Category Archives: Rants

Syncrude faces scrutiny after ducks land on toxic pond

Posted on April 30, 2008 by

From a National Post article printed today, Syncrude is in hot water for not calling in about a problem with ducks landing in its toxic sludge ponds, which it is legally obligated to report.

It also seems they were obligated to keep these ducks from landing in the first place.

Seems that our oil companies were “ducking out” on their responsibilities… Does this really surprise anyone?

Syncrude faces scrutiny after ducks land on toxic pond


Spring – North vs. South in New Brunswick

Posted on March 24, 2008 by

So, my last few posts have shown the difference between the North and the South of the province over the Easter weekend, which also happened to correspond with the first few days of Spring this year. I just thought I would show a direct comparison of the North and the South, at the exact same time, with a difference of less than 300 kilometres distance between each place (about 200 miles for the metrically challenged out there)

Bathurst (North)


Now, we have Saint John (South). Only ~250 – 300 kilometres away.


Here is the map, showing Bathurst at the North and Saint John at the South. I very crudely highlited the two locations and the route we took to get there and back.


That is just plain amazing!


Holy Cat Poop Batman!

Posted on November 18, 2007 by

So, I had heard in the past what I thought was an urban legend about this exotic coffee that costs immense quantities of hard-earned cash and is made using beans that were eaten – and then excreted – by some kind of jungle cat.

Well, recently, I heard a radio article on CBC about new, exotic coffee shops in Canada, where people were lining up to throw away as much as $50 for a single cup of coffee.

Not one to just listen and laugh, I decided to investigate it further. And guess what? It really exists!!! It is called Kopi Luwak or Civet coffee, and it is made from coffee beans that have maneuvered through the digestive tract of an Asian Palm Civet.

I always felt like a bit of a “coffee snob” by buying nothing but the best beans from Java Moose, a great little locally owned coffee shop here in Saint John that has a selection of very fine coffees. I have even been known to fill an entire suitcase with large bags of coffee when returning from work trips to Cuba (by the way, bags of coffee are a great way of insulating bottles of rum in your checked luggage). But now I don’t feel so bad!

So, what I really want to know is this… never mind the absurdity of paying ~$50 for a cup of coffee, I want to know who the first person was to think it might be good to rummage through a pile of cat poop for excreted coffee beans, and how sneaky did he have to be to trick some unsuspecting friend into trying it first??? 🙂


Don’t believe in climate change yet??? Ten predictions about climate change that have come true…

Posted on June 26, 2007 by

Snagged from the Times Online edition at: Ten predictions about climate change that have come true

Here are the hard facts about global warming that everyone should know, compiled for Times Online by internationally acclaimed writer, scientist and explorer Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers: Our changing climate and what it means for life on earth

From Times Online
June 25, 2007

    Ten predictions about climate change that have come true

1) That the Earth would warm as more CO2 was put into the atmosphere (Svante Arrhenius in 1893)

2) That we’d begin to see noticable changes to Earth’s climate by around 2000 (some IPCC scientists ).

3) That sea-level would start rising

4) That Earth’s Ice would start melting rapidly (James Hanson)

5) That hurricanes would increase in intensity (this one goes back to Alfred Russel Wallace in 1900)

6) That species would start going extinct as a result of climate change.

7) That Australia would start drying out (Hadley Centre scientists)

8) That tropical diseases would increase

9) That food crops would be adversely affected

10) That the CO2 would begin to acidify the ocean

    The ten biggest changes to the weather wrought by climate change

1) Shorter winters

2) Less runoff into dams and reservoirs in many regions of the world

3) More violent and longer hurricanes

4) Less chilly nights

5) Less predictable seasonal conditions

6) Less snow

7) More heat waves

8) Less rain in many regions at various seasons

9) More severe storms in the North Sea and parts of the southern Ocean

10) Generally warmer conditions

    The ten places in the world / animals in the world most endangered by global warming

1) The glorious Cape Botanic province in South Africa, particularly the succulent Karoo flora.

2) Amphibians everywhere (a third of all species are already gravely endangered or extinct.

3) Coral reefs

4) Species on mountaintops (many populations are already extinct.

5) The tundra

6) The Arctic Ocean

7) The Antarctic Peninsula

8) Australia – where the drying trend is already precipitating a new wave of declines and extinctions.

9) The Amazon, where drying will affect forests and rivers

10) The boreal forests, here pest infestations are destroying vast areas of trees.


Cold Snap!!!

Posted on February 13, 2007 by

So you want to see how cold it has been this month???

Darn Cold!

Picture taken this morning at about 7:30 AM on my front veranda.

When it gets this cold, whether the temperature is in Celcius or Fahrenheit is almost irrelevant… 😉


Circuit City (aka Radio Shack) closing 62 stores in Canada

Posted on February 9, 2007 by

Tonight must be one of those “weird news story” nights…

Circuit City (aka formerly Radio Shack in Canada) is closing 62 stores in Canada, and the CEO, Philip Schoonover, made this statement:

“Because of the intensified gross margin pressures that we saw in the third quarter within the flat panel television category, we launched efforts to accelerate the timing of planned initiatives to improve sales and gross margin, as well as improve the efficiency of our expense structure,”

Wow, and I though politicians were bad for doublespeak! You know, I think of myself as an educated person, but even Orwell would be proud of this guy. Anyone have any idea what the heck he just said there??? 😉


Do lower taxes lead to a better life?

Posted on December 7, 2006 by

So you think lower taxes and the “American Way” are the best solution for a long and happy life? Maybe, maybe not. A recent story: People in highly taxed countries better off: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Report has a lot of statistics that show how we may not necessarily be better off with lower taxes.

In the majority of 50 points of interest, higher-taxed countries scored better on such important things as:

  • life expectancy
  • Rate of poverty
  • equality of income distribution
  • economic security for workers
  • GDP per capita
  • Rate of household saving and net national saving
  • Innovation (including percentage of GDP spent on research and development)
  • Growth competitiveness as ranked by the World Economic Forum
  • Rates of secondary school and university completion (one of my personal soapbox subjects!)
  • Rate of drug use
  • Leisure time

It also has some stats that show we Canadians are not taxed nearly as heavily as many countries (we are taxed at an average of 35.7% while many others are higher – Norway 41.9%, France 43.4%, Finland is 46.2%, and Sweden leads the pack at 50.5%), to the point where we are actually lumped in the with the US as a “Lower-Tax” country (the US is near the bottom at 28%, with only Japan at 26.8% being lower).

The US scored significantly worse on things such as:

  • number of hours worked/year (I always knew they worked too much!)
  • health care costs (no surprises here)
  • success of health care procedures (OK, this was a surprise…)
  • distribution of wealth (difference between the rich and poor)
  • number of people living in poverty
  • women in higher-ranking positions of civil service

Of course, if you live in one of those bastions of low-tax glory, it isn’t all bad. These countries did score better on the following points:

  • sense of freedom
  • suicide rates
  • number of people reporting they are very happy

Seems like a weird combination… When you pay less taxes, you can feel happy and free, but have a lower life expectancy, are more likely to live in poverty, experience a greater inequality in distribution of wealth and less job security, can’t afford health care, and have little or no post-secondary education… OK, I’m kidding, as long as you are one of the ones with money, you have health care and can go to university… I know the cost of university is putting a huge dent in my wallet these days… 😉

It was an interesting read.

Personally, I think most of you know I am a small-L liberal who prefers to be taxed so the government can afford to support the social safety net, take care of our less fortunate friends, and regulate business to force them to have some form of social responsibility. Call me a bleeding heart, at least I have a conscience!

I wonder what it would take to immigrate to Sweden? Anyone know how to speak Swedish??? 🙂


Can you believe this weather???

Posted on December 5, 2006 by

OK, this is only the start of December. We are not supposed to be in the deep freeze of January or February for another month or so… But here is the weather, as of 7:45 PM this evening…


(Thanks to the weather network for the image I managed to scrounge…)

I can do with some of that global warming they keep warning us about right about now…

At least with the snow we had yesterday and this nasty cold snap, the visiting Cubans are seeing just how unpredictable our weather can be… They have gone from +10 C to -10C in one week… And tomorrow is supposed to be above 0 and raining, so that should wash away the snow!

I am sure they prefer that to their boring sunny, warm days with nothing but blue skies all the time… 😉


Lest we forget…

Posted on November 9, 2006 by

Lest we forget...

Every year on November 11, Canadians pause in a silent moment of remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace. We honour those who fought for Canada in the First World War (1914-1918), the Second World War (1939-1945), and the Korean War (1950-1953), as well as those who have served since then. More than 1,500,000 Canadians have served our country in this way, and more than 100,000 have died. They gave their lives and their futures so that we may live in peace.

Please visit A Day of Remembrance for more information.

Every morning of November 11, in every major city in Canada, there are Remembrance Day ceremonies held to help keep the memory alive. At 11:00 AM local time all across the country, there is a moment of silence to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom.

I am in Cuba and cannot attend the Remembrance Day services in Canada, but I urge everyone who can make it to go to a ceremony near them. Our veterans who fought in the two World Wars are getting older, and soon there will be none left to honour.