Carmen Stockton’s performance at Alberta Comedy Spectacular (June 2nd, 2012 – CBC TV and Radio LIVE recording)

Friday, 1 June, 2012

alberta-comedy-spectacular

LIVE comedy recording for CBC TV & Radio in Calgary
7pm Sat June 2nd, 2012

Check out my Comedy Central and Just For Laughs Comedy Festivalfeatured stand-up comedian friend Carmen Stockton’s performance at a LIVE recording for CBC TV and Radio in Calgary 7pm Sat June 2nd! See the poster for more info. Visit Carmen’s website for bio, comedy clips, and more.


LIVE broadcasting Premier Alison Redford at 2012 Alberta Election PC HQ

Tuesday, 24 April, 2012

Alison Redford - AB Election 2012 pix 02a

Alison Redford - AB Election 2012 pix 08

Last night after the 2012 Alberta general election winners were declared unofficially on TV, I went down to do some LIVE broadcast from the PC HQ in Calgary Metropolitan Centre (see also here, here, here). Yes, I am a freelance reporter, I don’t have expensive broadcast equipment but I was doing LIVE broadcast from the PC HQ in Calgary Metropolitan Centre using my mobile phone!

It was quite an experience and experiment in that I was holding not one but TWO cameras! One was my Galaxy Nexus broadcasting live on the WIND Mobile network using my unlimited data plan. In another hand, I was holding my digital camera capturing higher quality video for later use (which I am sharing with you here in this post).

I’ve now used the 2012 Alberta general election as the testing ground of my first LIVE broadcast. I will be doing more LIVE broadcast in the future. For one, I will make sure I link the LIVE broadcast page where readers of my articles can actually watch my video reports LIVE on my channel!

My personal favourite moments last night were the quieter moments of Alison Redford out of the spotlight – Alberta Election 2012 (PC HQ)

Alison Redford’s first post-victory media scrum – Alberta Election 2012

Premier Alison Redford’s victory speech – Alberta Election 2012 (from PC HQ)

Alison Redford at 2012 Alberta Election PC HQ Festivities

See my whole set of Premier Alison Redford at 2012 Alberta Election PC HQ photos here.

Alison Redford - AB Election 2012 pix 13

Alison Redford - AB Election 2012 pix 17

Alison Redford - AB Election 2012 pix 19

Alison Redford - AB Election 2012 pix 21 Q-Its a great night hey? A-It's a great night

Alison Redford - AB Election 2012 pix 23


Elections Canada: Advance poll numbers (2,056,001 ballots cast) soar from 2008 – Vote on May 2nd!

Wednesday, 27 April, 2011

May 2nd, 2011 update: May 2nd Election – How can I forget? #elxn41

***

I am excited of this news and I am wishing/hoping for record voter turnout. Our democracy is stronger when more eligible voters care enough to vote. Vote on May 2nd if you haven’t voted in the advance polls already.

CBC News “Advance poll numbers soar 34% from 2008 – Friday, Monday busiest advance poll days ever” (emphasis added),

“More than two million Canadians turned out to cast ballots in advance polls over the holiday weekend, according to Elections Canada’s preliminary estimate, a 34 per cent increase from 2008.

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand said 2,056,001 ballots were cast during the three days of advance polls in a “higher than expected turnout,” compared to 1,528,780 advance ballots cast three years ago.

More than 676,000 Canadians voted on Friday and more than 823,000 on Monday — the two busiest days of advance voting ever, the agency said in a statement Tuesday.

And the final tally could be even higher. Mayrand said the overall figure is a preliminary estimate, and some polls may not have reported yet.”


VOTE Mob – University of Calgary

Sunday, 17 April, 2011

It is nice to read “U of C ‘Vote Mob’ riled up for Canadian election – Rally urges students to get involved in voting”. Check out www.studentsneedtovote.ca.

University of Calgary Vote Mob (Omni News)

CBC News, “Rise of the Vote Mob feature on CBC

U of C Videos, “University of Calgary Vote Mob – Unstoppable!

This Rick Mercer’s rant to get people, especially students, out to vote started the “Vote Mob” thing.


Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein, I will say hi next time

Friday, 8 April, 2011

I should have said hi to former Alberta premier Ralph Klein when my better half and I saw him at a private garden party in 2009. He looked fine and was talking to some people so we didn’t want to interrupt. Today, I am deeply saddened to read that he is suffering from progressive dementia.

I may not agree with some of Ralph’s politics or policies, but I remember him as a premier who listened to Albertans when we voiced our disagreement strongly. He changed his policies and views on a few of the important matters.

Reading this makes me sad and realize the superficial nature of politics,

“Apart from that, there isn’t much going on for Ralph or Colleen Klein. The high-end consulting jobs and invitations to give national speeches have fallen away. So have friendships they thought were eternal. Colleen says they get virtually no calls from former or current MLAs or ministers.

“When you’re gone, you’re really gone,” she says. “You can almost hear the doors slam. People coming up in politics should be very careful not to let their lives go completely. You’ve got to have something to go back to.”

Today, I promise myself, I will say hi to Ralph next time I see him. In fact, I am going to send Don an email ( dbraid@CalgaryHerald.com ) to find a way to contact the Kleins and send in my best wishes and warmest regards.

***

April 9th 2011 update: I got a reply from Don. If you want to send the Kleins a letter, you can send it care of Don. I sent mine out today.

To: Ralph and Colleen Klein
c/o Don Braid
Editorial Dept., Calgary Herald,
215 16 St SE
PO Box 2400,
Station M
Calgary T2P 0W8

Here is Calgary Chinese newspaper report of the story, “簡欣患腦退化症


Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach resigns

Tuesday, 25 January, 2011

Whether you approve or disapprove of Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach‘s performance as premier, his sudden decision to resign comes as a surprise to many Albertans.

***

Jan 26, 2011 Update:

An excerpt from “Stelmach’s exit muddies Conservative waters in Alberta“,

“The most pressing issue is the unreleased budget, over which Finance Minister Ted Morton had intended to resign on Tuesday. A fiscal hawk, Mr. Morton said tabling such a budget ran afoul of his political ideology, and planned to step aside in a meeting with Mr. Stelmach in Calgary Tuesday. That threat, and the potential fallout from a battle between the two, precipitated Mr. Stelmach’s sudden exit.

Instead of boarding an 11 a.m. flight from Edmonton to meet Mr. Morton and others for a Treasury Board meeting in Calgary, Mr. Stelmach called a sudden 11:30 a.m. press conference in Edmonton.

Mr. Morton was taken aback by that, and thought he’d be fired. Instead, Mr. Stelmach announced his own imminent resignation, a statement that shocked even close allies within his party.

“There is no doubt, no doubt that my decision today will come as a shock to many and a disappointment to my friends and Albertans,” the Premier said Tuesday.

But the battle is far from over. Both men need to find a resolution to the budget impasse. Mr. Stelmach pledged to push forward a budget without major cuts, almost surely at a large deficit that Mr. Morton won’t sign off on.

“Of course, he [Mr. Morton] is still not going to deliver that budget, so he still might get fired or he still might have to resign, or God knows,” one source close to the party said.”


Park Assist at Calgary Chinook centre

Monday, 6 December, 2010

Parkassist at Calgary Chinook centre - Pix 1Parkassist at Calgary Chinook centre - Pix 3

Dec 27, 2010 Update: “Failed Park Assist technology at Calgary Chinook centre

***

I was fascinated by the Park Assist technology when I first saw the system at Calgary Chinook centre’s new wing. I was told the system, when it is fully deployed, is capable of telling people where a car is parked given its license plate. According to Park Assist, its M3 Camera Vision System is “the world’s first single space camera guidance system” (press release). The following are two interesting interviews with Mr. Richard Joffe, Managing Director of Park Assist.

Interview @ Intertraffic Amsterdam 2010

Interview @ IPI show Las Vegas 2010

Speaking about parking technologies, feel free to check out “ParkPlus by Calgary Parking Authority – Reimagining the Wheels” for my review of the Calgary ParkPlus system and interview with Calgary Parking Authority General Manager Dale Fraser and Alderman Dale Hodges.

P.S. By the way, Park Assist will sometimes make mistake too as you can see in the following photo where the right parking spot is occupied but it still shows green.

Parkassist at Calgary Chinook centre - Pix 2


Congrats Brett Wilson and Paul Fedak (Calgary’s Top 10 New Mavericks & Top 40 under 40)

Monday, 8 November, 2010

Congrats to Brett and Paul!

- W. Brett Wilson, Calgary’s Top 10 New Mavericks. Here is an excerpt,

“It’s resulted in Wilson, a father of three, being one of the driving forces behind Brandaid, an initiative supporting microbusinesses in the developing world.

The group, which includes Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis, was involved in a recent initiative that saw Macy’s department store contract out work to 200 Haitian artisans to create unique artworks for sale at 25 U.S. Macy’s stores, creating full-time jobs in a country ravaged by the 2009 earthquake.

Wilson has also visited Afghanistan, where he recently went into business with a woman who pitched him an idea on the CBC show Dragon’s Den.

“I made a deal with a woman who is bringing orange blossom oil out of Afghanistan, turning that into perfume,” he says. “Our current byline is Perfume, Not Poppies.””

- Dr. Paul Fedak, Top 40 under 40. (with video) Here is an excerpt,

“Fedak performs 140 heart surgeries a year, has made 73 contributions to leading biomedical journals and is a well-known researcher pioneering cutting-edge techniques to treat a variety of heart problems. “I want to develop new therapies and translate that from the lab into real life,” he says.

One of Fedak’s most recent innovations is Kryptonite sternal-closure, a technique that uses a type of bone glue dubbed “Kryptonite” to close the breastbone after it has been opened to perform heart surgery. The previous procedure, which has been around for 40 to 50 years, uses metal wires like twist ties to bring the breastbone back together.”

[note: see my previous entries about Paul and Kryptonite] [HT Libin Institute]


Naheed Nenshi: Calgary’s 36th mayor

Monday, 25 October, 2010

Naheed Nenshi will be sworn in as Calgary’s 36th mayor tonight. The city council swearing-in ceremony will be on live webcast and ShawTV starting at 7pm.

Here are three interesting articles about Naheed and his campaign,

- Calgary’s 36th mayor fulfils parents’ dream – Family sought better life for kids in Canada, Calgary Herald

- New mayor celebrates Calgary’s ‘crazy mix’, by Don Braid, Calgary Herald

- How Naheed Nenshi won Calgary’s race for mayor, Calgary Herald

Update:

Call him Mayor: Naheed Nenshi, new council sworn into office (with video) (emphasis added) Calgary Herald, 11:03pm Oct, 25, 2010,

“As he received claps, hoots and hollers normally reserved for rock stars, Naheed Kurban Nenshi told a City Hall atrium full of purple-clad supporters: “We cannot let you down.”

After a winning campaign of promises to build an airport tunnel and a southeast LRT, improve snow removal and shred bureaucratic red tape, he offered Calgarians a further pledge:

This council will be more open,” he said, the mayor’s chain around his neck and the city’s 14 alderman at his side.

We’ll make it easier for you to engage in our conversation. We’ll better understand your needs and your priorities and we’ll act on them. We’ll listen. We’ll get beyond division and individualism to work together for the best interests of all Calgarians. And we’ll do it every single day.

He marvelled at the election’s high voter turnout and public conversation, and challenged Calgarians to keep doing their part.

“You have to do your part. Hold us to account,” he said.

“Tell us when we’re devolving into the politics as usual. Tell us when our priorities are not your priorities.”

“Get engaged and stay engaged,” he said, exhorting people to join community associations and other groups.”


‘Superglue’ (Kryptonite Bone Cement) helps heart patients recover faster: study

Sunday, 24 October, 2010

Kryptonite Bone Cement - Cadaver Analysis

Nov 5, 2010 Update: Here is a link to the press release “Kryptonite™ superglue improving the quality of life in heart patients recovering from open-chest surgery” from the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. [HT Anon]

***

After reporting in Nov 2009 “Kryptonite bone glue helps open-heart surgery patients“, I am happy to include an excerpt from an interesting CTV update of the latest findings reported this weekend “‘Superglue’ helps heart patients recover faster: study” (emphasis added),

A surgical procedure pioneered by Calgary researchers that uses a revolutionary superglue can improve the recovery of heart patients recovering from open-chest surgery, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society reports.

The glue, dubbed Kryptonite, is being used to enhance the closure of the breastbone after surgery and perhaps one day, to take the place of steel wire that is traditionally used to close up the bone.

Dr. Paul Fedak, a cardiac surgeon at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta at Foothills Hospital Medical Centre, says the new superglue has properties like natural bone and allows for new bone growth. It also hardens quickly. Doctors say that within 24 hours, it is as hard as natural bone. Read the rest of this entry »


Naheed Nenshi: Our new elected mayor of Calgary (Amazing 53.24% voter turn-out!)

Tuesday, 19 October, 2010

Naheed Nenshi received 40%, 140291 votes and is our new elected may of Calgary (compare to Ric McIver’s 32%, 112374 votes, Barb Higgins’ 26%, 91359 votes). Congrats Naheed! [Election Calgary]

* Wow! “Preliminary 2010 voter turn-out is 53.24% of eligible voters compared to 32.9 % in the 2007 General Election.” Breaking the record voter turn out in 1989 with 48.6 per cent of eligible voters casting a vote. [City of Calgary] (In 2004, I think it was about 20%.)

* “Meet the new mayor of Calgary“, Calgary Herald

* I want to address this because it is national and international news. I didn’t know nor care about Naheed’s religion (Muslim) before or after the election. More importantly, I don’t think his religion will affect his performance as mayor of Calgary. Globe and Mail: “Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi becomes Canada’s first Muslim mayor“, CTV News: “Calgarian becomes Canada’s first Muslim mayor

Democracy springs alive during Calgary autumn, by Don Braid, Calgary Herald, Oct 19th, 2010

“Democracy never quite dies in Calgary; it just lies around for a decade or so, watching the Flames with beer in hand, until real choices suddenly appear.

Then everything erupts. People vote in droves. Premier Ed Stelmach said it after the 2008 provincial election; when people are upset and interested enough, they will go to the polls.

Many young people voted enthusiastically, even joyously, on a fine autumn Monday. It became a kind of democracy party, first on Twitter and Facebook, and then at polling stations all over the city.”

* Here are two videos of Naheed. I dare you not to laugh at the second video, and you will likely smile at the first one. More videos here at his election YouTube channel.

Naheed Nenshi – Biography Overview

How do you say Naheed? (Fun.)

* “Photo Gallery: Calgary’s mayor Naheed Nenshi’s campaign in pictures“, Calgary Herald

* I think the most important thing is that we hold our elected mayor and aldermen accountable to make Calgary a better city to work and live in. I’ve raised a few issues here and will keep an eye on city politics more in the next three years.

P.S. I want to thank Ric, Barb, other candidates and their teams for participating in this election with their diverse ideas.

***

Oct 19th, 11:22pm update: Globe and Mail editorial “Naheed Nenshi’s lessons for municipal politicians

This Globe and Mail article is interesting, “Naheed Nenshi: Change Calgary believed in“. For the record,

Naheed Nenshi: Change Calgary believed in

In many ways, Naheed Nenshi’s come-from-behind win in Calgary’s mayoral race is a traditional story.
Mr. Nenshi is qualified, charismatic and well-spoken. His career path has set him up well, perhaps purposefully, for a political career. He earned key endorsements and had all the momentum going into election day.
But, of course, his victory is unique, both for reasons the 38-year-old is inclined to discuss – such as his impressive grassroots “Purple Army” shoestring campaign – and those that he is not. He represents a changing Calgary, with its 230,000 visible-minority residents (nearly a quarter of the population), as the city’s first non-white mayor.
Read the rest of this entry »


Live Blog: 2010 Calgary mayoral election (Naheed Nenshi, Ric McIver, Barb Higgins)

Monday, 18 October, 2010

11:07pm update: With the current leads (a lead of 14277 votes for 166/241 stations reported), looks like Naheed Nenshi will be Calgary’s next mayor. Looks like the voter turnout is high which is great.

The end of this hotly contested election is just the beginning of our job as Calgarians (Naheed’s supporters and other candidates’ supporters) to hold our elected representatives accountable.

***

The three current leaders of 2010 Calgary mayoral election are Naheed Nenshi, Ric McIver, Barb Higgins. The following are the candidates’ votes based on the number of polling stations reported.

Latest results see Election Calgary

200/241 stations reported Naheed 102649, Ric 84552, Barb 69306

182/241 stations reported Naheed 86552, Ric 71221, Barb 59327

177/241 stations reported Naheed 82300, Ric 65686, Barb 56793

Read the rest of this entry »


Breakfast TV at 6:45am (View from the front row with Ric McIver)

Friday, 15 October, 2010

Ric McIver with members of Calgary's Chinese community at BT - pix 1Ric McIver with members of Calgary's Chinese community at BT - pix 3

Getting up before 6am this morning was tough but I was told to arrive at the CityTV Breakfast TV (BT) studio by 6:45am. Yes, I was nervous but also a bit excited to be on BT this morning, just one day after the now unfortunate Barb Higgins vs. Mike McCourt on BT.

Before I showed up this morning to ask my question, as any responsible Calgarians would have done in my position, I did my best to read up on the views and news of the candidates. I even attended my first mayoral forum at Southcentre (speech & debate videos) to see and meet the candidates in person.

Pre-show

It was nice to mingle and chat with Mr. Ric McIver a little before the show started. During a free moment, Ric and I picked up today’s newspapers to read. Not surprisingly, Ric was reading Calgary Sun‘s unflattering frontpage photo of and headline story about Barb Higgins. And I ended up reading the more balanced, in my opinion, Calgary Herald.

The CityTV Breakfast TV show

BT started at 7am with the hosts chatting with Ric. And a few minutes later, we were ushered into the live recording studio. The show co-host Zain and crew were really nice in explaining to us where we should stand, when we ask our questions, and where should we stand after we ask our questions, etc.

I was a bit nervous as my question to Ric was the first one this morning. I thought carefully of what concerns me most and asked the following question. I don’t know if I captured my concerns fully but I did my best.

Mr. McIver, with your reputation as “Dr. No and your declaration that you can work with HALF of the council”, how do you convince me and other undecided voters, you are not a “bull in a china shop” and can work with every aldermen for ALL Calgarians?

To me, whether Mr. McIver has the abilities to lead (not dictate) and work cooperatively with the full council is very important. Tactically getting the required seven votes plus his vote to pass motions and consistently ignoring other aldermen’s (and people in their wards) concerns are totally unacceptable to me.

Here is a video of  Ric‘s respond to my question and other Q&As.

Mike McCourt

Mike McCourt, as expected, asked Ric some tough questions this morning (video). But most important to me, Mike did not cross the line this morning. The line that Mike has crossed in Barb Higgins vs. Mike McCourt.

Asking tough and insightful questions about policies, voting records, etc are fine and are marks of good journalists. Attacking someone in his/her face can be tough to decide its ill/good but at least the person is in the room to defend himself/herself. But attacking and insulting a volunteer NOT in the room as “screwup” and repeating the insult again today are unacceptable and actions unbecoming of someone calling himself/herself “journalist”.

Sitting at the anchor/interviewer desk, Mike needs to know the difference between attacking policies/issues and personal attack and insult.

I hope I’ve demonstrated what I demand from a good journalist in the above critique of Mike’s action yesterday. My critique is with respect to what Mike did, and not meant to insult Mike as a person. To Mike’s close friends and relatives, he may be a very nice person as I don’t have the pleasure to get to know Mike yet.

Call me old school, I like the “old days” when advocates from opposing sides can debate and argue to their best abilities but are able to go out for a beer/coffee/tea after the heated exchange. These kind of “gentlemanly” conduct seems to be sadly missing these days.

My thoughts and the democratic process

Sure, getting up before 6am to go downtown isn’t that fun but I feel it is very important to do my part to participate in the democratic process by asking Mr. Ric McIver a question that concerns me as an undecided voter in this tight mayoral election of 2010.

I hope my fellow Calgarians will take time to to read up on the candidates’ views, policies, and even watch their election ads (warning: these are ads after all (smile)) to get to know them better. In this tight three-way election, it may not be easy to find the “best” candidate, but

after using our heads to think and weight the policies, views, facts, etc.

and consulting our hearts and trusting our own intuitions of who is best suited to lead our city,

lets cast our sacred votes and select a mayor on Monday Oct 18th.

P.S. This morning was cool but not cold. As I finish this article, the city is now covered in snow. I hope with the arrival of this dump of snow, Calgary voters will have cooler heads when we go to vote on Monday Oct 18th. If the recent polls are any good, we will have a tight mayoral race. (Watch BT mayoral candidates segments online)

After the election, I hope the supporters of all the candidates can work together to make Calgary a better city that we can all be proud of. Remember to hold our politicians accountable. Call them up. Write letters. Tweet. Facebook. Just hold them accountable.

P.P.S. I want to thank all mayoral and alderman candidates who run in this election. It is not easy to be under constant scrutiny, questions, and challenges. To me, having multiple candidates running and competing with their ideas, policies, and solutions in an election is the only way to ensure the functioning of our democratic process, otherwise the process will fail miserably.

May whoever become mayor on Monday Oct 18th has the wisdom and abilities to work hard for all Calgarians, not just the people who supported them in this tight election.


Searching for next Calgary mayor – 2 movie clips – Vote on Oct 18th, 2010

Sunday, 10 October, 2010

After a wonderful dinner with a friend tonight, we started talking about some of the Calgary mayoral candidates, Calgary politics and bureaucratic inefficiencies. Some further reflection got me thinking about two movies and a movie quote I love. Let me share the quote with you here.

“[addressing the Congress] Napoleon once said when asked to explain the lack of great statesmen in the world, that “to get power you need to display absolute pettiness; to exercise power, you need to show true greatness.” Such pettiness and greatness are rarely found in one person.” – The character President Jackson Evans said in The Contender (2000) [HT imdb memorable quotes]

In the imaginary world of movies and fictions, we know the “truth”, can make the “right” decision, and can aspire to achieve the moral absolutes.

In real life, as responsible citizens and Calgarians, we can only do our best by researching, reading, and getting to know the candidates in order to do our best to pick a candidate that we see can best represent and lead Calgary as our next mayor.

The following are from two American movies but I think they contain some universal truth and lessons that may be good for us to keep in our mind. If nothing else, I think they are good movies and the scenes are great.

Remember to cast your votes on the Oct 18th, 201o Calgary municipal election for Calgary mayor, alderman for your ward, and school trustee.

A clip from The Contender.

A clip from The American President.


2010 Calgary mayoral/municipal election – A brief note

Thursday, 7 October, 2010

Calgarians at Southcentre mayoral forumCBC at Southcentre mayoral forum

Whether I agree with the 2010 Calgary mayoral or aldermen candidates’ views and policies or not, I commend them in spending their time, money, and energy to run in the Oct 8th, 2010 Calgary municipal election.

To keep our municipal democracy alive and healthy, it is important to have different candidates with different views participating. Sure, it is easy to be cynical to think some of the candidates want the jobs because of their ego or love of power but unless and until the cynics standup and run in an election, the candidates who are willing to run are what we have.

Now, I attended the mayoral forum at Southcentre mall, here is an introductory clip of the event. By the way, it is cool to see Southcentre donated the space and CBC aired the event.

P.S. I will be posting more of my thoughts and video clips of the Southcentre mayoral forum.


Blown away by Apple Chinook?

Friday, 1 October, 2010

Apple Chinook Grand opening, Sept 29, 2010

The Calgary Apple Chinook store opened its door two days ago on Wednesday, 29th Sept. My friend Garry (thanks for above the photo, Garry) was there bright and early at 8am to check out the new store and was one of the lucky ones to get the free Apple Chinook t-shirt. Apparently, the crowd at 8am wasn’t big as most people (~100) were lining up to buy iPhone 4 and some of the 1,000 free t-shirts were still available before 11am.

I went to Apple Chinook in the afternoon and it was buzzing. Was I blown away by the Apple Chinook store? Well, it looks nice and bright, but it is definitely no Apple New York. While the staff were pleasant and helpful but I felt some of the sales staff were not as technically knowledgeable as I had expected. What Apple Chinook will likely do is to add some serious challenge to nearby Apple resellers (e.g. London Drugs, Best Buy, Future Shop) or even other Apple stores in town. Time will tell.

Here out a video of the new store.

Apple Chinook Grand opening, Sept 29, 2010Apple Chinook Grand opening, Sept 29, 2010
Apple Chinook Grand opening, Sept 29, 2010

Oct 3 Update: This Calgary Herald article is worth reading “Customers in line at 3:30 a.m. for new Apple store, Chinook Centre expansion” (with photo). Here is an excerpt (emphasis added),

“People like Jonathan Shonicker, 22.

“I’m here to get an iPhone 4,” said Shonicker, who was the first in line at the Apple store. “Because my phone sucks hard-core. Doesn’t do anything. I don’t care what it costs. It could cost anything I’ll pay it right now. I need a new phone.

Dylan Ostafie, 22, was also at the mall since 3:30 a.m. and first in line at the Apple store.

We randomly decided we wanted an iPhone. They’re sold out everywhere,” he said. “We figured we’d just beat everyone else.”

It is words like “I don’t care what it costs” and “We randomly decided we wanted an iPhone” that give Apple the power that it has over its customers/fans. And it is this kind of power that turns the opening of a “store” into “news”.

More news about the mall’s expansion from CBC “Chinook Centre expansion brings ‘global brands’“.


James Cameron, storyteller & Avatar director, puts focus on Alberta Oilsands

Thursday, 30 September, 2010

James Cameron, storyteller & Avatar director, puts focus on Alberta Oilsands

Whether you agree with Avatar director James Cameron or not, it is good to see him spending time trying the understand the issues related to the explorations of Alberta oilsands. Lately, there has been much media attention and some misunderstanding of the benefits and challenges.

It will be a serious miscalculation for the Alberta and Canadian governments to not take Cameron‘s concerns seriously as he is smart, has the abilities to study hard problems and push for advances (scientific deep sea explorations, special effects, 3D filmmaking, etc) and most important but possibly overlooked by some is that he is one great storyteller that can shape and change people’s minds.

Here are some news stories,

- Oilsands need more regulation: Cameron, CBC News with videos

- Q&A: Avatar Director James Cameron on Oil Sands and Environmentalism, TIME magazine

- Cameron vows to watch over oilsands, Toronto Sun. Here is a very telling quote,

“”I know sometimes Hollywood people get accused of drive-by environmentalism,” Cameron said Wednesday at an Edmonton news conference with aboriginal leaders, and the tail end of a three day visit to Alberta.

“This is a lifelong commitment for me at this point.

“I was active in environmental causes and energy policy and so on before Avatar, it’s 10 times that now.

“Now it’s personal. So many people have approached me for help.”

While Cameron described the oilsands as an important resource, he said it’s also critical to look at “the fallout from this.””

- Premier Ed Stelmach dismisses James Cameron’s oilsands critique, Calgary Herald. Here is a telling quote (emphasis and comments added),

With Alberta’s oilsands in the spotlight like never before, Premier Ed Stelmach said Wednesday “quiet diplomacy” is the province’s best counter to negative publicity — rejecting a Hollywood director’s warnings the resource could become “a curse.”” [Kempton's note: "Quiet diplomacy"? Sadly, I am not sure if Premier Stelmach is getting the seriousness of what Cameron can and will do. I am afraid Premier Stelmach and his advisers really have no idea of how far and how determined Cameron was for him to get Titanic and Avatar done and be as successful as they were. As a proud Albertan, I think Premier Stelmach really need a rethink/change of mind and get some serious help. Not to "battle" Cameron, but take the concerns posted by Cameron and others serious and have answers or have plans to address the concerns.]

- ‘Avatar’ director Cameron now in the Alberta tarsands picture, MarketWatch

- Cameron pledges help ‘until it’s fixed’ – Movie director commits legal, financial support to aboriginals, Calgary Herald. Here is an excerpt (emphasis and comments added),

“When asked after the meetings what his long-term commitment to the issue was, Cameron said: “Until it’s fixed.” He said he’ll do what it takes. [Kempton's note: There, coming from Cameron, are not empty words. Cameron is not the types that will randomly say stuff for the publicity and then forget about his promises. Time will tell.]

“The next step is get to the problem, talk to the premier about it tomorrow, talk to government about it tomorrow and then follow up. Follow up with the non-profits, follow up with the leaders that came with me today and with the leaders here in Fort Chip and just stay on it.””

- Cameron is gone, but the battle is just beginning, Don Braid, Calgary Herald

- Cameron admits awe at scale of Alberta oilsands operations – Province made its green points, Renner says, Calgary Herald. Here is an excerpt (emphasis and comments added),

“Outfitted in a green hardhat, fluorescent vest and rubber boots, Cameron said he had not yet formed any firm conclusions on his “fact-finding mission” about the oilsands. His initial plan was to have conducted his visit more “stealthily,” but the increased media attention around it has been good because it has given people in the region, including aboriginal groups, the opportunity to have their perspectives heard on a wide stage, he said.

“I’m still in sponge mode, finding out how all this works and getting my arms around it, conceptually,” he said over the background sound of noise cannons, which fire every so often to scare birds away from the tailings ponds. [Kempton's note: "sponge mode"]

“The reclamation task is on the one hand quite daunting, and on the other hand absolutely necessary.””

- Avatar’s Cameron doesn’t slag oilsands – Sounding at times like a cabinet minister, director gives measured response, Edmonton Journal. Here is a telling excerpt (emphasis added),

Cameron talked for 30 engaging minutes without notes or a teleprompter, proving he knows this topic better than many cabinet ministers and he hit all the important issues without sounding like he was giving Albertans a lecture.

He politely argued for a moratorium on any new open-pit mines or new tailings ponds. He believes the future of the oilsands lies with an experimental method of in situ mining where bitumen is extracted by injecting relatively cold solvents — not heated water — underground. At times he sounded like a Syncrude executive.

Afterwards, in a sit down interview with The Journal, Cameron acknowledged his black eye comment last April was “ill-informed” and this trip has changed his opinion: “I understand one thing clearly that I didn’t understand before, the upside of this thing is enormous, financially. That gives me a little bit of hope. It also scares the hell out of me because it means we’re going to stampede after those profits as fast as possible.”

Not a black eye now, perhaps, but it could be: “It has the capacity to be the biggest black eye in Canadian history or it’s got the capacity to be a place in which Alberta and Canada rise to a challenge and show leadership.”

What difference will this make to the oilsands? Not much if Premier Ed Stelmach’s defensive comments are any indication: “We are doing our part to move the world toward a clean energy future.””

Q&A – James Cameron talks oil sands with the Globe, Globe and Mail

- Collective shrug greets Hollywood mogul – Fort McMurray residents skeptical of what will come of James Cameron’s visit, Edmonton Journal.


3 lessons as chocolatier Bernard Callebaut enters receivership

Wednesday, 4 August, 2010

3 lessons as chocolatier Bernard Callebaut enters receivership

Dec 9th, 2010 Update: Bernard Callebaut returns to market as Papa Chocolat, Calgary Herald. I am not sure what to make of Papa Chocolat as I can’t quite see pass the failed business mess in “Bernard Callebaut”, the business.

***

Many people were shocked and saddened by the news that Calgary-based chocolatier Bernard Callebaut went into receivership yesterday. (CTV & CBC news with videos) The following are three possible lessons from this sad story.

Lesson 1 – Cash Flow:

Cash flow is one of the most important thing in keeping a business alive. Without a healthy cash flow, one cannot keep a business viable. Leo Donlevy at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business made a valid point (emphasis added),

“… it appears that growing the business got Callebaut into trouble.

“Many businesses … bought very expensive real estate assets and other assets when times were good,” Donlevy said. “And times went bad, and being the maker of a luxury product, sales probably went down and cash flow dried up, and [Callebaut] got in trouble with his lenders.

The important thing is to strike a balance on how much to borrow without hurting the viability of a business in the long run. Incidentally, for companies with solid businesses and steady cash flow, the current economic downturn can actually be a good time to renegotiate some long term loans to more favourable rates and terms. And this may also be a good time to establish credit facilities at reasonable rate for future needs when the economy inevitably gets back on its feet. The best time to get a credit line for your business is, paradoxically, when you don’t need the money.

The lessons here are: pay close attention to your cash flow, don’t over extend your borrowing, setup credit facilities/line of credit when you don’t need the money.

Lesson 2 – Investing:

I originally wanted to write a more in-depth article about two chocolate bonds including the Callebaut three series of Participating Notes. I went as far as requesting the term sheet for the Callebaut Notes so that I can review the notes for their investment quality. Unfortunately, because the Callebaut’s audited financial statements are not part of the investor package, I was unable to determine how good/bad Callebaut as a business so I wasn’t able to evaluate its notes.

The fact that the minimum offering for the Callebaut Notes was $3,500,000 with $3,150,000 going to debt repayment, $150,000 to working capital, and $350,000 to debt commissions, also raised some concern in my mind. In hindsight, it is clear why $3.15 million of the $3.5 million was planned for debt repayment.

The lesson here is you shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t understand some investment opportunities and don’t feel comfortable enough in investing in them. Because sometime these “opportunities” may not be good investments at all.

Lesson 3 – Brand

Bernard Callebaut is a loved brand/Lovemark of mine. I wrote this in 2006, and here is an excerpt from a 2007 article,

My personal Lovemarks in chocolate are See’s Candies (my childhood favourite) and Bernard Callebaut by the award winning Belgium chocolatier (“a mischievous boy“) living and headquartered in Calgary. I once bought a small bag of Bernard Callebaut chocolate to share with my better half. Ah, when I got home, I think I only left one or two to her. I don’t think I mentioned there was a bag of them.

I don’t know how close I can or should compare Bernard Callebaut with See’s Candies, but I know See’s Candies has been an exceptionally good investment over the years for Warren Buffett. With Bernard Callebaut now in receivership and possibly available at a fire sale price, a really great investment deal may be available.

So if Bernard, the creditors, Deloitte, and potential investors can work out a reasonable deal for all, the Bernard Callebaut brand should survive. And it is very possible that a new owner and management team can turn the company around and keep the Bernard Callebaut brand going for years to come.

More news from: Calgary Sun, Calgary Herald

Crossed posted as an examiner.com article.


Life in a Day – Calgary, Alberta, Canada – Chinatown Grannies

Tuesday, 27 July, 2010

This past Saturday, July 24, 2010, I interviewed one of the Grannies in Calgary Chinatown for the worldwide YouTube project Life in a Day.

I feel great to have shot the film, put it on YouTube and added closed caption for it. Unfortunately, due to the extensive legal “Appearance Release” form, I won’t be able to submit the clip to the project. Granny just won’t be able to understand and give an informed consent.

Anyway, it is still wonderful to have talked to this Granny and keep it for the record.


Life in a Day – Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Sunday, 25 July, 2010

YouTube’s Life in a Day project is a wonderful worldwide experiment. My first contribution is the following clip of my neighbours Keith, Betty Loo & Sarah talking about their beautiful vegetables garden. In fact, Life in a Day gave me a wonderful excuse to say hello and talk to them for the first time.

Life in a Day – Hare Krishna Festival celebrations

Life in a Day – Chinatown Grannies

Life in a Day – What do I have in my pockets?

I have shot some more footage and they will be uploaded soon.

Other Calgary contributions

I am checking out other Calgary contributions and will be adding some of them here. Here is “Uncle and nieces spend an afternoon in a local Calgary park.

News about Life in a Day

* “YouTube Film ‘Life in a Day’ to Employ User-Generated Content“, WSJ Blog

* “Katie Couric’s Notebook: Life in a Day“, CBS


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