20, below the current price.

In June, GM announced plans to trim 25,000 hourly jobs in its U.S. operations by the end of 2008 in an effort to stem losses. The company has lost $2.2 billion in the first three quarters of this year, excluding special items. Most of those losses, about $1.6 billion, have come at its core North American auto operations.

The company's contract with the United Auto Workers union essentially prevents layoffs before it expires in September 2007, as the company needs to pay union members whether or not there is a job for them.

Wagoner said that some kind of buyout would likely be offered to speed up the job cuts, but that until the buyout packages are worked out with the union, the company can't say how many of the job cuts would come through retirement and how much through buyouts.

The assembly plants being closed are in Oklahoma City, Lansing, Mich., and Doraville, Ga., and some shifts will be eliminated at three other assembly plants.

In addition Line 1 at Spring Hill, Tenn., and Oshawa, Ontario, Car Plant No. 2, will also shut, although assembly plants on the same property will continue to operate.

GM also said it will shut eight other facilities, including stamping plants in Lansing, Mich., next year and in Pittsburgh in 2007, along with two powertrain plants, in St. Catharines, Ontario, and Flint, Mich., in 2008.

And the company will shut three parts facilities in Portland, Ore., Ypsilanti, Mich., and St. Louis by 2007.

The company said the full range of cuts will eliminate 30,000 hourly jobs. It had about 111,000 hourly U.S. workers at the start of the year.

Wagoner said he anticipates that about 7 percent of salaried, non-union staff would also be cut by the end of 2006, although he did not give a specific number of job cuts planned there.

17 November 2005


Pressure grows for GM's Wagoner to step down

As General Motors prepares to turn its ailing business around by cutting jobs, plants and payrolls, the pressure on its ceo is mounting amid concerns that nothing short of a change at the top will help the world's largest automaker. Investors and analysts are losing confidence in GM's chairman and ceo Richard Wagoner, who took the helm of the world's largest auto maker in 2000 and took control of daily operations at its struggling North American unit in April, 2005. This year alone, the carmaker has lost almost US$4-billion, shocked investors with earnings restatements, seen its stock plunge to new lows, come under investigation by federal regulators and lost significant US market share to foreign rivals. "When Wagoner took over for GM North America, he essentially implied that it was all on his shoulders now," T. Rowe Price analyst Brian Ropp said. "By taking on that role, he took full responsibility for North America, where the key issues are. And things have only gotten worse."

To compound matters, a possible strike at GM's main parts supplier -- bankrupt Delphi -- could shut down a few plants and force GM to burn through billions of dollars in cash in a matter of weeks, analysts have said. Adding to the pressure on Wagoner is investor Kirk Kerkorian, who owns 9.9% of GM's stock, and is widely anticipated to demand a seat on the board next year. "Based on analysts' writings and comments, it is clear a sizeable number and arguably a majority believe Wagoner should be removed from the top position at GM," marketing and research firm CNW said in a report yesterday. Despite the pressure, some analysts believe Wagoner will see the auto giant through much of its planned restructuring, including the closing of plants and cutting of 25,000 jobs through 2008. Analysts also believe a bankruptcy is highly likely, even though GM has said it is not considering Chapter 11 an option.

In other news, GM is in talks to sell two hotels in Japan to Lone Star Funds and Ishin Hotels Group to raise cash, people involved in the sale said. General Motors Acceptance is seeking at least yen 10-billion ($83.8-million) for Renaissance Okinawa Resort and Coco Garden Resort Okinawa, said the four people, declining to be named. The two hotels have a combined 500 rooms. GM is selling assets to raise cash after its junk-status debt ratings were further cut by Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investors Services.
(National Post, Wall Street Journal 051117)

Delphi to ax 24,000, unions say

Delphi's labor unions vehemently rejected a new "final" offer that still would radically cut workers' compensation and revealed that the bankrupt auto parts giant wants to slash 24,000 US factory jobs within three years. United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger on Wednesday called the new offer "insulting" and said the unions and the company may be on a "collision course." The impasse raises the likelihood of a work stoppage at Delphi as early as January that could cripple both the parts maker and its largest customer, General Motors. The offer Delphi presented to its unions this week would increase the average base wage for production workers from US$10 an hour to $12.50 an hour and calls for less severe benefit cuts. Still, Gettelfinger and other union leaders said at a news conference that the offer was not worth taking to their rank-and-file members and shows that Delphi is determined to terminate its union contracts in bankruptcy court. Delphi spokeswoman Karen Healy confirmed the supplier proposed new wages and benefits this week, and defended them as competitive when compared with other parts suppliers. Also on Wednesday, Gettelfinger said the UAW and Ford have had meetings about lowering the automaker's health care costs before the 2007 renegotiation of their labor contract. Last month, the UAW and GM reached a similar deal to cut GM's nearly $6 billion-a-year health care tab by $1B. The UAW said it has begun reviewing Ford's finances to determine if cuts are necessary.
(Detroit News 051117)

Chrysler plants face temporary closings

The Chrysler group is shutting four assembly plants for one week or longer and reducing or eliminating overtime at four more in a sign that the North American auto sales slump is affecting even the healthiest of the Detroit-based auto makers. The production cuts affect eight of the auto maker's 13 vehicle assembly plants in Canada, the US and Mexico, with the biggest trim coming at a minivan plant in Windsor, ON, which will be shut for the week of Dec. 19 and eliminate all overtime for the rest of the year. Those moves will reduce output of minivans and Chrysler Pacifica sport utility vehicles in Windsor by more than 15,000 this month and in December.

The Windsor cut worries Ken Lewenza, president of Canadian Auto Workers local 444 in that city, which represents about 5,500 workers at the plant, one of the largest factories in the Chrysler group. “I'm disappointed and I'm nervous because the Dec. 19 week was quite a surprise,” Lewenza said yesterday. “This is rare for the minivan plant.” Two assembly plants in St. Louis, MO, that assemble minivans and full-sized pickup trucks are shut this week, according to a DaimlerChrysler planning document obtained by the Globe and Mail. The auto maker's specialty car plant in Detroit, which assembles the Dodge Viper, will be shut the last week of November and the first two weeks of December. Ed Saenz, a spokesman for the Chrysler group in Auburn Hills, MI, confirmed the shutdowns at the St. Louis plants, but said the company's policy is not to comment beyond about a week.
(Globe and Mail 051117)

Climate shifts

Business leaders call for climate change action

The leaders of a group of major Canadian corporations have called for urgent action on climate change, a major reversal of the business community's position on the Kyoto protocol. In a letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin, the heads of Alcan, Bombardier, Shell Canada, Falconbridge, Home Depot Canada and Desjardins Group, among others, said Canada needs a 50-year strategy to deal with the fallout from climate change. The letter, obtained by the Canadian Press, calls for a plan that goes well beyond the 2008-2012 timetable laid out in the Kyoto protocol. "As corporate leaders representing a broad cross-section of the Canadian economy, we believe that all governments, corporations, consumers and citizens have responsibilities under the Kyoto protocol," the letter says. "The world must act urgently to stabilize the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and minimize the global impacts of climate change." The executives said they accept the consensus view of a UN panel that climate change elevates the risk to human health and the environment. "We note that Canada is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change," they said.
(CBC 051117)

Drought threat looms over Prairies' bounty

The Canadian Prairies are one of the world's breadbaskets, but their bountiful harvests could be at risk because of water shortages caused by global warming, a new research report warns. The report, in the latest issue of the journal Nature, predicts an “increase in the frequency and severity of droughts” on the Prairies and says that Alberta and Saskatchewan may be forced to squabble over the dwindling water supplies in rivers they share. The finding comes as a potential long-term worry for Prairie farmers, who have only just begun recovering from an extensive drought that began in 1998 and ended this past year. Although climate models predict Canada will have a longer growing season because of global warming, the report suggests that water may not be available to sustain crops that depend on rivers that are fed from the snow pack in the mountainous areas of the West. Such rivers include the Oldman and the Red Deer, and both branches of the Saskatchewan and the Athabasca, have additional water from the melting of glaciers. The report says higher temperatures will cause more precipitation to fall as rain in winter, and consequently there will be diminished snow pack to melt earlier in the spring. This, in turn, means more water will flow into the ocean unused before the growing season starts. That will leave plants vulnerable to summers with low soil moisture levels.

One of Canada's leading water experts, University of Alberta Professor David Schindler, believes the West is at an even great risk than the report suggests. He said the effects of global warming on precipitation could be accompanied by extreme droughts, returning the region to the kind of dust-bowl conditions that prevailed during the 1930s. Prof. Schindler said new research in Canada on such phenomena as the size of the annual growth in tree rings indicates that the Prairies were historically far drier than they have been during the recent period of European settlement. Indeed, these records suggest it has been abnormally wet during the past 100 years. He said droughts lasting decades appear to have been common in the past, as were sustained low rainfall periods lasting centuries. He also worries that once glaciers in the Rockies melt, there will be a major reduction in stream flow in some rivers.
(Globe and Mail 051117)

Thank Gob people are starting to speak out about this. This will be far and away the most disruptive event of the 21st century, and from the looks of it, it is inevitable.

16 November 2005

GM investors fear bankruptcy looming

An increasing number of investors are betting that General Motors may be forced to seek bankruptcy protection within the next six to 12 months as it struggles to overcome slumping sales and the high cost of health-care benefits for workers and retirees. Concerns about the automaker's future are showing up in the credit default swaps market, where investors effectively buy insurance protection against defaults. Holders of GM debt who want to arrange a hedge against the risk they won't be repaid are finding the cost of buying the protection has risen dramatically in recent days. "The markets are telling you that more traders are starting to see a greater risk that a default scenario could happen sooner in time than later," said John Tierney, a credit strategist at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York. "You cannot deny there is a pattern here." GM spokesman Jerry Dubrowski responded by saying the automaker has "no plans to declare bankruptcy," and noted that GM has about US$19 billion in cash on hand. Beyond that, he declined to discuss recent pricing trends for credit default swaps.
(Calgary Herald 051116)

I hope all the N.A. car manufacturers go broke and go to hell. I have had a huge hate-on for them for years over their lack of vision, design, environmental custodianship, or marketing techniques, and complete managerial incompetence. Whatever comes to them they deserve. Of course, the governments in their short-sightedness will bail them all out once again. So much for free-market capitalism. Too bad about all the Midwest lackies that are going to lose their jobs in the process.

15 November 2005


Isn't it funny that everyone (I mean EVERYONE) is a little bit fluish after the days of debauchery this weekend. Are we getting old? NOOO!!!! It can't be true! Just a thought while I gasp my final breaths of youth...

...and cough out more merriment-induced H5N1 flu...

Finally...weekend highlights!

Whew! You know it was a good long weekend when you end up Sunday night with avian flu. Nothing like konking out your immune system properly.

So, the weekend was a blast. Thursday night we headed to the Whiskey for the Felix da Housecat show. Joe, Doug, Jon, Pat, Allie, Melissa and myself took control of one of the upper balconies and danced expressively (read: flailingly) with our arms to keep the crowds wanting to get into the balcony at bay. It was a lot of fun hanging out with the gang, however Felix's set was disappointing. He was all over the place and played one too many top 40 songs for my liking. Not sure if he was hung over that night or didn't get any vibe off the crowd, but there was no rhythm or mood being set. We stayed until after 3am hoping for something to happen, but regrettably it didn't.

Friday afternoon was the Synergy group ride. It was a decent day, 6C and sunny, so we started out with gusto. Natasha, Jon, John, Graeme, Chris and I headed out west to Lochend Road and then headed north to the 776 and back around into town on Symons Valley Road. It was quite cool and windy by the time we got back into town. 3 hours, 90km.

Friday night was Jeff's fondue and prayer party. The entire gang was there, so it was very cool catching up with everyone and having a lot of laughs. It was a lot of fun finally meeting Sara as well, however I wish we had had a chance to talk more. A crowded party definitely isn't the best place to get to know someone better, especially someone who was already overwhelmed with new, weird people and names. Jeff always throws the best parties, however most of my censored camera shots came from within the prayer room. Please email me for copies!

Saturday morning I got up for a group run. It was a good turnout despite the weather - 8 total. We did the loop around to the Bow River Weir and came back - 12 or 13km? I curled in the afternoon with QEFCG - we lost our first genuine loss which sort of sucked, but it did come down to the final three rocks. Good game. I think we've still maintained our second place position which should move us up to the Queen League for the next round starting next week...

Saturday night was Jon's fabulous Condo Shaker. A lot of the bike team and familiar faces from the present and past were there, so it was yet another great chance to catch up with people and meet some new ones.

Joe and I spent the majority of Sunday on the couch. I was feeling shitty all day, but didn't feel the flu-like thing coming on until the evening. I know my body pretty well, and knew that if I woke up Monday morning feeling the same or slightly better, things would improve quickly; however, if things felt worse, I was due for a full-blown bout of yuckiness. I can very happily say that I felt the same. Even though I didn't feel well enough to go to work (plus it's ridiculous to go to work and Typhoid Mary everyone and everything), I managed to get some things done in the afternoon and go into the office late in the afternoon to get some emailing and other work done. Monday night I went to Peak Power for our first intro session and got my thigh measurements done by Chris for analysis later in the season. The punishment is about to begin....

We had a quick CBTL meeting last night which ended just before 10pm. I came home in short order and headed to bed early. Tonight I'm taking the night off -- it's back to normal running routine and Peak Power again tomorrow night.

My mom and dad might be coming to Alberta this weekend, so I might be spending a large part of the weekend in Red Deer - not sure yet, though. They're supposed to be calling in the next 24 hours with more details. That's about it for now. Pics from Jeff's party are below. I don't know why I forgot my camera for the rest of the events over the weekend. There's always next time....

Host on his high horse

Jeanette & Rhylee

Time out on the smoking deck

Sean, Nancy, and Debbie

Jayson, Sheena, Tara, Ryan

Sean Jon

Best buddies

Best buddies?

Prayer room pileup

Pray some more, guys...

Hung up or what?

Marushka, Rachel, Sara...the phantom blog readers!

Bong inspectors

Madonna - COAD is released today!

...picked up my copy this morning. The 'Hung Up' single and remixes don't come out until next Tuesday, for some reason....

I've been dealing with a touch of the H5N1 bird flu the past two days. It's not that surprising what three days of debauchery will do to your immune system. I would've posted earlier, but I've been sleeping the ugly bitch off. I'll post a weekend update and pics tonight after work - while listening to the new album, of course.

Yeesh...nice recovery

Calcutta patient victim of eye-eating ants
Last Updated Tue, 15 Nov 2005 14:47:36 EST
CBC News
A woman who underwent a cornea operation in a hospital in Calcutta has died after giant ants were discovered nibbling on her eye during her recovery. Indian Health Ministry officials are investigating the gruesome story of Gauri Chakraborty, 55. Her son said his mother had complained she was in terrible pain after the operation at the state-run hospital.

But a nurse told him the pain was normal and left her unattended.

Soumen Chakraborty told the Press Trust of India news agency that when his mother's bandage was removed the next day, they found big black ants nibbling on her eye.

Health Minister Surjya Kanta Mishra has demanded a report from hospital authorities. Hospital superintendent Sukumar Das said a five-member inquiry committee has been set up, PTI reported.

Crap...only giant black ants? Could it be anything more gruesome? Why not maggots or something more disgusting? This is so gross.


Doctors say they want to investigate the case of a British man with HIV who apparently became clear of the virus.

Andrew Stimpson, 25, was diagnosed HIV-positive in 2002 but was found to be negative in October 2003 by Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Trust.

Mr Stimpson, from London, said he was "one of the luckiest people alive".

The trust said the tests were accurate but had been unable to confirm Scotsman Mr Stimpson's cure because he had declined to undergo further tests.

A statement from the trust said: "This is a rare and complex case. When we became aware of Mr Stimpson's HIV negative test results we offered him further tests to help us investigate and find an explanation for the different results.

"So far Mr Stimpson has declined this offer."

A trust spokeswoman added: "We urge him, for the sake of himself and the HIV community, to come in and get tested.

"If he doesn't feel that he can come to Chelsea and Westminster then he should please go to another HIV specialist."


There have been anecdotal accounts before from Africa of people shaking off the HIV virus.

Mr Stimpson, who is originally from Largs in Ayrshire, said: "There are 34.9 million people with HIV globally and I am just one person who managed to control it, to survive from it and to get rid of it from my body.

"For me that is unbelievable - it is a miracle. I think I'm one of the luckiest people alive."

Mr Stimpson told the News of the World and Mail on Sunday that he became depressed and suicidal after being told he was HIV-positive but remained well and did not require medication.

Further tests

Some 14 months later he was offered another test by doctors, which came back negative.

He sought compensation but has apparently been told there is no case to answer because there was no fault with the testing procedure.

He has told the papers he would do anything he could to help find a cure.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, said: "This appears to be a highly unusual case and without further tests it is impossible to draw any conclusions for people living with HIV.

"The virus is extremely complex and there are many unknowns about how it operates and how people's bodies react to it.

"Therefore, if this case were able to shed further light, it could be extremely valuable for research into treatments or a cure."

Vaccine clue

Aids expert Dr Patrick Dixon, from international Aids group Acet, said the case was "very, very unusual".

"I've come across many anecdotal reports of this kind of thing happening in Africa, some quite recently, but it's difficult to verify them," he told BBC News 24.

"You have to be rock-solid sure that both samples came from the same person, no mix-up in the laboratory, no mistakes in the testing, etc.

"This is the first well-documented case."

He said the case was important because "inside his immune system is perhaps a key that could allow us to develop some kind of vaccine".

source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4432564.stm

09 November 2005


Today, some people from the IS department took a tour of the Alyth switching yards. This is where trains from all directions get broken up and set into appropriate blocks to continue onto their destination. Each blocking track is up to 2400ft. in length, and up to four tracks can be used to create a new train consist. Some trains that run now are close to 10,000ft. in length. There are 45 blocking tracks in Alyth yard. It's all pretty complicated and neat to watch.

View to the west from Control Tower - downtown, repair shops and fuelling station in the background

Switching is affectionately known as 'humping' since the incoming trains are backed up into the blocking area and broken off the train one-by-one (or up to five at a time) just over the high point in the yard (the 'hump') and gravity rolls them into the correct block.

The "Hump"

A computer program called ProYard calculates the time required to roll a car into the correct position based on it's weight (which is weighed at the hump) and appropriately applies braking pressure at the retarders to allow the car to roll at the correct speed and connect with the cars already in the correct block. The computer also sets the right track switches for the car to go into the right block track based on the car ID that is scanned just as it comes into the hump.

Retarders and blocking tracks

Cars that roll through the retarders and have too much or not enough speed will either crash into the cars already in the block or stop before they reach the cars already on the track. Either situation can cause big problems, even derailments, so it's all closely monitored, especially in the winter when weather conditions can screw with the calculations of ProYard or affect the switches or retarders.

View to the Northeast

If you want to see and hear humping close up (not the good kind, the metal-on-metal kind, here is a video I took just before we left at ground level. It's probably a very good idea to turn the volume down on the Castpost client....

08 November 2005

Getting back into things...

I am still sleep-deprived from the weekend, but functioning. After a hellish Saturday where we had to forfeit our curling game (long story short -- Tim doesn't know how to follow directions and Bryan doesn't know how to work a computer or telephone) and a long night of systems tests with too many chiefs making decisions, I managed to sleep for six or so hours on Sunday. Ryan woke me up and we went to Swan's again for a few beers until Joe was done work. I crashed when we got home. I had wanted to go buy a new pair of running shoes at Gord's on Sunday (what running store ISN'T open on a Sunday, I surmised), however when I got to the store they were closed.

I got up to the store again last night and dropped $250 on a new pair of Asics 2100s, 'Anti-blister' socks, and a new pair of Sugoi Mid-Zero running tights. I took them out for a stress-release 15km run last night. Got home, barely had enough energy to eat before slinking up to bed and watching the season premieres of The Simpsons, Family Guy and American Dad recorded from Sunday night. Joe got home around 11:30pm but by then I was too incoherent to carry on a conversation. Tonight I am going to go to the gym at Talisman Centre with BK and do some weights, possibly hop in the pool for a warm up beforehand (gosh-how long has it been since I've been in a pool?).

Warming up at Peak Power, February 2005

We're officially starting the team weight-training program at Peak Power on Monday. I can't wait. Last year we started the program about a month ago, so everyone (especially Jon) is anxious to get back on the lifting platforms. I'm planning on buying some lifting shoes since the old running shoes won't cut it for stability with the heavy weights. Time to get serious! Cory has hired an ex-Russian powerlifting coach to consult at the gym 20 hours a week, so I suspect he's going to be doing a lot of technique improvement with us in the evenings. It should be fun.

Testing at Peak Power, February 2005

I had heard a rumour that they are planning on doing our initial VO2 testing over the weekend, but I haven't heard anything from Cory or Chris with a definite date. Hopefully this won't happen since the weekend is going to be filled with liquor, smoke, and prayers. If I end up having to do a VO2 Max test on Sunday, it will most likely kill me.

There's still lots of oil - at a price

The International Energy Agency is warning that the world's consumption of crude will soar over the next quarter decade, leaving Western economies increasingly dependent on oil from an unstable Middle East - and swimming in a soup of greenhouse gases. Within that gloomy outlook, there is a bright spot. The IEA says there is ample oil to quench the growing thirst for oil for decades, dismissing the view of peak-oil advocates who contend the world is on the brink of a catastrophic drop in crude production. Nicola Pochettino, senior energy analyst at the IEA, said the agency does not believe that physical supplies of oil will peak in the next quarter century, but that there is a question as to whether the world's energy producers will invest enough. The agency says the world will need to spend US$17-trillion by 2030 on a broad range of energy needs, including conventional oil and gas, an estimate that has risen $1T from last year.

In its World Energy Outlook issued yesterday, the IEA outlines a future of rampant energy growth, where demand soars by more than 50%, and the world is using the equivalent of 16.3 billion tonnes of oil. The vast majority of those new demands would be met by increased consumption of fossil fuels — and much of that would come from North Africa and the Middle East. Production from Canada's oil sands and other similar non-conventional sources would quintuple, but conventional crude from the Persian Gulf would still dominate. Under that scenario, oil prices would ease slightly by the end of the decade, but rise by 2030, to more than $40 a barrel in constant 2004 dollars, or above $70 a barrel in nominal terms, which does not strip out the effect of inflation. But the IEA said its central concerns are less about petro-economics than the political and environmental consequences. Such a rise in oil consumption would inflate the importance of production from North Africa and the Middle East - largely overlapping the membership of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. That area would account for 44% of world supply, up from 35% last year. At the same time, emissions of greenhouse gases would soar, “calling into question the long-term sustainability of the global energy system,” the IEA warned.
(Globe and Mail 051108)

So, let me get this straight. From this article I get the feeling that the IEA feels everything's a-ok because there is lots of oil, however the consideration (from the article, apparently inevitability) of global warming and climate change is a minor consequence; an afterthought, if you will. I don't get how the 'authorities' can look at climate change with such nonchalance. It hardly matters how much oil there is and how extensively the ecomony is growing if everyone is getting sick and/or dying, or being displaced because of toxins in the environment, polluted air, unpotable water, rising sea levels, massive ecological shifts, and violent weather? I think oil is going to be only one of many 'essential' resources that wars will be fought over in the not-too-distant future.

07 November 2005

Madonna - Hung Up (SDPs Extended Dub Edit)

Powered by Castpost

Here you go Jeff! The real one comes out next week! Woohoo!

Weird worries of the week

This story was so bizarre I had to add it here. Has nothing to do with bird flu, though. Are you shocked? Well, to ensure things still have structure in the world, I've included two bird flu articles as well!

Garage doors work after mysterious radio signal disappears
Last Updated Mon, 07 Nov 2005 13:01:24 EST
CBC News
A widespread problem with a mysterious radio signal that caused some garage doors in the Ottawa region to stop working has vanished.

The powerful radio signal causing the problem stopped transmitting on Thursday afternoon, around the time CBC News contacted the U.S. Embassy to ask if it knew anything about it.

The embassy denies that it had anything to do with it.

The signal was being transmitted at 390 megahertz, a frequency used by the Pentagon's new Land Mobile Radio System.

The same frequency is used by garage doors openers, which started to malfunction around the city about two weeks ago. A similar problem has popped up around military bases in the States.

The world's biggest garage door manufacturer, the Chamberlain group, took the problem seriously enough to fly design engineer Rob Keller to Ottawa from its Chicago headquarters, with machinery to try to track the signal.

But by the time he got there, the signal was gone.

Whether this is caused by a military frequency or not, some project manager somewhere really screwed up. Wouldn't you think that working at a conflicting frequency would be common knowledge to someone in the industry? Bizarre.

And now onto....bird flu!

Economies could be hit hard if bird flu causes panic

Imagine a collapse in the housing market, erasing billions of dollars in household wealth; production lines shut down as terrified workers hole up at home; slumping consumer and business confidence; plunging financial markets. Those are a few such doomsday scenarios being sketched around a possible avian flu pandemic, as the issue grabs more headlines with public health officials issuing warnings and politicians promising greater spending for treatments and vaccines. Yet many analysts say it's too early to make hard-and-fast predictions of what the actual economic toll might be, should the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu begin to spread from person to person. “Who knows? There's no model to follow,” says David Wolf, head of Canadian economics and strategy at Merrill Lynch Canada. “Exactly how damaging and for how long (a pandemic might be felt) is anybody's guess.” But it is possible to forecast what sectors of the economy would likely feel the first hits and where the aftershocks would reverberate. Some say the SARS outbreak of 2003, which walloped parts of the economy and killed 44 Canadians, provides a few hints of what to expect.

The first direct hits on the economy won't likely come from illness itself, but instead arise as a result of workers' efforts to avoid infection, suggests the World Bank's Milan Brahmbhatt. SARS knocked about 2% off East Asian regional GDP in the second quarter of 2003, he calculated, taking about 800 lives. Extrapolating to global GDP, a 2% hit would cost the world's economy about $200 billion in just one quarter, he said. Besides tourism and travel, agriculture would also be hurt, trade curtailed if border controls tightened and tangled traffic, while business supply chains could be clogged, said Adrienne Warren, senior economist with Scotiabank. Given that ordinary flu costs the US economy roughly US$10B to $12B each year in direct medical costs plus lost productivity, an avian flu pandemic could boost those costs to a staggering $70B to $167B, says BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Sherry Cooper, citing studies from the Centres for Disease Control. For Canada, the costs of an avian flu pandemic could reach as high as $8B to $18B, Cooper added in a fall report on a bird flu outbreak. “With the US - the engine of global growth - slowing trade and US activity would slow economic activity worldwide,” said Cooper. It's impossible to predict the toll, but a severe pandemic could infect up to a third of the US population and kill anywhere from 209,000 to 1.9 million Americans, says the Bush administration's new Pandemic Influenza Plan. It puts the health costs alone, not counting disruption to the economy, at $181B for even a moderate pandemic.

Markets can at least feel confident that the Canadian government's books are in healthy shape and that could help the economy weather almost any storm, says Finance Minister Ralph Goodale. “We should never falter in our confidence. Canada is operating from a position of strength, we have had more than a decade of consistent economic strength,” he said in an interview. He, too, pointed to the limited economic impacts of the SARS outbreak - which was only one of a steady series of shocks to the economy in 2003. Ottawa's healthy budget balance could help calm fears that the country can cope with so-called second-round effects after illness hits - the eventual impact on investor and consumer confidence, said Wolf. “The fiscal position in Canada is very strong, relative to other countries, in terms of fiscal balance and in terms of the flexibility that that offers the government to respond to adverse events,” he adds. Yet many Canadian business are hanging on by a thread - threatened by soaring energy costs and a strong dollar - so a hit from an avian flu pandemic could push many over the edge, warns Garth Whyte, vp with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “There's already a build-up of uncertainty and this could really be the last straw. Certain sectors could really be hurt.”
(Canadian Press 051106)

Pandemic could carry $950B cost: World Bank
Last Updated Mon, 07 Nov 2005 07:12:11 EST
CBC News
An avian flu pandemic could cost the world economy as much as $950 billion Cdn in lost growth, the World Bank told health and government officials gathered in Geneva on Monday for the world's largest-ever conference on the disease.

That's the estimated price tag for one year if the disease caused the same kind of disruption as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, said World Bank economist Milan Brahmbhatt.

A more severe pandemic would end up costing even more as manufacturing ground to a halt and service industries closed shop, he added.

The three-day international "war council," as it's being called, is aimed at designing a global strategy for preventing a widespread outbreak of influenza caused by the H5N1 virus.

"If the pandemic started tomorrow, and we started to get prepared after tomorrow, it would be far too late," said United Nations flu co-ordinator David Nabarro.

"You can't prepare when you have a pandemic underway. It's like trying to get firemen ready to fight a fire when the fire's already burning."

The conference comes as many Asian countries battle new outbreaks of the disease in birds, as well as cope with new human fatalities:

China is dealing with its fourth outbreak in the past three weeks, and thinks it may have found the first Chinese case of human infection.

In Vietnam, which has recorded the most human deaths from bird flu, chickens carrying H5N1 have been discovered in three different villages over the past week.

Indonesia has just recorded its sixth human death from the disease ... while a handful of other infected people remain in hospital fighting for their lives.

So far, a total of 63 people have died from the disease. Most of them have caught it directly from farm birds, though some are suspected to have contracted bird flu while nursing close relatives.

The 400 delegates at the Geneva conference will be grappling with the fact that there are huge disparities in the abilities of different countries to mount prevention plans.

Some richer nations, like the United States, have expressed a willingness to spend more than $7 billion US on anti-flu measures.

Poorer countries like Cambodia say they have enough of the antiviral drug Tamiflu on hand to treat only about 100 people.

"If we are unprepared, the next pandemic will cause incalculable human misery, both directly from the loss of human life, and indirectly through its widespread impact on security," said Dr. Lee Jong-wook, the director-general of the World Health Organization.

"No society would be exempt. No economy would be left unscathed."

A trillion dollars, eh? Hard to tell whether this is a valid concern or not since we can't read the minds of viruses, however, at least our leaders, scientists and doctors are concerned enough about the potential threat to have a conference on it. Better than nothing, I guess. I really can't see how you can be proactive about an unknown potential viral genetic mutation until it happens. I guess the safety measures put in place would be more along the lines of emergency response.