February 16, 2008

Million Dollar 'trip'

Violinist Drops the Ball
Violinist David Garrett is called by some the "David Beckham of Classical Music" may have made a mistake as big as one of Posh's diamond rings, in other words big. After a concert late last year, David slipped and lost his balance and dropped is million dollar Guadagini violin. He bought the violin in 2003 for a price tag of $1 million (US). The violin was made in 1772 by Guadagini, who some speculate, was a protégé of the great Antonio Stradivari, maker of the renowned Stradivarius violins. They are not sure whether or not the violin can be mended, but David has the piece fully insured. But you'd think that if you had a million dollar one-of-a-kind violin you’d have that thing in a million dollar case as well. Good thing for Aflac though!
Have a great rest of the weekend!

February 15, 2008


Thoughts and Prayers
Another week and another round of shootings has plagued the country. This time in Illinois, a gun walked into a geology lecture and opened fire. The scary thing about this particular shooting was the lack of emotion as he opened fire on the crowd. This is another senseless tragedy involving innocent people and a physiologically challenged individual. One disturbing link with this and the Virginia Tech shooting of last year was that the gun dealer who sold the Vtech murder his supplies also sold supplies to the NIU murder. Now it is not this particular dealers fault, but eerie to think that this one store would be connected to two campus shootings. Words cannot soothe the pain that the families are going through, and my thoughts and prayers go out to them. Why can't we stop this senseless violence?

Rollin Down the Highway
On a lighter note to finish off the week, we look to Frank Oresnik's truck "old girl" passed the million mile mark last week. With camera men and NPR in tow, Frank passed the million mile mark on his way back home in southeastern Wisconsin. Frank bought the 1991 Chevy Silverado used in 1996 to use in his seafood and steak delivery business. The truck had 41,000 miles on it to start with and according to Frank the oil has been changed at least 300 times. Pretty impressive feat for the old American automotive icon. I wish Frank the best of luck in his quest for the next million miles. I doubt it will be in his old Silverado as Chevy and Shell oil have requested to purchase the truck. Nows the time to cash in Frank...just cash it in!

February 14, 2008

GOAT Valentines Day

You Fixin My Chocolate Fix?
Today is the "loveliest" day of the year. Romeo's are running around at the last minute making dinner reservations, gathering cards, buying chocolate, and delivering flowers. Most people accept that flower prices will increase dramatically over the weeks leading up to "the big day." But now it appears that the heart shaped box with all those morsels that mama always said "You never know what ya gonna get,"may have been priced artificially high.

There have been recent raids on company headquarters of some of the largest food manufactures in the world. Allegations run that these companies were conspiring with each other to raise the price of chocolate worldwide. I do not doubt that with the rising cost of fuel and dairy products, the cost of chocolate will/should go up to meet these costs. But to conspire with each other to gouge their faithful customers really makes this a bitter bite to follow. It will be interesting to track in the next few days/weeks/months to come.

GOAT is Gone
No, I do not own a goat or did I lose a goat. The plot of grass in front of my apartment could not possibly sustain a goat, nor would the landlords allow such an efficient means of grass control to roam the property. I'm referring to the Greatest of All Time, Maurice Greene of the U.S. who announced he is retiring from track and field.

In a testament to how 3-sport centered the US really is, the passing of one of the greatest sprinters hardly made a blip on the radar screen. None of the major news outlets reported this story up front (that I know of). If someone great like Joe Montana, or Jordan, we would have had news press on this like crazy. But, unlike Europe, track and field is only an afterthought till the Olympics. Then it makes a brief appearance and is again forgotten faster than any sprinter alive.

Sprinters, however, are the diva's of track and field. They are some of the biggest braggers and sorest losers in the sport, modesty need not apply. They usually have a couple of good seasons with a marquee race or two and then, like a good thoroughbred, is put out to pasture. Mo Greene, though boastful at times, was consistent enough to back up his claim as GOAT, or greatest of all time, and I like consistent runners.

Maurice Greene, it can be argued, was one of the greatest sprinters to ever step foot on a track. His resume is impressive, with 5 World Titles, Olympic Gold in 2000, a Bronze in 2004. He also held the 100m world record, the 50m indoor record, and still holds the indoor 60m world record.
He has run under 10 seconds for the 100m 52 times, more than anyone in history. In the end though, it was the nagging injuries, of having legs so powerful and tightly wound, that ended Mo Greene career. Its a shame to see such grace and power succumb to the inevitable results of aging. Only time will tell to see if GOAT (also a tattoo on Mo Greene's arm) really was the greatest of all time!

February 13, 2008

Sand "Baggin" the Plastic Bottle

Paper or Plastic?
I have posted about plastic bags a couple of times (here and here) and am all for using less of the ubiquitous plastic grocery sacks. Whole foods made recent headlines about the elimination of all plastic sacks by Earth Day 2008. On a side note, "The Rouge" Whole Foods has not "totally" removed all plastic sacks as of yet, but most people were taking paper, not using bags at all, or buying the long use reusable bag that Whole Foods has available. But they still have those bags in the produce and bulk food isles still...

Developing countries are notorious for having the plastic shopping bag be a visible sign of poverty and disregard for the environment. Everything
in the market is in small plastic bags and like their western counterparts, discard the bag after consumption. Usually this means that bag ends up in streams, rivers, trees, and any other place plastic likes to accumulate.

Dominica did not escape this little bit of western living but a local company is providing these handy little "eco" reusable shopping bags to start to decrease the need for imported plastics. The bags run $15 EC Dollars (~$5.75 US) which is honestly a little steeper than I had hoped for but its not that bad. I just hope that locals will adopt and make it something they can be proud of. There has been positive outlooks on having a say in the proposed refinery, so I see this as a positive week for my favorite island in the Caribbean...Cool Man?

Speaking of bags and groceries, a Utah woman bags title as best bagger in America. It sounds like her family should be investigated by a congressional hearing as Erika Jensen's family has won the title two out of the last four years. Her sister is also a bagging champion. Basically she bagged the competition...ok that was bad...moving on.

"Eco" Water Bottles
I try to find the good in most situations and I will try to do so here as if I don't I will be a hypocrite. Most bottled water "manufactures" have switched to their "eco" water bottle that contains some reduced percentage of plastics needed to make the new bottles. This makes them 1.) consume less plastic initially for the creation of the bottle and 2.) it makes the bottle easier to crush and therefore recycle. Kudos for reducing their initial overhead and use of virgin plastics, but thats about the best I can give this industry.

Its crazy to these companies push its product as "healthy," when numerous studies have found that tap water (in most US cities) is superior to bottled water in terms of taste and supposedly purer water. Then throw in the new research that is coming out that basically any plastic product used for food can leach out some nasty chemical that may/may not cause a variety of illnesses, and cost (1 liter per day would cost around $1,000 - $1,500 for a year) bottled water just does not sound all that appealing.

I am a quasi-hypocrite in that I still have a couple of the disposable plastic bottles around for when I got out on runs (throw it in the car) and play some disc golf. I have been promoting Sigg and I actually do not "own" one yet, its in transit to my doorstep as we speak. I will soon be able to go disposable-free within the next couple of days between the uses of my Sigg and Nalgene bottles. I know I know, Nalgene bottles do leach chemicals as well, but you just can not beat their durability and ease of use. Still beats lugging around cheap disposable bottles right?

On a final note, the Sigg turns 100 this year and are celebrating with a new website profiling the company and its storied past. Check it out and pick up a bottle, I know that I can't wait to get mine!

February 12, 2008

Refining the Bling with Abe

Honest Abe is 199 today, so Happy Birthday to the first president of the U.S. to have a beard while in office. He's also the tallest president that we have had and he adores the penny. Which, starting May 12th is what you'll need if you want to buy those annoying 1 cent stamps to mail a letter. USPS announced that the price of stamps will go up another penny over the current rate of 41 cents. Luckily we can buy our Forever stamps and be done with these petty increases in postage. Ah the days when stamps were 29 cents...

Good news today that I first spotted on Steves Dominica Blog that the government is suspending its current plans to build a Venezuelan oil refinery on the island. The Prime Minister said that the public should be included in the debate and the total situation should be examined more closely. I think that the tourism boards public statement that I discussed the other day was a decent swing point in the process and hopefully this is a positive step. Lets hope that Chavez will not spew his Anti-American/ America is the Empire wrath on Dominica for taking a step back and looking out for itself and the resources that the tiny island does have. Anyways, as others and I have said, you can't have "The Nature Island" of the Caribbean and have your oil refinery too.

Finally to close out this exciting Tuesday, I have to ask the question...Do you Bling? So I feel bad for getting on Xango yesterday for selling people $40 bottles of "super" fruit juice. I send a small apology (though only a small one) to Xango as Kevin Boyd is catering to your inner star (and pocket book) with BlingH2O. I all honesty I shouldn't give this junk a bit of spin, but it just shows how much our culture is obsessed with "image" and consumption of high end stuff. At $40 a pop, the frosted bottles come with Swarovski crystals and are corked, just like wine. What a horrible idea and its seriously probably the water out of the guys bathtub. Seriously, who wants to lug around a corkscrew at the gym? Why not get creative and cover your Sigg water bottle with some eco bling...like dirt or something?

I can top this on the holy crap-o-meter. The Water Bank of America (WTF is that) is selling prepackaged ice cubes called IceRocks. Yes you read that correctly, prepackaged ice cubes. Here is what their website states:

"ICEROCKS® are secured, ready-to-be-frozen ice cubes made with high-quality spring water. These cubes, to be consumed within two (2) years, are hermetically packaged in disposable containers. ICEROCKS® uses a patented technology, providing a container of refreshing ice cubes that are pure and hygienic.
To enjoy the fresh taste of ICEROCKS® simply freeze, remove the plastic seal, and pop the ice cubes into your favorite beverage!"

Thanks to ecorazzi for showing us this wonderful idea. You have to check out the website because they totally try to spin their product in a eco-savvy/green/_______ (insert eco buzzword here) product. I do have to hand it to them for great marketing, but seriously, trays to make ice are like 35 cents. Better yet, most modern refridge/freezer units come with an ice maker. Seriously, prepackaged ice to go with your bottled water? What will they they think of next? Dehydrated water?

February 11, 2008

Munchie Mondays!

I am devoting all of today to food, partly because I'm sitting here kind of craving a chocolate bar or something sweet. Or as 50 cent tells me in one of his songs, he loves me like a fat kid loves cake! Forget 50 cent, I just want the cake!

You know the old adage that says if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Well have I got a product for you! Xango is a fruit juice company that bottles the juice of the Mangosteen fruit found in Malaysia. At $40 for a 750 milliliter bottle you'd expect this juice to cure cancer or something. Its big selling point is all about the antioxidants that are present in the juice to kill all them terrorizin free radicals.

I have not tried the juice, but at $40 a pop I don't think I will be doing it anytime soon. In lab studies, Xango contains about the same amount of antioxidants as cranberry juice but only half of that found in blueberry juice. I'm a big believe in killin them free radicals, but I believe that the power of the fruits come in the fruit themselves, not the processed and refined juices that most people consume. Pass me an orange...

Chocolate Room
The chocolatier Godiva is offering up a stay in an all chocolate room this Valentines day. For only $23 dollars or more you can buy a shot at winning a chance to spend a weekend in the all chocolate room in May. This really is a chocoholic (or a fat kid who likes cake) dream come true. Books do not contain words, but mounds of chocolate, chandelier and candles are all made of chocolate, even the artwork is edible. Sorry though, any thoughts of a romantic night by the fireplace (included) is off limits. The logs and mantle work are all made of chocolate.
The promotion is limited to just North America, so I apologize for all the international folks that were hoping for a chance at this. But hey, you still have Hershey Bars, oh wait, they are raising their prices by 13% this year...scratch that.
And finally I end with Dominica yet again. If you are unfamiliar with Dominica the economy of late has been decimated by the collapse of the banana industry. The short end of the story is that Chiquita (the US Banana company) decided that the small Caribbean banana market imposed on free trade laws.

Dominica and other small banana growing nations enjoyed preferential trading agreements with the EU and this provided a steady income for the majority of the population. I believe (I may be wrong) that around 2004-2005 the ruling was passed that the EU trading practice ran against the laws of the WTO and therefore the banana industry must be brought under the free trade agreements. This essentially allowed the industrial agriculture plantations on mainland central and south America to destroy, literally overnight, the banana industry on Dominica and in the Windward islands.

The latest appeal by the EU has failed and the EU is running out of options as it looks to maintain it tarrif policy and preferential trading agreements with the Caribbean. The damage is largely done however and unemployment on Dominica skyrocketed and the island is still trying to recover from this latest economic shock. It is unfortunate that the small farmers that free trade was "supposed" to help are the ones that suffer the most from the subsidized industrial farm machine. In a way you can blame the cheap Chiquita banana for bringing the possible oil refinery. Is it me or does this banana taste like gasoline?

February 10, 2008

Pinnacle Passes Obama Steamroller...

Back on the 6th I talked about the vile commercials that are/were being aired on the local stations on the Pinnacle Entertainment casino for here in "The Rouge." Luckily election day has come and gone and PINNACLE WINS! I did not care either way, but in an election (if I had voted) based purely on aesthetics, Pinnacle had the classier act. Good for you Pinnacle, make those boats pay. :-)

Barack stuck it to ole Hillary in the primaries/caucuses yesterday and I could not be happier. I should make my stance clear, I have nothing against women running for president. It will be a great point in this nations history when one finally does (please don't let Hillary) have its first woman president. Why do I not like Hillary or not want her as our president? If this is supposed to be the model democracy for the world to model (lots to be desired I know) then out of a population of 300 million, why is the wife of a FORMER president one of our BEST?? hopes for president? More and more we realize that you have to have some serious bank to finance a campaign and it almost (not always) means that with enough cash you can buy your way in. Plus of all the canidates, Barack has spent the least amount of time in DC and "appears" to not yet be infected with the Capital Hill bug. He still has a sense of what life really is like outside of D.C. So you can stamp it in the books...my ticket for '08 is Obama/________ (insert vice president here).

Finally to conclude this week I give you the king of the turtle pond I visited this weekend. I was going to go to a local community park here that is supposed to have superb trails and nature areas right in the middle of the city, but forgot my wallet, and could not pay the $2 fee to get in. Oh well...If you look closely, this smug little guy looks like he is sporting a mustache. I thought about PhotoShoping in a little french barrette and a small cigarette...but you just can't spoil nature!