Friday, April 17, 2009

Earth Day Celebrations Post#2

In celebration for Earth Day (please see my previous post) Starbucks is promoting a social responsibility incentive to everyone in Winnipeg! (and many other cities too)
Want to try the new Pike Place Roast Coffee?
Great! So do I!
Want to try it for free?
Great! So do I!
Here's how it works.... On April 22nd,2009, stop in at any Starbucks in the city with a refillable coffee cup. They will fill your cup with the new Pike Place Roast coffee, absolutely free! Just for doing your part on Earth Day. I will probably stop by about three times that day, but what a deal! My hat off to Starbucks for doing this for us on this day. Every other day, thereafter, if you bring in your own cup, they will take 10 cents off your purchase as an incentive to not use paper cups. Read more about Starbucks and Earth Day here.

Now, you may be wondering "Why the big deal? It's only coffee." True, it is coffee, but have you PAID for a Starbucks coffee lately? It isn't cheap, and it can run you upwards of $5.00 if you get one of those fancy, dancy, Frappacino-Cappacino-Mocha-Chai blends my wife gets all the time.

The big deal is that they are promoting fair and ethically traded coffee and bringing up this touchy subject so that you can't ignore it. It's hitting you straight in the face. Starbucks is one of the largest coffee chains that does support fairly traded coffee. Now, not all of their coffees are fairly traded, but their goal is to have all of their coffee stamped with the fair trade label some day. You can help make sure that this becomes a reality by asking them to brew any fairly traded coffee when you walk into any Starbucks. They will not ever say no to you.

So what is fair trade? I'm glad you asked! Here is a bit of insight into the people making the money and the people doing all of the work. This may surprise you!

Agriculture is a big business. This should be good news for farmers, but not for small scale farmers in developing countries. Most farmers work their small plots of land, isolated from markets. By the time their goods are actually sold, the many middlemen (each with their hand out) take most of the profit before it actually reaches the people growing it. Fair trade makes sure the people doing all of the work are compensated "fairly" and in this way, can provide for themselves a dignified livelihood.

So what does this all mean to you? It may mean nothing except a great way to get a free cup of coffee, and, HEY! That's okay. But if you are so inclined, please read more about Fair Trade, and educate yourself a little about the world that we are so sheltered from in this beautiful land called Canada!

Read more about Starbucks Shared Planet commitment!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nuclear Stress Test

Today I had my 2 part nuclear stress test. For those of you who do not know what this is, it is a test that measures blood flow to your heart muscle at rest and during stress. It is performed similar to a routine exercise stress test but provides images in addition to electrocardiograms. Let me expand a bit on this.

During a nuclear stress test, a radioactive substance is injected into your bloodstream. This substance mixes with your blood and travels to your heart. A special scanner — which detects the radioactive material in your heart — creates images of your heart muscle. Inadequate blood flow to any part of your heart will show up as a light spot on the images — because not as much of the radioactive substance is getting there.

About eight years back, I was under a ton of stress at my job and at work, and I went to the doctor complaining about chest pains. He ordered a routine stress test at that time. Turns out that there were small incidentals in the EKG that the specialist didn't like and ordered a new set of tests. I never received the notices in the mail.

Fast forward to 6 months ago, when we renegotiated out mortgage, our banking institution assured us that nothing would change and we would be able to renew our mortgage, with the negotiated rates, etc,etc. Turns out that the bank found out about this incompleted test and refuses to insure our mortgage until this test is complete.

The day finally came when I am to do the test. I am pumped and want this over and done with. The call me aside and explain to me that the camera is broken and is going to take a week to get repaired. We will have to reschedule. Man! I can't believe it. That's okay. I take advantage of this time to do more aerobic excercises and get ready for the fateful day so that I at least won't collapse on the treadmill.

Four weeks later, we got the message in the mail. We are scheduled for the Victoria Gerneral hospital for two days in a row. First day was a day for rest. I couldn't have any caffiene for 24 hours prior to these tests nor any food for 5 hours before hand. It was a piece of cake. The injection was given to me on time, and I was told to go and get something to eat and drink (caffiene was still a no no). An hour later they put me under this huge camera as I lay flat on my back on a camera bed. The bed moved me under the camera where images were taken for 20 minutes. Hardest part of this was I could not talk, cough, clear my throat, or fall asleep during the test. I had to remain absolutely still taking shallow breaths. I don't know about you, but if someone tells me I can't do something, for the next 20 minutes I lying there trying not to do it!

The next day, same routine except this time, they are injecting me with the radioactive substance while my heart is working at its my case, 152bpm. I was kind of concerned about the fact that they were injecting me with this radioactive "tracer", but that was also not an issue. Apparantly you receive about the same amount of radiation from a Nuclear Medicine test as you do from a diagnostic x-ray. On with the story.

Turns out that the substance didn't pass quality control and they had to make a new batch at the Health Sciences Centre. As they prepped me (IV and shaved my chest for the sticky electrodes), and got me all hooked up, the substance walked in and they tested it okay. Now the fun part, the treadmill. All I can say is I'm glad I used those three weeks to get ready for it. Man, am I out of shape. I didn't do too bad though. After all, I was running on an empty stomach and nothing to drink for over 24 hours. Then it was a repeat of the rest test.

All in all, it was not an unpleaseant experience. The staff as always, are absolutley incredible, friendly and professional. Now I just have to wait 2-3 weeks for the results and I can leave this chapter behind me! If you ever had any questions regarding this test, I hope I have answered them all and helped alleviate any pre-test jitters.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Earth Day is a comin'

Wow! Is this turning out to be a big deal or what? I thought I really was in tune to this kind of thing. I'm fairly technical savvy, I am always trying to do my best to recycle, reduce, reuse.....but Earth Day? I knew of it, but I know little of it. Did you know that the first earth day started on April 22, 1970. More than 6 million Canadians join 1 billion people in over 170 countries in staging events and projects to address local environmental issues. Nearly every school child in Canada takes part in an Earth Day activity. Earth Day is celebrated annually around the globe and is the largest, most celebrated environmental event worldwide. That being said, I set out to find out exactly what festivities were happening in my home town of Winnipeg.

The biggest event I have seen so far is this one:
Come and hear speakers from the University of Manitoba and the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance talk about green cities and geothermal energy. There will also be displays featuring Climate Change Connection, Ten Thousand Villages, MPI, and an E-Waste Depot in the parking lot area. This is happening at my home church, St. Mary's Road United, 613 St. Mary's Road, from 7:00PM -10:00PM. I will definitely be attending this one.

One group in our community is offering a waste drop off. The announcement is as follows:

Earth Day is on Wednesday, April 22nd. I am pleased to inform you that Investors Group, 1345 Waverley is hosting an Earth Day E-Waste Drop Off. If you have any electronics equipment that you want to dispose of, instead of throwing them in the garbage, please bring them to our office between 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM. We will have a drop off site set up in our front parking lot. Items accepted are as follows:
Ø Computer monitors
Ø Desktop computers
Ø Laptop computers
Ø VCRs / Stereos
Ø Phones / Cell Phones
Ø Scanners / Copiers / Fax Machines
Ø Microwave Ovens
Ø Rechargeable batteries
For more details, please call (204) 489-4640 Location: 1345 Waverley Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba (the corner of McGillivray Blvd. & Waverley Street) Please tell your neighbors, friends, and relatives. This is open to everyone!

All in all, I'm almost disappointed by the lacklustre performance of my home town celebrations...unless I'm missing something? If you know of other events happening here in Winnipeg please let me know. Meanwhile, I'm going back to living green as long as I can and as much as I know how.