Royalties on Alberta Oil Sands

For those of you who haven’t caught wind of this, Alberta’s in an election again. It’s a fairly depressing event, as I’m realising that I’m actually having to consider the Less of Two Evils and lean towards the incumbent PC just to avoid the potential idiocy of the upstart Wildrose.

Anyway, one topic that’s come up a few times is the issue of royalty rates that companies pay to extract oil from the oil sands. The NDP (who’ll never see office in this province) want to raise the rates, the Liberals waffle, and both the PC and the Wildrose are adamant that the rates not change. It got me to wondering: are our rates even remotely fair?

To paraphrase Adam West’s Batman: To the internet!

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Renovating: a word on LED lighting

For our renovation project, one thing we decided to do was take the leap to using LED-only lighting. This is a trend we started a couple of years ago, just as commercial LED bulbs were really coming available. It’s something we strongly believe in, and something I think everyone should consider.

Are they cheap? No. A standard incandescent bulb is easily 10-50x cheaper. A compact fluorescent (CFM) bulb at least 10x cheaper. Halogen (usually) gives off more light. And you’re still a little limited on options in terms of dimming and colours, and so forth.

So why do it? Because you should.

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The failure of the electric car

In our Inconvenient Truth world, popular desire is starting to change the way some companies think. We’re seeing large companies produce “green” products, such as biodegradable detergents, packaging from recycled plastic, and tables made from recovered wood. We’re asking our service providers to show us how they’re working to reduce their output, through paperless billing and electronic messaging.

A few years ago, the “hybrid” car was introduced, a shining new example of how to make vehicles more efficient, and spawned a new movement of environmentally-aware manufacturing. Today, Nissan stands ready to finally release the first mass-market all-electric vehicle, amping up the competition to become the centre of the environmentally-friendly transportation universe. I, for one, welcome the arrival of the electric car, long overdue from formal acceptance in North America. At the same time, however, I also curse its arrival because it doesn’t actually address a primary problem.

The electric car strives to perpetuate a bad idea: that we all need a car.

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17 things I hate about Costa Rica

I don’t mean to have a longer “hate” list than I do a “love” list, but when you come to a new country, you have to expect a number of things to bug you. Sadly, I’ve ended up with a few more than I’d like. But that’s okay. It’s expected, and it’s part of adjustment to a new home. Still, they make me long for Canada, where I find these things don’t bug me as much.

(Though it might be fair to say that some of them would bug me pretty much anywhere.)

And just so you know, I’m not speaking out as a disgrunted ex-pat who wants to bitch about how this country isn’t conforming to me. I’m the one who needs to conform, and there are things I simply have to accept. Some of these things are purely my points of view, and are probably things that most Ticos don’t mind, and might even like.
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Calgary Transit Sucks

I was having a discussion with Doug down in the Bistro this morning, and I came to a rather interesting realization: Calgary Transit sucks.

Let’s have a realistic view, here. Calgary is the third or fourth largest city in Canada. We’re over a million people (we recently had our one millionth baby, but I suspect we’re actually well over that number in population). We have a massive city by area because Calgary hasn’t quite figured out that we should be building up, not out.

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