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Passing the Sniff Test

October 22nd, 2012  · stk

Passing the Sniff Test -- Scott & Rachel are replacing their broken Lumix DMC-TZ5 digital camera. They can buy it locally for $349 CAD, but know they are cheaper in the States. They almost pulled the trigger on one for $162, but the company - smarttechcases.com - turned out to be a SCAM. Find out more.

SmartTechCases.com Scam

British Columbia - NAFTA woes continue for Scott & Rachel. While backpacking in Cape Scott two summer's ago, the Lumix camera they loved (Leica-lens, 10X optical zoom), popped out of it's soft case, landing hard on a wooden bridge. It wouldn't work any more. They took it to a camera repair shop, but thought the $180 repair bill was a tad expensive.

Fast-forward to this summer, when they had an amazing kayaking trip in Johnstone Strait. They missed lots of great wildlife shots, because they lacked a good digital camera with a decent zoom lens. The decided that they would bite the bullet and purchase the latest Lumix camera. (Updated to a 20X optical zoom - same weight and form factor, plus a few other goodies - GPS, touch-screen menu).

They've highlighted the disparity in digital camera prices between the United States and Canada. First with their Casio EX-Z875 digital camera and again with the Lumix DMC-TZ5 that broke.

Today, this latest Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 camera is "on sale" at their local Canadian Future Shop (if money weren't an object, they could drive right down and buy the camera, today and be instantly gratified knowing that they got it on sale). The sale price is $349.99 ("Save $30" the online advert says).

Knowing that they could probably buy the camera in the States for a lot less money, they headed to their friendly shopping bots and gave them a spin. Actually, it was their head that spun, when they saw a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 camera on sale through a Yahoo e-commerce vendor (SmartTechCases.com) for $160. Wow!

To learn how cheaply they were able to buy this camera (and how they were almost swindled out of nearly $165) ... read on brave consumer ...

The Deal & the Scam

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Updated: 1-Nov-2012
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Pickled Tongue Recipe

May 28th, 2012  · stk

Growing up in Bakersfield, California meant eating Basque food. Why? Because the Basque followed the sheep at the turn of the 20th century and Basque boardinghouses were clustered down by the old Bakersfield train station. One of the things we ate was pickled cow tongue. Not tried it? Just head down to your local grocer (or butcher), buy a tongue and use the easy "Randsco Basque Pickled Tongue Recipe" herein! You'll either love it or hate it, but either way ... it'll be a culinary conversation piece!

Basque Pickled Cow Tongue Recipe

Randsco Basque Pickled Tongue Recipe

When you think of appetizers, most don't think of pickled cow tongue. Heck, if you've spent any time around cows, you know what they use that long tongue of theirs for - picking their nose! Eating that nose-picking thing doesn't sound very appetizing at all!

But it is! Pickled cow tongue may be an acquired flavor, but because I grew up in Bakersfield, California - it's a dish I've learned to love!

If you too, love pickled tongue, or are a brave soul eager to try a new Basque delicacy, I'm happy to say, "You've come to the right place!" We have an authentic (and easy) Basque Pickled Tongue recipe for you to try.

Make Your Own Basque Pickled Tongue

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Updated: 30-Dec-2013
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Canada Post on Strike

June 20th, 2011  · stk

Did you know Canada Post is on strike? The Canadian postal system shut down over a week ago. The United States is no longer accepting mail addressed to Canada. Who cares? In the age of text messages, email & a myriad of private parcel delivery companies to choose from - is Canada Post even relevant?

Canada Post is on Strike? Who Cares?

 Canada Post Strike 2011 - Mailbox closed

My seven (and a half) year-old daughter recently participated in day-long "Hands-Across the Border" event, where girl scouts (Brownies) from Canada and the United States traded goodies and celebrated at the near-by Peace Arch border crossing. Alex had obtained some nice "City of Nanaimo" and "Canada Flag" trader-pins from our MLA, Leonard Krog, when Rachel visited his office a couple of weeks ago.

"What's this got to do with the Canada Postal Union strike?" you might ask.

Well, Alex wrote a very nice, colorful, personal letter of "thanks" to MLA Leonard Krog and we took it down to the post box this morning to mail it. We couldn't put it into the outgoing mail slot, as it had been covered over with the Canada Post "closed" sign shown above.

"Oh, right," I told Alex, "Canada Post is on strike, so there's no mail delivery."

Sadly, MLA Leonard Krog will have an easier time finding his mail here, than he will finding it in his mailbox (an e-mail from his website will let him know that he can read his "Canada Post mail" here!)

This incident made me curious about the Canada Post strike. I know the Postal Union members have been on strike for a while and that mail delivery stopped over a week ago. But ... why are they on strike? If the strike doesn't affect me much, how many others don't care? How relevant is Canada Post in today's world of electronic mail, Skype, cell phone text-messaging, FaceBook, Twitter and private parcel services (e.g., UPS, Fed-Ex & DHL)?

The Irrelevant Postal Strike

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Updated: 24-Oct-2011
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BC Nursing Crisis - Five Years Later

March 15th, 2011  · stk

Five years ago, we wrote about the nursing crisis that British Columbia anticipated. How did British Columbia respond? How is socialized Health Care working out for residents of British Columbia now? Find out in our "BC Nursing Crisis" update ...

BC Government Cuts Health Care Despite Shortages & Overcrowding

Back in 2005, when Rachel had just over a year to complete her BSN degree, we wrote about the BC nursing crisis facing the Canadian Province of British Columbia. This bode well for job placement and when Rachel graduated from the UofA in 2006, many of the BC Health Authorities were hiring nursing graduates. (She accepted an offer from VIHA and has been gainfully employed there since).

Fast-forward to 2011 and the latest issue of "BCNU Update" (a BC Nurses' Union publication) describes a very different experience for those now graduating with a BSN degree. Despite an acknowledged and continued shortage of nurses, BC Health Authorities are facing government cut-backs and many recent nursing graduates are finding it difficult to find full-time nursing jobs. In an effort to make ends meet, many newly educated nurses are having to accept work outside of health care - namely in the service-sector - serving coffee Tim Horton's doughnut shops or selling paperback books at Chapters. Sadly, it's their only employment option.

BC Nursing Crisis

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Ollie the Octopus

December 31st, 2010  · stk

In July, we caught a juvenile North Pacific Giant Octopus in one of our prawn traps. We took it back to the floating cabin for Alex to see. She named him "Ollie" and kept him as her "pet" for the afternoon. Ollie's story, with video, pictures and interesting facts about octopuses.

ollie the octopus

6-year-old Alex Meets an Octopus

One of the stories worth telling from Alex's summertime fun is the story about an octopus Alex named "Ollie".

The story begins as many of our more interesting stories do - at the floating cabin The Floating Cabin floating cabin barkley sound bc canada Picture of the floating cabin in the Barkley Sound. Located off the west coast of Vancouver Island and not far from the Broken Group Islands and the West Coast Trail. It's a wild, pristine wilderness area and wildlife abounds. Black bear, killer whales, sea lions, bald eagles, seals, sea otters, mink, cougar are among the inhabitants. There's oodles of sea food here too. Clams, oysters, prawn, crab, salmon, halibut, ling cod and snapper. It's an amazing area and we're lucky to be part-owners of this unique floating cabin. Click to learn more about the floating cabin (map, photos, etc). . The cabin is situated in the Barkley Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, very close to the Pacific Rim National Park. It's a wet and wild place, accessible only by boat and we love sharing it with family and friends. It was late July and Scott's folks were at the cabin. It was their second visit and they too, love the solitude, the wild nature and rugged west coast scenery.

We had taken the boat out to pull up our prawn traps, though Alex elected to remain behind at the cabin, on this particular trip. It's about a 10-minute boat-ride from the cabin to the traps and we usually check them several times a day, when we're prawning.

Pulling up prawn traps from the depths of the ocean sometimes yields sea creatures other than prawns. The most common of these creatures is also the least desirable - the dreaded slime eel About Slime Eels (Hagfish) pacific hagfish A slime eel isn't an eel at all, rather a very primitive fish called a Hagfish. They've been around for 550 million years. Because of their unusual feeding habits and slime-producing capabilities, the hagfish is often referred to as the most "disgusting" of all sea creatures. Hagfish have a sluggish metabolism and can survive months between feedings. However, hagfish often enter and eat the bodies of dead, dying or injured sea creatures that are much larger than themselves. Lovely, eh? More of nuisance to us, however, is the slime one of these "eels" can generate if agitated inside of a prawn trap. This slime encases the eel, the trap and the prawn and can take an hour or more to remove. An adult slime eel can secrete enough slime to turn a 20 liter (5 gal) bucket of water into slime in a matter of minutes. Yuck! Click the red-underlined link to learn more about Hagfish (Wikipedia) . This time, however, as Scott manually hauled up two traps from a depth of 250 feet, we noticed a reddish octopus in one of the traps!

Since Alex wasn't with us, we thought it would be fun to show her the octopus, so we carefully lifted it out of the prawn trap, put it into a pail of seawater and took it for a boat ride, back to the cabin. We were curious to see how Alex would react to this soft, eight-armed Cepholapod.

What follows is the story about Alex's encounter with an octopus, along with some interesting facts, video and pictures of these amazing and intelligent sea creatures.

Meet Ollie the Octopus

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Updated: 7-Jan-2011
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