Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Valentines Day

The Japanese have adopted our custom of Valentine's Day but have put a clever marketing spin on it. As with North America gifts of chocolate are given but the spin is that they are not given to only those you love!

Women in Japan give giri chocolate (obligatory chocolates) to their co-workers or superiors at work and honmei chocolate (for the ones they love).

"The concept of "giri" is very Japanese. It is a mutual obligation that the Japanese follow when dealing with other people. If someone does you a favor, then you feel obligated to do something for that person." Japanese About.com

The whole fiasco isn't over until a month later on White Day when the men reciprocate and give more expensive chocolates to the females in their office. White Day chocolate comes in white boxes and you can buy a white gift bag as an extra. On the whole a costly custom and according to people I talk to not entirely joyful.

Chavez Moves Toward Socialist State

Why Canadian Oil is hassle free.

".....The iconoclast Chavez is in the vanguard of Latin America's resurgent left, which that has also swept Bolivia and Ecuador with promises to roll back 1990s' free-market reforms that first brought companies like AES and Verizon to Venezuela.

The effort follows Venezuela's campaign over the previous two years to wrest control of its fields from oil giants like Chevron and boost taxes on their operations.

But Chavez may face a tougher fight to take control by May 1 of four heavy crude oil upgrading projects that turn tar-like crude into light oil operating in the Orinoco basin worth $30 billion that include investment from some of the world's largest oil companies.

Rex Tillerson, chief of Texas-based energy behemoth Exxon Mobil, on Tuesday expressed doubt the Orinoco projects could meet Chavez' ambitious deadline, especially since the government has not provided details on the planned takeovers.

"We are waiting on the government representatives to sit down with us and give us some of the details of what exactly is it their objectives are, how you migrate and offer compensation........"

Friday, February 09, 2007

Economists Stunned By Economic Figures

"Mind Boggling" employment figures for January were above and beyond economists expectations. In fact they were almost nine times higher than the 10,000 new jobs estimated. More to the tune of 89,000 Canadians found work in January alone.

"It is pretty incredible actually," said Carolyn Kwan, a senior financial markets economist at Scotiabank. "The job market has really been performing in a stunning fashion, having put forth upside surprises for five months now."

"Much of the growth was centred in the West, where Statistics Canada said British Columbia and Alberta produced 56,000 new jobs between them."

In British Columbia the jobs were mostly recreational due to favorable snow conditions. Alberta's jobs are full-time.

As Big As A Pizza

I just read that Canada is planning to mint a $1,000,000 coin. It will be "as big as a pizza and very heavy" not good for the pants pocket is it? I can't imagine who would use this thing although it would be quite fun to call up my realtor say, "I'll take 4 houses in Edmonton thank you" and hand him the coin of course he could keep the change. Although, by the time they finally get the thing minted and out to me I would only be able to buy 3 houses in Edmonton.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Febuary 3rd was the Setsubun holiday in Japan.

Setsubun is when people force bad luck and devils out of their homes. The common practice is to take soy beans and throw them on the floor while shouting, "Oni wa soto, Fuku wa Uchi " which means "Devil Get Out!", " Good Luck Come In!" Then you should eat your age in beans, of course not the beans you threw on the floor.

There are actually 4 Setsubun days throughtout the year but in recent times the February 3rd one is the most widely celebrated. This Setsubun is the last one before the start of the New Year so it is most imperative to bring good luck into your home for the new year.

In the past burning sardine heads and holy tree leaves outside the front door was a common way to deter evil spirits from entering the home.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Kyoto Accord

Recently amidst the reports of global warming, increased oil sands production and a noticably warmer winter in Japan (the cherry blossoms have started to bloom already in some areas) the Kyoto accord has been in the news almost daily.

I, in truth, know very little about the Kyoto Accord and looked on Wikipedia for a complete and detailed explanation of the Accord and its affect on our future.
This is from the Canadian subsection

" In 2005, the result was limited to an ongoing "war of words", primarily between the government of Alberta (Canada's primary oil and gas producer) and the federal government. There were even fears that Kyoto could threaten national unity, specifically with regard to Alberta. As of 2003, the federal government claimed to have spent or committed 3.7 billion dollars on climate change programmes.[20] By 2004, CO2 emissions had risen to 27 per cent above 1990 levels (which compares unfavorably to the increase in emissions by the United States of 16 per cent by that time).[21]
After January 2006, the Liberal government was replaced by a Conservative minority government under Stephen Harper, who previously has expressed opposition to Kyoto, and in particular to the plan to participate in international emission trading. Rona Ambrose, who replaced Stéphane Dion as the environment minister, has since endorsed some types of emission trading, and indicated interest in international trading.[22]"

"Under the Kyoto accord, negotiated and ratified by the Liberals over Tory opposition, Canada is committed to a six per cent cut in greenhouse emissions from 1990 levels by 2012.

Experts say the target is likely not achievable through domestic action alone, but could be met through purchasing credits in UN-approved emissions-cutting projects abroad. " Yahoo Canada
This means increased production in the Oilsands will not help Canada achieve the target by 2012 but through purchasing credits, new extraction technology and other means Canada could still meet the target through helping with other projects abroad.