Monday, January 31, 2005

Here's Johnny hilights

I was so naïve as a kid I used to sneak behind the barn and do nothing.

According to statistics, it's a lot easier to get hit by lightning than to win a Lotto jackpot. The good side is you don't hear from your relatives.

For three days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off.

Happiness is seeing the muscular lifeguard all the girls were admiring leave the beach hand in hand with the other muscular lifeguard the girls were admiring.

If God didn't want man to hunt, He wouldn't have given us plaid shirts.

The difference between divorce and legal separation is that a legal separation gives a husband time to hide his money.

The Surgeon General announced today the ultimate safe-sex product. It's called a Rubik's condom: By the time you've figured out how to use it, you've lost the urge.

When turkeys mate they think of swans.

There's a new invention: snap-on acne for people who want to look younger.

What's all this fuss about plutonium? How could something named after a Disney character be dangerous?

The Oscars are two hours of sparkling entertainment spread over five hours.

I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself.
CNE windmill declares first dividends
Besides clean energy it yields $32,000 for 427 investors
Project's planning was subsidized but the generator isn't

I. JOHN HARVEY
SPECIAL TO THE STAR

That giant three-bladed propeller at the Canadian National Exhibition hasn't quite gone from White Elephant to Cash Cow with the disbursement of $32,000 in dividends to investors, but it's a welcome breath of fresh air for alternative energy proponents.

About 100 of Windshare's shareholders got the good news during their annual general meeting last week at Walmer Road Baptist Church.

It was a fitting location because when the project was first discussed in 1997, mainstream opinion was that a profitable wind turbine didn't have a prayer.

David MacLeod, president of Windshare, told the group, the project has displaced about 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

It bills itself as North America's first urban wind turbine and is an "iconic," basically symbolic project, according to MacLeod who says it's also an attraction to many visiting delegations from other countries.

But it's paying. Among those getting cheques — $4 for each share owned — are the Daily Bread Food Bank and Foodshare, which will collect $4,000 each.

"An anonymous donor bought the shares and put them in those organizations' names with the idea that when the project was viable they would reap revenue from it," said MacLeod.

All told 427 investors collectively raised $800,000 to buy the initial 8,000 shares in the 750-kilowatt generator, which has now been running for just over two years.

While Windshare shareholders are getting a payment, the turbine at the CNE is 50 per cent owned by Toronto Hydro Energy Services, a Toronto Hydro subsidiary, in an arrangement where Hydro gets half the revenue from power sold to the grid but doesn't get dividends.

While Canada is far behind European adoption of wind power generation, it is making headway, said Robert Hornung of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA).

Last fall's Bill 100, which restructured the Ontario energy market, also set targets for alternative energy to contribute to the grid, he said.

"In fact we're suggesting the province should double the target of 2,700 megawatts by 2010," said Hornung. "We think 5,400 megawatts is attainable — about 10 per cent of demand."

Four companies were chosen to develop five wind power projects in Ontario, generating a collective 354.6 megawatts of green power:

Erie Shores Wind Farm, Erie Shores Wind Farm LP (Port Burwell), 99 megawatts.

Prince Wind Farm, Superior Wind Energy Inc. (Prince Township, near Sault Ste. Marie), 99 megawatts.

Melancthon Grey Wind Project, Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc. (Shelburne), 67.5 megawatts.

Blue Highlands Wind Farm, Superior Wind Energy Inc. (Blue Mountains), 49.5 megawatts.

Kingsbridge Wind Power Project, EPCOR (Goderich), 39.6 megawatts.

Large players such as General Electric have invested resources in designing and building wind turbines while other big corporate players such as Brascan, Suncor, Talisman, TransCanada Pipelines and Enbridge also bellied up to the bar and staked out their interests.

"We think we're more efficient than nuclear if you take into account all costs (such as disposal of spent radioactive material)," said Hornung.

And, despite perception that wind power is dependent on subsidies, the only government support program in place is a penny-per-kilowatt-hour—generated payment from the federal government for the first decade of a turbine's operation.

Studies show, as you might expect, that some locales are better suited to generate wind power than others.

"It's not that Ontario is an abysmal place for wind generation," said Hornung noting the GTA turbines at Pickering's Nuclear Power Plant and at the Ex run at about 30 per cent efficiency.

"It's that places like P.E.I. have fantastic potential."

While 30 per cent efficiency doesn't sound good compared to 100 per cent, the metric has more to do with the number of hours a turbine is producing power, said Hornung.

"If a turbine was running 24/7 for a year that would be 100 per cent efficiency," he said.

But variables, such as wind velocity and direction, maintenance and breakdowns mean no turbine can be that efficient.

P.E.I.'s projected 40 per cent efficiency seems slightly more than Ontario average of 30 per cent, but each percentage point more is actually a huge gain in hours online delivering electricity to the power grid, Hornung said.

A survey of Quebec found potential sites to generate 101, 000 megawatts of power, suggesting Canada's potential for renewable, non-polluting power generation has barely been tapped.

"You need high windy areas, on the coast, the Great Lakes or where the wind comes off mountains," he said.

Toronto's Windshare project has sold about two gigawatt hours to the grid — enough to power close to 280 homes for a year.

It was planned using funds from the city of Toronto and other government agencies, but the wind generator itself was bought by Windshare's investors.

MacLeod said the Toronto Atmospheric Fund has just kicked in $300,000 over three years to help TREC (Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative, a non-profit group associated with the for-profit Windshare) seek out a viable location for a 10 to 15 megawatt generator location, most likely in the outlying GTA. "But that money is an investment, not a grant," said MacLeod.

Meanwhile Windshare, which weathered a storm of uncertainty when its turbine manufacturer went brankrupt at startup, still faces challenges before annual dividend payouts are guaranteed. MacLeod said.

"We have to secure a service contract agreement at a viable price," he said.

"And we are hoping the government will announce that small generators like us can sell to the grid at a guaranteed price."

It's a model that works successfully in Europe, he said, allowing small players, farmers, small municipalities blessed with windy locations, to finance turbine construction and effectively project and manage costs.

Windshare — named organization of the year by the Canadian Wind Energy Association — is also waiting for the city of Toronto to patch up its rocky relationship with the Toronto Port Authority so it can proceed with a second turbine planned for Ashbridge's Bay in the east end. Already 200 investors have put $300,000 into a trust fund to finance that project.

OPG-Evergreen, which has its own bigger, 1.8 megawatt generator at the Pickering lakefront and a five-turbine farm at Lake Huron near Kincardine, is taking a backseat in the wind power game.

It was specifically excluded from the Request for Proposals to build alternative energy projects called for by the Ontario government last fall under Bill 100.

"OPG is now more focused on core business, our generating assets," said John Earl, OPG spokesperson.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

NBC TO BROADCAST ALL-STAR GAME FROM CALGARY

Jan. 19, 2005

The National Lacrosse League has announced a historic television agreement with NBC Sports that will bring the game of lacrosse to network television for the first time in the history of the sport.

The announcement was made today by Ken Schanzer, President, NBC Sports and NLL Commissioner Jim Jennings.

NBC will provide live broadcasts of the NLL All-Star Game and Champion’s Cup Final. The All-Star Game will be played on Saturday, February 26 at 2 p.m. ET at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta.

The Champion’s Cup Final will be played on Saturday, May 14 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

“We are thrilled to bring this action packed sport to a network audience for the first time in history,” said Schanzer.

“We’re excited to welcome NBC as a broadcast partner, and look forward to bringing the great game of lacrosse to a national network audience for the first time in its history”, said NLL Commissioner Jim Jennings. “It’s a great day for all who play, coach and support the great game of lacrosse.”

"We believe these broadcasts will provide a springboard for our league and for lacrosse," said Jennings, adding the NLL now has the opportunity to attract national sponsors with the NBC agreement.

"We think it will put a significant amount of money into the NLL coffers," said Jennings.

The move to NBC has created some changes for the All-Star Game. The game will now be played on Saturday February 26 instead of Sunday February 27.

The Roughnecks, who will host the event, will have a full program for the weekend solidified by late January.

"We're really excited about this opportunity to showcase the league, our team and our city," said Calgary Roughnecks VP Bob Poole. "Of course the change in dates will affect our plans but we still have every intention of putting together a fun, action-filled program that will make Calgary proud."

Friday, January 28, 2005

Martha Stewart living folds some divisions. -Crook should fold all of the biz-

Martha Stewart Living folds catalog, online sales

MICHELLE TSAI
ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK — In the latest attempt to revive its troubled business, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. is shedding nearly all its online and catalog operations, which have continued to lose money despite the boom in Internet retailing.

A note on marthastewart.com's shopping home page announced the company's final sale and directed customers to look for Martha Stewart products elsewhere.

The company will keep selling flowers through MarthasFlowers.com, a business it has outsourced to Provide Commerce Inc.'s ProFlowers unit for a revenue share.

Otherwise, Kmart Holding Corp. will be the only seller of Martha Stewart items online. Kmart has an exclusive agreement to sell Martha Stewart Everyday products, a separate line from the items on marthastewart.com.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia decided in August to wind down its direct businesses, saying its Catalog for Living couldn't meet profit plans for 2005. Marthastewart.com will center on how-to content and selling magazine subscriptions. Calls to the company weren't returned.

But the demise of the company's e-commerce arm comes as a surprise in a year of strong growth for online retailers. Online holiday sales hit $23.2 billion this year (all figures U.S.), up 25 per cent from last holiday, according to the eSpending survey by Nielsen/NetRatings, Goldman Sachs & Co. and Harris Interactive Inc.

"You'd think they'd be able to turn a profit there, given the growth in online retail," said Gary McDaniel, equity analyst at Standard & Poor's. "The only explanation is the execution hasn't been there."

The company's Web and catalog revenue were $6.2 million in the third quarter, down from $6.6 million the prior year. The company lost $2.7 million from its Web and catalog operations in the quarter, compared with a loss of $2 million in the third quarter of 2003. The company doesn't expect the fourth quarter to be any better, projecting revenue of about $6 million and operating losses of about $2 million.

The conviction of company founder Martha Stewart has hurt just about every part of its business. Sales of Martha Stewart Everyday products dropped 6.6 per cent at Kmart in the first half of 2004 compared with the previous year. Advertisers pulled out of its magazines, readership dropped and television networks stopped carrying the syndicated show Martha Stewart Living.

Martha Stewart Everyday products continue to sell well at Kmart, according to Caryn Klebba, a Kmart spokeswoman.

Without a catalog or Web business, Martha Stewart will rely even more heavily on Kmart for merchandise sales. "The only thing that (Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia) makes money on now is the agreement with Kmart," said McDaniel.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia reported $4.8 million in operating earnings from merchandising during the third quarter, but the company had a total operating loss of $16.2 million.

Kmart and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia have extended their merchandising relationship through the beginning of 2010. Kmart will pay a minimum royalty of $49 million for the year ending Jan. 31.

Despite its current losses, the company's prospects are improving. Stewart's new prime-time show with NBC in the fall should restore her image and drive advertising in her magazines as well as sales through Kmart, according to McDaniel. The merger between Sears Roebuck and Co. and Kmart has also boosted shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia from $12 to today's close of $30.93 on the New York Stock Exchange.

In the meantime, the company is planning to sit out on the growth in e-commerce. Some analysts say marthastewart.com may have been targeting the wrong audience altogether.

"The person who buys Martha Stewart is the Kmart shopper, not an online aficionado," said Dennis McAlpine, managing director of research company McAlpine Associates.

It looks like the company simply decided that the Internet retail space is too competitive, said McDaniel. "They've lost money on all those sales," he said. "I'm not sure how that's possible."

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Turner lost his mind, can't find it!

Turner Compares Fox's Popularity to Hitler

By Jim Finkle -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/25/2005 2:14:00 PM

Ted Turner called Fox a propaganda tool of the Bush administration and indirectly compared Fox News Channel's popularity to Adolf Hitler's popular election to run Germany before World War II.

Turner made those fiery comments in his first address at the National Association for Television Programming Executives' conference since he was ousted from Time Warner Inc. five years ago.

Click here!
The 66-year-old billionaire, who leveraged a television station in Atlanta into a media empire, made the comment before a standing-room-only crowd at NATPE's opening session Tuesday.

His no-nonsense, sometimes humorous, approach during the one-hour Q&A generated frequent loud applause and laughter.

Fox wasn't laughing, however. "Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network, and now his mind," said a Fox News spokesperson. "We wish him well."

Turner's comment came just days after another Nazi reference to Fox.

Gilmore Girls Executive Producer Amy Sherman-Palladino had some choice words for Fox's American Idol at a WB panel at the critics tour in L.A. Saturday. (Both shows air Tuesday at 8 p.m.) American Idol is like the Nazis marching through Poland," she said. "You just got to let them go. Get out of the way. We're kind of France going, 'You know, just don't burn down Paris, that's all we're asking.'" Asked by one of her shows' co-stars, Lauren Graham, if that was really the analogy she wanted to go with, Sherman-Palladino said that's how she saw it.

Among the other Turner highlights from Tuesday:

* On Fox News: While Fox may be the largest news network [and has overtaken Turner's CNN], it's not the best, Turner said. He followed up by pointing out that Adolph Hitler got the most votes when he was elected to run Germany prior to WWII. He said the network is the propaganda tool for the Bush Administration. "There's nothing wrong with that. It's certainly legal. But it does pose problems for our democracy. Particularly when the news is dumbed down," leaving voters without critical information on politics and world events and overloaded with fluff," he said.
* On TV news in general: "We need to be very well informed. We need to know what's going on in the world. "a little less Hollywood news and a little more hard news would probably be good for our society."
* On media consolidation:"The consolidation has made it almost impossible for an independent. It's virtually impossible to start a cable network." Broadcasters and programmers "don't want more independent voices out there. They own everything. That's why I went into the restaurant business. Either that or I'd work for a salary for one of the big jerks.
* The war in Iraq: "We've spent 200 billion destroying Iraq. Now we've got to spend 200 billion to rebuild it, if they'll let us -- and all to find a nut in a fox hole -- one guy," Turner said. "He posed no threat to any of his neighbors, particularly with us there with overwhelming military superiority." --"it is obscene and stupid"
* Why selling his company to Time Warner turned out to be a huge mistake: At the time he agreed to sell his company, "it was from a business standpoint the right thing to do." He owned 9 percent of the merged company, which "which got me some real serious respect." But after the company acquired AOL, Turner's stake in the new company was diluted to 3 percent. "Then I got the pink slip"
* Why it wasn't that huge a mistake: "I have a responsibility not to be too critical of my old company. It is a good company and I had a lot of experiences there. A lot of time things that are painful at the time they occurred turn out to be for the best."
* Ted Turner for President? "I'm too old and too burned out to take on that responsibility. I thought about it when I was younger. I don't know if I could have gotten elected or not. It would have been a lot of fun to do when I had higher energy levels."
* What he'll put on his tombstone: "I have nothing more to say."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

-Breaking News- Johnny Carson Dies

JOHNNY CARSON DIES
Former 'Tonight Show' host was 79

Johnny Carson, the "Tonight Show" TV host who served America a smooth
nightcap of celebrity banter, droll comedy and heartland charm for 30
years, has died. He was 79.

"Mr. Carson passed away peacefully early Sunday morning," his nephew,
Jeff Sotzing, told The Associated Press. "He was surrounded by his
family, whose loss will be immeasurable. There will be no memorial
service."

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Cost of mail going up.

Letters up a cent in Canada, 5 cents for mail sent abroad


Canada Post has increased the price of sending a domestic letter by one cent to 50 cents.

The hike, one of several announced last year, went into effect yesterday. Canada Post blamed them on "inflationary pressure."

In other postal rate increases:

Letters, cards and postcards up to 30g destined for the United States now cost 85 cents, up 5 cents.

Letters, cards and postcards up to 30g heading to other foreign destinations also rose 5 cents, to $1.45

The increases were based on the consumer price index from May 2003 to May 2004. Over that period, the CPI, which measures the cost of a representative basket of goods and services, rose 2.5 per cent.

By law, Canada Post can recoup up to two-thirds of the rise in the price index each year. Yesterday's one-cent increase is actually a 2.04 per cent rise, more than Canada Post would have been entitled to under that formula. But the post office said it did not raise postage prices as much as it could have last year.