Saturday, January 30, 2010

Beware Of This Fraudulent Email

Google Team
date Sat, Jan 30, 2010 at 12:19 PM
subject Unwanted Emails

hide details 12:19 PM (3 hours ago)

Gmail is built on the idea that email can be intuitive, efficient, and useful. And maybe even fun.

Now we are experience congestion and a very slow red, so we need you to verify your account by clicking the reply button and send your account domain below.
Google Team will be eliminating all unused/unwanted account causing red Congestion. Gmail is sorry for any inconveniency for all our regular Users. Send us your Domain Login below for verification.

Birth date:

Gmail Team

See Google Scam warnings

  1. I received a scam e-mail claiming to be from the Google Team. How ...

    2 posts - 1 author
    Now we are experience congestion and a very slow red, so we need you to verify your account by clicking the reply button and send your account domain below. Google Team will be eliminating all unused/unwanted account causing red Congestion. Gmail is sorry for any inconveniency for all our regular Users. ... -
  2. You Don't Say

    Now we are experience congestion and a very slow red, so we need you to verify your account by clicking the reply button and send your account domain below. Google Team will be eliminating all unused/unwanted account causing red Congestion. Gmail is sorry for any inconveniency for all our regular Users. ... - Similar -
  3. Port Chester Roundup: Account Warning

    Now we are experience congestion and a very slow red, so we need you to verify your account by clicking the reply button and send your account domain below. Google Team will be eliminating all unused/unwanted account causing red Congestion. Gmail is sorry for any inconveniency for all our regular Users. ... -
  4. Official Google Docs Blog: Upload and store your files in the ...

    And will it be possible to map it to a drive so that we can upload and download ..... Does Google Docs now, will be updated to handle all files types with new Google "storage" ... I enjoy Google Docs very much and this storage is great. ... Once the functionality is activated for your account, you will have two ... - Cached -
  5. WARNING: Google's Gmail security failure leaves my business ...

    Thank you so much, David – for sharing all of this with us, so that we can warn others! ... I haven't contacted GMail support, but will do so now. .... I would think that since he broke into your account to get the domain that it is a ..... which you obviously can verify, cause this Gmail hack is a common one. ... - Cached - Similar -
  6. Vulnerabilities and attacks posts - Security - Page 3 - CNET News

    4 Dec 2009 ... Red means danger. And orange offers plenty of risk, too. ... "Since more specifically narrowing down the cause we have been able to exonerate .... but type in your bank's Web address manually if you need to access your account. ... "What I can't foresee is whether networks will be so pervasive and ... - Cached - Similar -
  7. IEBlog : IE8 SmartScreen in action

    23 Nov 2009 ... Last week at PDC, as we were about to start talking to people about IE9, I saw the following notification from my Facebook account: From: Facebook ... In addition to IE running very slow on the client side (I recently wrote a JS ..... If you uninstall your junk addons, you will find IE8 plenty fast. ... - Cached -
  8. Windows Xp 100 Tips Tricks

    1 Jan 2002 ... You need to provide a login for this account as well. ...... You now have drive mapping buttons on your toolbar, so you can map drives from ... - Cached - Similar -
  9. Libsyn Support Blog

    Traffic Spikes causing slow downloads/ timeouts. We are experiencing some ..... We now need to make sure the stickies around our monitors have ..... If you have more media uploaded that your account will allow, you will be over quota again. ...... Red letter day in libsyn history. To celebrate, we bought it a new ... - Cached - Similar -

Rogers Hiking Prices On All Services- Money Grab

Do you feel that your telephone, TV or Internet supplier isn't playing fair with you?

Here are symptoms of a condition I call "telecom troubles," based on the fact that your provider's pricing can change at any time.

You switch from one home phone plan to another, based on a lower price, but you're hit with a price increase shortly after you switch.

You find that your Internet service goes up in price and your usage limits are reduced at the same time.

You complain about price increases and find you're not being heard.

Actions by all suppliers can bring on telecom troubles, but Rogers is moving ahead as it notifies customers of price increases for home phone and Internet service coming in March. Check out the following comments.

Doug Geddes: As a Primus customer, I was solicited last year by Rogers to switch to their home phone plan. I asked if this was a lowball price to get me to switch and it would increase later. I was assured it was not, so I switched. Now my monthly rate is going up almost 10 per cent, contrary to the verbal agreement I had. I sent two emails to Rogers and received boilerplate responses.

Ric East: I signed with Rogers home phone last November after being told that I was not getting a promotional rate. When I heard of the $3 monthly increase, I called the office of the president and said this was not acceptable. Customers should be guaranteed at least a year of service at the original price. They agreed and credited my account with $40.

Chris Rea: Rogers is raising the rate of my Internet service by 7.7 per cent and cutting my bandwidth usage allowance from 6 GB down to 2 GB. I can't believe they can reduce my service by two-thirds and also increase the price. Seriously thinking of voting with my feet, except I'm bundled on the cable TV and mobile phones. That's how they get you – lock you in, bundle you up and then hike, hike, hike.

Ashleigh Blackmore, Rogers spokeswoman: Rogers has recently made changes to some Rogers Home Phone and Rogers Hi Speed Internet plans. We regularly review our pricing and make changes after much careful and thoughtful consideration. As a business, we are doing everything we can to keep our costs down, while at the same time offering the quality of products that customers expect from the Rogers brand.

Bibi Sheermohamed: I've had Rogers Ultra-Lite Internet for years. I pay $25.99 a month, giving me usage of 60 GB. In March, I'll have to pay $29.99 a month and my usage will be reduced to 2 GB. My average usage is 20 GB, so I'll have to upscale. The next level is Lite at $35.99 a month. I thought that older plans were grandfathered.

Ashleigh Blackmore: Unfortunately, Mr. Sheermohamed falls into a small percentage of customers who regularly exceed the capacity allowance rate. Since a resolution has not been found to his satisfaction, Rogers has let him know that he has the option to move to any in-market rate plan for his selected services at any time.

Howard Maker, Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services: Our mandate does not extend to pricing, in the sense that we do not tell providers how much to charge for their services. But our mandate does extend to reviewing whether providers have met the terms of their contractual commitments to customers with respect to price changes.

What upsets consumers is that the providers write their own contracts, essentially setting the "rules of the game."

Ellen Roseman's column appears Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday morning humour...

A father walks into a restaurant with his young son.
He gives the young boy 3 nickels to play with to keep him occupied.
Suddenly, the boy starts choking, going blue in the face.
The father realizes the boy has swallowed the nickels and starts slapping him on the back.
The boy coughs up 2 of the nickels, but keeps choking.
Looking at his son, the father is panicking, shouting for help.
A well dressed, attractive, and serious looking woman, in a blue business suit is sitting at a coffee bar reading a newspaper and sipping a cup of coffee.
At the sound of the commotion, she looks up, puts her coffee cup down, neatly folds the newspaper and places it on the counter, gets up from her seat and makes her way, unhurried, across the restaurant.
Reaching the boy, the woman carefully drops his pants; takes hold of the boy's' gonads and starts to squeeze and twist, gently at first and then ever so firmly.
After a few seconds the boy convulses violently and coughs up the last nickel, which the woman deftly catches in her free hand.
Releasing the boy's gonads , the woman hands the nickel to the father and walks back to her seat at the coffee bar without saying a word.
As soon as he is sure that his son has suffered no ill effects, the father rushes over to the woman and starts thanking her saying, "I've never seen anybody do anything like that before, it was fantastic. Are you a doctor?"
'No,' the woman replied ... I'm with Revenue Canada.'

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wake up to real issues, TTC sleeper tells public

The snoozing TTC fare collector who has become the poster boy for a struggling transit system and the Internet's latest viral sensation says people need to "wake up" to the fact that there are more important things going on in the world right now than his sleeping habits.

"When you knock Haiti off the front page you know something's wrong," said George Robitaille, a veteran TTC employee, referring to the Toronto Sun's Friday cover photo showing him dozing on the public dime with his mouth open, head back and arms folded over his belly. "You know, I think our priorities are a little mixed up here."

The photo, taken by Jason Wieler as he passed through the McCowan LRT station on Jan. 9, went viral on the Internet Thursday after Wieler posted it to Twitpic.

In a matter of hours, Robitaille became a target for both the wrath of discontented TTC riders and the delight of photo-shopping bloggers.

At his home near Cobourg, Robitaille, who has worked at the TTC for almost 30 years, said he is a hardworking employee with a stellar track record.

He said he has health issues that can explain why he would be asleep on the job.

"I can hold my head up high," he said, but did not elaborate.

At times defiant, Robitaille also laughed at his new online popularity.

"You see me on Leno last night?" he joked.

The "TTC Sleeper," can be found napping alongside Homer Simpson, Humphrey Bogart and former wrestling superstar Macho Man Randy Savage in various doctored pictures posted online.

But this isn't the first time Robitaille has been recognized while wearing TTC colours.

In 1995, he was honoured for saving a disabled man's life, according to a Toronto Sun article.

A former Wheel-Trans driver, Robitaille was sent to pick up a passenger who had a rare lung disease and muscle disorder. Robitaille found the man collapsed on the floor in his home, barely conscious after falling and hitting his head.

"The door was unlocked, but I would have broken it down if I had to," Robitaille said at the time.

He lifted the man into an upright position and called for an ambulance.

The passenger, Brian Mitchell, later said he would have died if Robitaille hadn't helped him.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

See These driftwood horse sculptures by Heather Jansch

Driftwood horse sculptures by Heather Jansch who live and work in Westcountry of England. Its amazing how she managed to put those branches together to form such an art. 22 more pics after the jump.

View these 360 Pictures of National Park Spectacles

Look all the way up and all the way down .

Use your mouse to move around. (The stars at night are big and bright)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Is he sleeping? Photo of McCowan TTC booth goes viral

He's inside the ticket booth, reclining on a chair, his arms draped over his stomach.

And that was enough to send this photograph of a Toronto Transit Commission collector – who appears to be snoozing – viral Thursday, sweeping around the world after it was tweeted by a transit rider.

It was enough to prompt TTC authorities to start an inquiry.

The photo was taken by Jason Wieler on Jan. 9 around 10 p.m. at McCowan Station. On Thursday, he posted it on Twitpic with this caption: "Yup, love how my TTC dollars R being spent ... "

Wieler was leaving the station when he saw the ticket agent catnapping in full view. "I stood by for at least five minutes and he was sleeping," said Wieler.

Some riders were laughing while others were talking about him, he said. A few even went through without paying their fare or showing their Metropass. "I thought here we are, with a fare hike, and look how the money is being wasted."

As soon as the photo was posted, the comments began piling up, mostly from annoyed transit users.

"I didn't post to get anyone in trouble, but to highlight TTC problems," said Wieler.

The TTC is taking it seriously, spokesman Brad Ross said.

"Employees have a responsibility with respect to safety of the station and the system," said Ross. "We expect them to be always alert on their jobs. This is unacceptable."

But he said there might have been extenuating circumstances.

"We are asking for an explanation."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Top Ten Of Almost Everything

3D murals painted on the sides of buildings by Trompe L'oeil (trick-of-the-eye) artist John Pugh

3D murals painted on the sides of buildings by
Trompe L'oeil (trick-of-the-eye) artist John Pugh

Attributed To Rooney - Unverified but funny

As I grow in age, I value women over 50 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:

A woman over 50 will never wake you in the middle of the night and ask, 'What are you thinking?' She doesn't care what you think.

If a woman over 50 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She d
oes something she wants to do, and it's usually more interesting.

Women over 50 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it.

Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it's like to be unappreciated.

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 50.

Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 50 is far sexier than her younger counterpart.

Older women are forthright and honest.. They'll tell you right off if you are a jerk, if you are acting like one. You don't ever have to wonder where you stand with her.

Yes, we praise women over 50 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman over 50, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress. Ladies, I apologize.

For all those men who say, 'Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Here's an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage
. Why? Because women realize it's not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!

Andy Rooney is a really smart guy!

Is Your Password Safe?

NEW YORK–Back at the dawn of the web, the most popular account password was "12345."

Today, it's one digit longer but hardly safer: "123456."

Despite all the reports of Internet security breaches over the years, many people have reacted to the break-ins with a shrug.

According to a new analysis, one out of five web users still decides to leave the digital equivalent of a key under the doormat: they choose a simple, easily guessed password like "abc123," "iloveyou" or even "password."

"I guess it's just a genetic flaw in humans," said Amichai Shulman, the chief technology officer at Imperva, which makes software for blocking hackers. "We've been following the same patterns since the 1990s."

Shulman and his company examined a list of 32 million passwords that an unknown hacker stole last month from RockYou, a company that makes software for users of social networking sites like Facebook and My- Space. The list was briefly posted on the web, and hackers and security researchers downloaded it.

The trove provided an unusually detailed window into computer users' password habits. Typically, only government agencies like the FBI or the National Security Agency have had access to such a large password list.

"This was the mother lode," said Matt Weir, a doctoral candidate in the e-crimes and investigation technology lab at Florida State University, where researchers are also examining the data.

Shulman said that about 20 per cent of people on the RockYou list picked from the same relatively small pool of 5,000 passwords. That suggests that hackers could easily break into many accounts just by trying the most common passwords. Because of the prevalence of fast computers and speedy networks, hackers can fire off thousands of password guesses per minute.

"We tend to think of password guessing as a very time-consuming attack in which I take each account and try a large number of name-and-password combinations," Shulman said. "The reality is that you can be very effective by choosing a small number of common passwords."

To improve security, some websites are forcing users to mix letters, numbers and even symbols in their passwords. Others, such as Twitter, prevent people from picking common passwords.

Obama's critics need calling out

From a Canadian perspective, U.S. President Barack Obama has had a busy and productive first year in office. He has improved America's image in the world, stabilized an economy in crisis, refocused the Afghan and Iraq wars, banned torture, and pushed for affordable health care for 30 million more people.

Whether this adds up to the "action, bold and swift" that he pledged in his inaugural address a year ago today is for American voters to judge. And Canadians have reason to grouse about Buy American rules and excessive border security. But Obama is a welcome change from the George W. Bush era of market irresponsibility, unjustified war, lack of regard for allies, and disrespect for international law.

Still, Americans are in a sour mood. Obama's approval rating has slumped from 70 per cent to 50 per cent. Significantly, voters no longer trust the Democrats as they once did on such key issues as the deficit, taxes and terrorism. That's a problem.

Tuesday night it cost the Democrats the iconic Massachusetts Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy for nearly a half-century, plus their Senate supermajority,thereby putting a question mark over health reform.

As Democrats glumly survey this political wreckage, they blame the economy, mostly. Some 15 million Americans (10 per cent) are jobless. Washington is saddled with a record budget deficit and debt. Taxes are a worry. And the economy is weak. Anxious voters are venting.

Over the past year re-energized Republicans have surfed this frustration, tarring the Democrats as the party of big government, big spending and big deficits. That's rich, after the Bush years. But Obama, a cerebral conciliator, has been slow to call out his critics, refute the Republican narrative and rally weak-knee Democrats in Congress behind robust, affordable health reform and meaningful stimulus.

That reluctance to confront foes and failure to inspire allies is costly.

Obama's State of the Union address a week from today is an opportunity to reboot. But only if Obama proves true to his inaugural maxim that "greatness is never a given . . . it must be earned." As the first African-American president and a Nobel laureate, Obama has a shot at greatness. But he will have to work at it.

What Americans want is near-term growth and jobs, a credible plan to deal with the $12 trillion national debt over time, and reassurance that health reform and stimulus are affordable. If the Democrats deliver, Tea Party conservatives will have a harder time demonizing government, even in America's poisonously partisan climate.

But Obama also needs to refute his critics on the stump and to rebrand his Democrats as progressive populists, unless he wants to risk the Republicans cutting down his party in the Senate and recapturing the House in this year's midterm elections.

He needs to point out, with more passion than he has, that Republicans got America into trouble with their tax breaks for the affluent, negligent market oversight, ruinous wars and corporate boondoggles. They have no credibility raging at Democrats for investing in people: health care, schooling, community infrastructure, social welfare.

The Democrats, for all their flaws, have a good story to tell. But Obama and his allies have to start telling it, forcefully.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stupid Is as Stipid Does

Life is tough ..It's even tougher if you're stupid."
John Wayne
Good news: It was a normal day in Sharon Springs, KS when a Union Pacific crew boarded a loaded coal train for the long trek to Salina.
The Bad news: Just a few miles into the trip a wheel bearing became overheated and melted, letting a metal support drop down and grind on the rail, creating white hot molten metal droppings spewing down to the rail.
The Good news: A very alert crew noticed smoke about halfway back in the train and immediately stopped the train in compliance with the rules.
The Bad news: The train stopped with the hot wheel over a wooden bridge with creosote ties and trusses.
The crew tried to explain to higher-ups but were instructed not to move the train!
They were instructed Rules prohibit moving the train when a part is defective!

(Don't let common sense get in the way of a good disaster!)

Citytv cuts on-air personalities and 26 others!

Citytv is cutting shows, production staff and on-air talent including veteran CityNews at Six anchor Anne Mroczkowski.

In a statement, Leslie Sole, chief executive of Citytv parent company Rogers Media Television, said the changes “are necessary to align our operations with the economic and regulatory realities of our industry.”

According to Koreen Ott, director of marketing and public relations for Rogers Media Television, in Toronto, the noon news program, CityNews at 5 and weekend newscasts have all been cancelled.

“This is about restructuring our television operations to retrench and rebuild,” says Ott. “It affects our Citytv stations in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver... and [the cuts amount to] six per cent of our workforce across the country.”

The layoffs are effective immediately and she says “there are no additional proposed layoffs at this time.”

In the statement, Citytv said shows Breakfast Television and CityLine, and CityNews at Six and CityNews at Night will continue to air in Toronto.

A story posted on Citytv’s website says Mroczkowski was laid off after Monday evening’s broadcast and the rest of the staff were told Tuesday morning. One version of the story posted in the late afternoon said many staff were “crying” but that sentence was later deleted.

Ott wouldn't comment on other staff cuts but the story on Citytv's website lists the "remaining on-air staff" and they don't include: Lara Di Battista, Pam Seatle, Farah Nasser, Marianne Dimain, Merella Fernandez, and Michael Serapio.

On Tuesday afternoon, the online biographies for those eight broadcasters were all removed from the website.

Mroczkowski had worked there for 23 years. Di Battista and Seatle are both also veterans.

An unknown number of production staff were also laid off.

According to the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, representing many Citytv staff, laid off were 6 on-air people plus 29 full-time and 7 part-time employees, including directors, production assistants, graphic people, editors, camera people, and one Live-Eye worker.

Rogers Media purchased five Citytv stations across Canada for $375 million in 2007 from CTV, which acquired the ChumCity empire and had to divest itself of the stations due to media ownership regulations not allowing the same company to own two stations in the same market.

“This is the death of local news,” said one former Citytv employee. “If Rogers, which has money is doing this, then what do you think we can expect from the other networks?”

The mood inside the Rogers building was grim, as most employees were fearful for their jobs.

“It’s just awful,” said one employee who was not part of the cuts. “Basically, ever since Ted Rogers died, so did the vision of Citytv as a national network player. Nobody has any vision. The bean counters have taken over and they want to turn us into Omni 3.”

The purchase of Citytv was a signal change for Rogers, which is much better known for providing the cable signal than actually running TV stations.

Its previous experience with broadcasting was with community programming stations, and it’s Omni brand of multicultural stations, which are both much cheaper to run than full fledge TV stations, that buy content from U.S. networks. As well, with only five stations in big cities across Canada, the Citytv brand was much smaller compared to the national coverage of its competitors, CTV and Global.

This is at least the second round of cuts in the media division, with 100 jobs lost in December 2008. In November, the cable giant also laid off about 900 employees, mainly in its cable and wireless divisions, in November.

Citytv Toronto has lost a number of on-air personalities over the past year including former anchors Peter Silverman and JoJo Chintoh.

The other interesting dynamic is that Rogers is in a protracted fight with broadcasters over fee-for-carriage. The broadcasters have been petitioning the CRTC to allow charging for local television cable, resulting in “Local TV matters” and “Save local TV” campaigns.

“We believe in local television,” said Jamie Haggarty, EVP Television Operations, Rogers Media Television in a press release. “We remain committed to innovation and development of our stations to increase our impact on our local markets. We will focus on quality over quantity.”

As well, in December, Rogers received a license to run 24-hours all news channel from the CRTC. It is unaware how these cuts will affect that as yet created station.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Simon Cowell's more than a saucy Brit

He once snubbed President Barack Obama and, in a poll of British schoolchildren in 2008, was declared more famous than God.

Simon Cowell may not look it, but he is one of the most powerful men in TV in both America and the U.K.

Witness the media frenzy last week when he finally confirmed that he was leaving American Idol. So inextricably is he linked with Idol, it's been speculated the most popular show on American TV can't survive without him.

Not bad for a guy who started out in the mailroom of a British music company and had to move back home with his parents for five years when he went bust in 1989.

Cowell told the Television Critics Association tour last week that his decision to leave Idol wasn't about money. The 50-year-old, whose personal fortune has been pegged at more than $200 million, was offered "a lot" to stay with the show: some say $100 million a year.

"I felt like doing something different. I like the challenge," he told the critics.

It's no secret that Cowell is a driven man. It's been said he takes just one holiday a year, doesn't sleep much and has his daytimer booked 18 months in advance (supposedly he snubbed Obama because he couldn't find a chunk of time to have dinner with the president).

He made his career in A&R (artist and repertoire) with music companies including EMI, where his father got him his first mailroom job, the now defunct Fanfare Records, BMG and his own label, Syco.

But it was TV that made him a household name, beginning with Pop Idol in the U.K., which led to American Idol. His combination of sarcastic wit and brutal honesty has been like catnip to TV viewers, a formula he no doubt hopes will make The X Factor as big a hit here as it is in Britain.

And don't think it begins and ends with a TV show. Cowell reportedly has his sights set on creating an entertainment empire that would rival Disney.



Born in Brighton Oct. 7, 1959; raised in Elstree, Hertfordshire.

Left school at 15 or 16. Had jobs as window cleaner, lawn mower and waiter before joining record company EMI.

His father, Eric Cowell, ran EMI's property division. He died at home in 1999 of a massive heart attack on the same day Simon got his first No. 1 with the then unknown Irish band Westlife, who his dad had predicted would become big. His mother, Julie Brett, who is still alive, was a ballet dancer. He grew up next door to the head of Warner Bros. UK. His brother Tony says Simon once sat on film legend Bette Davis's lap. When she asked if he wanted to be an actor, he said, "No, because all actors smell" since she'd been smoking.


Cowell left EMI in 1984 to join Fanfare Records with Iain Burton. In 1989, Fanfare's parent company failed, forcing Cowell to move back in with his parents for five years. When he was 30, he got an A&R job with BMG where he signed Robson & Jerome, who had the biggest selling British single of 1995 with their version of "Unchained Melody." Hired in 2001 by Simon Fuller to do Pop Idol, where he became known as Mr. Nasty. Fuller, a friend, sued him in 2004 when X Factor launched, effectively killing Pop Idol. They settled out of court.

His first TV appearance was in 1990 on a U.K. show called Sale of the Century. He won kitchen utensils (apparently he doesn't cook).

He has three principal employers: Fox, Sony and ITV. He reportedly earned $46 million from American Idol in 2007, just over $15 million from Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor, and $12.3 million from his record label. Forbes called him the best-paid man on prime-time TV last year, earning an estimated $77 million from June 2008 to June 2009.

He has had failures: in 2000 he tried unsuccessfully to launch a Spice Girls-like group called Girl Thing.

Cowell has teamed up with Britain's sixth richest person, Sir Philip Green, to create a global entertainment company that would launch The X Factor in the U.S., take back the show rights from Sony and market branded products , including a theme park. "They're thinking in terms of a new Disney," a source was quoted as saying in The Daily Telegraph.

Personal Life

Tony Cowell told The Daily Mirror that Simon watches Desperate Housewives and reads Jackie Collins, James Patterson and John Grisham novels. The Independent says he has Star Wars and Jaws in his DVD collection and watches The Flintstones in the bath.

His $25 million Los Angeles home is all white, except for the black swimming pool, his brother says. The Sunday Times says it has a tanning salon, gym, luxury spa and lap pool, and a room for his ex-girlfriend, Terri Seymour.

Speaking of his love life, Cowell reportedly had a 20-year, on-and-off relationship with Sinitta, who sang one of his first hits, "So Macho," and nicknamed him "Mummy Look" because of his desire to impress his mother. He also dated Seymour, an Extra correspondent, for about six years.

He has a passion for cars, including a $1.2 million Bugatti Veyron.

Sources: The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph

Drivers should brace for insurance crunch

The cost of Ontario auto insurance is continuing to rise as insurers and motorists wait for changes the government promised last November.

Twenty two insurers won approval in the final quarter of 2009 to raise their premium rates – one by a whopping average of 15 per cent starting in March.

The average of all approved changes, including one small reduction and three adjustments without an increase overall, was 4.49 per cent.

Coming on top of earlier increases approved in 2009, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario said increases will average 8.77 per cent, up from 5.59 per cent for increases approved in 2008.

Some insurers had multiple increases approved last year, or the year before, after providing motorists with an extended period of stable or declining rates.

Traders General Insurance Co. of Canada, which mainly covers members and groups and associations, topped the list of the biggest rate increases with a cumulative average increase over two years of close to 30 per cent.

Others with cumulative increases of more than 20 per cent over two years include such leading insurers as Dominion of Canada General Insurance, Economical Mutual Insurance, Pilot Insurance and Unifund Assurance.

FSCO posts each of the insurers' approved average rate changes on its website.

About half of motorists would have seen larger increases than are posted, including most motorists in the Greater Toronto Area unless they shopped for savings with another insurer.

Dominion of Canada said its Ontario customers will have seen rates rise an average of 17 per cent between January 2009 and January 2010.

But actuary Shams Munir said Dominion's rate changes rose an average of approximately 19 per cent, while rates in the rest of the province rose 16 per cent.

Ralph Palumbo, Ontario vice-president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said the main reason for continued increases is the rapid rise in the cost of accident benefit claims.

Ontario's benefits schedule is the most generous in North America, Palumbo noted.

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has announced a list of 40 changes to auto insurance and regulations. But insurers, lawyers and health-care providers are still waiting for details to gauge the impact on costs and injured persons.

Reimbursement for treatment and assessment of minor sprain, strain and whiplash injuries is to be capped for an interim period at $3,500, with few exceptions.

Consumers are to be given a choice of buying $50,000 of medical rehabilitation benefits – as is available in Alberta and New Brunswick – instead of the current mandatory $100,000 in Ontario.

Bob Fitzgerald, executive vice-president of Aviva Canada (owner of Traders General and Pilot),said "greater clarity on the details of the reforms is required before accurate estimates can be completed."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Walmart Greeter...

So after landing my new job as a Wal-Mart greeter,
a good find for many retirees, I lasted less than a day...

About two hours into my first day on the job a very loud,
unattractive, mean-acting woman walked into the store with her two kids, yelling obscenities at them all the way through the entrance.
I said pleasantly, 'Good morning and welcome to Wal-Mart.
Nice children you have there. Are they twins?'
The ugly woman stopped yelling long enough to say,
'Hell no, they ain't twins. The oldest one's 9, and the other one's 7.
Why the hell would you think they're twins? Are you blind, or stupid?'
So I replied,
'I'm neither blind nor stupid, Ma'am, I just couldn't believe someone slept with you twice. Have a good day and thank you for shopping at
My supervisor said I probably wasn't cut out for this line of work

Friday, January 15, 2010

Conan O'Brien, NBC near settlement: reports

The scorched-earth battle over late night television looks as if it might be coming to a peaceful end. According to The Daily Beast, Conan O'Brien's representatives are close to negotiating a settlement with NBC, which will allow the host to leave and start a new show on another network before his contract is up. He will also reportedly receive an undisclosed payout.

That's a stark reversal from reports yesterday that had NBC management talking tough about keeping O'Brien off the air by forcing him to stick to the terms of his contract.

In light of the universal lambasting that Jay Leno has received online and from the other late night hosts, one NBC executive leapt to his defense. In an interview with the New York Times, Dick Ebersol, Chairman of NBC Universal Sports, who was also one of the creators of Saturday Night Live and is often consulted on NBC's late-night plans, chastised O'Brien for his poor performance and failure to heed network advice on how to improve his show.

"What this is really all about is an astounding failure by Conan," he said, adding that the jokes made by O'Brien and CBS rival David Letterman were "chicken-hearted and gutless to blame a guy you couldn't beat in the ratings ... I like Conan enormously personally. He was just stubborn about not being willing to broaden the appeal of his show."

Despite this sign of network support, Leno remained the butt of several jokes last night, and the worst came from one of his on his own guests, ABC's Jimmy Kimmel.

In his monologue, Leno opened with, "Welcome to the new show, 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Off NBC!" and then made a joke about how O'Brien's ratings had improved thanks to the controversy, adding "You're welcome." But the real roasting came when Kimmel appeared via satellite as part of Leno's Ten @10 segment, where he asks a guest 10 questions. It started with a question about how best to imitate Leno, which he did on Tuesday night, when he did his entire show parodying the embattled host, but Kimmel used the opportunity to pile on whenever he could.

Asked for the best prank he ever pulled, Kimmel replied: "I think the best prank I ever pulled was, I told a guy that five years from now, I'm going to give you my show, and then when the five years game, I gave it to him but then I took it back almost instantly. It was hilarious." He likened O'Brien's and Leno's relationship to a "phony one" like the one between a stripper and a client. And when Leno asked if he had ever ordered anything off TV, he quipped, "Like NBC ordered your show off TV?"

Kimmel admitted one of his greatest fears was moving his show to 10 p.m., and ended with a plea: "Listen, Conan and I have children, all you have is cars. We have lives to lead ... Leave our shows alone."

O'Brien continued to have a field day with the feud, saying that a pornographic film-making company had contacted him to take part in a movie based on the situation (which is true), and came up with several possible titles for the film, including Conan Gets the Late Shaft. He also allowed sidekick Andy Richter to make his own statement to the television industry, in which he joked that after returning to the supposed stability of The Tonight Show, he had a spent a lot of money and now was willing to do just about anything: "TV, whatever you got, I will take it. You got one of those celebrity rehab shows you want me to be on, you name the drug and I will get hooked on it."

As for David Letterman, he opened by asking: "Are you aware of this situation between Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien? Are you getting tired of hearing about it? [The audience answered yes]. Me neither."

He make a joke with a camera on the NBC's Burbank headquarters watching for smoke out of the chimney, which would signal when they found a new host for The Tonight Show, and also made an election spoof commercial that stated: "Jay Leno represents traditional American Values like killing Indians because you want their land. Jay Leno, America's standing up for Jay!"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Booth Stars - Phil Booth

Phil Booth was the Toronto Star astrology writer for years, he was replaced by a syndicated writer

King Features Syndicate Inc.

But I always found Phil could spin the story in such a positive way that it made for a happier day :-) so I have created a link to Phil's website of the left, and you can see his website below in the internet window to the world.

Thought for the Day

Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I’ve been warning of the high probability of earthquakes and volcanic activity for the past week. It has to do with Mercury grinding down to a halt whilst moving into the grasp of an extremely caustic square (90-degree angle) between Saturn and Pluto. The earthquake that struck off the coast of California on Sunday was worrying enough. I wrote though, that more was likely to come. Well, it did come. Last night, Haiti was devastated by a 7.0-magnitude quake in it’s capital Port-au-Prince. The alignment in question continues to build in strength. I dread to think it, but it is possible that there is still more to come in the following days. Perhaps not. Perhaps, the worst is over. Let’s hope so.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Traffic cop holds up speeding surgeon Dr. Michael Kutryk, in a rush to save heart attack victim, gets $300 ticket

While Jeffrey Halstrom was fighting for his life on a St. Michael's Hospital operating table, the surgeon who had been rushing to his rescue was waiting on the side of a road for a Toronto police officer to write him a ticket for speeding.

Halstrom, who is recovering in the hospital's intensive care unit, suffered a massive heart attack around lunchtime Saturday. A short time later, Dr. Michael Kutryk, the hospital's cardiologist on call over the weekend, was stopped by a radar unit while rushing from his Leaside home to help.

But no amount of pleading or explaining would deter the officer from issuing the physician a $300 ticket, said Michael Oscars, Halstrom's longtime partner.

Kutryk did not return numerous phone calls and emails Monday, and police would not release the identity of the officer who wrote the ticket.

Hospital spokeswoman Julie Saccone, however, spoke with the doctor, who said he considered it a private matter between him and the police.

"All he wanted me to pass on was that he regrets that he sped and that he shared that information with the family (which added) to their stress," Saccone said.

The top officer at the force's 53 Division, where the ticket was issued, confirmed the incident had occurred and that Kutryk had complained to him about it and was intent on fighting the fine.

Staff Insp. Larry Sinclair, the division's unit commander, said roadside officers use their own discretion to determine whether an emergency warrants illegal speeds.

But Sinclair defended his officer, saying he might have prevented an accident by stopping the speeding physician.

"It doesn't matter if it's a physician or whoever that is on his way to what he or she considers an emergency," Sinclair said. "If he or she gets in a collision on the way to that emergency, they're no use. They're going to be tied up a lot longer than what it takes to write a ticket."

Const. Wendy Drummond, a police spokeswoman, said Kutryk was driving 35 km/h an hour over the posted limit of 40 km/h in the Bayview and Moore Aves. area.

Drummond said the location was a frequent target for police radar because many neighbours had complained of drivers speeding through the residential area.

"We have community members contact the division in which they reside and put in complaints," Drummond said. "They say, 'You know what, I am a resident of this area and I am fed up. People are continually either speeding or drinking,' that type of thing."

Oscars awoke around 7 a.m. Saturday to find Halstrom, a 47-year-old kindergarten teacher, sitting on the edge of a living room chair complaining of a heavy weight in his chest.

Over the objections of his partner of 17 years, Oscars insisted on driving Halstrom from their Berkeley St. home to St. Mike's, where he was admitted for observation.

By lunchtime, his condition had taken a turn for the worse and it was determined he would need immediate angioplasty surgery to open what turned out to be three clogged arteries.

Kutryk was called in to perform the operation, but was waylaid en route by police.

"The doctor arrived a little later than he wanted to be, very upset, very angry because he had encountered a police officer," Oscars recalled.

"In spite of him (Kutryk) saying he was on his way to an emergency of a 47-year-old man in cardiac arrest, and that every minute counted ... the police officer either chose to disbelieve him or chose to be a moron," he said.

Oscars, who runs a downtown talent agency, said Kutryk was stopped by police for "the better part of 10 minutes" and that the doctor said it could have proven a deadly delay.

"If anything, that officer should have escorted him to the hospital," he said.

"Everybody here told me that had the operation not happened in time, my partner would have been dead. It was an open-and-shut case."

A senior Toronto officer, however, said police do not escort civilians at high speed because they face liability issues if there is an accident.

Damage to Halstrom's heart was so severe that he was given a post-operative 50 per cent chance of survival, Oscars said.

"I cautiously and optimistically say he's much better, luckily because he does have youth on his side," Oscars said. "But he's critically ill, there's no two ways about it."

Kutryk is one of the city's top cardiologists and inventor of a revolutionary heart stent that helps blocked arteries heal after insertion.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Excited scientists say they could find Earth-like planets in just a few years

WASHINGTON–Astronomers say they are on the verge of finding planets like Earth orbiting other stars, a key step in determining if we are alone in the universe.

A top NASA official and other leading scientists say that within four or five years they should discover the first Earth-like planet where life could develop, or may have already. A planet close to the size of Earth could even be found sometime this year if preliminary hints from a new space telescope pan out.

At the annual American Astronomical Society conference this week, each discovery involving so-called "exoplanets" – those outside our solar system – pointed to the same conclusion: Quiet planets like Earth where life could develop probably are plentiful, despite a violent universe of exploding stars, crushing black holes and colliding galaxies.

NASA's new Kepler telescope and a wealth of new research from the suddenly hot and competitive exoplanet field generated noticeable buzz at the convention. Scientists are talking about being at "an incredible special place in history" and closer to answering a question that has dogged humanity since the beginning of civilization.

"The fundamental question is: Are we alone? For the first time, there's an optimism that sometime in our lifetimes we're going to get to the bottom of that," said Simon "Pete" Worden, an astronomer who heads NASA's Ames Research Center. "If I were a betting man, which I am, I would bet we're not alone – there is a lot of life."

Even the Roman Catholic Church has held scientific conferences about the prospect of extraterrestrial life, including a meeting last November.

"These are big questions that reflect upon the meaning of the human race in the universe," the director of the Vatican Observatory, the Rev. Jose Funes, said Wednesday in an interview at this week's conference.

Worden told The Associated Press: "I would certainly expect in the next four or five years we'd have an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone."

Worden's centre runs the Kepler telescope, which is making an intense planetary census of a small portion of the galaxy.

Unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, which is a general instrument, Kepler is a specialized telescope just for planet-hunting. Its sole instrument is a light meter that measures the brightness of more than 100,000 stars simultaneously, watching for anything that causes a star to dim. That dimming is often a planet passing in front of the star.

Any planet that could support life would almost certainly need to be rocky rather than gaseous. And it would need to be in just the right location. Planets that are too close to their star will be too hot, and those too far away are too cold.

"Every single rock we turn over, we find a planet," said Ohio State University astronomer Scott Gaudi. "They occur in all sorts of environments, all sorts of places."

Researchers are finding exoplanets at a dizzying pace. In the 1990s, astronomers found a couple of new planets a year. For most of the last decade, it was up to a couple of planets every month.

This year, planets are being found on about a daily basis, thanks to the Kepler telescope. The number of discovered exoplanets is now well past 400. But none of those has the right components for life.

That's about to change, say the experts.

"From Kepler, we have strong indications of smaller planets in large numbers, but they aren't verified yet," said Geoff Marcy of the University of California at Berkeley. He is one of the founding fathers of the field of planet-hunting and a Kepler scientist.

But there is a big caveat. Most of the early exoplanet candidates found by Kepler are turning out to be something other than a planet, such as another star crossing the telescope's point of view, when double- and triple-checked, said top Kepler scientist Bill Borucki.

Kepler is concentrating on about one-four hundredth of the nighttime sky, scanning more than 100,000 stars, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand light years away. A light year is about 5.9 trillion miles. So such planets are too far to travel to, and they cannot be viewed directly like the planets in our solar system.

If there were an Earth-like body in the area Kepler is searching, the telescope would find it, Marcy said. But it can take three years to confirm a planet's orbital path.

What Kepler has confirmed so far keeps pointing to the idea that there are many other Earths. Before Kepler, those bodies were too small to be seen. Borucki this week announced the finding of five new exoplanets – all discovered in just the first six weeks of planet-hunting. But all those planets were too large and in the wrong place to be like Earth.

When Kepler looked at 43,000 stars that are about the same size as our sun, it found that about two-thirds of them appeared to be as life-friendly and nonviolent as our nearest star.

Marcy, who this week announced finding a planet just four times larger than Earth, does not like to speculate how many stars have Earth-like planets. But when pressed, he said Thursday: "70 per cent of all stars have rocky planets."

"If you are in the kitchen and are trying to cook up a habitable planet, we already know that in the cosmos, all the ingredients are there," he said.

While astronomers at the convention are excited about exoplanets, Marcy is more skeptical, as is Jill Tarter, director of the SETI Institute, which seeks out intelligent life by monitoring for electromagnetic transmissions. They said there is still the chance that the searches can come up empty.

Marcy said there is the small possibility that planets do not form easily at Earth's size, and that most are bigger.

Tarter – who was the basis for a character portrayed in the movie ``Contact" by Jodie Foster – said: "I always worry that we talk ourselves into thinking we know more than we know."

Once an Earth-like planet is found in the right place, determining if there are the ingredients for life there will pose another hurdle.

It will require costly new telescopes. A massive space telescope to scan Earth-like planets for oxygen, water, carbon dioxide – and even faint signs of industrial emissions from civilization – would cost about $5 billion.

For now, such a high price is a budget-buster, but that could change. Cornell University astronomer Martha Haynes said: "We are at a very special moment in the history of mankind."

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