Tuesday, September 28, 2010

For Just One More Birthday

On Sunday a tweet from Rhiannon MacDonnell brought me to this video and the latest American Cancer Society campaign, More Birthdays. The slogan is "the official sponsor of birthdays." It's a good campaign and if you go to their site you'll see many popular artists are participating.

This campaign especially touches me because in 2004 Duncan and I both lost parents to cancer, each of them dying just days short of their respective birthdays. Of course, there is no good time to say goodbye to a loved one. 

The Canadian Cancer Society also has an amazingly powerful campaign. They tell us that every three minutes another Canadian finds out they have cancer. There's a good chance that none of us will have lives unaffected in some way by this disease. We need to support research and development as we work towards finding a cure.  

And until then, here's to more birthdays. For everyone.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gunned Down in Scarlet, Coldest Blood...

Mayerthorpe 2010

"When Mayerthorpe, she cried, as her four horsemen died"

I'm happy to hear today that the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that Shawn Hennessey and Dennis Cheeseman will serve the remainder of their sentences. Both men pleaded guilty to four counts of manslaughter in the shooting deaths of RCMP Officers Peter Schiemann, Leo Johnston, Anthony Gordon and Brock Myrol. 

I believe that what these two men did was reprehensible and feel strongly they must accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions. 

James Roszko, often referred to as a psychopath, was a well know locally as a criminal with a history of violent, armed offenses. It is unlikely that any rational person who knew him would have allowed him the benefit of doubt or not take seriously his stated intentions.

In addition to driving Roszko back to his farm and providing him with a firearm and ammunition, both Hennessey and Cheeseman admitted that they knew Roszko was planning on murdering "as many RCMP officers as he could." While they considered alerting police, they decided against it.


Instead they chose to remain silent and that choice allowed these events to unfold as they did. I believe they had a duty to make a different choice that day, to take action to protect life.

Of course, I do feel that our system failed terribly in this regard, to this day I am astonished that a man like James Roszko was not incarcerated in some fashion. But that's a whole other topic.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shine On Harvest Moon

Tonight we bid summer goodbye with the advent of the Equinox at 9:09pm. Before that however, if the skies remain clear, the Harvest Moon will rise in the east just as the sun sets at 7:32pm. As you watch the moonrise you will notice Jupiter in the eastern sky as well. Happy Autumnal Equinox Edmonton!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How Do You Say "Fun" in Irish?

According to their twitter bio, Ceilis "is an Irish Gaelic term meaning a gathering of friends for song, drink & dance." Every time we have visited Ceili's we have found this to be true; the friendly staff, good service and plenty of specials (plus sometimes a little twitter play thrown in to round out the evening) makes it a great place to hang out.

This past summer we were at Ceili's for a tweetup and they had a promotion for Alexander Keith's Pale Ale which allowed you one contest entry for every beer purchased. Needless to say Duncan was a huge fan of this prospect and managed to garner more than enough entries over the course of the evening. He really was enjoying himself, perhaps a little too much, but any guilt he may have harboured dissipated when the winning contest entry was drawn and it was his name they were announcing (well, half his name anyway, as they really couldn't pronounce the last name). He had won a BBQ. Not just the BBQ itself, but also hamburgers and beer for ten friends, delivered, cooked and served.

Yesterday, Kaley and Justin from Ceili's Edmonton arrived at our home with the BBQ and fixings to prepare for us an amazing feast. They attended to our complete happiness; making sure we always had beer, they cooked burgers until no one could eat any more and in the end they cleaned the BBQ and took the dishes away with them! I think I can safely say that a delightful time was had by all and that the hospitality shown to us by Ceili's will be long remembered.

I want to extend a sincere thank you to Kaley, Justin and the staff and management of Ceili's here in Edmonton for the evening. I will also wholeheartedly recommend Ceili's to everyone in Edmonton (or Calgary and Vancouver) who is looking for a relaxed but fun authentic Irish pub with good food and a decent selection of beer. Ceili's is an Irish pub done right!

Oh, and the Irish word for fun is craic, but I could have sworn it was Ceili's.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Allie Wojtaszek Photography

Introducing my new facebook fan page - Allie Wojtaszek Photography. Please stop on by and check it out. If you like what you see make sure you click the "LIKE" button so you can see future additions to the site and (if you want to) participate in the discussions.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Empire Avenue is YouTub'in!

Tonight Empire Avenue added YouTube as a network connection. You can check out my YouTube channel HERE and feel free to add me as a contact. I have recently started uploading short video's I am taking with my iPhone.

William Pitcher
has created this great video in celebration of Empire Avenue's addition of Youtube. I am pleased to be included (although I'll admit it gave me chills)!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ottawa Pictures = Done!

Stone lions on guard in Sparks Street Mall.

I finally finished processing the pictures from our summer trip to Ottawa and got them up online. You can view all of them by clicking HERE.

Ottawa is a beautiful city to take pictures in. There is so much to see and so many different ways to see it! I hope you get a chance to check them out.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I See Pictures Everywhere

On Friday I participated in something of a first for me - a live interview with Adriel Hampton via the social media site, twitter.

Adriel asked me questions about Flickr, Empire Avenue and how I tie them both together. The interview could be watched by anyone who wanted to follow along in real time on twitter, but Adriel also put it all together in an article on his blog called Q&A: ‘I See Pictures Everywhere’ which you can read by clicking on the link.

Turns out I'm quite happy to talk about Flickr and my photography so if anyone has any questions they should feel free to ask. The medium of twitter worked really well for an interview and it was a lot of fun so I hope we see more interaction like this in the future.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Don't Let The Terrorists Win

Each year I wonder what to write about on this day and in recent years I have just skipped it. Then an email arrived in my inbox from Michael Moore and I found inspiration:

I am opposed to the building of the "mosque" two blocks from Ground Zero. I want it built ON Ground Zero.

Why? Because I believe in an America that protects those who are the victims of hate and prejudice. I believe in an America that says you have the right to worship whatever God you have, wherever you want to worship. And I believe in an America that says to the world that we are a loving and generous people and if a bunch of murderers steal your religion from you and use it as their excuse to kill 3,000 souls, then I want to help you get your religion back. And I want to put it at the spot where it was stolen from you.

Words can not describe the turmoil that exists inside of me on this subject. PASSIONATE feelings compete convincingly - some fueled by hurt, anger and a sense of duty and others originating from the caring, accepting and protective parts of me. I don't think there is an issue for these modern times that equals how the world has changed since September 11th 2001. It has, and continues to, define us.

Michaels words hit me like a hammer to the forehead. Eloquent as always, he is right. Just because the people who enacted 9/11 considered themselves Muslims does not mean that Islam attacked "us" that day. Just because some terribly bad people are intent on using terrorism in the name of Islam does not make all Muslims terrorists. Terrorists are terrorists regardless of race or creed. I hate the terrorists with every fiber of my being and I want to do everything within my power to stop them. To end them even.

Many of "us" are Muslims - it is not a crime to be a Muslim - and more than anything I want to live in a world where it is both safe and ok for you to be Muslim if that's what you choose. This means we have to stand up for them, just as we would for any other religious belief, because allowing injustice to spread and divide us only hurts all of us further.

Some days it seems as if these two sets of feelings are such opposing values that they don't belong together, but in reality I feel both of them equally and know I desperately need both to produce a rational and tempered response. I have to make a clear choice as to which one wins and I choose FREEDOM.

If we don't rise up to protect freedom (for everyone) then the terrorists have already won.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Elk Island National Park

Today Duncan and I spent the day in Elk Island National Park. We've been a few times but never in early Fall before - it seemed to us as the tree's were turning yellow right before our eyes. It is the beginning of a beautiful season.

Elk Island is only 45 kms away from Edmonton. It took us a few years to discover it ourselves but now I can't get enough of it. It really is a treasure - home to Bison, Elk, Moose, Deer, Beavers, Porcupines, Skunks, Coyotes, etc - it is the perfect place to go for a day trip or camera date. Great trails to hike and you can even take your dog as long as it remains on a leash. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice...

Happy Birthday Raven!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I'd like a Small Virtual Island...

Last night Empire Avenue went through an "important one-time adjustment to the market," that saw some shares gain and some shares lose. (e)ALLIE fared well in the Erindale "adjustment," my stock went up just over a point (now third on the leaderboards for Overall Share Price) and I received enough eaves that I was able to reinvest in my portfolio and get the Millionaire Achievement Award (that I so wanted). More importantly I am excited that the changes implemented will allow me to produce higher dividends for my investors - I'll be watching that with interest over the next week or so.

As I predicted I was sold out by the time Erindale came into play and there seemed to be some demand so I upgraded again, allowing another 5000 shares of (e)ALLIE to be available for anyone who wants them. As always, if you are interested in joining Empire Avenue please let me know as I would be happy to send you an invite.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

True Story...

I had a check up with my Doctor today and he was asking me about my sleep habits - worried that a new medication I recently started might be causing insomnia for me. I wasn't sure how to answer that so I described to him Empire Avenue and told him it was hard for me to know if I was staying up at night because of the medication or because of Empire Avenue. He asked me some questions about how long it takes me to fall asleep once I do pack it in and after some thought he declared that the medication was having no ill affect and that my poor sleep habits are indeed entirely related to Empire Avenue!

Monday, September 06, 2010


(e)ALLIE is sold out again and I don't think there will be another upgrade for me before Erindale, although I am sure some shares will come available due to normal stock movement. Thanks to everyone who helped me sell 25,000 shares, it's been a lot of fun so far!

Let the World Changing Games Begin

I just watched this TED Talk by Jane McGonigal called “Gaming can make a better world.” McGonigal outlines how Gaming (and Gamers) can save the world. You should watch this TED Talk in it's entirety but I have taken the liberty to aggregate McGonigal's points for you:

Urgent Optimism: Gamers always believe an epic win is possible;

Social Fabric: Gaming builds strong social relationships;

Blissful Productivity: Gamers are willing to work hard all the time if they are given the right work; and

Epic Meaning: Gamer's love to be attached to awe inspiring missions and epic stories.

McGonigal says this adds up to Gamers being super empowered hopeful individuals who believe that they are individually capable of changing the world. To harness this power of thought, we just have to convince them to look past the virtual world to the real life problems of this world.

But I think the challenge would also be to change the opinions of the old school people who would be hard pressed to understand why they should value or empower this type of behaviour. While I believe Gamers (like McGonigal suggests) would happily rise to a global challenge, the virtual world remains the most comfortable place to turn when a person finds little value or satisfaction in mundane workplaces were employers will never value their skills (or recognize their potential). When people are only cogs in a money making machine why would they bother to innovate at work - especially when the rewards from gaming are so much more enjoyable and readily available.

I do think McGonigal is onto something here... but I wonder how will we convince the grown ups that they should let us play?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Do you have your (e)ALLIE yet?

In Empire Building Network's latest article, entitled Top Influencer Scores Compared Prior to Erindale, William Pitcher writes:

As in July (e)ALLIE, who is ranked 12th by share price, has the best Influence Scores based on the four numbers provided by Empire Avenue. She is also the best value relative to her share price.

Pitcher goes on to recommend (e)ALLIE, (e)ANGLER, (e)MIMI, and (e)LAUGH as the best value of the 45 share price leaders based on Influence Scores. You can view his spreadsheet here.

As we head into the much anticipated Erindale modifications in just a couple of days I think we are all trying to figure out what those changes will mean for our portfolios. It is common thought that the influencer scores will play a larger role in determining someones value - but we don't really know for sure what that will look like.

I've been trying to focus my investments on influencers who have consistent scores across all of the connections, usually in the double digits. This means (for now) I haven't been investing in those who don't have flickr hooked up or are still in the under 5 range on their scores. Of course, the results of Erindale might change my mind, but that is my strategy going into it. And of course I aim on keeping my own values as high as they can be (within reason of course, it has to be sustainable).

At the time of writing this I have less than 600 shares available... there's a good chance I will be sold out again by the time Erindale arrives. I want to thank all of my investors for their support and Bill (who by the way is one of my best investments) for good analysis and writing!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Looks Like the Summer is Over...

It seems even the trees have given up on summer

In the northern hemisphere summer ends September 23 at 3:09am GMT and then we begin the season of autumn. However, lately in Edmonton it has felt as if summer might already be over - particularly disappointing since many who live here might remark it hardly seems summer ever got started at all.

As much as I look forward to transitioning to fall (and the wonderful colours it brings), it necessarily comes at the expense of summer and sometimes I have a hard time forgiving it for that. I live for the summer time, daydreaming of summer days is what gets me through the winters here.

Because I love you so...

Recently I read about the Pet’s Ten Commandments posted at Pet's Health and wanted to share them here. Of course, this works for cats and dogs equally.

1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Please understand that any separation from you is likely to be painful.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.

4. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainments, but I have only you.

5. Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.

6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.

7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite or scratch you.

8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.

9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You too, will grow old.

10. On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can’t bear to watch. Don’t make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so.

Friday, September 03, 2010


Means I am back to the gym now after the laziness of summer vacation. Thirty minutes on the cross trainer tonight and I am feeling it!

I recently watched a TED Talk (Keep Your Goals To Yourself) where Derek Sivers talks about how you should never verbalize your goals to people as it apparently makes it far less likely you will actually carry through with those goals (something about your brain considering the immediate accolades you get from people when you express your goal to be equivalent to "Mission Accomplished") so I'm not going to tell you how often I am planning on going and I won't list my most immediate goals.

This TED talk is worth a listen and is only three minutes.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Awaiting Erindale

As I ponder the changes that are coming to Empire Avenue next week in the Erindale iteration and how it will affect not only my stock but also those of my investments, I was pleased to see this recommendation from (e)ANGLER on his blog, eavproblog.com.

However the rumours are true, yes they are. Peter Dutton has an amazing flickr influencer score of 46. Check out his flickr profile HERE.

Flickr has long been one of my favourite Web2.0 sites. For more than five years my photo's have been part of the community there and I have easily spent more time there than any other social media site. I'd be happy if you could pay it a visit and if you use Flickr, please feel free to add me!