Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Years!

2009 is shortly gone - looking back, a lot of cool stuff happened in 2009. Along with that a lot of crappy stuff have happened, too. It'd be interesting fun to catalogue it all and see what I've learned/experienced and taken away from it all. Perhaps a good exercise for everyone to do - although easier for me because I have a detailed blog listing pretty much everything of significance that happened over the last year.

I think that's a good idea - perhaps you can look forward to a post of that nature some time shortly. More importantly, celebrate a happy new year and be safe.

The Extent won't have a new episode until, possibly, next Thursday - so be prepared, it's on condition that some actors are available early next week. Then there's a wrap-party for the season finale, which would be awesome.

It's cool to have that project so close to done (season 1 of our new show, conceived and developed almost a year ago), as well as the second draft of my novel, Lefevre's Redemption. The Zombie Dinosaurs project is next on the list of things I'd like to do - but I might get my artwork skills back up to snuff with a story-board of a friend's play. If he agrees, I'll try and post that sort of thing.

On a side note: I've been very interested in getting the zombie dinosaur project back up and running. I've finished about three books on writing, including Stephen King's On Writing for insight and direction on my projects. It should be an exciting new year.

See you next year.

Lost news 9

This week - the biggest most interesting item that came up is a very cool contest for the upcoming season. Online, each week, last season, the ABC/Lost team released the first scene (called a "teaser") before the episode aired on television. The execs have also concluded that they will not be teasing any new footage for the final season so to not reveal any secrets of any kind prior to the season premiere on February 2.

BUT that doesn't mean that they are refusing to show it to anyone. If you sign up to the ABC site and answer the questions they've listed - if you're a fan, they aren't hard - if you're not a fan, this contest isn't for you - then you are entered to win.

If you win, you will receive in the mail a "message in a bottle" style package with a bottle, in which is a memory key that contains the first scene of the next episode! That's thematically and stylistically VERY cool - PLUS, the memory key is to be designed to resemble the "fail safe key" from the Swan Station (the one that Desmond turned to detonate the electromagnetic pocket at the end of Season 2).

Even more thematically linked to the show, there will 815 winners selected, linking the flight number 815 that the Losties first arrived on the Island upon.

Awesome! So, do you think I signed up? You'd better believe I did - even if non-Americans don't count. Even if.

Proof:
Zap2It
ABC and the "Lost" team are sticking to their promise not to air any footage from the final season before it premieres Feb. 2. But if you're lucky, you might see a bit of the premiere ahead of time.

The show is running a sweepstakes in advance of the season premiere in which people can win a valuable prize: A peek at the debut a few days before it airs. OK, so maybe there's not a ton of monetary value in that, but to a "Lost" obsessive, it's gold.

It works like this: Go to the show's sweepstakes site and answer six questions about the series (you'll have to register with ABC.com first, if you're not already). The site is accepting one entry per e-mail address through Jan. 17. ABC will choose 815 winners from the submissions and mail them a "message in a bottle" containing a USB drive that "resembles ... Desmond Hume's fail-safe key." The drive contains a video that includes scenes from last season's finale, "The Incident," plus a sneak peek at the new season.

Winners will receive their packages on Friday, Jan. 29, four days before the premiere.

The sweepstakes site, once again, is lostthefinalseasonsweepstakes.com.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lefevre's Redemption | In Business Magazine

Well - here's an interesting coincidence. Well not that interesting, and I'm not sure that it really coincides, but ... one writing project, my novel, Lefevre's Redemption, had its second draft finished. I've reached out to a few trusted (and hopefully interested) reviewers for their thoughts and should have their feedback before the end of February. Let's hope.

If you'd like to see the first 50 pages of the novel, you can at this link. Be warned, this is a .pdf and may load differently than a normal html page.

On the topic of .pdfs and my writing, the latest of my stories for In Business Magazine is available at their website.

PROFILE Story By Ryan Rogers
Photo By Sean Dolan
It’s amazing what the right type of curtains or blinds can do to transform any room in your house into a cozy and impressive space that you can be proud of. The only obstacle is that there are too many options, too many questions, and it’s difficult to get a good feeling for how something that’s in the store might look once it’s back in
your home.

Geraldine “Gerry” Dewar and Duane Eddie are the owner/operators of Windsor-Essex’s Budget Blinds franchise, and they’ve been solving that problem one customer at a time. Dewar explained that they have only been at it for about a year and a half, after looking for quite a while to find a business that the two of them could do together.

“We both wanted to be equally involved. We investigated several different avenues, and found Budget Blinds just seemed to be a perfect fit for us,” Dewar said. “ I would be more involved with the consultation and the day-to-day running of the business, and Duane would handle the installation end of it, as he is a more hands-on kind
of guy.”

With their complementary skill sets, the twosome were eager to embrace a career opportunity that offered autonomy and a chance to work together. When they came across the opportunity to operate a Budget Blinds franchise they signed the papers and started making house calls. [Click to read more]

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Odd news 7

There have been a lot of "End of the Year" Top 10 lists lately, especially with everyone trying to find the Top 10 cool things of the first ten years of this second millennium. Well, here's a neat one: Ten Remarkable Monsters Named in Last Ten Years.

In the last ten years, researchers have discovered thousands of species, both living and extinct. We got dino-eating crocodiles and killer kangaroos; a fish with a transparent head and a demon duck of doom; a bright pink millipede and giant spiders. And previously named species, such as the tongue-eating isopod and the alien-limbed Magnapinna, made headlines.

A few of these species were observed before 2000, but were only named or recognized as species in the last ten years. And each has some wonderfully monstrous quality, be it their incredible size, arsenal of offensive or defensive weapons, or knack for survival.

  • The Bornean clouded Leopard (found in 2007) with sabreteeth!
  • Titanoboa (largest snake ever found - though it's extinct)
  • Fanged frog of Papua New Guinea (they actually eat birds)
  • Svalbard Pliosaur (biggest carnivorous skull around)
  • Giant jellyfish (Malo kingi) are the most toxic in the world (avoid Queensland)
  • Josephoartigasia monesi, a capybara that weighed a literal ton, from South America
  • Mammal-eating plants, Nepenthes attenboroughii, of the Phillipines
  • Jaekelopterus rhenaniae, a 8.2 metre sea-scorpion from 390 million years ago
There are more on the list, including bacteria that exists in pressurized hairspray cans, and a sea-worm that emits a flash of light to blind enemies while they slink away.

Another list of "The Greatest" of the year includes the most pirated movies of 2009.

The blog site TorrentFreak claims that the movie Star Trek was downloaded illegally 10 million times by Internet users. Transformers, Revenge of the Fallen, Ice Age:Dawn of the Dinosaurs, and 2012 rounded out the list.

That's a LOT of downloads. Now we have to redirect all those Trekkies toward The Extent!

Next year in review is for BOOKS. The number one thing that they wanted to talk about was: Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol.
1. The Lost Symbol: Dan Brown's follow-up to his global best-seller The Da Vinci Code was the one book everyone wanted to read. And Brown didn't disappoint. Trading the mysteries of Christianity for the mysteries of American history, Brown titillated his fans with conspiracy theories dating back to the Founding Fathers. Brown's publisher, Doubleday, printed 5 million copies to start, and Amazon.com readers downloaded it faster than any other book in the retailer's history. It was just what most people needed in a tough year: a bit of frivolous distraction.
Not much of a review - but I did read this one. I'll have to think about it for a while, but I think I managed to read a bunch of books this year, which was cool. Stephen King says he reads about 70 a year - that's a lot. I don't think I'll get close to that at all.

Another cool list for you to enjoy is 100 Awesome Comic Book Covers. Just a taste, is this image of Wolverine rejecting some bullets to the face. I'm allergic to bullets, personally, but Wolverine seems to not care very much.

Highlights from comics 7

Cyanide and Happiness
Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal




SMBC Theater



Believe it or not, this gang's initiation is very much like what we went through for Sigma Chi. When there's a large pledge class, we had to look all over for people to kill. Then we got to drink gasoline! Ahhh the advantages of brotherhood.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What the Hell is Wrong with Windsor? 6

I think in this week's post we can discover why it is the police in Windsor are able to successfully close so many cases in the area. My argument will be that criminals are not being careful when they commit their crimes - making it easier for police to track them down and arrest them.

This will suggest that many crimes are careless crimes of passion or opportunity rather than strategic events - meaning people in Windsor are willing to break the law if the opportunity presents itself. Scary. Watch your stuff, folks, watch your stuff.


Basically, the reason Windsor police always catch their man is because criminals in Windsor don't think twice before committing a crime. Put it this way - they act out of desperation and opportunity to work against the law - and in so doing, leave themselves vulnerable to being caught. There's little premeditated or calculated about how they go about their crimes - meaning cops have an easy time connecting the criminal dots.

This week:
Here's a link (it's a .pdf) to the Auditor General's Office's for the 400 CHS Project, which has gone significantly over budget and been a problem kept under wraps for years. In this report it is said that City broke own rules in selection of contractor. Sounds like an oversight committee that used to control the paper I worked at. They were so bad I quit. Turns out the second round of overseers for the newspaper don't find it necessary to meet at all and don't have meetings whatsoever. What a contrast from the year before.

The city violated its own rules during the selection of a builder for the $32.5-million government services building at 400 City Hall Square, according to a long-awaited audit released Monday.

The audit said administrators and councillors exposed the city to “major risk” of a lawsuit after the winning contractor had been allowed to amend a bid for the work after the deadline for proposals had passed.

The auditors found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing or misappropriation of funds, but said there was poor administrative oversight during the building’s construction — which ended up $686,000 over budget.

“Certain practices used by the city — both staff and council members — during the (request for proposals) process through to the award of the contract to the selected proponent were unfair and in contravention of the laws that govern the City of Windsor,” the report concluded.

“Council members and some senior staff members demonstrated a lack of awareness and understanding of some of the most basic principles of the laws governing the city.”

Three city councillors on the RFP committee breached those rules when Vindella Enterprise was encouraged to amend its bid.

The report did not name the councillors.

The audit said Vindella had a non-compliant proposal that should have eliminated the company from consideration.

The company’s amended bid proved to be the winner, edging out EllisDon Construction.

“The city is fortunate not to have been sued by EllisDon (Corporation) whose proposal was compliant,” the report said.

Toronto lawyer Andrew Roman, hired by the audit committee to oversee its final report, said the limitation period for legal action by the EllisDon has expired.

There were also suggestions the city solicitor wanted to intervene, but “was impeded from carrying out his legal duties.”

There was “an attitude we will seek your legal advice when we want it,” rather than being proactive, the audit report said.

The audit concluded that while there has been progress since 2002 within city ranks since the 400 building construction began, “there is still a significant level of risk that remains today.”

Some more thoughts on the 400 CHS Audit:

Chris Vander Doelen

The more you read of the auditor's report on how 400 City Hall Square got built, the luckier the outcome seems for Windsor taxpayers.

As I wrote Tuesday, the massively detailed KPMG audit released Monday proves taxpayers should be relieved the $32- million project turned out as well as it did.

The building is magnificent, there was relatively little waste for a government project of that size, and nobody stole anything that we know of.

Past that -- man, what a mess. The building was completed in 2005 only after a three-year war of wills between a city council operating under misguided intentions and a small group of self-serving administrators.

The RFP, the tender and the contract award were all disasters that could have erupted into taxpayer nightmares. Windsor narrowly escaped being tied up in court or an inquiry for years, costing taxpayers millions. The city might still be sued.

Andrew Roman, the governmental law expert hired by Windsor to get to the bottom of the 400 Building fiasco, found that council and administration fought a bitter ground war over the project before council's wishes eventually prevailed.

Council deserved to win, in my opinion. They, not bureaucrats, are the elected representatives of taxpayers. Citizens own the Corporation of the City of Windsor, not staff.

But councillors broke the law to get their way, and they're not allowed to do that. Municipal bylaws and provincial laws govern how contracts must be awarded, and under those rules Ellis Don Construction should have won the City Hall Square job, not Vindella/Oscar, the local company given the contract.

Did council break the law intentionally? Absolutely not, says Coun. Fulvio Valentinis, a lawyer and the only one of three councillors on the 400 project subcommittee still in office. The other two, Peter Carlesimo and Charlie Hotham (both with connections to the local construction industry), lost the last election.

Some say Valentinis the lawyer should have known better. I think taxpayers should cut him some slack on this issue. When the 400 project got the green light in 2002, council was determined to keep project costs under control. They had just blown $30 million to $40 million too much (estimates vary) on the disastrous Canderel project on Riverside Drive.

City finances were also in disarray then due to a high debt load and administration's massive screw-up on the multi-million-dollar MFP financing mess.

If the members of the 400 subcommittee were obsessed by cost, as Roman charged this week, the source of the obsession was understandable. And forgivable.

So was their error. Roman told council this week it is extremely common for tendering laws to be broken by Ontario municipalities; they are so complex and change so often that most city councillors don't understand them. Neither do "more than half" of all lawyers.

The audit ladles blame onto two former city chief administrators. CAO Dennis Perlin prevented the city solicitor from taking staff's concerns about the process straight to council as a whole, allowing the issues to fester.

Carrying on from last post about how criminals are careless (as I suggested) and are more interested in just committing whatever crimes they feel like (and then getting arrested afterward because they weren't careful) than they are getting away with the crimes.

Windsor police probe robbery of west-side convenience store

WINDSOR, Ont. — Police are investigating after a convenience store in the city's west side was robbed of cigarettes and money early Thursday morning.

Police say two male suspects strolled (their words, but my emphasis) into a convenience story in the 3600 block of Matchette Road shortly before 1:30 a.m. and robbed the clerk of smokes and cash.

There were no injuries.

Police say man on drugs went on destructive drive ending in head-on crash
'Extreme stroke of luck' no one killed

WINDSOR, Ont. -- Police say it’s a miracle nobody was killed when a man on drugs took a destructive drive through east Windsor early Wednesday before destroying two vehicles in a head-on crash.

The man uprooted a tree, ripped down fences and hit another vehicle with his SUV before the final collision, which left him with a lacerated face, a broken leg and internal injuries. The driver of the other car, a Cadillac, was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

“It’s a stroke of luck, an extreme stroke of luck, that nobody else was injured,” said Sgt. Brett Corey.

Corey said both cars were “completely destroyed. It’s just lucky that he didn’t take anybody else out in the process.”

He said the driver was swerving from lane to lane in heavy commuter traffic.

“Given the time of day it could have been much worse.”

Police don’t believe alcohol was a factor, but said the 36-year-old man was likely impaired by drugs. Investigators were waiting to obtain a warrant to take blood samples from the suspect, who was still unconscious Wednesday.

Corey said he didn’t know if the man’s injuries were life-threatening.

“He’s definitely got some serious injuries,” said Corey. “There are some internal injuries there. There’s a possibility he may be transferred over to Detroit. Right now he’s serious, but we don’t know where it’s going to go.”

Police were called to Wyandotte Street East near Cadillac Street around 5:22 a.m. after a grey SUV was seen weaving back and forth into the oncoming lane. The vehicle eventually went over a sidewalk, smashed through a fence and entered the Ford compound in the 2900 block of Trenton Street.

Police said that after hurtling through the first fence, the SUV continued across the grass for about 100 yards before ploughing through another gate and back onto Wyandotte.

Police estimated damage at the Ford property at $2,000.

Minutes later, in the 1200 block of Glidden Avenue, the same vehicle drove onto a lawn and slammed into a large spruce tree with enough force to tear the roots out of the ground.

The loud crash woke up the homeowner, who watched the SUV head north on Glidden. Police said damage to that property was worth about $3,000.

Two hours later, witnesses saw the SUV swerving west down Wyandotte near Walker Road.

Just west of Walker, police said the SUV crossed the center lane and ran into the back of an eastbound vehicle on Wyandotte. It kept moving and slammed head-on into another car, destroying both vehicles. The driver of the SUV was thrown into the windshield. Police had to shut down a section of the road while they investigated.

The investigation continues and police say they expect to lay charges of failing to remain at the scene of an accident.

Speaking of poorly thought out actions:

Two cops stabbed during call to A'burg home, woman arrested

AMHERSTBURG -- Two Amherstburg police officers were rushed to hospital Wednesday morning with stab wounds after being attacked by a woman while they were responding to a call for help, police say.

Police arrived at the small yellow house at 339 Fort St. at about 10:30 a.m. after receiving a report of an intruder in the home.

Once the two male officers entered the house, things went awry, police said.

“It was to a point where they were going to detain (the woman) under the mental health Act — take her to the hospital,” said a police officer.

“But stuff went down sideways. It was an unexpected turn of events.”

A 31-year-old woman allegedly stabbed the officers with what police would describe only as “an edged weapon.”

Police said one officer was stabbed in the inner thigh and the other was wounded in his hand.

Both were taken to hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

The woman was arrested and taken into custody in Windsor, where she will face charges.

The injured officers were not identified Wednesday.

Police spokesman Mike Cox said there was a “strong possibility” that mental health issues were a factor in the stabbings. Police also said the initial call about an intruder in the home was unfounded.

The OPP’s criminal investigation branch and Amherstburg police are investigating the incident.

Police remained at the scene well into the evening to monitor the house.

A neighbour said she believes the woman who lives at 339 Fort St. has a young daughter about six years as well as a boyfriend who live in the house.

The neighbour’s children, aged 11 and 13, witnessed the arrest Wednesday morning.

“That’s kind of creepy,” said the neighbour. “They were kind of scared about that.”


Leafs this week [20 - 26]

Weekly scoring statistics

Stupid Leafs - they get you believing that they might be alright, and then they struggle. That's okay with me, though - they're not super - they're just deciduous foliage, after all. So let's hang on with them - and follow along.

All of that being said - last week they were just not very good.

Top Leafs this week:

1) Victor Stalberg was the best Maple Leaf last week, even though he missed a game with either a concussion or a shoulder separation. Not only did he score his first goal of the season, he scored his second in the very next game, good stuff. Then he got injured, which is too bad. He was also rated a Plus 3 in three games, better than any other Leafs (other than Kaberle).


2) Tomas Kaberlewas the highest scoring Maple Leaf,but that doesn't meant he was that good. I don't really like Kaberle, I think he's ugly and passive - two things that don't go well together. It just goes to show you how poorly the Leafs played last week when Kaberle is the leading scorer. It's not good. One goal, two assists and three points in four games is not good enough. The Leafs have struggled, indeed.

3) None - I almost made this Lee Stempniak, but I wasn't even happy naming Kaberle a star, I'm not naming Stemniak a star.
There was nothing good about any of the Leafs this week - they weren't any good (except for Ian White who had a tough week) but we still love him.

Notable(s) - good: Ian White, only because I think he's great. Everyone else was garbage. Including Rickard Wallin- SHIT, if you're going to play 20 NHL games, DO SOMETHING DUMBASS. The Leafs can't even trade a no-talent like Wallin when he's doing nothing game in and game out. He's lucky to be in the same breath as NHLers like Stalberg.

Bad: all of them. None of their week went properly, and they'd be the first to tell you it was unacceptable. Ian White (-3), Matty Stajan (-3) Beauchemin (-3) and Ponikarovski (-4) were terrible, but none were as bad as Phil Kessel (-5). Phil Kessel has been in a slump that should see him in the press box to straighten his head out. A -5 and no points in 4 games?! See ya! He obviously checked out for the holidays wicked-early. Not cool. Vesa Toskala was so bad against Buffalo that I'd be surprised to see him play in the NHL again - but the Leafs will use him, no doubt, because they can't rely on a rookie as their starter for the rest of the season. They have to shake last week off and try better - because this is one of their worst weeks since the beginning of the season.

Where do they stand now?
Again, I wasn't available to perform a live update for the Maple Leafs position on a Saturday, and since then they've played two games, meaning, I'm a bit behind. No matter - here is how their position stands as of December 28:

They are last in their division still with 37 points, 4 points behind the Canadiens (they've lost 1 point in the past week). Over the past 10 games the Leafs are 4-4-2. They've dropped down to 14th in the conference, but are technically tied in 12th place with two other teams. They're only 1 point back from Philadelphia, two points back from Florida, and three points back from New York and Atlanta who have only 40 points (tied for 8th and 9th place). They are hanging in the playoff picture, despite being awful. In the league overall - the Leafs sit in a 4-way tie for 24th (which is bad).

Basically, things are closer than ever - meaning, if they can string a few wins in a row, it'll mean more than anything. Time to make a surge and take control of a weak conference. C'mon boys!

- - - - -

Leafs win 2-0 over Boston (awesome) (Sat., Dec 19)
Jonas Gustavsson did a heck of a lot more than just make his first start since having minor heart surgery for the second time this season.

The Toronto rookie finished with his first NHL shutout, stopping 25 shots to beat the Boston Bruins 2-0 on Saturday night.

"I'm so happy to be back on the ice and back playing at home against the Boston Bruins and have my first NHL shutout," Gustavsson said. "That's not something that happens every day."

- - - - -

Leafs lose 3-2 to the Sabres (Dec. 21) in overtime

Despite scoring the goal in overtime, the Sabres' Derek Roy was quick to credit goalie Ryan Miller for Buffalo's win on Monday night.

Roy scored 3:35 into overtime and Miller made 34 saves to lead Buffalo to a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"Ryan's our rock out there, he made some huge saves and we finally got our act together in the third period," Roy said after the Sabres came back from a 2-1 deficit.

The Sabres have surrendered two or fewer goals in 13 of their past 15 games. They only allowed three goals in the other two outings.

- - - - - -
Leafs lose 3 -1 to the Islanders (Dec. 23)
It took until the final game of a four-game homestand for the New York Islanders to capitalize on the home-ice advantage.

Trent Hunter and John Tavares scored 90 seconds apart in the second period, and Dwayne Roloson made 26 saves to help the Islanders beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Wednesday night.

"We kept it simple," Tavares said. "Our last few games we've been sloppy. We stayed out of the penalty box and we had a back-pressure that took the pressure off the defensemen."

Blake Comeau was awarded a goal with 34.9 seconds left after being taken down on a breakaway with an empty net.

- - - - - - -

Terrible

Dinosaur Round-up 7

Lots of neat dinosaur news this week (isn't it always neat?):

Dinosaurs buried at ghost ranch
Screaming Road-Runners
A new T-Rex
Venomous saurids & Dyslexic reporters


Skeleton of newly discovered dinosaur species found at ghost ranch
A discovery announced last week of fossils from a newly identified dinosaur species at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiú could forecast other major findings to come in the area, one New Mexico paleontologist said.

A team of graduate students from around the country published Dec. 11 a four-page article in Science Magazine announcing their unearthing of the previously undiscovered dinosaur species, which they named Tawa hallae. The species is the oldest known dinosaur found in North America for which there are good skeletons, Ghost Ranch paleontologist Alex Downs said.

“We’re just looking at the tip of the iceberg right now,” Spencer Lucas, curator of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, said.

The fossils, which were approximately 213 million years old, were all found within several yards of one another, said Nate Smith, a graduate student at the University of Chicago who worked on the project.
'Screaming Roadrunner' ran circles around dinos

During the Late Cretaceous, Mongolia's Gobi Desert was home to numerous dinosaurs, mammals and lizards. One of the most eye-catching, and possibly ear-splitting, residents was a newly identified bird.

The new species, which lived 71 to 75 million years ago, has been named Hollanda luceria, after the punk/country band Lucero and the Holland family, whose donations helped to support the research.

"Judging from the size of the hindlimb, Hollanda luceria most closely resembled the modern Southern Screamer," project leader Alyssa Bell, a researcher in the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, told Discovery News.

The modern Southern Screamer's call has been likened to a blaring trumpet and a stadium horn.

For the study, which will appear in the February issue of the journal Cretaceous Research, Bell and her team analyzed the bird's remains, which were originally found in the southern Gobi Desert in 1997.

Previous research on avian anatomy concluded that bones in the third toe reflect how much time the bird spent moving on the ground.

New Tyrannosaurus in Portland museum

Samson, one of the world's biggest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex
skeletons, debuted at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
This specific skeleton was found in South Dakota.

Bird-like dinosaur used venom against prey
How can you be sure that a fossil used venom? That's a good question. The dinosaur in question in this article is the Sinornithosaurus which would mean "Chinese bird lizard" where the "bird" root word is "ornitho" like ornithologist or someone who studies birds. Anyhow, the Jessica Berman has obviously never heard of an ornithologist and didn't include the letter "R" leaving it as "oritho" instead of "orNitho." sloppy mistake.
Scientists say a new analysis of the fossil remains of a small, feathered dinosaur discovered in China a decade ago suggests the creature used venom to subdue its prey before eating it. Researchers say that finding suggests that venom may be a more ancient predatory weapon than previously thought.

Sinonithosaurus [spelled wrong - cursed science articles always get something wrong about dinosaurs] was a creature that lived an estimated 125 million years ago. Paleontologists say this bird-like dinosaur, or raptor, was about the size of a turkey, covered in feathers and equipped with sharp talons, which it used for climbing trees.

David Burnham, a paleontologist at the University of Kansas, says scientists discovered another interesting trait while studying a well-preserved fossil of Sinonithosaurus - sharp, fang-like teeth that would have enabled it to inject venom into its prey.

"Not only do we have the grooved teeth, we do have other structures in the skull that perhaps may be where the venom gland resided in a fossa or depression above the tooth row in the upper jaw," said David Burnham. "And then there's a channel for the duct work and then small areas where the venom may well up and feed the bases of these grooved teeth."

Lost news 8

I'm eagerly awaiting Ground Hog's day because that will mark the return of Lost and it'll finally culminate in its final season. I'm not sure how I'm going to spend the next four and a half weeks to fill that time, but I hope to come up with something. I now have the fourth and fifth seasons on DVD, which means I could spend Tuesdays scowering those texts for information about the new season or new insights ... which I'm likely to do.

Before then: there is still plenty to talk about as we near the new season.

I'm not interested in spoilers this season. I don't even want to know what the title of new episodes are. And I promise you I won't post any spoiler details- although it seems that this site believes that a new bad guy will emerge to replace Ben Linus as the most hated character on the show.

Lost Season 5 DVD review
I admit, I haven't rewatched all of the episodes, but I have seen most of the bonus material at this point. So, we'll see how much I agree (or disagree) with this review:

Fans of this series know that there has been a lot of questions about what is going on during the first four seasons. The majority of those fans likely got tired of the writers answering one question, but then throw out five more questions at the same time. You got the feeling that the writers didn’t know where they were going with everything [My emphasis: Wrong - the writers are always in control of this story, and you never feel like they've lost touch all season. In fact, you can feel them setting up story lines in one episode that they don't plan to answer until the season finale. If you watch 316, you'll understand. It's the middle of the season, yet that episode sets up the rest of the season. Perhaps even the series - we won't know until May 2010.]

Fortunately, fans everywhere will be happy to know that season five is mostly full of answers. [Wrong again. It answers merely questions that it raises. Season 5 does not answer old questions from back in the day. Even with all of the time travel, it mrerely provides breadth to our understanding of the Dharma Days than it does actually to provide answers].

Sure, we get new questions, but since time is running out on this show, there is plenty of answers. They come fast and furious, so you better pay close attention. While this may all sound confusing and hard to watch, season five of Lost never really gets too complex to frustrate fans all together. That’s mostly due to the strong cast, who take everything that is thrown at them and runs with all the way to the end.

This is the best season of Lost since the premiere, and you pretty much have to watch it if you’re going to watching the final season[I agree. Far better than season 4]. Even those that stopped watching a few seasons ago, should stick it out and watch this season, if nothing else. Despite the many answers that we are given this season, there are still plenty of questions yet revealed. So the intrigue and mystery is still there for the final season, with this DVD release being the perfect setup.

Pretty neat new trailer for Season 6



An exciting site that shows where filming locations are on Oahu
You can see not only where they've been filming, but check out what the locations they were filming at look like, which is very neat. As cool as this it, I don't want to know any spoilers, so I'm hard-pressed to enjoy what this has to offer.

No more Mr. Cool Guy

Well, most of our holiday travelling is over with. We've put a lot of kilometres on the road this season, but it was a good time. This is the first chance I've had in a few days to spend a little while writing once again - and it feels nice.

That being said - I think I might be able to finish my novel this afternoon before the Canada World Juniors game starts - and then work on catching up with the blogs I didn't post while the game is on. That'd be great to wrap up 2009 by concluding all those writing ambitions.

Also, I think it's worth noting, our Peterborough neighbours, "Cool Guy" and "Big Baby" appear to be moving out of their apartment with their wife and daughter. There's a big Ryder van and a bunch of people loading stuff into it. I figure that it's "Cool Guy" and "Big Baby's" family, but I can't be absolutely sure just yet.

Man, it'll be weird not having "Cool Guy" smoking outside my apartment window every 15 minutes. I wonder what life is like without him? I've almost forgotten.

[turns out it's not Cool Guy and Big Baby - it was a different neighbour- oh well]

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Extent 1.11 | Survival of the Fittest

The latest edition of The Extent is here, and it's really great. I am really happy with how this episode turned out, and I think it's really taking us into the home stretch to ending this season. There are only a few more weeks and three more episodes to wrap it all up - so be sure to stay interested and keep watching.



A NEW WEB SERIES broadcast on Youtube in 720p.

Episode 11 "Survival of the Fittest" -
With trust among the group as low as the food supply, some grow more desperate and more dangerous. A plan hatches that just might work.

Starring: D.B. Dewdney as Tom Hunter and thespian Leslie McCurdy as Mary. The show also features Allie boak as Rebecca Jenkins, Melissa Amlin as Jessica, Maggie Yoell as Samantha Johansson, Steve Markou as Luther Vanette and Jamell VanDusen as Adam Dollarhyde. Marvin Ramos also stars as Aman Anupama.

Written by:
Ryan Rogers

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lost news 7

Each season (I think I've heard this correctly) Lost premieres their season debut with a private screening on the beach in Oahu - this season seems to be no different.

ABC's 'Lost' Kicking off final season on the beach

ABC plans to launch the final season of "Lost" with an advance screening during a special Sunset on the Beach, and stars from the show have been invited.

The event is scheduled for Jan. 30 at Queen's Surf Beach in Waikíkí, and fans from as far away as Ireland and Afghanistan are already planning to come.

The sixth season of "Lost," which has been based in Hawai'i since it began in 2004, will have its national broadcast premiere three days later, on Feb. 2.

The network could not yet confirm which cast members would be there, but previous previews have featured most of the primary stars.

Thousands of screaming fans packed the beach when ABC held advance screenings in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Much to their delight, cast members — including Josh Holloway, Evangeline Lilly, Matthew Fox, Daniel Dae Kim and Jorge Garcia — repeatedly broke away from interviews with national media to shake hands, exchange hugs and sign autographs.

For the final season's premiere, the show's executive producers — Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof — are expected to attend, ABC said. Other guests will be announced later.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann said the city was proud to host the premiere because "Lost" was good for the Islands.

"More than any other show, 'Lost' has proven that Honolulu can be an industry production center because the cosmopolitan nature of our great city gives us the ability to double for dozens of places around the world, and we have the talented crew and burgeoning infrastructure to support this industry," Hannemann said.

Here's a new promo going into the Christmas Holidays:


I think this new promo is pretty cool.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Extent | promo

Here's just a quick video blog for The Extent updating when you can expect the latest episodes of the show in the next few weeks.

I hope you like it, and stay tuned - it sounds like the next episode should be posted some time around midnight tonight. Exciting.

Lefevre's Redemption update

The last few days have been very progressive, and that's encouraging. I realize more and more that there just isn't much left to go over with this book. I've got a funny feeling that I'll go through another major edit before I submit this to any publishers - but that's the next step. I've basically reformatted the entire structure of the story, and I'm happier for it.

Looking back at my original concept for the book, it's nothing similar to what I intended to write - but it's a good story that does say many of the things I wanted to say. I originally was inspired to write this book from two sources, "The Man Behind the Curtain," (I think it aired in early 2007) an episode in the third season of Lost, and a Denzel Washington movie called Deja Vu (2006). I don't know why, but I was very interested in writing a tragedy that involved time travel (after Deja Vu was a movie that SHOULD have been a tragedy, with a clever tweak to the ending).

This past week has been very good to the novel - some more rearranging and organizing of thoughts, characters and scenes, and original writing, plus heavy editing, and it's coming together nicely.

In last week's update I had 133 pages completed, and now at 154 (almost 20 new ones, which is great). The first draft of my novel from back in the day (which, if you've read it, you read the first draft) was 180 pages long. I think this second draft will be a little shorter, but perhaps not by much.

I believe in the last post I outlined how many more scenes were required in each of the remaining chapters - well, I'm mid-way through chapter 22, which is still a long chapter, but doesn't require a lot of revisions. I like the way it's written. The chapters 23 and 24 are brief and tidy - so I'm very close, in reality. Having this done by the end of 2009 is not only doable, but it's a certainty. I'm really looking forward to sharing the second draft for peer reviews.

Chapter 22, scenes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Chapter 23, scenes 1, 2, 3
Chapter 24, scenes 1

The other great part of writing, reviewing and editing this part of the book is that this is where all of the payoffs are coming. This is where all the characters' story arcs come together and all of the plots converge into one place - it's really a magical spot where all of the plotting and writing and crafting of the story are all worth it. I'm so glad I get to work on the last part of the book as the last thing I do in the rewrite.

Anyhow, wish me luck. I should be done soon.

Odd news 6

Movies totally worth seeing: Rush Limbaugh v. Zombies
-- What if a conservative talk show host like Rush Limbaugh were the last man on earth, and everyone else had been transformed into hyper-intelligent liberal nude zombies?

That's the premise of independent filmmaker Ladd Ehlinger Jr.'s latest feature film Hive Mind. The quirky scifi horror Hive Mind is a prophetic post-apocalyptic view of a world driven mad from political correctness and tyranny.

The last man on earth is Doug Trench, conservative talk show host, heir to the kingdoms of Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, Boortz and Beck. Everyone else has been assimilated by Hive Mind, a massive collective consciousness born from implant cell phone technology. Secluded in his broadcast bunker for twenty years, Maha Trenchy decides to fire up his radio transmitter one last time before he is killed, and fight the Hive Mind with half his brain tied behind his back.

"When our own President is constantly saying 'we must all think collectively,' naturally as a filmmaker I thought: scifi-horror film! Eco-friendly nudist Borg-like zombies! Cross-bred with Paris Hilton and Tila Tequila!" said Ehlinger. "Because really, who wouldn't?"

Zombies created by a cell phone that you swallow, that merges with your brain. Dubbed the "I-Mind," the phone lets you Twitter telepathically, download movies straight to your brain, and keep your contacts forever. Britney, J-Lo, Pamela and Paris all love their I-Minds. But there's a sinister side-effect: loss of free will to the collective Hive consciousness. Everyone is either assimilated or killed in Hive's eco-friendly efforts to reduce the population.
I think, most curiously, was that this announcement comes from a site called the Christian Newswire. I didn't think that there was anything overtly "christian" about Limbaugh or zombies - but hey! - it's still cool news. I would watch this movie in a second, but watch much more than just one second of it, in fact probably the whole thing (probably be about 120 minutes, right?)

The Creature from the Black Lagoon
Another classic Universal Studios monster has taken one step closer to making a big budget, big screen return. Following in the footsteps of fellow Universal monsters the Mummy (the 1999 remake of which spawned two sequels and a spin-off) and the Wolfman (whose own remake hits theatres next February), the Creature from the Black Lagoon looks to swim again in the near future. Or maybe not.

This potential remake has traveled a very rocky road so far, so the recent announcement by the Los Angeles Times that a new director has been hired for the project certainly does not mean that the remake is a sure thing. According to the article, Carl Rinsch, a director of flashy commercials on the verge of breaking into feature films, has signed on to direct the Creature remake.
Seasons' Greetings isn't religious anymore
On the premise that "Some civil liberties groups object to religious displays on public property," the Howard County Courthouse in Kokomo, Ind. has hung an effigy of the Loch Ness Monster from the ceiling wishing defendants and attorneys "Seasons Greetings."
Dave Trine, president of the Howard County Board of Commissioners, said it also received requests to place a nativity scene on the courthouse grounds in downtown Kokomo.

The request was considered, but "we're following the advice of our attorney," he said.
Politically Correct was made for politicians

When I hear about things like this, I wonder what the hell people are thinking. Now, does some blogger out there make a dumb picture depicting the assassination of a Prime Minister? Sure, why not? I mean, in the United States, you'd go to jail for a long, long time - and if it were a picture of your principal at high school, you'd be expelled and probably get a juvenile record.

So why the hell would the official opposition party think that they could pull something like this off? [on another note, jeez! someone was at the right place at the right time to snap an actual photo of the exact moment that Lee Harvey Oswald was shot - either that's remarkably good timing (for the photographer, not the assassin) or they were in collusion with the shooter (another conspiracy!).

Here's the story:

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals apologized Tuesday after posting a photo on the party's website depicting Prime Minister Stephen Harper being assassinated.

The photo substitutes the head of the prime minister for that of Lee Harvey Oswald in the famous black-and-white photo that shows Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby in 1963. Oswald had recently been arrested for shooting then-U.S. president John F. Kennedy.

The edited photo was submitted for a contest organized by the Liberals to poke fun at Harper's perceived reluctance to attend global climate-change talks in Copenhagen.

Entrants were asked to submit photos showing the prime minister in a place, other than Copenhagen, where he'd like to be.

A spokesman for the Liberal Party of Canada said the Lee Harvey Oswald picture only appeared "briefly" on the party's site.

"It's important to keep in mind that the pictures are created by visitors to our website, and do not always reflect the views of the LPC," spokesman Daniel Lauzon said in an e-mail, noting the submissions were intended to be humourous. "That being said, offensive photos have no business on our site.

"Though we do screen the pictures before posting them, it appears the Lee Harvey Oswald picture slipped through the cracks — it has since been removed. We apologize to those who took offence to the image."

The author of the blog that appears to have discovered the photo, rjjago.wordpress.com, called it "ignorant" for the Liberals to post such a depiction so soon after the bloody attack on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who suffered a broken nose and lost teeth this week after a man threw a statue at him at a rally.

Highlights from comics 6

Immediate Regret
They aren't a humour site, but they do post funny stuff and I've got them as a blog I'm following in the side banner. Normally they have funny remixes and skits from television to post. Sometimes a white rapper video. Here's a neat video from College Humor.



Cyanide and Happiness


I liked this one:
Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

And this one
Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

Saturday Morning Breakfast Theater




So, lots to laugh at, yeah?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What the Hell is Wrong with Windsor? 5

Lots of news this week, which is why it's a few days late - that and the holiday travelling is cutting into the incredibly important information I write to myself on my blog regularly. Last week, Windsor faced some tough news, but this was all more economically focused than it was dangerous. In the past we've talked about arsonists and murderers, now it's more about your job, your investments and your future. It's still scary.

This week:
  • No more Russell hockey is a bad indicator
  • Arm the campus police
  • Time for a raise, or else
  • Farmers and managers ask, Why aren't we organized?
  • Rebates are in the mail
  • 400 City Hall audit
  • So long Saab
  • Resale reschmale
  • University of Windsor
I just got news that the Over 30 Low Level hockey league I used to play in all the time back in Windsor is closing up their Windsor-based winter season. This is a HUGE indicator that things are going to shit, seriously. They used to have six teams each winter, and at least four during the summer - but they can't get enough to keep playing? There must be a lot of people leaving the area/losing their jobs. The league convener says:
Hope your season is going well...as I'm sure all of you know we were forced to cancel our windsor league for this winter season because of alot of dropouts about a month before the startup. Im emailing all of you because we would like to continue with our Windsor league with a summer season that would be starting this upcoming March or early April.
That's pretty crazy. Windsor plays hockey - they do that there. To think that people are doing so poorly that they won't play hockey - that's really crazy.

Hmmm, give Campus Police pepper spray?

University of Windsor campus police are hoping to soon add another weapon to their crime-fighting arsenal.

Campus Community Police are awaiting approval of a request to carry pepper spray. “How much longer are we supposed to wait?” said campus police Const. Wayne Venables.

Venables said the issue has been alive for more than five years and was addressed in the last round of contract talks between the university and CAW Local 195, the union representing campus police’s 22 members. The university agreed to hire an independent consultant, who recommended pepper spray as a “use-of-force option.”

The use of pepper spray would have to be approved by Windsor police. A formal request was sent to the Windsor Police Services Board in June. The request, said Venables, has been met with silence.

“Every day that goes by puts us at risk. It’s a safety concern for us.”

Well, obviously somebody doesn't want them to have pepper-spray. If they've been waiting for five years, have had an independent consultant even recommend this option, and hasn't been approved by the Windsor police in the past 6 months must mean something. Do the Windsor police not want to have the Campus Community Police armed with pepper-spray? It would sound like it.

Surely, if they get pepper-spray, we'll be hearing all about the drunks they start dousing with it. As well know, pepper-spray is a non-lethal weapon, and I would only imagine that (like with tasers) police will use them to subdue a "person of interest." Knowing that it's non-lethal, I would bet they would skip a lot of the ordering people around and chasing, tackles, etc, and just get right to spraying them in the face. But - we'll have to wait and see what Windsor Police say. If they don't think CCP should have the spray - there must be a good reason for it.

Windsor cops near the top of solving serious crime

When it comes to solving murders and other serious crimes, few police forces in Canada are more effective than Windsor cops at getting their man, a new study says.

The Statistics Canada report titled Police Resources in Canada reveals the Windsor police service’s weighted crime clearance rate is third in the country.

Windsor police also pointed out Tuesday that except for one murder case they’re still pursuing, their major crimes unit has a 100 per cent case clearance rate for the last two years. They even wrapped up one investigation this year in a single day.

Deputy Chief Jerome Brannagan said that while police do dedicate increased resources to more “abhorrent” crimes, they must still strike a balance by ensuring they also solve less serious misdeeds.

“You as a taxpayer have a right to have a good quality of life,” said Brannagan. “If your lawn furniture is stolen, it’s incumbent on us to try and recover it for you. So to balance quality of life issues for our community and serious crimes, we have to do that. We are cognizant of it and we do try and apply as many resources as we can to those quality of life issues. We have people on committees dealing with noise downtown and other issues that probably on the weighted scale of Statistics Canada wouldn’t even rank.”

This is good news - but it just goes to show how criminals in the Windsor area don't care about anything. They're not clever, they're not going to hide what they've done, they're not afraid of being caught. They just beat you up, shoot you, break into your house, steal your car, or take your things without worrying about the consequences. If they were clever, organized and interested in staying out of jail, I'm sure the police wouldn't have such high success rates.

Strike vote date set as community college contract talks break down

The land of organized labour is at it again. If I recall from my days with the WUFA strike, basically, the organizers and strikers prepare a press statement and then read it to absolutely anybody who will listen - it 1) points fingers at management, 2) indicates that they are the ones who are overpaid, and that 3) they're being unreasonable/aren't returning to the bargaining table. Basically, that's the way it goes. The formula is as simple as a nursery rhyme. In the end, given this formula - there's no choice but to strike. This is a lie - there is a CHOICE and that's what this article is all about. The union has made the CHOICE to strike, in this case, on January 13.
Faculty at the province's community colleges have set a Jan. 13 strike vote as talks with the institutions have hit an impasse.

"For the second time in two weeks our bargaining team came forward with significant modifications to our position only to be met with management's refusal to negotiate in good faith," said Warren "Smokey" Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents faculty at 24 community colleges. [They're being unreasonable]

"That's not bargaining." [unreasonable]

In a press release, OPSEU said management's decision to break off negotiations with the 9,000 faculty left them no choice but to hold a strike vote. [management's fault]

OPSEU said they had previously tabled modifications to their bargaining position on Nov. 30. College negotiators responded by insisting the union withdraw 69 demands, OPSEU said. [management's fault]

"I'm deeply disappointed that management negotiators have squandered the last two days by their refusal to bargain," Ted Montgomery, the chair of OPSEU's bargaining team, said in a press release. [management's fault]

"Our team arrived at the table on Monday prepared to make progress, but any hopes we had of reaching a tentative settlement were derailed almost from the start. Their refusal to bargain is forcing a needless disruption of the students‚ studies."[management's fault/they're unreasonable]

Faculty have maintained all along that in this round of bargaining the key issue is improving the quality of education [my emphasis] by implementing the recommendations of an independent task force established after the last round of bargaining in 2006.

[and the only way to improve the quality of education is to give everyone a raise, right? Because the quality of their work is really low right now, so they should get a raise, so that they're better, right? How can you tell if the quality is higher? Well, you look at how much the teachers are paid, of course: higher $/teacher = higher quality of education]

I somehow doubt that a marginal increase of 3 - 8 % in their salary will allow them to suddenly be teachers of greater quality. That's not how quality is raised. It's through training and education - something that I'm certain institutions would gladly invest in, rather than just forking over raises, even though the quality of education isn't acceptable as it stands.

Well, what the hell, while everyone else is unionized, why aren't the farmers?

Can farm workers unionize? The debate that started in Windsor [the land of organized labour]

The Supreme Court of Canda will consider Thursday whether Ontario farm workers have the right to unionize in a case that began in Essex County.

“This is huge,” Stan Raper, a representative from the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada union, said Wednesday while on his way to Ottawa. “It could potentially determine the fate of 70,000 or 80,000 agricultural workers in the province of Ontario.”

Raper, the union’s agriculture workers alliance national co-ordinator, hopes a favourable ruling will allow farm workers the right to bargain collectively under the Labour Relations Act.

The Ontario government is appealing a 2008 Ontario Court of Appeal decision that struck down provincial legislation. The Agricultural Employees Protection Act allowed workers to form associations but not to bargain collectively.

The union’s multimillion-dollar legal battle, which dates back to 1995, has lawyers arguing the provincial law was unconstitutional and discriminatory under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Imagine if all of the food in Canada was on strike, and there were picket lines barring food from entering the country. Imagine that. They would literally hold the entire country at ransom - possibly putting lives in jeopardy, sky-rocketing the cost of the imported foods and bankrupting people. Seriously, imagine a farmer's union put in a Windsor-style strike for 100+ days? Just imagine.

You never seem to hear good news when negotiations between two parties are making the news.

So why are there so many more people looking to unionize now? Well, the bullies at the Windsor Outside City Workers got such a good raise that the managers are interested in unionizing. Why should the labour be getting raises when the managers aren't? Plus, when the labour goes on strike, the managers have to do all the work themselves. They've got to do something.

City ends negotiations with managers' group

City council has given up on further negotiations with the budding union representing Windsor's municipal managers and professionals and has decided to leave the matter with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

"We were surprised to learn of the overwhelming no that came out of the membership meeting," said Mayor Eddie Francis.

Exactly which municipal employees get to join the Professional Employees Trade Union was to have been the subject of an OLRB hearing earlier this month. That meeting was postponed after the employer submitted a contract proposal it had hoped would stave off the managers' union drive.

"It was a good position in terms of closing the gap between the two parties," said Francis.

PETU members rejected the employer's offer by a 79 per cent margin at a meeting last week, but participants encouraged further negotiations with the city.

"Unfortunately, the mayor made it very clear that council is in no position to talk to us any further," PETU president John Miceli said Tuesday. "We really were hopeful it could have been resolved."

Francis said the matter dominated Monday night's in-camera council discussion but that it was felt the employer had taken "significant steps towards closing the gap" and that it had been "our best offer." He called last week's rejection "unfortunate and regrettable."

The two sides meet in Toronto Feb. 8 before an OLRB officer. Miceli said PETU is seeking up to 250 members among the city's estimated 400 non-union professionals and managers.

The union drive began in 2006 and has cost the city workers about $200,000 so far, said Miceli.

Francis said the city has spent about $300,000 fighting the certification effort. He said it was a matter of "spending dollars in the short-term to protect the long-term interests of the residents of the City of Windsor ... sometimes you have to do that, absolutely."

At least you can get some of your money back if the city goes on strike and you receive absolutely no services that you depend on to get on with your life. Like, if the city workers went on strike and you had to take your garbage to the dump, spend hours going through picket lines and getting your car refinished because someone keyed the doors (because you crossed a picket line) for 100 days straight, you'd expect to get a little something back right? How little?

Strike rebate money to arrive soon
WINDSOR, Ont. -- The cheque’s in the mail.

The city announced Wednesday that the more than 77,000 strike rebate cheques have been mailed out to local property owners.

It cost almost $100,000 to hire Scotiabank to deliver the $72 cheques, representing the net savings of the 101-day CUPE workers strike. Each mailed-out cheque cost $1.21.

Council made the decision to distribute the almost $5.6 million in strike savings to individual city ratepayers to counter union claims made during the labour dispute that it was being unnecessarily prolonged to help balance the books.

But even being employed with a really good union, like the CAW, won't save your job

So long Saab

This is probably good news - closing a wound with sutures hoping to stop the bleeding, but it still means that more people are out of work in not just the factory but all of the derivative industries that depend on the factory as a business partner.

General Motors Co. said it will shut the money-losing Saab unit after talks collapsed on a sale to Spyker Cars NV, the second failure in less than a month to keep the 72-year-old Swedish brand alive.

GM and Skyker, a Dutch maker of $235,000 sports cars, faced "certain issues" that couldn't be resolved, according to a GM statement today. Saab is expected to satisfy debts including supplier payments, and the unit will honor warranties and provide service and spare parts, GM said.

Closing Saab caps more than a month of reshuffling of GM's European operations. On Nov. 3, the Detroit-based automaker reversed plans to sell the Opel unit and opted to keep it, and Koenigsegg Group AB backed out of a Saab purchase agreement three weeks later, creating an opening for Spyker.

"If you were a gambling man, you would have bet this deal would not close because none of the other deals have closed," said Mike Tyndall, an analyst with Nomura Securities in London.

GM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ed Whitacre said Dec. 15 that the Trollhaettan, Sweden-based unit would be shut unless he had a sales accord by month's end.

Couple all of the layoffs and people looking for more work with this problem:

Average resale prices for homes drop 10 %

There are many things out there that depreciate in value so quickly (cough CARS cough) that they're hardly worth the purchase, but people rely on real-estate because property value always seems to go up. So, if you've lost your job and are ready to move to a new town to try again, you can redeem the value in your investment, take a profit, and try again elsewhere. Well, not in Windsor, you can't.

WINDSOR, Ont. -- Resale house prices across the Windsor metropolitan area fell by more than any other area across the country in November compared to one year ago, according to a report released Friday by the Conference Board of Canada.

The average price in Windsor fell from $167,006 last November to $150,332 last month, a drop of almost 10 per cent. [EDIT - Dec. 23: MacLean's magazine just released an article saying the average price of a house in Canada is like $360,000 - why the hell is Windsor half of that? What the hell is wrong with Windsor?]

Only three other centres in Canada - Edmonton, Sudbury and Saguenay - recorded price reductions over the same period and all were minuscule drops.

The largest increases were recorded in Vancouver where prices jumped 22 per cent from $524,720 to $639,939 and Saint John where prices increased by 17 per cent from $152,193 to $177,867.

But there are signs a recovery is slowly taking hold because total sales across the Windsor area increased by 68 per cent in a year-to-date comparison from 3,226 to 5,422.

Hmmm, would this increase in cheap sales be skewed by the Ambassador Bridge Company purchasing the dirt-cheap valueless properties in the city's west end? Maybe?

400 City Hall audit presents serious issues

This is an item that has been called for for years by Windsor City Blog on the right-hand banner blog list. Finally, there's some news coming out about it. Long overdue, if you're to ask Ed Arditti.

WINDSOR, Ont. -- The public release of the audit into the construction of the 400 City Hall Square building has been delayed, but the audit committee chairman admits there were "serious issues" uncovered in the process.

Audit committee chairman Max Zalev said the audit would be released to the public on Monday at the latest to allow city councillors time to read and digest the 200-page report.

"The report is very extensive," said Zalev.

"It's very thorough. There is a lot in those reports."

Members of the committee read and discussed the report for three hours Wednesday morning and then decided to delay its public release until Monday. It may be released sooner if city council and the mayor decide to.

The audit, completed by city staff under the guidance of Toronto law firm Miller Thomson after another audit completed by former auditor Mike Dunbar was kept under wraps, was presented to members of the committee for the first time Wednesday morning.

The city started construction in 2003 on the 400 building with a projected cost of $23.3 million, but following several council-approved additions the project ended up with a $32-million price tag -- $686,000 above the approved budget.

Dunbar's full audit of the building's construction has been withheld for more than two years.

Former CAO John Skorobohacz was first given a draft of Dunbar's audit report in December 2006. Dunbar resigned on Dec. 31, 2007.[my emphasis]

U of W touts new facility
The University of Windsor's coming $112-million engineering building will transform the school and its community, promises the president of the university.

"It's going to send a message about the kind of education we can offer our students," said Alan Wildeman. "The building is designed to create a learning environment that's going to be one of the finest in Canada."

The university showed off plans for the facility at an open house session on Tuesday night. Floor layouts were displayed on easels while artistic interpretations of the structure were presented in model form, both computer-generated and wooden.

Kevin Stelzer, one of the building's architects, was in attendance to take questions from the public.

Heather Metcalfe, a sociology professor who lives near where the building will be located at California Avenue and Wyandotte Street West, said she was impressed. "I think it's wonderful for Windsor, it's wonderful for the university."

Randolph Avenue resident Cheryl Johnson also said she believes the building will benefit the university and the city, but she had some concerns that the parking would overflow into her neighbourhood. "I think it's really good, but I think they're going to need more parking."

The three-storey building will have an estimated 300,000 square feet of floor space, featuring uncommon energy efficiencies and innovations in lecture hall design.

Stelzer said construction is hoped to begin within a month.

Yeah - but is it paid for? Is there enough in the capital budget to make this sort of implementation? I doubt it- for a school that has had to roll back the cost of every department by nearly 20 % for the next four years to just break even for last year - they'd better have secured the funding to get this going. Otherwise, I'm going to guess, the people who suffer the most from this will be: sessional instructors at the University of Windsor (so the rumour goes).

The university absolutely needs this kind of remodelling to improve their image and continue to increase the quality of their education (here we can see that investing in equipment is increasing quality - not simply paying the same guy who was teaching for the past 10 years a higher salary to do the same job some more). They also need the money to do it. They've been building things like the Stadium and the Med School without the dedicated funding habitually. That's not good for their finances.






Leafs this week [12 - 19]

Weekly scoring statistics

Well, I've said more than once that I thought the Leafs played their best with Luke Schenn out of the lineup, but then I went ahead and named him one of my notables of the week, concluding that simply reducing his ice time would bring the Leafs more success than benching him would do. I thought Luke was doing much, much better - all of the reasons he was benched seemed to be from earlier in the season, not by virtue of his past week's play - but Ron Wilson disagreed and sat him out three games in a row. I was surprised.

Vesa Toskala was the champion for the Leafs again swallowing up almost 180 minutes of ice time in three consecutive starts after playing four games in a row the week before. It would only be a matter of time before his "hotness" wore down. The Leafs will have to learn to manage his ice time, just like with Luke Schenn. Toskala is at his best when he's playing a 45-50 game season (not 65+). Of course, this is because Gustavsson remains injured and Anderson isn't really a reliable NHL goalie. I understand. But don't leave Tosk in there for so long or you'll break him. He's like a poached egg in the microwave - it's gets better and better and then pops.

The Leafs are closing in on playing .500 hockey (which basically will reset that God-awful start to the season) and brings them closer to the middle of the pack while fighting for a playoff spot. This is huge if they want to bring some credibility back to the club.

Top Leafs this week:

1) Matty Stajan is an easy choice with 6 points, 2 goals and 4 assists, along with a plus-two rating and 10 shots on net. He's showing that for the time being he can serve as the Leafs no. 1 centreman while John Mitchell (who's not really a No. 1 centreman either) is on the shelf with an injury. Good for him - a solid week. When he plays like this, you can see his added value to this team. They've been developing him for a while, and it's good to see that given the opportunity he can be an offensive leader.

2) Phil Kessel has another stellar week by contributing 3 goals in three games (all in a row) while adding two assists along with it, giving him 5 points in that same span. He's a contributor who's consistent, which the Leafs needed sorely. His impact is tangible and his excellence is exciting to fans - everything that the GM promised when he signed the player. It's great to see. We still haven't heard anything negative about Kessel's work ethic, either - a big plus. He led the team in shots on net with 13, as well.

3) Alexei Ponikarovski remained consistent, as well. The coach doesn't really like Poni's speed (although I think he's fast) but he likes his hands and ability to put shots past goalies. Two goals, three assists, five points, a plus-2 and a 12 shots on net demonstrate his abilities and value over the last week.

Notable(s) - good: They're still playing strong, and that's important. I would expect them to cool off, esp. considering they're playing much more formidable teams in the next week or two. No more Islanders and Panthers, but Bruins and Sabres coming up.

Bad: The Leafs have to step their play up against their division rivals. While Montreal and Ottawa aren't significant forces in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins and Sabres are, and the Leafs have been awful against them. There is no hope for the playoffs if you can't be competitive with the teams in your own division.

Where do they stand now?
As of today (Dec. 22) they are last in their division still, 3 points behind the Canadiens (down from 5!) with a game at hand. Over the past 10 games the Leafs are 5-4-1 (facing tougher teams in the last while). They've jumped up to 12th in the conference, up from 14th since the Philadelphia Flyers dropped into a free-fall, only 1 point back of Tampa Bay and 5 points out of a playoff spot. Not bad, considering the devastating beginning to the season. Overall in the entire NHL, the Leafs are tied for 26th spot, up two places from last time - (notably, 7 of the worst 10 teams are from the Eastern Conference).

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Leafs beat down on the Senators, finally, 3 - 2.

After this game the Senators lost Jason Spezza and Nick Foligno (so you're welcome everyone else who gets to the play the Sens for the next little while). Matt Carkner drubbed Colton Orr in the face with an anvil-like right hand, which left Orr's face looking like President Mikhail Gorbachev's face.

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Then the Leafs were put the bet soundly, 6-3 by the Phoenix Coyotes

This loss got Luke Schenn out of the press box and back into the lineup. Notably, a friend of mine had shaved his face (first time since the Leafs had gone on a winning streak) and feared that this might instigate a major losing streak. He might be right.)

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Leafs undeservingly lose 5-2The Leafs themselves were 95% good, except the one that makes a big difference, the f-ing goalie, was as bad as could be. He was letting in minor-league shots (maybe Peewee shots) from all over.

It was unacceptable and while the Leafs only gave up 10 shots to the mid-way point of the second period (excellent defence!) Toskala still let in four goals. Unacceptable. He juggled a dump in with his catching mitt and dropped it into his own net - the coach should have put him in the press-box immediately after that. That bonehead play marked the return of Gustavsson and likely the last time we'll see Toskala for a couple of games.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lost news 6

A video called "Hatches and Patches" to help people prepare for the upcoming season of Lost. It basically describes the function of each of the hatches on the Island and what they're for - cool.

The Extent 1.10 | King of the Sandbox

The next new episode of The Extent is up now.



This episode focuses on Steve Markou's character "Luther" who takes a leadership role among the strangers in the room, trying to bring them all together. But an issue of scarcity starts to hang like the Sword of Damocles. It's only a matter of time before they run out of options.

Leave comments, ask questions, favourite the episode and click on it a hundred times each and that'll make me happy ;)

The title simply refers to how children misbehave, and how folks trapped in the room are starting to get selfish and immature, like kids in a schoolyard. I thought it was an apt title, but it appears commenters aren't making the association.

Anyhow, you can watch all the episodes any time you want at the main site, www.extenttv.com, and you can expect weekly updates as there are four more shows to come by January 6, when we release the two-part season finale! It's exciting to see the season come to a conclusion - and it certainly gets the creative juices flowing as we begin to prepare for the next season.

I'm excited.