Food Insecurity in Developing Nations

My friend Taylor, over at her blog has been doing some studies that I would like to highlight here to hopefully reach a wider audience.

I feel that global environmental, and human rights issues are valid on any platform, so I will discuss them here.

Today I will tackle food insecurities, which are a pretty damn essential part of all of our lives. Were talking the security to go the grocery store and find food in there, and food that we actually have the money to pay for.

Us in North America, at least most of us, are fortunate enough to be able to get into our cars, drive to the closest market, which by the way there are at least half a dozen to choose from, put .25cents into the buggy to push around our green machine to fill up with whatever catches our eye for consumption.

In other developing countries, however, this isn’t the case. It is estimated that in the last two years staple crops like rice have tripled in price mainly due to oil. Transporting, farming, reaping, and delivering are all elements that require the precious oil. With this crisis increasing in scale, it is estimated that an additional 75-100 million people have been pushed into poverty and food insecurity, which isn’t a good statistic at all.

To me its incredibly sad that the USA spends billions of dollars on their war efforts, when they could be fighting a better humanitarian cause and peace. Although, I have just looked up the stats on the Department of State Budget records , and it does look like in total the US is contributing around $1.5 billion USD towards International Organizations and an additional $1.5 billion USD in contributions to various International Peacekeeping Activities. It seems all the number are coming up around $1.5 billion USD however, as they are spending another $1.5 billion USD on USAID operating expenses. Thats one hell of a budget if you ask me. Somebody talk to my boss about this..

Apparently, however, agriculture only receives about 4% of this foreign assistance from the USA, which is matched by most other countries around the world with such funds.

Her classmates and her did some research on an organization called ACDI/VOCA which uses value chain analysis to understand the private sector development in emerging economy settings to jump start economic growth and poverty reduction. I know, its a doozie. Go here to understand more about her project, and to gain more knowledge of the crises our less fortunate brothers and sisters around the world are facing.

Dragonette – Surrey Canada Day Celebration

Seeing Dragonette in Surrey for the ‘Biggest outdoor Canada Day Celebration in Western Canada’ was kind of weird.

Photo Credit to John Bollwitt

To me, it seemed like a lot of the people were there for the fair rides, or decided with the family that it was a good day to go out and socialize at the outdoor party on this particular Thursday.

But, none-the-less, Dragonette made me smile the second they stepped onto the stage, until long after they left.

I have previously reviewed their latest album, Fixin To Thrill, here, which in my mind is absolutely killer.

The guests I brought with me to the free concert in Surrey hadn’t been introduced to Dragonette as of then; needless to say, they left fans.

Photo Credit to John Bollwitt

The band came out, with the casual splendor a band getting big carries with them, exclaiming: “We’ll start as soon as Martina gets here.” I’m curious if they are starting or have always carried giant ego’s necessary for rock/pop stars… I waited patiently, which wasn’t long.

Martina’s singing was spot on for nearly the entire show, clearly showing that they were a professional well-trained band, which I was very happy to see. Some of the songs, some of the transitions and swings Martina must go through with her voice-box are truly magnificent, which is mainly the reason why I love this band so much. Her body movement on stage is what sets her and her band into a category all in its own. Yes, young pre-teen fellows were all around me, dropping their jaws.

Photo Credit to John Bollwitt

Martina mentioned at one point that they were going to do a world premier of a song, which was the only song that I didn’t feel she had down perfectly. I think she knew this, and was a bit nervous, which you could hear it in her voice, and see in her movements. Have you ever felt that feeling where you’re a little unsure, so you don’t put forth 100% because your nervous such effort would amplify your errors? The song did have a weird beat, and even weirder transitions, but did have a nice chorus. I am interested to hear it soon on their next album.

In all honesty though, this was the perfect venue to tackle a new song at, most of the people there probably hadn’t heard of her before. I’m happy somebody in the planning of Canada Day has though, it made my Canada Day a great one!

My only regret of the event was that I didn’t get myself a media pass so I could take photographs from sweet locations, they looked stunning up there.

Photo Credit to John Bollwitt

Spring Time : Cherry Blossoms Are Here

I’m listening to Two Sisters, by Tom Waits. Some of his stuff just rocks me to my soul, but this one in particular makes me think of the old west when I was a young lad (no, really I was never involved), but it makes me remember a time when men wore dress pants every day, top hats were in fashion, and so were mustaches.

But most of all, this time makes me think of the spring time. How there is always a hope beyond all recognition that things are going to start looking better, but still one knows that tomorrow will come and drag on just as the last have come. Thats ok though, because we did, and do have cherry blossoms to keep our spring time hopeful.

They just look so beautiful all over the place, sticking out against the cold grain of the leaf-less brothers and sisters out there.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how cities and citizens decide that its in their best interest to chop down trees everywhere. This, without a doubt, makes me feel sad for what we have lost in our expansion as a society. Today I went for a hike today, in support of WildNed through the woods, which just brings back so much feeling of health and wealth that is beyond any currency that exists. The fact that we chop down all our trees to put up concrete is understatedly sad.

A house just around the corner from where I live, was for sale and gated up for the longest while, but finally did sell. So, what does the new owner do as a first priority? He chops down the row of trees that spanned the entire length of the lot side to side, must have been about 20ft tall those trees, most about 2ft apart.

Keep our trees, keep our nature, keep the earth so that tomorrow I can go out for a walk in it and see flowers blooming and children playing in the fields. Please join my fight in stopping people from cutting down old trees on their properties just because the insurance company says its a risk, and it’ll save you $20 a month on insurance.

Besides, they help us all breath!

Bennigans Dinner, Miami

Tonight I went for dinner at a place called Bennigans, thats right next to the Miami International Airport, conveniently located right next to the hotel I’m staying at tonight. To be to the point, I was very disappointed.

First off, on the menu, they have a picture of a full pint, with big arrows pointing at how regular pints fill up to ‘this’ certain line, but theirs fill up to ‘this’ certain line. We received a pint that was about the size of a glass you usually get in a hotel room in a plastic wrapper. Very unimpressed. The folks took a lot of offence to this, egged on by me, they complained, and we eventually got a 1/3 or so of the mug filled up to make up for the lacking pint. Sure, this is alright, but seriously now. If your a manager of a restaurant, and somebody complains about their pint being pint sized, and you know that the flyers are lying, not to mention that you’ve watered down the pints, do you not give them a full, complimentary pint? I would. But then again, its a restaurant thats besides the airport, which means very few returning customers, and the staff seemed about the ‘just graduated’ age. So, I guess things are becoming more clear.

We sit around, me finally with my bottled bear (a buddy of mine once said: “I always get bottles of beers because each one is especially brewed for you”. I now see his point.

Dinner is served. Let me first say that it was tasty, yes. How can a beef dinner not be tasty smothered in gravy? yai. SO I will not fuss further about the meal. No, wait, I will.

My meal was beef soup or something like that, which was basically chuncks of beef mixed with some red potatoes. Yum. yes, yum. But the side they gave me, was mashed potatoes. Red Potatoes. Kinda odd no? I did, as it said on the menu, have a choice between about 8 other sides (substitute the mashed red potatoes for them) but, I did in fact receive a caesar salad to start with too. So, it wasn’t anything I couldn’t deal with. But really, its odd to be smothering your potato chunks with mashed potatoes…. If you ask me.

So the fellow that was serving us did have some fast service, and he humbly and care-ingly accepted the complaints we put forth. But, at the end of the day, what is a tip for? Service, enjoyment, the whole experience? Yes I think so. So, at a place like this, where we were very unpleased with a few things, but satisfied with a few other things, how do you decide?

We found out, that a gratuity was already automatically added onto the bill for us, at 15% so we didn’t have to debate how much to tip. I didn’t like this part of the whole deal. Tipping is for service thats already known to be very good, at a place thats very classy and only really rich people go there. This place was more like a run down Red Robins, or a Chucke Cheeses. I was very unimpressed with this little fact that was added on the bill. Automatic gratuity. We should have definitely raised a lot more stink there than we ended up raising, but let it be known from here on forth, I, or we, will never again visit a Bennigans.

The end.

Golden Corral – All you can eat buffet

So yesterday I had the good fortune to experience some of the fine dining down here in Miami, and what a treat I was in for.

When we rolled into the parking lot, the first area of parking we hit, we decided to stay clear of it cause there was a group of people with their hood, trunk, and a few doors open. Can you say a robbery? The next area we drove into there was a couple in a Neon changing their babies diaper. How cute.

Into the Golden Corral. I suppose we should have been horrified immediately by the fact that the lineup for the steaks was about the line up you could expect for a super bowl halftime bathroom lineup, and of the lineup, I think it would have been hard to find two people that were not extremely overweight, yes most women had spandex on and most men had cutoff t-shirts. What amazed me most was the hair most of the women had. Some of the most amazing feats of hair composition I’ve ever even imagined to see. It kind of reminded me of the pages you see like “people of wall-mart” where you see grown men in batman costumes etc. yai.

We squeezed ourselves into the seating, where we had to ask around how to begin eating. Found some plates and attempted the all you can eat buffet. I turned my head as I watched a few people using their hands to poke and pick at some of the food as they waited in line for their steaks, and continued onto the salads to get myself a nice chicken ceasar salad. It was very decent.

Yes, I did wait in the linup for a steak. Yes, the kind lady in front of me called the griller doing the steaks ‘darling’. Yes, I did get a dessert: one slice of chocolate cake, and one slice of apple pie. Yes, there was food all over the ground getting stepped on. Yes, I did see an extremely fat man wearing sweat pants and grease stains included. And yes, I did work out this morning.

What amazes me the most is that people like the lady beside us, she managed to, on her first pass, get one steak on her plate, plus a side dish for another steak, which she lavished over. Her husband also went up to get a dish, and brought himself back a steak and his wife another steak. When we were leaving, she had three steaks, which were each about 10o oz. steaks each, and one on her plate. Seriously? Yes, I’m totally serious. And it wasn’t just her. Everybody around us was going  up for their 4th and 5th plates, drinking their sodas.

You know what though, I feel kind of bad for judging these folks. In the most part, every single one of them seemed to be in a jolly mood, giggling and laughing to each other, having a gay old time at the Golden Corral. Who couldn’t with all that food in their bellies though?

I just wish I could be able to bring a first date to a place like that up in Vancouver!

Disgruntled Student

SO, I just got back one of my midterms, yai. How much fun. It was one of those midterms that you write, and your like, YEA! I killed it! BUT, as it turns out, I didn’t kill it so much. I, more or less, bombed it. Uhm. Ok.

Disgruntled as I was, I packed up my smart cap, and went to the professors office to check out the exam, see if I could find why I’m such an idiot, or snap on the TA for marking my paper so stupidly.

When I arrived there seemed to be some fellow in their asking questions galore, going over question by question the assignment, a few hours before its due, thinking this is a normal thing. Poor professor if that’s the case. They beckoned me in, said it was all good: enter the cave.

I take a seat at the only seat available, for some reason this fellow was on his knees, and wait until the professor asks me if he can help me. “Why yes of course! I’m here to look over my exam that I bombed.” It was kind of interesting because at the start of last lecture, he mentioned that the entire class average was incredibly high, and that we shouldnt expect the exams to be this high for the next two. Ohk, great. I hadn’t looked at mine yet, but I saw high 90’s in my mind.

First thing I find, was that I had about 15 giant arrows pointing at the page to the left, for the extra space I needed to complete the question, and the TA decided to go to the right, to the page at the reverse side and mark the question there. I guess Mr. Marker didn’t’ think it was odd that what they were marking had nothing to do with the question … Had 1/20, complained and got 20/20.

Next thing I find, is that I apparently wrote something a little bit hard to understand. Although, in what I had stated, there was no statement that was contrary to the definition that I was supposed to have, in fact, I stated everything that there was to be stated, just in a weird way I guess. Did I mention that his questions on exams were a little bit hard to understand? No. But, I did manage to squeeze out another 3 marks from him: Had 6/12, got 9/12.

I’d like to take a moment here to point out that in an exam, were allowed to ask the teacher of anything were a little bit unclear of in the question, so why the hell arent they made to ask us about answers we give that they are unclear about? I think this is one major flaw of having classes that range in the hundreds.

Next thing I find, is that a definition called for set theory, where as I gave just variable theory. Which in turn means that set theory is written as P(x) -> Q(x), where just variable theory would be written as p -> q. So, I wrote out the exact definition, just that I used p’s, instead of P(x)’s. Had 8/12, got 8/12. My complaining wasn’t useful here.

Thats bunk if you ask me. Witch hunt. Your telling me that your going to drop me from lets say a A to a B just because I used p’s instead of P(x)’s?  And because, even though I’m fluent in english, and was forced to regurgitate some law or rule that was thrown at us, among with a few hundred more I might add,  I cannot a. remember it verbatim, and b. I cannot spew it out in completely readable english  your going to drop my grade?

I think this is total and complete taking advantage of your power, and laziness in the meantime. I should make a point here that I know as a fact that at least 2/3 of the markers are not very fluent in English.

Caribbean Cruise Line Scam

Caribbean Cruise Line onboard the SS (MS) Bahamas Celebration is a Hoax

Recently I was contacted by a survey firm, and the reward for the survey was a free cruise. I know, this sounds oddly like a too good to be true story, and I should have realized this as soon as it happened, but the lesson was yet to be learnt.

After completing this quick survey, I gave them my email address where they forwarded me a sample voucher of the free cruise: all things ok so far. I was told that I would be contacted within 72hrs with further details on the cruise and thanked for my time.

So, about 4 days later or so, I got a call from this firm Caribbean Cruise Lines. Again, I should have suspected something was odd when first off, when I was talking with this guy, he would sometimes, right in the middle of me explaining something he asked me the question to, go talk to somebody else, and I would have to repeat myself.

Ok, I can handle that. I asked him all the questions in the world, hummed and hawed, and was told that this offer wouldn’t be available to me in the future, and that I couldn’t think about it and phone them back, I had to put the money down, they quoted me $59.00 for the first two passengers to reserve, and for two it was $118.00 total. They put a limit saying I must have at least 2 passengers, and no more than 4. Ohhhk, this was all fair, I guess, since I was planning on doing this anyways. The money, I was told, was to pay for the port taxes and to reserve a space on the vessel, and also that I had three days to get my money back.  Ok, whatever, they didn’t stipulate this when I was told it was going to be a free cruise. The odd thing, I felt, was that I had to put the money down right then and there. I looked on their webpage: ( and ok, they claimed Carmen Electra was their spokes person. Does that make things legitimate then? Shame on Miss. Electra.

I viewed the page, looked at the privacy policy and checked out everything, things seemed to be official. One line I clearly missed “5. Recipient is responsible for actual port charges and government taxes of $59 per person at time of booking. These charges are non-refundable. “ – now started the fun.

So, I put down the money, and they took my visa and address and email and phone number and told me that I would receive my package within three days, and also that I’d get an email with more information on how to book my seat. They told me that there was no black-out dates, except between a few weeks in April that were of no concern to me since I would be using it within a month or so (February).

Three days later, I hadn’t received even a confirmation email, no nothing, so I phoned the number they had given me and tried to see what I could get. They told me when I told them the time I wanted to go, without any hesitation, that the dates I wanted to go were not available for the price class of room I won, and paid for already (not much of a free winning is it?). My only options for the time would be to upgrade for $350.00 to either a better room, or a 4 day cruise package… Right.

I was now getting mad, and disturbed, which further elevated my previous skepticism about this company or ‘sweet deal’ as they kept trying to tell me.

I asked for my refund “please”. They told me the only way to get my money was to a) resell the package to a friend, or b) they could extend the voucher for another 24 months, so I’d have 3 years to give them $350.00.

Needless to say, I didn’t approve of either of these options, was furious at the scam that I had been dragged through, but glad that I wasn’t out the full $500.00 it would have taken me for this FREE CRUISE package. I am hoping that what I write here today will open any one’s eyes up to similar situations, or even other deals that this company tries to offer. I suspect they get enough suckers like me to employ about 6 people, for I was in contact with probably all of them.

By the way, it has been about a week now, and I still haven’t received this package they promised me would be emailed as well as mailed to me.


This may or may not be related, but I’ve been getting calls from an unknown number, when I answer, they hang up and call me repeatedly. So, I did a bit of research and found that this company has a history, and its from a Imperial Majesty Cruise Lines, so I thought I’d link you all to this website that explains a bit more: 19543510087 .

God these guys are annoying. Just keep feeding the fire.

Fighting the Flu

A recent study has shown that giving yourself regular exercise will give you a stronger chance of fighting nasty flus or colds ( This makes sense, keeping your health levels up by exercise isn’t something new, although I did find it interesting they did it in mice…. I guess you cannot give this kind of test (infect humans with the flu) without major repercussions.

As anybody that follows what I write will know, I am a very big advocate of keeping healthy through regular exercise. This not only fights short term colds and flus, but it also works over the long term that stretches into your old age and promotes a long life. If your like me and am nervous about getting old, I use this as motivation.