Monday, November 29, 2010

Crown corporation Nalcor

The development of Muskrat Falls, the smaller of the Lower Churchill falls hydro development vision, has been raising hopes among people of NL, and particularly Nova Scotia as well. A Terms paper was signed on Nov. 18 between Premiers Williams, and Dexter of NS. Since then, there's been mixed reactions to the project proposals feasibility - how it will get financed, and how much of a power rate increase people in NL will be burdened. Now, an international analyst, Toby Couture, with E3 Analytics in London, England,
condemns the project saying that the markets are not there in New England.
The investment case for selling that power to New England is actually not looking very good, partly because they have more than enough natural gas — cheap natural gas — to meet their own electricity needs for the next decade, at least,"

He adds that it is also difficult to raise the $6.2 billion to build this.

On the other hand, Nalcor's CEO, Ed Martin, is saying a much more rosy vision.
We are paying only a very small amount to flow over the lines of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, meaning that were getting to that market at a very, very low cost.

Hmm, so who to believe. We want projects to make environment, economic and practical sense, but we have to be realistic. First Nations peoples have their own issues about this development, and other outstanding concerns, and have yet to give theire blessing. There is much more to learn about this project proposal, and it is far from a done deal.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Good Luck Danny Williams!

Wow! What a magnificent farewell speech by Danny Williams! That was pure passion! Interesting, engaging and powerful.

In the last hour, Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, announced his resignation. As a news item, this is a shock to many people, and he will definitely be missed.

He's been Premier of Newfoundland & Labrador since 2003, and with his words, and especially emotion, has staunchly defended the province and it's resources. Williams governed at a time when NL prospered from oil and mineral resource income, and became a "have" province. His strong stance as a promoter of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, as a fighter of provincial rights, has consistently endeared him to roughly 80% of voters. Unlike his predecessors, he has also had a consistent online opposition, who magnify his unfinished business as Premier.

Politics is a rough line of work. It has great financial rewards, hmm, I guess.. one can take that in different ways... and/or it offers personal rewards of accomplishment. Certainly, it is difficult on a human level to be in the public eye daily for many years, and to be scrutinized under the microscope constantly, and while most applaud, the soundings of fewer cut deep. Williams is certainly emotional about the state, history and future of Newfoundland & Labrador, and it always showed. However, the energy expended with the thrust of emotion can take its toll on personal health and happiness, and when it becomes an unrewarding or uncertain investment, then it becomes a prison.

The doctors' salary dispute alone is very stressful, and would ironically cause a premier to seek a doctor's help. Is is not a surprise to hear of Williams' resignation. It's a very stressful job, and despite popular support, the pressure and criticism that accompanies it, is a major challenge to face in life. My advice is to take a rest Mr. Williams, protect your health, and enjoy the rest of your life. You have certainly contributed much of your energy and emotion to the goal of improving the province and its future, now it's time for someone else to bear the responsibilities of the huge challenges. Congratulations Danny on your success and your representation of the province.

Best wishes Premier Williams.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The predictable technical future and reactions to it

Well into the information and gadgetry age, tens of millions in the world are regularly Google-y eyed at the amazing, surprising, magical, and "brilliant" new, never before seen marvels of progressive real programming wizardry. If I were a marketing rep for a company I would love to learn the trends of how and what makes people buy things, get excited about them, and be tempted to figure out the formula and keep it going consistently. No doubt analysts have been figuring this out, and are sticking with the formulas that work. Let's take camera software for example. There's an abundance of programs now that enhance your photos, even to make them "artistic" looking. However, there are graphical nuances that are hard to perfect, or at least that is, until a new version of some software program arrives at the stores, then that particular quirk is fixed.

Stretching out the ultimate technical secrets to appear as new and revolutionary is part of a formula that keeps people looking to the next evolutionary phase of advancement to tweak an artistic output. It seems some programs can do much, to for example, convert a single photo shot into an enhanced, alive, epiphanous capture. However, it seems that not every program can do everything, so other programs are called in to fill the artistic voids, and even these have their limitations. There are so many elements to photo editing that one may be awaiting the latest to fix the current imperfection, and the others, and so it goes.

Our need to achieve "perfection" is both a compelling force that drives us to fill the voids repressing perfection, and part of a selling formula that is released ever so gingerly and timely to maximize corporate profits... Well, don't be too surprised at how well a software company has fixed a photo contrast or ghosting issue.. it may have been figured out many months ago, and simply held back in the last release version, because that would hinder the selling of the "new and improved" version.

Ahh, what a tried and tested phrase.. new and improved.. that formula has been gold. Who doesn't want new and improved! In the meantime, just be creative yourself... there is no one but you, and your thought processes and interpretations... and that is what is really unique, and potentially new.. Software graphical enhancements are technical, mathematical tweaks that are somewhere in the ballpark to make an image look interesting, and are part of a marketing timing to maximize company profits, based on what many consumers await to be their creative output... just a thought on current marketing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Are popular burgers "Happy Meals"? Fat chance!!

It's almost an insulting and cruel joke to name greasy fries, sugar-rich drinks, and high fat & sodium/white flour burgers as a happy meal, but it makes McDonald's happy anyway. Don't mean to beat up on poor ol' Mac coz they are not in the health field, and are giving the public what the public continues to want. It's up to us as individuals to make healthy choices and eat well. But all fast food consumers would benefit from more knowledge of what they are eating.

Obviously there are 1000s of junk food diners and the sky's the limit on invented menu offerings. However, the more we question what's in the product, the more informed we are. Note: am not using the word "food" here, as it's hard to imagine that a lot of this stuff qualifies for that label. Case in point: MacDonald's Happy Meal. This headline was attention-getting last week: "McDonald's Happy Meal resists mold for six months!"

Now I am not an nutrition expert, but doesn't real food get moldy, shrivel, and rot? Even plastics exposed changes its colors. But take a look at this photo comparison of a happy meal on day 1 and at 6 months, left on a shelf. There is hardly any difference. McDonald's Happy Meal resists decomposition for six months

So this is only one meal from one place, and just what the blazes is in that? Can it be of any benefit to your body? Perhaps if you are sodium, sugar, or fat deprived, then yes.

It's recommended that adults get no more than 1500 mg of sodium a day. If you really are not getting enough salt in your diet, then try this salt blast - the infamous
Double Down burger from KFC, with its 1740 mg of sodium, 540 calories, and 30 grams of fat. I bet that will never ever rot.

Even if there were any living organisms in it, they probably all perished from cardiac problems. This double-trouble burger is pretty much the same as many other fast food offering in terms of fat and calories, but the sodium level makes your heart stop a while.

Too bad that products like this are so popular, and ultimately create unhappy experiences at the hospital. But it does not have to be, it's a free choice world, and it's a matter of which ones we make.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rescued miners get a Chile reception

So not all news stories are doom and gloom. Out of the depths of the heart of darkness are 33 alive miners from a collapsed cavern 2000 feet below the sod. Looking like a NASA mini spacecraft, a narrow capsule/cage was lowered to the potential final grave site, and right now, is still in the process of bringing up more thankful survivors. The 28 inch wide rescue hole itself must have created a hyper-claustrophobic experience as there was no room for arm movement, just totally at the mercy of technology and rock stability.

Since August when it became known, after 17 days of hopelessness, there was a clanging sound from below, the world has watched the "real" movie, episode by episode. The future movies outcome is now being watched and written. Of course, the atmosphere at the rescue site is jubilant, and there are positive comments, thankfulness, and good feelings all around. While it is highlighting human potential as thoughtful, loving, driven to help, being creative with an engineering challenge, and multi-partner cooperation, it will again, sadly, and later, highlight the working conditions that miners face.

There is constantly a high risk, it's dirty, an inherent prison cell, and physically demanding. These guys are exceptionally lucky to survive a mine collapse. 1000s simply are never rescued, and it's a another reminder for mining companies to build in more safety, and escape options for the workers who risk their lives to makes the companies grow.

For now, people around the world should feel more hopeful about the good will in humans, and the successful efforts that coming together can produce. In addition, not like we need another reminder, but it just makes it more pronounced, how simply being alive, is a prize in itself. As the main characters in the future books, interviews, movie(s), and endorsements they will be in demand for some time, after their re-entry to normal life. From being in a deep dark pit, their futures really never looked brighter.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Happy 70th John Lennon

How many of us know exactly where we were, and what we were doing when we "heard the news today, (sigh) oh boy," about a musical man who made the grade. To say the least, the news was rather sad. It was incomprehensible! The dream was over, no more Lennon, and no more Lennon-McCartney, which was more likely to happen in future years, than in the '70s.

In 1980, Lennon was following up on songs he had been working at from at least 1979, and went to Bermuda to record the album Double Fantasy. He had really liked McCartney's song, "Coming Up", and commented that "I just can't get it out of my head." later in Dec. the world would hear Lennon and Ono's new collection and their double offering of some beautiful new music.

Today, John Lennon would have turned 70, and we can only imagine what could have been in the last 30 years. Thankfully, he left a musical legacy, creative brilliance, a voice that could send a shiver up your spine, catchy classic melodies, originality, memorable riffs, thoughtful, haunting, poetic, and sometimes just perplexing words, but always inventiveness and with feeling.

At the height of Beatlemania, the group could hardly hear themselves play and sing, over the cacophony of teenage screams. This is one fine recording where Lennon's amazing vocal stretch was so strong, and emotive, and it seemed to make the girls just scream more. Still, he comes through loud and clear. This is a version of Dizzy Miss Lizzy recorded at the Hollywood Bowl in either 1964 or '65. The group was energetic, tight and driven to play well and entertain. It's a great example of Lennon's distinctive and astounding voice. Harrison's lead riff playing just ignites the frenzy, and the bass and drums are in perfect sync. The pace is frenetic and this audio cleanly captures what all the excitement was about.

Monday, October 04, 2010

St. John's 2010 Run for the Cure

The 2010 annual Run for the Cure has raised a record $414,500, as of Oct. 3. There were 1000's participating yesterday, and with the help of sun and blue skies, the crowd were a very enthusiastic group of breast cancer survivors, relatives, friends and supporters. Across the country an estimated 170,000 people walked, jogged, strolled to raise about $33 million.

Below are some scenes from yesterday's 2010 Run for the Cure.

Kathy Dunderdale, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, sounded the starting horn for the crowd.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cruising to St. John's

The Crown Princess must have been making good time on this morning. She arrived 40 minutes earlier than her scheduled 7 a.m. time. Boasting a passenger capacity of 3780, this was the largest cruise ship in St. John's this year.
Maneuvering to dock

Check out the size

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Students, beware of Credit Card Teases

A new semester, a new stage in life, and a promising future, all await young students who will also slowly learn the "ways of the world." Year after year we hear about the cost of attending post-secondary institutions - that loans are not enough, books, and living costs are so much, and there is incredible debt to repay once a program is complete. It's ironic that those very students who will accrue the burden of heavy loan repayments, are often the main targets of banks and credit card companies. Just a word of advice for students. If you are tempted to accept a coupon for a free chicken snack pack, or get a free frisbee, or free cheap gadget, pen, poster, or anything free, then please think twice about it! If the deal involves signing you up to get a new credit card, ask yourself, do you want even greater debt? Or do you want to reduce debt, and save?

As a student, there are essentials, like texts, notebooks, rent, and food, but there are other "non-essential" expenses, that you can control the spending for. For many, perhaps most students, credit cards may be labelled a "non-essential". Question everything.

People may have different reasons for wanting a credit card, but just because it could be your first one, or another symbol of transitioning into adulthood, is not a good reason for it. Think about who benefits from your future credit card debt, who else, the companies and banks... laughing all the way back home, to the bank.

Keep in mind, that the interest rates are insanely high, and this is what helps them make their record profits from quarter to quarter. It will put you in more debt, and often times, it just is not necessary. In fact, there are many better options to increase your income as a student. MUN for example, offers 100s of part-time jobs like the MUCEP program. Do not be lured into increasing your future debt, but focus on keeping it to a minimun, and having more money now and in the future just for yourself and your needs.

There are several money managing sites that provide savings and spending tips, and online financial calculators to help budget. In fact, you can actually find out how much your program will cost, and how much you may spend or save on essentials and non-essentials.

Good luck students, enjoy your time while studying, and take care of your money, or someone else will.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sailor's Delight

"Red sky at night, sailor's delight."

At this intersection I had to stop at the red light, in the sky.

This is Memorial University's Marine Institute, where a new semester of future sailors would be delighted at this good omen.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Petty Harbour, Newfoundland

Just a short drive from St. John, there are a couple of ways to reach the picturesque community of Petty Harbour. One is by the access road from the Goulds (far west end of St. John's), and the other is along the route to Cape Spear. From the latter route, you will also pass through the pretty, and expanding community of Maddox Cove.

On this day, residents of Petty Harbour put off a Heritage Festival at harbour side.

For more photos and information on Petty Harbour, and Maddox Cove, visit their website at
* If you would like to order a print of Petty Harbour, please visit

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

There has been so much fighting on George St. that city councillors should rename it Muhammad Alley

Update This was also printed in Saturday's Telegram on Aug. 28.

There have been a couple of good Telegram articles recently about the good and the bad of St. John's famous/infamous George Street. A few hard-hitting messages came through - George St. has an image problem, there is an alarming hard drug problem, and our culture of alcohol glorification show no signs of waning. Police authorities surely have their hands full dealing with weekend brawls, vandalism, noise and unruliness. Councillor Tom Hann saw it first-hand as he took a drive with the RNC 3 am Sat. night. The police say it would be helpful to install closed-circuit television cameras on George St.

Maybe it will deter some potential public brawls on that particular street, but it won't stop people from acting out of control either with drugs, booze, or their inner selves. Our whole culture, whether it's a city, town, or outport, has found the lure of alcohol, well, intoxicating, and from young ages on up, many still glorify it. For better or worse, our realities are influenced by the activities, personalities around us, attitudes, and habits that are powerful in our environments. This particular witness to a culture of over-drinking has noticed that there does not appear to be much emphasis, in general, on self-control. At least it wasn't a topic in my school curriculum, or there were few, if any, public messages about it. As we see, it affects adult behaviour and society in negative ways.

We are all human, and it is not always easy to take control of some habit that we have become accustomed to. However, as we also know, good habits can begin to replace unhealthy ones, and we can control our lives, rather than have negative habits control us. It goes for drugs, alcohol, food, and personal behaviours.

Naturally, parents and guardians have a huge role to play in educating their kids, and imparting messages of self control when it comes to potential problem temptations. However, young people still don't hear much about self-control in general. On the contrary, it's cool to throw away any antiquated sense of that, to "treat yourself", "just do it", "par-tay", and don't even think about what any "foods", drugs or alcoholic toxins can do to your body. As a matter of fact some restaurants use an opposing message to self control by their tantalizing "All You Can Eat" lure.

A message that can be out there more, is that we as individuals can control so much, like what we decide to eat and drink, and how fit we are, hence also helping to control the demand on health care, and the demands on the authorities who have to patrol all the George Streets, wherever they are. What happens on George Street and lots of roads and streets are preventable in the long run, but the roots of the problems and behaviours need to be studied, and addressed by every segment of our culture.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Good luck to Yvonne Jones

Liberal leader Yvonne Jones announced Friday that she has breast cancer and will undergo surgery on Monday. Having survived cancer and it's side effects, I want to wish Ms. Jones, and every cancer patient strength to deal with it physically and mentally.

Progress has been made on many cancer fronts, but it is still far too common, and still we also have long wait times for certain preventative tests like mammography. In addition, our main hospital still has staff shortages which makes it challenging for cancer doctors to properly care for their patients. However, we always hope it can only improve, one would think, with all the errors and criticisms of it in the last few years. For now, I hope Yvonne Jones will have a successful surgery and use her strength of character to return her to a good health. As some commenters at CBC's site advised, conserve your strength and put politics on the back burner for as long as it takes to get well.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Drive to the Isles - on the way to Twillingate

Just a couple of great looking towns on the Drive to the Isles. It was my first time driving there, and so well worth the day trip. Actually, the scenery and communities were so interesting and beautiful, that I would really want to spend a month on this little peninsula alone. One would need it to just explore and climb some hills for shots of the towns, land and seascapes, the geography, vegetation and community attractions. That's not even mentioning tourist attractions like whale and iceberg watching, and strolling the streets of historic Twillingate.

On this trip there, where normally it would take maybe 1.5 hours from Gander, it took over four hours, simply because of photo stops along the way. New never-before visited places can often cause that, especially on a rather bright day, which enhances the view of what nature has to offer.

There are many communities along this route, and to really get a full appreciation of each one would require much more time, or many return trips to the area. Below are a few places and scenes along the route.

From Gander to Twillingate is about 115 km.

There are many views like this along the way.

This is a more detailed map of the "Road to the Isles".

The community of Fairbanks

A view near Cottleview causeway

Beautiful Boyd's Cove

Twillingate seems to be rather "touristy" with lots to see and do, including museums, crafts shops, diners, and boat tours. I did not have enough time to fully explore the streets but will next visit. The view from some restaurants is fantastic.

Here is a view from one restaurant along Twillingate's busy streets.

The town of Twillingate

Reflecting on the days trip at Fairbanks again.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sun and Moon Shift Change

One goes down and another comes up
tides comes in and tide goes out
good days come and good days go
darkness is followed by light

life is predictable yet unpredictable
expect the unexpected
and know that after darkness comes light