Would Canadians Mourn as Much for Stephen Harper as Jack Layton?

It’s been a few days since the passing of New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton as I write this, and the tributes are still pouring in. Thousands have come to Ottawa to say goodbye in person as his body laid in state. Impromptu memory walks and memorials have been set up across the country by people he’s never met. Public reactions from the famous to the infamous to the nonfamous are still pouring in. People are still updating their Twitter and Facebook accounts with more tweets and statuses about Jack days after the fact. They’re talking about it all over the place, too, not just online. It’s a really heart felt national tragedy, one that has overshadowed plane crashes and other tragedies that have also gone on during this time.

While thinking about all this, though, I had another thought.

Would Canadians be mourning as much if Stephen Harper had died the other day instead of Jack Layton?

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I’ve Boycotted Most Canadian TV Channels for Replacing Good American Ads

Here in Canada, for a lot of American sport events, the American commercials are replaced with terrible Canadian ones. This is true even on cable on the American channel itself, not just the simultaneous broadcast on the local network. In Nova Scotia, where I am located, the commercials are even sub Canadian standards. They’re so awful I will often skip watching a show or an event, or go out to a place where I can watch it without those commercials. Or I’ll get what I’m looking for from another source, like news from CBC NewsWorld or MSNBC instead of CNN that’s now proliferated with ghetto budget local business ads when I’m there to be thinking globally.

Do these Canadian ad buyers think they’re getting their money’s worth for those prime spots?

I know there are some rules about rights across the borders, and Canadian content rules and such, but that’s for the channels to worry about. The ad buyers don’t have to buy in to this, and without them, the channels don’t have commercials to run. The channels probably offer ad time with events like the Super Bowl as a bonus to a package rather than selling ad time during the event like it’s done in the US. Still, I would decline it if I were a Canadian ad buyer cause I don’t think people think of those spots fondly.

This comes to a point with the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is as well known for its ads as the game itself. Just observe the chatter the day after the Super Bowl. To watch the Super Bowl with local commercials is like to watch the Super Bowl with one real team and one team of local substitute players. I resent having to watch the Super Bowl with crappy Canadian commercials so much I watch the event on broadcasts with American commercials now, I have blocked the Canadian channels overriding American signals. That means CTV for this Super Bowl, and Global and ASN from previous other offences.

Now, those channels don’t even have a chance that I might surf by and catch something I like when channel surfing. I get local news from the CBC solely now, and you know what? I’m doing just fine without those other channels. I’m not even losing Canadian content, cause it’s not like they show much Canadian content anyway. Why bother with Canadian commercials on prime events, or even just for the Super Bowl, if resentment like this, with some people turning it into action, is what you get?

For events less prime than the Super Bowl, where I might put up with Canadian ads on overridden American shows, I take note of some of the advertising companies and occasionally put them on my “no buy” list. It’s not that I end up watching the commercials to do this. Usually, they annoy me enough from what I’m doing to distract me, and then it’s an easy choice. Eastlink was the first on my list.

I wonder if some of these companies ever imagined their advertising strategies to lead to this?

Oh, and here’s a great example why I go the extra distance for the Super Bowl with the real ads. 🙂

Earth Hour Loses Effectiveness with More Efficient Lights, But Here’s What to Do to Help

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Earth Hour was conceived in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In just two years, the movement went to 50 million people in 2008 and is aiming for 1 billion people around the world tonight on Mar 28 2009, which is incredible and kudos to them for it! Mind you, there are not 50 billion people on this planet, and a lot of us don’t have lights to turn off, very sadly, so that growth rate is going to level off very quickly.

Earth Hour LogoHowever, with the fast adaptation rate by society of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light bulbs and the soon to be even far more efficient light emitting diodes (LEDs), the impact of Earth Hour is going to be very “underachieving”, so to speak, and also lose its punch, unless they add other things to turn off in its message than just lights. The overall impact will still increase as more people participate, but imagine what Earth Hour could do if its message was changed to something like

Turn off your lights, electronics and appliances for an hour.

That still leaves 79 characters to Twitter something else, if you’re counting! That’s half a story for some like Arjun Basu who writes short stories in 140 character tweets! Or a six-word biography for some like me!

Seriously, though, the most common CFL I see is the 13W light bulb. Sure, there are plenty all over the house, but they are probably not on all at the same time so what you save is only a fraction of that. However, if you choose to spend your Earth Hour watching TV, like CNN that its Saturday morning host T.J. Holmes said this morning, you could be expending 10-40 times the energy of one of those CFLs! Check for your flat screen TV energy usage, or get an idea via CNET. I’m sure TJ meant well for his work and employer, but it’s the wrong thing to do for Earth Hour and what prompted me to go write this post.

We tend to use our electronics and appliances without thinking much of their power consumption because it’s not visible nor seem to be very much. However, that would be wrong. Your computer system is at least 10-15X the power consumer of CFLs. Other appliances vary but look at the list at the end of this post containing appliance and electronics power consumption and compare to the 13W for a CFL [list courtesy of OKSolar.com]. How much more power do you think you can save with a little extra effort to turn of some electronics and appliances as well as your light bulbs for Earth Hour?

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So this or next Earth Hour, go turn off your:

  • Computer system power bar (cause it uses one bulb’s equivalent energy when on, even if your computer system is turned off);
  • Fridge and/or freezer if you can unplug them (one hour off won’t spoil your food);
  • Air conditioning or heat (one hour won’t make much a difference in your home temperature if you dress right for it);
  • Anything else you can find or think of which isn’t too much of a hassle to turn on again after an hour. Challenge yourself as to what is not too much to turn off and reset in an hour.

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But what am I going to do for Earth Hour with everything turned off?

I do realize that recommending people just turn off all their lights, electronics and appliances for an hour is possibly more an idealistic than practical suggestion. In fact, Ariel Schwarz of Fast Company magazine had a bit of a warped article about how you should keep your lights ON for Earth Hour because it would send the wrong message to staunch non- or anti-environmentalists that going green means going back to living in caves. Rather, you can practice environmentalism all year without this symbolic gesture. Right point, but bad thinking for choosing the or option rather than the and option. You can do both. Symbolism is powerful, yes, but so is our social spirit to do things en masse and in my opinion, 1 billion people for something will have more impact than a little symbolism against something, even if that something supports your point of view. There are 1 billion people tell you you’re wrong.

But if you’re just thinking Earth Hour is about being stuck 1 hour in the dark, here are some ideas for enjoying your Earth Hour that might just be better than your general life routine for an hour otherwise.

  1. Snuggle up to your significant other for an hour in the dark if you have a significant somebody. I’m willing to bet you’ll be having Earth Hour on a much more regular basis than just once a year!
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  2. Tell ghost stories if you have family.
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  3. Do something with friends if you are on your own and don’t want to be alone.
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  4. Meditate if you are alone and don’t need to be with someone. Or just sit and think about something you need to think about in your life. Don’t tell me you’ve got nothing to think about in your life! Think about how to improve your environmental lifestyle, or fantasize or something like that if you are short on ideas!
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  5. Sleep! Most of us could use an extra hour of sleep… and you also power yourself down for an hour!
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  6. Party for an hour in the dark. Who says that’s not fun???
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  7. Listen to an MP3 player or radio if you really need some music. Slowing down the world and life isn’t a bad thing, you know! Like #1, you might just want to try it a little more often.
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  8. Talk to someone on the phone if you need to talk to someone and can’t do #3 to be with someone. That’s still a lot more Earth friendly than a plasma TV on. Use a land line if you have the choice over a cell and its charging.
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  9. Do nothing, to see how long an hour could be, thinking about how much you might be able to get done in that time, and appreciate the value of time again so you don’t waste hours in the future doing stupid things like watching TV or doing anything else of no value to you. I’m serious!
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If you are prepared enough, Tweet or change your Facebook status ahead of time to encourage something more than just turning off the lights!

And don’t forget you can practice environmentally friendly acts all year round, not just for Earth Hour!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.1

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Typical Power Consumption

Air Conditioners

WATTS

ANNUAL kWT

One ton

1,900

3,078

Three-and-one-half-ton

6,500

10,530

Five-ton

9,200

14,904

Evaporation Coolers

4000CFM

400

1,150

Heater, Portable

1,500

630

Major & General Appliances

CD Player

85

85

Christmas Lights

800

130

Clock

2

17

Clothes Dryer

2,790

900

Computers

240

1,248

Dishwasher

1,201

363

Electric Blanket

177

147

Fan (Attic)

370

291

Fan (Ceiling or Circulating)

88

43

Fan (Furnace)

500

660

Fan (Rollaway)

171

138

Fan (Window)

200

170

Fish Tank

4

35

Floor Polisher

305

15

Freezer-Upright (18 cu. ft.)

Manual Defrost

540

1,250

Automatic Defrost

700

1,830

Hair Blow dryer

1,000

15.6

Hand Iron

1,100

60

Heat Lamp

250

13

Heating Pad

65

10

Humidifier

177

163

Jacuzzi/Spa Pump

1,300

2,100

Kiln

5,760

1,659

Lighting (Avg. Resd. Use)

1,200

Radio (Solid State)

15

18

Radio/Recorder (Solid State)

26

26

Range (with Oven)

12,200

750

Range (with self-cleaning)

12,200

775

Refrigerator-Freezer

16 cu. ft.

380

1,450

20 cu. ft.

420

1,950

Refrigerator-Freezer (frostless)

16 cu. ft.

600

2,150

20 cu. ft.

800

2,700

Sewing Machine

75

11

Shaver (none rechargeable)

15

0.5

Sun Lamp

279

16

Swimming Pool Pump Motor

2,000

8,780

Television Cable (TV) Box

23

50

Television, Color (Tube)

286

600

Television, Color (Solid state)

175

350

Television, B & W (Tube)

100

220

Television, B & W (Solid State)

45

100

Television, Screen (45″)

147

329

Television, Video Games

45

100

Toothbrush

1.1

1

Typewriter

52

1

Vacuum Cleaner

630

46

Video Tape Rec.

175

350

Washing Machine

512

103

Water Heater

2,475

4,219

water Heater (Quick-Recovery)

4,474

4,811

Waterbed Heater

450

1,460

Water Softener

1.5

19

Well Pump

2,238

1,894

Kitchen Appliances

Broiler

1,140

85

Can Opener

100

1

Carving Knife

92

8

Coffee Maker

1,200

140

Deep Fat Fryer

1,448

83

Food Blender

300

1

Food Mixer

127

2

Frying Pan

1,196

100

Garbage Disposal

445

7

Hot Plate

1,200

90

Microwave Oven

1,450

190

Roaster

1,333

60

Slow Cooker

200

144

Toaster

1,146

39

Toaster Oven

1,550

96

Trash Compactor

400

4

Waffle Iron

1,200

20