Monthly Archives: July 2010

Westjet: Let’s Talk About Those Made-in-China Airplanes

I flew into Montreal last week in the middle of a fierce lightening storm (July 21, 2010) ETA 11:31. We sat on the runway for a bit before going to the gate because of lightening strikes on the north end of the runway, so we actually got to the gate and off the plane just after midnight.

Once again, because of lightening, the baggage handlers were unable to unload bags so we hung at the carousel for another couple of hours before it was safe enough to deplane the baggage.

All of this is good. As a passenger, I appreciate safety rules and regs, be it at security, in the air, on the runway, at the gate or at the baggage carousels.

What I didn’t appreciate was that approximately an hour into our wait, the Westjet employee announced that “We still don’t have your bags, but we do have inflatable Westjet air planes and stickers for all the kids. Cool! The kids loved it.

So did I until I saw the big “Made in China” embossed on the little kid’s plastic air planes. I mean, come on. We all need to fly around, but we also try to engage in carbon offsets and strive to do our best to keep our environment up to snuff.

Say No to Plastic

Plastic inflatable planes from China don’t cut it. Buy Canadian made kid’s toys. Give out less. The Chinese don’t give a damn about the planet and until they do, we shouldn’t be supporting them. It’s bad enough that they make the best jeans…

I would have preferred that someone offer to pay for our parking – which had ramped up to almost $20 by the time we pulled out of Pierre Trudeau just hours before dawn.

Forget the little toy planes –it sends a bad message and doesn’t help the situation at all.


Filed under Give Me a Break

Have a Giggle: visit my other blog on home construction

Check out my latest blog post on building a lane house if you need a laugh!

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Filed under Stuff to do


Deadline extended to August 1, 2010

Category: Creative Non-fiction

Judge: Anthony Dalton, author & Canadian Authors Assoc. National President

First Prize: $500, Fed workshop of your choice,publication in WordWorks
Second Prize: $300, publication in WordWorks
Third Prize: $150, publication in WordWorks

Winners will be read their pieces at the Word On The Street Festival in Vancouver on September 26, 2010.

The competition is open to all BC writers and residents.
Entries must be original work, not previously published in any form. Copyright remains with the author.
Maximum 2,000 words per entry. No limit to number of entries.
Blind judging in effect: do not include your name on the manuscript.
Manuscripts should be typed, double-spaced, 12 font, Times New Roman, pages numbered consecutively and stapled together, title in the footer of each page.
Include a cover letter with your name, address, telephone, e-mail and the title of your piece(s).
Manuscripts will NOT be returned; they are destroyed at the end of the competition.
No e-mail submissions.
Contest results posted on The Federation of BC writers website in September 2010.
Entry fee: $15 for Federation members and $20 for non-members. There is no limit to the number of entries an individual may submit but each entry must be accompanied by the entry fee. A person may win only one prize.
Make cheque payable to The Federation of BC Writers.
All contest entries must be postmarked by August 1, 2010

Mail Entries & fees to:
Literary Writes 2010
The Federation of BC Writers
PO Box 3887, Stn Terminal
Vancouver, BC V6B 3Z3

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Audubon Update

Sorry, this is direct copy from my email box – I’m in an editor’s retreat session, but wanted to get this posted!
Even if this isn’t headline news everyday anymore, keep the BP Gush in your mind so something like this doesn’t happen again on our coastlines

Audubon continues to be inspired by all those whose passion — and compassion — for birds and wildlife is making our Gulf recovery work possible. This week, we’d like to acknowledge a few of them.

First, we are so grateful for our volunteers — who now number over 30,000. Some have already had a chance to get directly involved; others are waiting patiently (and we know it is hard!) But the truth is that each of you is playing a critical role in the response effort — because we can count on you, we know that we can be ready for whatever turn this catastrophe takes. Thank you!

Second, many exceptional individuals, reflecting many different worlds, have stepped forward to become ambassadors for Audubon, and for the birds and wildlife it is our mission to protect. You have already met 11-year old artist Olivia Bouler who has now helped us raise over $150,000. Many others — from American Idol winner Jordin Sparks (more about that in our next update!) to the Atlanta Symphony to Major League Baseball wives — are also helping Audubon to make a difference in the Gulf.

Citizen Scientists Playing a Key Role
Rescued pelican released in GeorgiaLast week we highlighted the risk facing early fall migrants as they arrive in the gulf from their northern breeding grounds. Because accurately assessing the populations and habitat conditions for these birds is a critical step to protecting them, Audubon is launching special training sessions designed to introduce novice birders and volunteers in the Gulf to the challenges of bird observation, identification and monitoring.

Birders have also been asked to watch for Brown Pelicans that were recently rehabilitated and released in Georgia. One group (78) has RED color bands on the right leg with 3 digital alpha numeric codes in white. Another group (72) has ORANGE color bands on the right leg. If you see any of these birds, please report them. Tracking released birds is essential to assessing rescue efforts.

Learn more about the Brown Pelican
The state bird of Louisiana, the Brown Pelican, had just begun its breeding season when the Deepwater Horizon explosion sent oil spewing into the Gulf. Since then, photos of oiled adults and chicks have brought the spill home across the country and around the globe. Even more worrisome from a conservation perspective, Brown Pelicans were removed from the U.S. endangered species list only late last year. This year’s disruption of their breeding cycle could have serious and long lasting effects. Learn more.

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Filed under BP Oil Spill

Annual Suite Retreat Weekend

Once a year, the management and editors from gather together in Vancouver (although we’d be happy in Brussels or Australia) to look back, look forward and talk about everything suite.

This brainstorming, mind-mapping discussions are of incalculable value for all of us, and in the brief time that we are together, face to face we learn so much from each other and from our home team.

The web is not static and to keep up with what works, what doesn’t, what’s around the corner and what’s passe, we need to keep on learning. This is what this weekend is all about. And in the end, we benefit, our writers benefit and all of us continue to grow and get better at what we do. Why is suite so sweet? This is a big part of the reason.

I might be a bit behind in articles and email replies this weekend, but I will be back and fully present next week fuelled with enthusiasm and novel ideas.


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Filed under Writing Tips

Most Important Decision of the Day

Optimal Swim Time Today

What time is the very best time to go the beach today for a swim? That’s my most pressing question…on this hot day!

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Filed under General

Blogger Versus WordPress

Part of my daily writing and editing involves social networking and blogging. I try to blog at a minimum of every second day, and because I have two blogs at the moment, I like to be as efficient and quick as possible. When I started my second blog last month, I decided on because it doesn’t hurt to understand both platforms and to become proficient in using both platforms.

While, it’s been almost two months and I think that is enough time to form an opinion. WordPress wins hands down. I find blogger really time consuming and I don’t like the limited ‘gadgets’ available. Today, I tried to add some share functions and got so frustrated that I finally gave up. The theme choice is very limited in comparison, and would it be that hard for the creators to add a blog stats button?

I’ve talked to lots of my friends about this, and all agree that wordpress is much more user-friendly, but I don’t understand why blogger can’t also be designed to make blogging easier, not more challenging.

That’s my baby rant of the day…

How do I fix this?????

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Filed under Give Me a Break, Uncategorized

FIFA and Germany and the Flag

Most popular song in Germany last week?

Madonna’s “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina…”

I was in Braunschweig last week (Saturday) when Germany creamed Argentina (4-0) in the soccer game in the last few minutes. In fact, the game began in the middle of the wedding ceremony we were attending in a medieval church near the town. As soon as the bride and groom had said their “I do’s,” a large group of the men disappeared, only to be discovered a short time later at the local firehall, where a big screen TV was broadcasting the game.

Germany vs. Argentina

All Fired Up (July 3rd/2010)

We watched the game there for a while before heading off to the reception, where the groom had hastily ensured another big-screen TV had been installed.

The speeches were held off until Germany scored the final goal and then everyone agreed, the bride and groom had picked an auspicious day to be married.

During the reception dinner, I spoke to many people about what that game meant to them and about getting to the finals and possibly winning the cup. I’d been in Berlin the day before and there were German flags everywhere – it was the same throughout the countryside – in windows, on cars, on backpacks and graffiti on walls. Every single sidewalk cafe in Berlin boasted a big TV outside and people crowded around them to get the best view (they already have the best beer 🙂

The thing that struck me the most when I asked Germans about the soccer was their incredible pride and joy in seeing their flag. It is, one woman told me, “the first time in memory that we are able to feel real pride in our country and our flag. For so long now, we have felt only shame…We will never forget and it will never happen again, but we celebrate a little pride.”

I’m with her all the way.

So these FIFA matches have been more than sport for this lovely country. These matches have been a way for Germans to really begin to look forward. I talked to so many people for the short time I was in Germany and I was blown away by so many things. The people I met were well-educated, extremely well-travelled, kind, polite and socially aware. They have so much to be proud of, which is why I hope Germany goes all the way in soccer this year!

Good luck!

Don't Cry for Me Argentina

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Filed under Travelling In the World – Call to Writers From Suite

Our Associate Editor at posted this the other day, and I am reposting here. I hate it when stuff like this happens to my fellow writers, but one door closes…

Lima writes:

We’ve been close on the heels of news about CEO’s decision to terminate over 4000 freelance writers. It’s been a shock to many of our own writers who also contributed to Mahalo. This blog post is my small commentary on this news and an open invitation to former Mahalo contributors to apply for a position at Suite101. If you know someone who has been affected by this change then please offer them some support and feel free to invite them to check us out! You can also give them my email address (

in case they have any specific questions they need answered. Let’s support freelance writers and give them a safe place to write.

All the best,
Lima Al-Azzeh, Associate Editor

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Filed under Writing Tips

Finding a Routine – At Home Writer’s Issues

Since May and the White Pine Awards in Ontario, I’ve been travelling – Quebec, Berlin and now home for a few weeks then off again for a lakeside ‘real’ non-working vacation. It’s wonderful and I feel very lucky, however, I am struggling to find a writing routine that works well. Part of the problem with being away is the return. For example, right now I am faced with a house and garden in need of attention, a cat who wants more than just a bowl of food and a pat on the head, and a mother-in-law who takes up more time than a toddler 😦

Add to this, the need for shopping, dinners, yoga (yes – I do count this as a need), and wedding planning (for my sweet Jen), editing, creating an amazing set of classes for Canadian Bookcamp, socializing, (yes, it’s important to see other humans now and again) and there isn’t much time left to write books. Or is there?

Yes! Even if it’s only for 30 minutes a day, it’s imperative that all writers, and that includes the winging me, sit down and write. Show up at the page. How many times have I offered this advice to students, and now I offer it back to myself. One of the most difficult things about working at home in any job is carving out a structure in a disjointed day. For me, this means getting up a little earlier (thank goodness I never get jet-lagged), and it also means having a concrete plan in mind the night before outlining how my day will look. Of course, there are times when plans go sideways, but I really believe that it is having a plan that counts.

I hope to get loads done today, starting with… ah hold on; phone’s ringing. Yikes; cat wants her ears tickled. Damn, plants are dying of thirst. Egad, mother-in-law can’t get her pickle jar open…

Now what was it I was trying to get down in words???

Has Anyone Seen the Time?

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Filed under Give Me a Break