Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Better Place works toward a better world for all

In these difficult economic times, vacationers are increasingly choosing "stay-cations" as an option to help save on the traditional costs of air travel and the like. This leads to an increased reliance on our cars for vacation travel. Making that choice, our four-wheelers still cost us a fair bit in gas and oil expenses, which in turn contributes to a greater release of toxins and pollutants into the Earth's atmosphere.

The CJN recently visited the Better Place education and demonstration center at Toronto's Evergreen Brick Works. Better Place is an American-Israeli company and a global provider of networked charge spots, battery switch stations and systems that will optimize the driving experience by helping reduce our dependence on oil and its petroleum byproducts.

Sunday Feb. 26 was the last day the Better Place Brick Works demonstration center was open to the public to promote "green power" and sustainable living by employing newly adopted EV (Electric Vehicle) car models. The Ontario government provided them with a one-year grant to help spread the "drive clean" message.

It was an eye-opening experience, as The CJN got to test drive an EV from Nissan. The car drove just as a Better Place educator explained it would – incredibly smooth and amazingly silent. Without gears and traditional vehicle mechanisms, the Nissan EV relies solely on the electric systems for propulsion. With but a gentle press on the accelerator, the car just about took off at high speed.

Ontario is working to reach its goal of having one car out of every 20 be an EV and on the road by the year 2020.

It will be an exciting feat and a miraculous innovative shift when we truly do, one day, leave the world of the combustion engine behind for hybrid cars and all manner of eco-friendly affordable alternatives.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Canadian shines on The Voice Israel

We're well into the competition now on The Voice Israel (essentially the Hebrew arm of NBC's The Voice), and Canadian olah Kathleen Reiter, continues to impress the judges.

On the program's debut episode, Reiter soulfully covered Adele's Rolling in the Deep and in this clip, she brought her powerful vocal register to Katy Perry's monster hit I Kissed a Girl. The audience clearly liked it.

Recently, Viva Sarah Press, The CJN's Israel correspondent, conducted an in-depth interview with Reiter. If you happened to miss the article, you can read the full story here. Many people apparently agree Reiter is one we will hear more about in the weeks and months ahead.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

‘Thank you’ is mandatory

Dear Ella,

About six months ago my grandson Adam had a bar mitzvah. It was small and took place on a long weekend. Invitations were sent out, and I knew some people wouldn’t be attending, since they had already made other commitments for the holiday weekend.

Some of the invited were relatives, and knowing my relations, I knew they would still send a gift anyway. I told my son and daughter-in-law this, and asked that they make sure all the relatives who send a gift get thank you notes, not just the ones that attend. In all fairness, that’s the right thing to do.

“Oh yes, of course,” they both said. Well, here it is four months later, and I got a call from one of my relatives asking me if Adam received her gift. She went on to say, “I know the cheque was cashed, but I’m not sure if Adam knows it was from me, as I never received any acknowledgement.”

What should I do? Should I call my son and find out why nothing was mailed? I feel terrible and am quite upset. I’m ready to let them know how I feel, but I’m afraid of what the outcome will be if I open my mouth. I hope you can offer your opinion.


Dear Inconsiderate,

It’s unfortunate that you’ve been put in this position. You may feel this reflects badly on you and are concerned that people will think poorly of your family. As a grandmother, that’s the last thing you want. The fact is, it’s not your gift-giving relative that put you in this position, it’s Adam and his parents who need to shoulder the blame. It’s the job of the parents of the bar mitzvah boy to make sure this child understands and appreciates what it means to receive a gift.

Often in families there is so much happening with school and extra-curricular activities that there’s not enough time in a day to fit in mundane tasks such as writing personalized thank-you notes. What a horrible lesson to teach a child.

Thank-you notes should arrive at the home of the gift giver no later than three months after the event. Ideally, they should be written within two weeks and sent out immediately while the event is still fresh. If possible, they should be hand written and personalized with the giver’s name and type of gift. If it’s cash, it can say “Your generous gift will help with my education, my trip, my Xbox, whatever.” Just make it personal.

People have put their hard-earned, after-tax dollars into this gift, and it’s mandatory that they’re acknowledged in a timely and respectful manner.

Unfortunately, you’re the one who’s received the phone call, and it’s up to you to relay the message. You don’t need to preach. You just need to tell them exactly what was said. What they choose to do with that information is up to them. I might even ask Adam directly about the status of the thank-you cards, in front of his parents. If anyone argues or makes excuses, just say, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Once the message is communicated, you’ve done your job.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Drake and Deadmau5 among those vying for top honours

When the careers of celebrities take them all around the world, they often come to appreciate adoration from hometown fans most of all. Last month we applauded two artists for their Grammy Award nominations, Hip-Hop  & rap sensation Drake, and DJ/producer Deadmau5, each up for three award nods, to be presented Sunday on CBS.

Announced February 7th, a plethora of the Canadian music industry's top stars will be at Ottawa's ScotiaBank Place for the 2012 Juno Awards celebration. The ceremony, presented by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), will be hosted this year by the one and only William Shatner.

The beloved Canadian icon will serve as a bit of a departure from the show's traditional choice of hosts. For the past two years, Drake himself has emcee'd. Shatner, known best for his iconic roles as Star Trek's Captain James T. Kirk and Boston Legal's Denny Crane, has proven he can hold his own in front of a live audience. We saw it when he was the keynote guest for Toronto's Fan Expo spotlights, he was a highlight during Canada's Tribute at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and most recently in his documentary The Captains.

Drake and Deadmau5 will compete against one another in two categories for the Junos: Juno Fan Choice Award and Artist of the Year. They will also compete in separate categories, Drake, in Album of the Year and Rap Recording of the Year for "Take Care" and Dedmau5 in the category of Dance Recording of the Year for "Aural Psynapse".

On April 1 check your local listings and watch the Juno's live on CTV to see who wins.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

John Baird tells PA to drop unilateral statehood bid

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty are in Israel this week.

And they've been proclaiming Canada's everlasting friendship and support for Israel. Not surprising considering Canada's enhanced position vis-a-vis the Jewish state since the Stephen Harper government came to power.

But Baird also just told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to let go of the idea of declaring a unilateral state without negotiating with Israel.

According to a report in the Israel media, Baird had the following to say to Abbas and his PA cohort on Monday:

On Monday, the duo met with PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and other senior officials in Ramallah. During the meeting Baird expressed Canada's position that the unilateral PA statehood bid at the UN was “profoundly wrong.”

Baird also backed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position, telling PA officials it was time to return to bilateral face-to-face negotiations with Israel, without any preconditions.
In related news, Canada also just increased economic sanctions on Iran. Read the full story on The CJN website here.