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California Wildfires

October 24th, 2007  · stk

Southern California wild fires have consumed 800 square miles and 1,600 homes. With ties to California, Vancouver Island, and fire fighting ... a unique perspective on the Southern California firestorms is offered (including video of the Martin Mars Bombers)

Santa Ana's | Martin Mars Bombers | Hollywood Sequel | A Proposal

Southern California continues efforts to battle massive wildfires. Weather forcasters have predicted that the strong winds fanning the flames, making firefighting impossible, will let up sometime this afternoon.

The final numbers won't be in for a while, but the current situation is: one dead, many injured, 1,600 homes lost and another 68,000 homes under threat. President Bush signed a document declaring the fires a "major disaster", releasing federal funds to help homeowners in seven affected counties. The president is expected to visit the region tomorrow.

Help is on the way from Canada, specifically Vancouver Island.

This fire season will be the most expensive in California's history. Each year the costs to fight these blazes has increased, the fires seem to become larger and the damage even greater. It's like a bad Hollywood movie sequel. What's Southern California to do?

Read on for a unique look at the Southern California situation, more detail and some recommendations that may surprise you.

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Updated: 8-Feb-2009
Web View Count: 63382 viewsLast Web Update: 8-Feb-2009
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Alex the Parrot

October 9th, 2007  · stk

Alex died a month ago. NO! Not our Alex ... an African Grey Parrot. NO! Not just any parrot. A very special bird that could THINK! See the video proof. Amazing.

Alex the African Grey Parrot Dies at Thirty One

A month ago, on September 6th, Alex, an African Grey parrot, died. It was surprising - because African Grey parrots generally have a lifespan of 50 to 60 years in captivity. It was devastating - because Alex wasn't your normal, run-of-the-mill African Grey parrot. Alex was special - he demonstrated he could THINK.

Purchased by Dr. Irene Pepperberg in 1976 at 13 months of age, Alex (short for "Avian Language EXperiment") became part of a scientific team. For the past 30 years, Alex has been the focus of research into the cognitive abilities of African Grey parrots. The goal was to see if Alex could "think".

The hypothesis was simple. Humans have developed complex brains and language, partly because they live complex social groups. Primates, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, who also live in complex social groups, are generally thought to be the only non-human animals having brains with the ability to perform complex tasks. If "thinking" and language are tied to animals living in complex social groups, then perhaps parrots, which are much further removed from humans on the evolutionary chain, have the ability to think and communicate? (On the plus side, they can mimic human speech!)

The results from the experiments with Alex were both amazing and controversial, partly because it challenged the notion of human-centric intelligence. Regardless, I invite you to read on and see what Alex had accomplished. Some claim it's simply a very adroit form of mimicry, while others believe that Alex could actually think. Watch the videos on the next page and do some thinking of your own. Was Alex actually thinking? They might even challenge you to change how you view mankind's place in the world. ;)

alex african grey pepperberg alex african grey parrot pepperberg

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Updated: 11-Oct-2007
Web View Count: 39850 viewsLast Web Update: 11-Oct-2007

Loonie Takes Flight

September 21st, 2007  · stk

For the first time in 31 years, the Canadian Loonie opened today, on par against the U.S. dollar. The Loonie has gained 17% in value this year! Find out why and what it means for both Canadians and Americans.

Canadian Dollar at Par with a U.S. Buck

For the first time since 1976, the Canadian dollar opened today's trading valued on par with the United States dollar. One Canadian dollar is equivalent to one U.S. dollar.


The Canadian dollar has been soaring against the U.S. dollar in recent years and more dramatically so, in recent months. A decline in the U.S. currency is cited as the main reason for the recent and dramatic rise of the loonie's value.

The loonie has steadily gained ground against the U.S. dollar, starting from its all-time low of $0.62, which it hit in early 2002.

For more about the flight of the loonie ... read on.

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Updated: 27-Jan-2008
Web View Count: 103858 viewsLast Web Update: 27-Jan-2008

NCFD Open House

July 1st, 2007  · stk

On the day before Canada Day, the North Cedar Fire Department held it's annual "Open House" event. This year, Scott was there to help out and witness the festivities. Door prizes, demonstrations, hot dogs, cold drinks, balloons, a chance to shoot off a fire hose ... what self-respecting kid (ahem adult?) wouldn't jump at the chance to hang out at the hall for a day? Both Scott and the Oop had a blast!

Happy Canada Day!

The North Cedar Fire Department opened its doors to the public, yesterday, from 10 AM till 3 PM. It was a family and community-oriented event, building goodwill and letting folks see what goes on at the relatively new (opened early 2006) fire hall.

There were plenty of activities, including: a Boot Drive (proceeds donated to the Muscular Dystrophy Association), barbecued hot dogs with cold drinks, an inflatable 'bouncy' castle, auto extrication demonstrations, fire-extinguisher demonstration, shooting water from an inch and a half spray nozzle, historical displays, climbing aboard the fire engines, free balloons and general exploration of the hall.

Scott was there, all day, talking with folks and manning the Muscular Dystrophy donations table. Rachel, who had worked the night shift at the hospital, the night before, got up early and brought the Oop down mid-afternoon. Alex "drove" the big fire engine, shot water at a target with Dad, bounced in the blow-up castle and stuffed her face with a hot dog. She had a great time.

For more photos ... continue ...


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Updated: 25-Jun-2008
Web View Count: 66289 viewsLast Web Update: 25-Jun-2008
Filed in:Noteworthy

Cooking Oil Fire

May 30th, 2007  · stk

In the U.K. each year, thousands are injured during kitchen cooking oil fires. Some 40 or so people die, each year, as a result. The U.K. Home Office released an effective, public-awareness video, demonstrating the difference between the "right way" and the "wrong way" of dealing with cooking oil fires. It's worth a look. ;)

cooking oil fire

A Public Safety Video Worth Watching

Put out by the U.K. "Home Office" in 1999, this £1.5 million national advertising campaign was aimed at reducing the number of chip pan fires, across the United Kingdom. While the video is now eight years old, the information and message is relevant to ANY stove-top cooking oil fire. It is an amazingly well-done advertisement that demonstrates the volatility of cooking oil fires.

Apparently, Brits like to eat fresh chips (or fries) after drinking beer at the local pub, which has led to a nationwide epidemic of late night cooking oil fires. More than 4,600 people were injured in 1998, when trying to make fries. More than 30% of those injuries happened between 10 PM and 4 AM. As many as 46 people per year die as a result of these chip-pan fires. Sobering statistics, for sure.

In the typical scenario, the drunken Brit arrives home, decides to fix some French fries, pours oil in the pan, turns on the stove top and then passes out on the couch or sofa, awakening (or not) only after the oil is super-heated and on fire. A groggy, drunken person doesn't make for a great fire-fighter and what you see in the video can easily be the result.

Knowing how to extinguish a stove-top cooking oil fire is demonstrated. Follow the 3 simple steps and you've controlled a volatile situation. Make the wrong move and you could be on fire in a split second - or worse - dead.

Use a deep fat fryer or buy your late-night fries at Micky Dee's, but regardless, take 30 seconds and watch this video.

For an explanation behind the volatility of cooking oil fires, carry on ...

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Updated: 1-Jun-2007
Web View Count: 57785 viewsLast Web Update: 1-Jun-2007