28 February 2007

Gobammit Blogger pisses me off...

Ever since Google took over, service has been less than stellar.
1. Locked out of group blogs.
2. Spam-prevention locks put on my own blog mysteriously for three days (even though I'm logged in and editing posts - and now I can't publish until my request to be unlocked is manually reviewed).
3. Changed login id - now integrated with Gmail.

GOOGLE - get your bugs worked out, already! Otherwise I will make a huge effort and move this to Wordpress or Livejournal! Okay -- maybe not. Too much work. I'm too heavily invested in Blogger now, I'm stuck here forever.

27 February 2007

Shape of things to come?

Is this what we should expect in a situation of real declining production volumes? Man, I can't believe how widespread this has become over a single fire in a single refinery. For how delicately balanced this entire fuel delivery infrastructure is, we sure put a lot of faith in the 'fact' that it will always be there and always be operational.

Gas shortage fears grow

Roads across Ontario will become parking lots unless something is done to alleviate a growing fuel shortage that has already caused the closure of scores of service stations, a senior executive at the Ontario Trucking Association is warning. As of last night the problem had spilled over into Quebec, with at least 10 stations closing down, according to the newspaper La Presse. "We have some carriers entering a critical stage and if this continues into next week, trucks will be running out of gas and stopping on the highway," said Stephen Laskowski, vp of the Ontario Trucking Association. As shortages increase, prices have shot up as much as 25% for some kinds of truck fuel, Laskowski said. Gas has jumped from 81¢ a litre to nearly $1. A fire at Imperial Oil's refinery in Nanticoke, ON, 10 days ago forced the company to ration supplies and now the problem is spilling over to the company's competitors, including Petro-Canada, which was forced to temporarily shutter as many as 30 stations yesterday and institute a rationing program just to keep up with demand. Last night, Shell Canada said it was also having problems at its refinery in Quebec, but did not elaborate. Gordon Wong, a spokesman for Imperial Oil, said the company has cut back on sales of diesel by 60% and gasoline by 40%. Imperial, which sells gas under the Esso banner, has also been forced to close some of its stations, but the company was unable to say how many. Imperial said it expects to get its refinery back up to full production by the middle of March. But that may be too late for many in the trucking industry.
(National Post 070227)

Kick you in the Bluetooth

I've had it with these cybernetic transplants in every fat person's head. It makes them look retarded and frankly, when I see someone walking around talking to themselves, it makes them sound pretty ridiculous too.

Never mind the fact that we all know how oblivious cellphone users are at the best of times, when it looks like they are not attached to any electronics it's just simply creepy. Like they are ready to go postal at any minute while they are running into walls or walking into traffic.

And for the love of gob, take that piece of shit out of your ear when you're not using it. Don't look at me with a disdaining eyeroll when I mistake you for being crazy when you're just 'connected' in your own self-important way. You're the one who looks stupid, not me.
Look at me! I'm important, dammit!

26 February 2007

Yeah, I'm a freak...so whaddya gonna do about it?

Another interesting busy weekend...Friday night after the gym I met up with Joe at his work when his shift was over, ate, drank a few and then went home and watched "HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy".

Saturday I ran, worked out, cleaned the house, printed off some marketing brochures for the OutGames run and got ready to go to the Apollo Fire & Ice Dance. The gang showed up around 8:30 and we hit the dance around 10:00. I had been told that things were going to be a massive improvement over last year, but they weren't. In fact, everything was almost exactly the same, including the sparse crowds. I talked to Don and Jo at the end of the dance about the toques that we are planning to buy for the participants and volunteers and the numbers required, and this was their response: "Well, you're brave!" In my drunken state (I hadn't had time to eat so I was flying pretty good and did the wallflower act most of the evening), that was the WRONG thing to say. They backpedalled by saying they appreciated my optimism, but the pessimism that is creeping into everyone's mind over the OutGames event is palpable. There is a lot of stuff that should be done by now that isn't, and a lot of the responsibility to pick up the slack regarding marketing and advertising is now being done by the sporting organizers themselves. It's all very frustrating.

Sunday I got up, puttered around the house after Joe left for work, and then headed down to Eau Claire Market to hit up all the businesses with marketing brochures for the running event. I did the schpeil for 30 merchants and left information with all of them that I will have to follow up with on Thursday.
Afterwards I got home and got ready to go to Kinky? Night at the Amsterdam Rhino with Dennis. I got all dressed up in my rubber club outfit while Dennis donned one of his RadicalSpeed luge suits that his company sells. We didn't really know what to expect at this event, and it was a 'straight disappointment' to say the least. At least it fulfilled our expectations that it would be the women that made the effort to dress up. Most of the guys there were just wearing street clothes -- what a bunch of lame-os. Dennis and I certainly were the center of attention for the male persuasion, that's for sure. Got lots of looks from both sexes, but when you're the only one wearing skintight rubber in a bar, who wouldn't look? We know now that the Fetish Night at the Eagle must certainly be a better bang for the buck than this event ($0 vs. $15). Poor straight people -- having to pay big bucks for a mediocre event. It's good to learn these things, although the lesson can sometimes cost a few bucks. It's also times like that that I'm glad I'm gay. It's too bad that most straight guys are so unimaginative and/or hyper-sensitive about their masculinity! Like somehow showing off your body or wearing something risqué is unmasculine. How is that? Is the concern that you may look too gay? You're at a fetish event, fer chrissakes. Get over yourself.

This morning, I'm getting ready for the Synergy charity casino at Elbow River Casino. I'm General Manager today and taking an A/V day from work. I got a bit of good news in my Inbox this morning. Tim and Peter snagged a title sponsor for the Outgames Run! It is now called the Outgames Run presented by Metzger Dental. What a great thing to hear first thing this morning!

23 February 2007


This site was actually featured in this weeks Macleans, believe it or not. Hilarious...and cute! Canagal - this is for you!


22 February 2007

Succession planning my ass

Leaders not being groomed, study finds

Most Canadian companies are unprepared for an abrupt change in leadership, according to a succession study that found many are also bad at spotting internal talent and grooming them to climb the hierarchical ladder. A survey of managers found that just 18% of companies had a contingency plan that identified someone who could fill the shoes of an essential senior executive. “It is not an easy conversation to have,” said Peter Hausdorf, an associate professor of industrial psychology at the University of Guelph, who wrote the study with PhD candidate Rebecca Slan Jerusalim. “Who wants to ask the ceo what he thinks will happen when he leaves or if something happens to him?” Difficult or not, Hausdorf believes companies that don't have that conversation are flirting with danger. “If something happens and you have to respond during a crisis, you may put the wrong person in that role.” A company without a key top executive might appear rudderless, resulting in uncertainty for leaders and employees, Hausdorf said. A prolonged void could also trigger an internal catfight, with senior leaders jockeying for the coveted top job.

In addition to looking at short-term succession plans, the study also looked at whether companies are pursuing long-term strategies to identify exceptional employees as future executives and foster their talents. The looming retirement of the baby boomer bulge will leave some very senior corner offices vacant over the next decade. However, this study found that less than a third - 31% - of Canadian companies had programs to identify and develop future leaders. Most companies prefer to promote one of their own, he said, since they will get someone who is up to speed on the business and the clients, as well as the internal culture. Nevertheless, the corporate practice of spotting high-potential up-and-comers and grooming them for management positions is relatively new, Hausdorf said.
(Globe and Mail 070221)

This is EXACTLY the conversation I've had with people recently. Why aren't corporations more concerned about this? Why aren't the Boomers who know they are in a position to retire in the next five years putting definitive succession plans into place? Like the conclusion we made on this, I believe most of them are more focused on their retirement nest egg rather than the long term health of the company they work for or the long-term health of the economy.

Robber barons

Way to go Ticketmaster, you bastards! I was looking online to buy tickets for the Gwynne Dyer event at the University on March 8, but look at the prices below:

Gwynne Dyer
MacEwan Hall, Calgary, AB
Thu, Mar 8, 2007 08:00 PM

Tickets (Gwynne Dyer)
Full Price Ticket CA $15.00 x 1
Total Building Facility Charge(s) CA $1.50 x 1
Total Convenience Charge(s) CA $3.75 x 1
Order Processing Charge(s) CA $2.50
Ticketmaster Retail Location Pickup No Charge


It would cost $1.75 to $3.50 more to print the e-ticket out yourself or get it sent to your home.

$7.75 (minimum) in service charges on a $15.00 ticket? Blimey! I think I'd rather not go than let those Ticketmaster crooks get my money. Is that the way things are going now? Fuck. I'd rather pay $20 to a scalper.

I knew I was feeling poorer....

Calgary's inflation rate dwarfs national average

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Like residents of most places in Canada, Calgarians experienced a slower pace of price increases in January, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.
The increasingly benign rate of price increases across Canada generally — a 1.2 per cent national annual rate in January compared to a 1.6 per cent annual rate in December — has most analysts convinced that interest rates are now unlikely to change for some time, with the Bank of Canada unconcerned about the generally negative effect of rapid price gains on the economy.

Nonetheless, Calgary continued to have to deal with the fastest rising prices in Canada, with a January inflation rate of 4.6 per cent produced by higher shelter, particularly owned accommodation costs. January's result was a decline from the 5.7 per cent rate recorded in December, 2006, helped in part by lower utility costs compared to a year earlier.

Like its premier city, Alberta topped out the provincial inflation numbers but did see lower cost increases than experienced as 2006 drew to a close. Across Wild Rose Country, prices in January were 3.9 per cent higher than the same month a year earlier, a decline from the 4.7 per cent rate in December.

Statistics Canada released rates for all major cities, but cautioned that figures may fluctuate widely because they are based on small statistical samples (Previous month in brackets):

•St. John’s, N.L., 1.1 (1.1)
•Charlottetown-Summerside, 1.2 (1.6)
•Halifax, 0.9 (1.0)
•Saint John, N.B., 0.3 (0.7)
•Quebec, 0.3 (0.9)
•Montreal 0.6 (1.2)
•Ottawa 0.4 (1.1)
•Toronto 0.3 (1.0)
•Thunder Bay, Ont., -0.4 (0.6)
•Winnipeg, 1.7 (1.7)
•Regina 1.6 (1.5)
•Saskatoon 1.5 (1.4)
•Edmonton 3.0 (3.8)
•Calgary 4.6 (5.7)
•Vancouver 2.6 (2.6)
•Victoria 1.7 (1.5)

Canada's core inflation, excluding food and energy, inched up to 2.1 percent on the year, from 2.0 percent in December.

I think we all know that the red-hot economy here is making everything more in demand and thusly more expensive. However I had no idea that the inflation rate in Calgary was as high as 6 or 7% month over month over the past year. My salary certainly hasn't been keeping up at that rate, and I doubt neither has it for another 70% of Calgarians. The group of people that are benefitting from the boom are certainly in the minority, and there lies a problem. Many people are finding it more difficult to remain in this city and maintain a steady standard of living. Quite sad for a city with such a a strong economy, but with all the advantages come just as many disadvantages, which we can all see quite visibly on the streets of our city. Now you see why the conversation of moving out of Calgary back to BC or Saskatchewan is becoming more commonplace?

The Power of the Brand

Feb. 22, 2007, 8:53AM
Iconix to Buy Danskin Brand for $70M

© 2007 The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Danskin Inc., a maker of women's active wear, and Iconix Brand Group, owner of apparel brands including Candie's and Mossimo, on Thursday said Iconix agreed to buy the Danskin brand for at least $70 million.

The deal is expected to close in March.

A contingent payment of $15 million, payable in cash or stock, is triggered by the brand exceeding some revenue or performance targets. If it is paid in Iconix stock, and the stock appreciates during the earnout period or after, Danskin could earn up to an additional $7.5 million, Danskin said.

Danskin will enter into a license agreement and continue to operate the Danskin wholesale business, including retail stores and Danskin.com.

Iconix said the acquisition will be self-funded from the company's cash reserves.

Iconix shares added 57 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $22.17 in morning trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The significance of this transaction is that Iconix is a company that specializes in managing brands. That's all they do - buy companies for the right to control their brand (presumably well-known, which we all learned in business school carries value in and of itself), and then license out that brand to whomever they choose. I find this interesting since this is apparently the 'next business paradigm', dealing exclusively with brands and labels. Apparently, now Iconix will be able to slap the Danskin brand on whatever product they choose, whether it be manufactured in Canada, the Philippines, or Burkina Faso. I see an inconsistency in what will be available to consumers. I should probably read up more on this, but doesn't this seem weird? I guess it's the next big thing, but being the 'corporate traditionalist' that I am, I remember the days when a companies' brands were controlled by that company which required consistency in product offering and manufacturing sources. Ah, how I long for the good ol' days.

What do you think of this disassociation of a brand from the company that created it?

20 February 2007

Word of the Day

SUCCINCT: –adjective
1. expressed in few words; concise; terse.
2. characterized by conciseness or verbal brevity.
3. compressed into a small area, scope, or compass.

I love this word! It was uttered in one of my meetings this morning, ironically as a long-winded solution to the wordy error messages generated by one of the web services our team supports.

Record with a Bullet

New locomotive speed record

Railway history was written in Germany on September 2, 2006. A series-manufactured Siemens' type-ES64U4 ("Taurus 3") locomotive reached a speed of 357 km/h for the first time ever and thereby established a new world speed record for locomotives. The fastest locomotive up until then had chaulked up 331 km/h.
(Railway Technical Review v.46 no. 4 2006)

Holy crap.

19 February 2007

Sucking Juice through a Net

Demand grows, but data centers don't hog power
Benjamin Pimentel, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, February 15, 2007

Data centers are sucking up more electricity as more people and organizations log on to the Internet. But there's been some disagreement over how power-hungry the servers running the nation's network are.

Take the previously accepted belief -- now dismissed as inaccurate -- that the Internet and all the computer equipment in the nation requires 13 percent of total electricity use in the United States.

A study released Wednesday says that energy consumption at data centers is growing rapidly, doubling from 2000 to 2005, according to a report by Jonathan Koomey, a staff scientist of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a consulting professor at Stanford University.

But overall, the amount energy servers consume is only about 1.2 percent of the electricity used in the country, although the rate at which it has grown might still be cause for worry.

The study was commissioned by chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices partly in response to growing concern over corporate customers' rising energy bills.

"If you see that there might be a problem, you have to ask how big is the problem," Koomey said. "The purpose of the study is to give a reasonable estimate of how much electricity is used. From that, you can then figure out whether there are actions that industry can take or that government can take."

According to the study, servers and the infrastructure used to maintain these machines use about 45 billion kilowatt hours a year. That's equivalent to the amount of power used by the state of Mississippi in 2005, Koomey said.

The United States consumed 3,661 billion kilowatt hours, or nearly $300 billion, in 2005, Koomey said.

Data centers in the United States spent $2.7 billion on electricity in 2005, the report said. Worldwide, the total cost was $7.2 billion.

The AMD report is based on comprehensive data collected by International Data Corp. on the existing, historical and projected installed base and shipments of servers from 1996 to 2009.

It underscores what many experts and government agencies have come to realize: Many of the projections of how much power network computing consumes were overstated.

Claudia Chandler, assistant executive director at the California Energy Commission, said some sectors even blamed the energy crisis about six years ago on the growth of the Internet.

"It was exactly that -- an urban myth," she said.

James Bushnell, research director of the UC Energy Institute, said the AMD report offers a more realistic view of the Internet's impact on energy.

"In the end, the bottom line is it's not their fault and we shouldn't be looking toward high-tech as either the cause or the cure of our electricity problem," he said.

In fact, AMD's study is based on concerns over the bottom line.

John Fruehe, a development manager at AMD, said the chip company commissioned the study because its customers are increasingly worried about the power consumed at data centers.

"They are starting to max out their power budgets," he said. "Everything that's involved in this is looking at the bottom line."

Koomey said the growing need for power at data centers, with the rapid expansion of the Web, has prompted government and businesses to come up with more energy-efficient networks.

Chandrakant Patel, a research scientist at Hewlett-Packard Labs, said tech companies need to focus on every aspect of the data center, from the microprocessor to the air-conditioning system.

"You really must look at the stack," he said. "It has to be addressed holistically."

Of course, this power usage estimate doesn't include the millions upon millions of PCs around the globe that stay on 24/7 downloading movies, music, and porn...

So true...

"The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it."
- H. L. Mencken

Happy Family Day!

"That's a family, all right..."

I'm the only one working in the entire province of Alberta today, so here's my contribution to the protection of the institution of the family for you to appreciate while having your day off!

16 February 2007

Thar's treasure in them thar hills, Billy!

More fuel for my arguments to screw my principles, cross 9th Ave. and join the Dark Side....

EnCana shatters profit record

The new champion of Canadian corporate profits is EnCana, after the energy firm on Thursday reported a $6.5-billion profit for 2006. Canada's largest independent energy company overcame a fourth-quarter slump to eclipse the previous best full-year performance in Canadian history - $5.46B - set by industrial conglomerate BCE at the height of the tech boom in 1999. "We achieved all this in a tough operating environment for the industry marked by record-breaking activity levels," ceo Randy Eresman said. Eresman described 2006 as a "challenging year" in which the company's results were "mixed." Even so, the company's profits are noteworthy. Laid end to end, it's enough dollar bills to circle the Earth 22 times or make three one-way trips to the moon. EnCana's profits exceeded the gross domestic product of countries such as Fiji and Mongolia. The record results come at an awkward time, with the provincial government poised to announce a royalty review panel today meant to ensure Albertans are getting their full share of resource revenues. EnCana's stunning results could spark a backlash of public perception of rich oil companies - especially in light of the fact that Canada's five large integrated oil companies earlier reported profits topping $12B for 2006. But EnCana spokesman Alan Boras said the reality isn't as "sexy" as many might assume. Excluding hedging gains, the company made about the same as it did in 2005, he explained. Gerry Protti, EnCana's vp of corporate relations, said the province's proposed royalty review is an appropriate way to set the record straight. "We think it's important to have this review to clear the air," Protti said. EnCana credited one-time items, including some US$1.37B in after-tax hedging gains, for fuelling the positive results. In addition, it doubled its quarterly dividend to 20 cents a share. In stark contrast to the full year, fourth-quarter profits fell about 72% to $663 million, or 82 cents a share, from $2.36B the year before, reflecting lower natural gas prices in the latter part of the year. Analysts said the results generally met or exceeded expectations.
(Calgary Herald 070216)

Mmmm....fat oil and gas profit coffer bonuses....yum....

14 February 2007

To The Man I Love

After all this time together,
you still know how to surprise me -
you can still make me laugh.
And whatever you do,
I realize again that you've become
more and more of what my life is about.
It's not that I'm less myself -
you've never tried to change me.
In fact, I'm more myself -
because you and your love
bring out the best FOR me.
That's what real love means.
Your voice on the phone
makes me feel embraced.
Your hand reaching for mine
makes me feel positively cherished.
Many times when I merely glance your way,
I feel the thrill of falling in love with you
all over again.
And that's why, on Valentine's Day
I'm celebrating the special love we share.

- Barbara Loots

Yes, Hallmark sappy, but it conveys what I feel about my man. This is the card I gave him today.

Gotta love VD!

Yipe! This is coming sooner than I thought

Ahh...good to be back....

Oilpatch on alert over terror threat

Alberta's energy sector is on heightened alert after an al-Qaeda Internet posting called for terrorist strikes against Canadian oil and natural gas facilities to "choke the US economy." An online message, posted last Thursday by the al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula, declares "we should strike petroleum interests in all areas which supply the United States . . . like Canada," the largest exporter of oil and gas to the US. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service said Tuesday it was aware of the posting, as is Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada. Alberta Energy and Utilities Board spokesman Darin Barter said oil and gas companies are on "heightened alert," but added the warning wasn't specific enough to warrant raising the threat level. "There was no evidence that pointed to any imminent or direct threat to Alberta infrastructure," he said. Although it declines to list specific sites, Alberta has designated some oilsands mines, power plants, refineries and pipelines among "critical infrastructure" as potential terrorist targets.

The threat comes from the same terrorist group, the Saudi arm of Osama bin Laden's network, that claimed responsibility for last February's attack on the world's largest oil processing facility at Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia's eastern province. The attack was foiled when guards at the site opened fire on the terrorists, blowing up their vehicles filled with explosives before they could get through the gates. In this latest message three western countries are mentioned in the call-to-arms -- Canada first, followed by Mexico and Venezuela. Would-be attackers are instructed to specifically target oilfields, pipelines, loading platforms and carriers. Greg Stringham, vp of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the threat is similar to a posting made about a year ago, when an al-Qaeda-affiliated Internet blog called on Canadian and US jihadists to attack an Alaskan oil pipeline. "We are taking it very seriously and making sure that people are aware and vigilant even, though we've been told there is no new threat or additional threat at this point in time," he said, "but every time Canada gets mentioned in this, it really does make sure that we are well-prepared."
(Calgary Herald 070214)

13 February 2007

Happy Get A Different Name Day!

(Open the picture to get the GIF to work.)

February 13 is Get A Different Name Day. I wonder if the fact Valentine's Day is tomorrow is just a coincidence????

Well, at any rate, if you didn't' know, I'm otherwise known as Matthew James Bauer. I'd like to think that all the Jaydons and Austins out there feel all warm and fuzzy on February 13th every year!

12 February 2007

South Padre Island, San Antonio and such

The room of birds (4.99 each) at El Disco SuperCentre in Nuevo Progreso, Tamaulipas, Mexico
Foggy morning on South Padre
View from the Main Beach, SPI
Hottie surfer, SPI
Riverwalk by Day, San Antonio
Ma and Pa on the Riverwalk
The Alamo, San Antonio
Riverwalk at Night, San Antonio
La Villita, San Antonio

For Skybar

...it's here. And so am I.

11 February 2007

Curling hotties

As I've been hanging out with the Manitobans all week, attention post-Superbowl has turned to the Provincial curling championships on satellite TV as you would expect. But what I didn't expect was how freaking hot some of these curling men were! Holy toledo, but how hot was Jeff Stoughton in his younger days (and the rest of his Provincial team...Ryan Fry and Rob Fowler...Yowsa!)? Reid Carruthers? Brad Gushue? Okay, truthfully a lot of the old boys have mugs that only a mother could love, but the young up-and-comers are hopefully going to provide some eye-candy for an otherwise questionable 'sport'. Why otherwise would a gay man watch sports anyways?

Still deep in the heart

So, my folks roll me into Harlingen Valley International at 6am only to discover that my flight to Houston this morning was cancelled due to fog. I've been rescheduled on an earlier morning flight tomorrow from Brownsville that is supposed to get me into Calgary around 12:30pm. Since Brownsville is an hour's drive from Weslaco, I'm probably getting dropped off tonight since the flight is at 6:15am. This is all quite unfortunate as I had already mentally prepared to leave here and return to the wintry north.

I am supposed to be in the office tomorrow and was planning on taking another flex day because of the delay, but just now checking my email I have a mandatory meeting tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 so I guess I won't be taking the day off after all.

The weather here has been less than stellar to say the least. We had only one day of sun and it has been downright shitty since Wednesday. I went up to San Antonio with my folks on Thursday and it was so cold there I had to buy another jacket since I had only brought light clothes for the trip and left my winter jacket in Weslaco!

Despite the cold, San Antonio was still a great place to check out. S.A is about the same size as Calgary but doesn't appear to have the same level of downtown activity. It actually seemed quite weird that while the weather was cold, there was no one around. People were even walking around Thursday night and Friday morning with toques and gloves! I mean, really. It was still 10C out! While there, we checked out the Alamo, RiverCentre, Hemisfair, La Villita, and of course, the Riverwalk.

The Riverwalk is a fantastic development. I only wish I could have experienced it on a warm evening and day when there would have been a lot of people out and about. I did manage to run the entire thing on Friday morning (when it was only about 6C), and the full walk system goes far to the north and south along the San Antonio River than the main walk areas. I ran the whole system north to south and it took about 50 minutes. The entire system is completely built-up and landscaped which makes it very beautiful with lots of fountains, greenery, trees and lighting. The main section is lined with restaurants, retail and lounges all on a level below street level. This is all in stark contrast to Calgary's river pathway system which is largely undeveloped and wild. I'm not sure which look I appreciate more, but San Antonio certainly has something good going for it with this setup!

The rest of the week has just been hanging out. I've been to McAllen to do some shopping with dad, done a lot of running and gym workouts, and went across the Rio Grande to Mexico on Tuesday while dad was getting some dental work done. All I brought back from Mexico this time was a bottle of duty-free vodka!

In my typical brainless fashion, I overcompensated for the lack of sunlight by spending all day Wednesday on the South Padre Island beaches sans sunblock while my mom and dad and their friends were at a Winter Texan Snowbird Extravaganza appreciation thingy at the SPI Convention Centre. I ended up with a wicked killer sunburn. The pain is tolerable today and it is starting to nicely peel on my face, chest and shoulders. I walked ten miles (ten!) up and down the beach. The mist was slow to lift during the morning so I figured I was getting some natural sunblock, but it was the early afternoon when most of the damage was done. I was wearing my backpack while traipsing up and down the miles of beach which left a couple of really cool distinctive lines on my shoulder to add to the effect, sort of like a candy cane if you will. It all screams 'LOSER' in my books. I can't believe I did that and I'm certainly getting what I deserved. It certainly made the cleans and squats in the gym yesterday a little timid!

It has been rainy and foggy since Friday night, so since I'm spending an additional day here with no chance of a pooldeck chair afternoon, I'm heading back to the outlet mall in Mercedes. What a wicked place! Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Perry Ellis, Gap, Burberry, Banana Republic, Skechers, Adidas, Puma, Nike...lots of great deals.

We did a traditional over-the-top Tex-Mex style dinner at a locally-owned restaurant last night lovingly called Fat Daddy's. I'm still full today while the fat globules slowly move closer to my lining of the walls of my heart. There's more than a few good reasons why everyone here is disgustingly fat, and one of the is the insane number of all-you-can-eat buffets and Texas-style restaurants all over the place. Oh yeah, and the complete lack of sidewalks, public transit, or taxis. Being a pedestrian here is an act of madness as any venture against traffic on the main roads is putting your life into your own hands. And the vehicle congestion in these small cities like McAllen look like they belong in a city five times the size. The 83 Expressway is a traffic jam. How soul-crushing is all that? Oh well, as long as the little white Texan women in their Hummers don't lose the signal on their cellphones while going through the Starbucks drive-thru, I guess everything is alright in the world for now.

Sorry - bit of digression there. It's been a nice week, but I can't say I'm coming back all that more relaxed. I've been able to stop thinking about work for a week, but that's all come to an abrupt end today. Screw it - I've got 18 more hours - time to go shopping. When in Rome....

Talk to y'all when I get back!

01 February 2007

Damage control

Harper puts green machine in motion

Stephen Harper moved yesterday to mend his government's frayed international reputation on climate change by dispatching his Environment Minister to Paris for a key conference and promising to join an emergency UN summit on the issue. The decisions came as the Prime Minister was battered for a second day in the House of Commons over a letter he wrote five years ago in which he called the Kyoto accord a “socialist scheme” aimed at sucking money from wealth-producing nations. While in Paris, Environment Minister John Baird will be briefed by the group of leading scientists whose work on global warming inspired Kyoto. The scientists will release a major report tomorrow concluding there is “unequivocal” evidence that climate change is real and is happening faster than expected. French President Jacques Chirac is expected to ask Baird for Canada's support for a new United Nations environment organization. Baird's spokesman, Mike Van Soelen, confirmed the Paris meeting, but would not say whether Canada would support the creation of the agency. Also yesterday, the Prime Minister said he is willing to take part in a summit on global warming being called for by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “I have not received an invitation from the United Nations Secretary-General,” Harper told the Commons. “However, if we did, we would accept . . . we all realize this is a serious environmental problem that needs immediate action.”

Within the scientific community, there is widespread dismay that, even after years of compelling evidence, some still dispute the temperature readings showing the exceptional warming over the past 50 years, and dismiss the models that predict the warming will intensify if more fossil fuels are burned. Gordon McBean, former head of the Meteorological Service of Canada and a professor at the University of Western Ontario, says the view that humans are causing the planet to warm by altering the gases in the atmosphere “is the consensus view of 80 to 90% of the climate scientists in the world.” He says about 5% don't accept the idea, but an equal number believe climate change is likely to be far more devastating than most scientists are forecasting. “Whenever you hear from the skeptics, think consciously that there are at least as many credible scientists who would go beyond on the other side of the issue.” (Globe and Mail 070201)

Drivers steer clear of climate concerns

The notion that fretful Canadians concerned about global warming are racing out to buy more environmentally friendly vehicles is overblown, according to a survey of new vehicle buyers by Maritz Research. Buying an environmentally friendly vehicle ranked just 23rd among 26 reasons for purchase, the Maritz New Vehicle Customer Study of 38,500 buyers showed. Protecting the environment ranked well behind value for money, fuel economy and reliability - the top three reasons for buying a certain vehicle - and was also less important to those surveyed than towing capability and interior styling. Even buyers of subcompact cars were more interested in storage and cargo capacity than environmental friendliness. “In actual buying behaviour, it's not manifesting itself in the purchase-decision process,” said Chris Travell, vp of Maritz's automotive research group. “It doesn't hold a candle to these other issues.” While the issue of fuel economy ranked near the top of the survey list, Canadian buyers appeared to shrug off that concern last year. They bought more luxury and large sport utility vehicles, the lightning rod for environmentalists who criticize the auto industry. Sales of large SUVs jumped 17% last year from 2005 levels, while luxury SUV sales jumped 6%, according to data compiled by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. (Globe and Mail 070201)

Sigh...I doubt we're ever going to get it.