Friday, October 29, 2010

Free press

I read a headline on today that made me wonder, so I clicked the link and read the whole story. Now I'm aggravated. Why can't the press throughout the world have the same freedoms it enjoys in the west? People in developing countries deserve a free press just as much as those in developed countries. Sometimes I'm embarrassed by my (soon-to-be) chosen profession...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Prosperous countries

Why do I always find these things so interesting?

This interactive graphic is especially cool because you can select several different countries and compare them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

College choice

Hmmm, maybe I should have gone to UBC instead...

On second read, those were graduate students. Therefore, maybe I should go to graduate school. And pick UBC as my school of choice...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Allergies have always fascinated me. This might seem strange since I have several allergies and have had some not-so-fun experiences with allergic reactions. But it just seems so strange that a food or other allergen that triggers a reaction in one person will have no effect on another. I'm baffled by it, actually. What's even more baffling, though, is that allergies are more and more prevalent. How is that possible? According to a Globe and Mail article, one in 13 Canadians has a serious food allergy. I wonder which part of the ratio I come under?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Imagine not being able to go to school because you didn't have a birth certificate. Imagine being afraid to walk freely around your village because of the colour of your skin.

Do things ever really change?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

World Giving Index

Canada ranked second in the world on the recent World Giving Index 2010. Australia and New Zealand are tied for first while Canada shares second place position with Ireland. Below are some of the results from the 153-country survey:

Click for interactive map

The Top 10 rankings for the most charitable countries in the world, and their score out of 100 on the Giving Index
1. Australia, New Zealand, 57
2. Canada, Ireland, 56
3. Switzerland, USA, 55
4. Netherlands, 54
5. United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, 53
6. Austria, 52
7. Laos, Sierra Leone, 50
8. Malta, 48
9. Iceland, Turkmenistan, 47
10. Guyana, Qatar, 45

And the bottom 5
149. Cambodia, Pakistan, Romania, Rwanda, 16
150. Bangladesh, 15
151. China, Lithuania, Greece, 14
152 Serbia, Ukraine, 13
153. Burundi, Madagascar, 12

I find these things so fascinating! Hope you did, too.
(For more interesting interactive charts and maps relating to world studies, click here.)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

From racism to recognition

News stories about racism, or any prejudice really, fill me with disgust. But, ones like this fill me with delight. And the icing on the cake is that this particular story includes hockey and took place in my home region. According to a column by Globe and Mail writer Tom Hawthorn, "Mr. Kwong broke the colour barrier in the NHL as the first player of Asian decent to skate in the league." His story truly has all the makings of a good book – local hero who persevered in the face of obstacles and racism to reach his goal, then endured life hardships and slid into obscurity, is now finally being honoured in his hometown and province. I'd love to write that book...

These are my favourite lines from the article:
"Like so many boys, he spent cold winter evenings during the Depression listening to Foster Hewitt broadcast hockey games on the radio. He played the game himself on borrowed skates with makeshift equipment on the frozen ponds of the Okanagan."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Plane crashes

What is up with the multitude of small airplane crashes this summer? Seriously, it seems like every other day I check the news I see another story about a plane crash and almost all of them have been airplanes with six seats or less. It's made me a little nervous every time my dad and brother would go up for private pilot lessons with their instructors. But, fortunately, everything has gone well for them in their training this summer and our little four-seater Cessna 182 is still air-worthy. I have to admit, though, that I was glad to see Tyler back home safely after his last flight of the summer earlier this week. It's good to know he's heading back to school now and won't be taking flight again until next summer. Hopefully by then the number of small airplane crashes will have gone way down.

Ty & his instructor, Brayden, with C-FIIX
Leaving the runway

Friday, June 25, 2010

National symbols

When you think of Canada, what is the first symbol that pops into your mind? The flag? The maple leaf? The beaver? The Canada goose? Hockey? The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, has taken up a challenge during this week leading up to Canada Day to find out what Canadians think should be the symbols that represent our country.

Here's an excerpt from the article:
Canadians don’t like to be rushed, it seems. And we don’t like anyone feeling left out or ignored. So we choose our national symbols slowly and often, after much debate.
For a long time, Canada has had an official coat of arms, motto, and royal symbols. But the country didn’t have its own flag to fly until almost a century after Confederation. It took three tries by parliamentary committees, starting in 1925.
O Canada became the official anthem in 1980, a full century after it was first sung. This was five years after the beaver was given the coveted official animal designation. It was only in 1996 that the maple tree was officially recognized as a Canadian symbol. In 2002, the Canadian horse won official status as a symbol.
Canadian horse? I didn't even know such a think existed. Maybe we really are in need of some new symbols. The Globe and Mail's survey attempts to find answers in five categories: If Canada had a national animal, what would it be?, What should be Canada's national plant?, What should be Canada's national dish?, If Canada had a national uniform, what would it be?, and Which team would best represent Canada? If you want to participate, take the five-question survey and vote for your top choices.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Do you want to live in Canada?

Being Canadian - and proud of the fact that I was born and grew up in this country - I've often wondered how many people from other countries would like to live in Canada. Today I found out. Apparently, according to a Globe and Mail article, "more than half of people around the world say they would abandon their homelands and move to Canada if they could. Given the choice, 53 per cent of adults in the world's 24 leading economies said they would immigrate to Canada, according to an international survey commissioned by the Historica-Dominion Institute in partnership with the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Aurea Foundation."

Interested? Want to learn more? Check out the intriguing graphics below, or read the article.

The most surprising thing I learned after reading the article and results of the survey was that a whopping 30 percent of Americans said they would move to Canada. I was amazed. I never thought the number would be so high.

Edit: Here are the results of the survey.

In another fascinating survey result, mentioned in a subsequent article, Swedes were the last people in the world (with the Japanese next in line) wanting to move to Canada. Experts suggest several theories for this, one being that, "Rather than express strong admiration for Canada, Swedes might be inclined to say something non-committal. 'It's not necessarily that they think negatively, they're just not going to express a strong opinion,'" said Canadian-born spacecraft engineer Nils Pokrupa, who has lived and worked in Sweden for the last six years. Curiously, in spite of this non-committal attitude, "years of hockey dominance may have influenced one of the few positive impressions Canadians have made on Sweden. They rose all the way to the middle-of-the-pack on the question of whether Canada has athletes who are among the best in the world."

Note: I guess the Globe and Mail doesn't follow proper AP style. They split percent into two words: per cent. That's a definite AP style no-no. Then again, it is a Canadian newspaper so I guess they probably follow CP style. Maybe I should invest in a CP stylebook...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Helping or hurting?

When a disaster - natural or otherwise - takes place, North Americans and citizens of first-world countries usually respond in a big way, either financially or by sending volunteers and equipment. But in the case of the Haiti earthquake, all the free healthcare flowing into the country in recent months might not have been the best way to handle the situation.

According to a UPI article, volunteers and supplies to Haiti are causing some local doctors' practices and private hospitals to shut down. "'Healthcare is free now' from volunteers, Savain 55, a radiologist and third-generation physician, told the Morning News. 'And so, unless something changes, the private Haitian medical section will not be able to survive.'"

Maybe the best thing first-world countries can do after a crisis is provide financial help and wait to see what else the locals need, before jumping right in to get involved where they might not actually be needed.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Historic lighthouses

Have you ever wanted to live in a lighthouse? Well, yesterday almost 1,000 Canadian lighthouse were declared surplus and now risk being shut down unless locals take them over. According to a Globe and Mail article, "Under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, which came into force May 29, individuals and communities can apply to take over surplus lighthouses for tourism or other uses."

Too bad I'm going overseas soon or I might consider it.  Many of these lighthouses, like the Peggy's Point lighthouse in Peggy's Cove, NS, are Canadian icons and historic sites.  As the plan stands currently, these tourist destinations could be replaced with new, automated metal lighthouses.  And who wants that??  Certainly not me, and I'm not alone.  So, if you're Canadian and feel inclined to keep up a lighthouse, here's more information.

At Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Global Peace Index

According to a UPI new story, New Zealand was ranked the most peaceful nation for the second year in a row, with Iceland and Japan coming in second and third place respectively. The statistics in the story come from the fourth annual Global Peace Index. To check it out, click the picture below. It's pretty interesting to see the differences between countries and look at data from previous years.

Monday, May 31, 2010

If wishes were fishes...

*Title inspired by one of my sister's favourite quotes, "If wishes were fishes..."

When I was young I found out about the Make a Wish Foundation when my parents took us for a treat at the local Dairy Queen. Paper hot air balloons covered the restaurant walls, with names of local kids helped by the Make a Wish Foundation and the wishes they chose printed on the balloon baskets. After asking my dad to explain the foundation, I decided to figure out exactly what I would ask for. You know, just in case I ever got a terrible disease and would qualify for one of those wishes. Thankfully, I made it through my childhood and teen years without anything too terrible, health or otherwise, happening to me. But just in case something did happen, I used to toy back and forth with ideas. My final two, and I could never manage to choose between them, were (1) to play the Phantom of the Opera, and violin solo in the second half, with some famous orchestra, and (2) to go to Cremona to witness authentic violin makers at work and hopefully get to see (and maybe possibly play!?!) some of Stradivari's famous instruments. Can you tell this was back when I had just fallen in love with the Phantom of the Opera, was keen on learning everything I could about Stradivari, and in the midst of my daydreams to be a world renown violin maker? Yeah, thought so.

For several years now those Make a Wish plans have been pushed to the back of my mind. But they all tumbled forward again when I read a news story this morning about several organizations that make wishes come true for elderly people. As I read the story, I was impressed with the idea. I would love to someday be involved in an organization like that, either for elderly people or for sick children. Wouldn't it be a great feeling to know you had helped make someone's greatest wish come true? I think so. Especially if it was someone who would never have had the chance to experience that wish without your help.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Engineering and earthquakes

As a kid, I was afraid of parking garages. Not that I had claustrophobia. I didn't. Not that I was scared of people who might be lurking in the shadows, waiting to take advantage of me. I wasn't. (Well, actually, I was. I was scared of a lot of things when I was a kid, but that still wasn't the primary reason for my fear.) The possibility that thousands of pounds of concrete could collapse on me was terrifying.

There was no real rational reason for this fear. Nobody I knew had ever been crushed in a parking garage. I had never seen footage on the news of a parking garage collapsing. I had never even heard about such a thing happening. But for some reason, the idea lodged in my head as a kid and tormented me every time I was in the car when my parents wound around the twisting ramps looking for a spot to park.

Tonight, I realized my childhood fear of a parkade collapsing on me wasn't exactly unfounded. I happened to turn on the TV and was greeted by an eerie, yet intriguing, documentary on the Discovery Channel. Pacific Northwest engineers - namely from the large west coast cities of Vancouver, BC, Seattle, WA, and Portland, OR and from several cities in California - traveled south to Chile to examine and investigate the destruction of buildings and bridges from the February earthquake. Some of their discoveries were quite astonishing and made me think twice about ever owning an condo in a mainly glass-front apartment building between 10 and 20 storeys tall. I was also convinced that living several hours inland is beneficial to surviving a megaquake (which, apparently, is expected at any time since they usually happen every 300-350 years and the Pacific Northwest is at about year 315 right now).

One part of the documentary really stood out to me. In this section, engineers talked about the two-mile section of I-5 that runs beside Seattle's waterfront. This portion is a double-decker road that was built before engineers and seismologists realized and understood how to build effectively in potential earthquake zones and is in dire need of repair. Some engineers even want to rebuild the entire section, using more quake-conscious methods. My old childhood fear returned as I stared at the screen. I travel on that portion of the interstate between two to four, and sometimes more, times a year to get to the SEA-TAC airport.

Hopefully, engineers and seismologists will be successful in reforming building standards in the Pacific Northwest before a similar-sized earthquake hits our coast. And hopefully they are able provide information to the public so we will have the knowledge to survive such a quake. If you want to read up on the documentary, Monster Quake provides more information.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The new Twitter

Mrs. Ellis mentioned this in class today and, after many students begging her to show it to us, she did. I think it's amazing and really wish I had known about it yesterday so I could have included it in my debate. It would have fit perfectly. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mr. Hockey

Wish I were that kid!
(Shorter version with better music)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Persevering Athlete

Every Olympic Games has one. An athlete with a touching story, someone who persevered and overcame tremendous obstacles or personal hardships. Someone who's story inspires the general non-athletic public. In my opinion, this year's compelling-athlete competed last night. Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette showed the world why she is an Olympic athlete as she performed brilliantly in the midst of an emotionally difficult time.

Read my reaction to her skate or watch the video and see it for yourself.
For more information, read these news articles: Skater's mother dies, Rochette fights through grief, Rochette rides wave of emotion

Sunday, January 24, 2010

2010 Olympics

I want to be there on Feb. 12!