Tips on staying sober for New Year’s Eve when those around you are partying like it’s 1984

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Jennifer Perry isn’t much of a drinker. Never has been, yet she’s ready every New Year’s Eve for the inevitable attention when she’s out trying to have a good time.

“I don’t care if everyone at the table orders a drink but me. That’s fine,” said Perry, 46, a singer in Atlanta. “What I do resent is being pressured, and then being asked is it a ‘religious thing’ or if I have a ‘problem.’”

Sometimes, she relies on: “Oh, thank you, but I’m still on methadone.” While not true, a quick apology usually ensues and the pesky prober moves along.

Whether in recovery or not interested for other reasons, the holidays often mean an excess of booze and drugs. Occasional drinkers fail to moderate and addiction programs around the country note upticks in patient loads soon after the new year, high season for relapsers and those seeking treatment for the first time.

“Alcohol is often centre stage at holiday parties,” said Amara Durham, a spokeswoman for Caron Texas, a treatment facility in Princeton, Texas. “Many people think they need alcohol to enjoy social occasions such as holiday celebrations.”

Story continues below

杭州龙凤

Chapman Sledge, chief medical officer at Cumberland Heights, a centre in the Nashville, Tenn., area, said loved ones hosting holiday dinners and parties should be sensitive to the difficulties of recovering guests.

“Stray comments like, ‘Just a sip of wine at dinner won’t hurt,’ or ‘It’s a party, have a little fun,’ even if they’re unintentional, can slow or destroy an addict’s recovery,” he said.

Gina Bestenlehner, who is 12 years sober and program director for the Pur Detox centre in Dana Point, Calif., suggests bringing along a sobriety buddy to help stay focused. She also recommends volunteering as a designated driver, which “gives a person new purpose and a reason to be there sober. It also saves lives.”

Like other support groups around the country, the North Central Vermont Recovery Center in Morrisville hosts a sober New Year’s Eve.

“Along with Thanksgiving and Christmas, New Year’s Eve is one of those holidays that we try to create community events for because of their association with drinking and the stress of being in recovery and alone on them,” said Nasreen Stump, a fundraiser for the centre. “In three years our attendance at these events has almost quadrupled.”

In Jersey Shore, Pa., Mary Baier is a non-drinker who will likely stay home with her husband this year for New Year’s Eve. In the past, they’ve left parties right after midnight. “It’s kind of hard to have a good time once people get drunk,” she said.

Cathy Griffin, 54, of Los Angeles has been sober for five years. “I’m a free woman now and go about my business and personal life wherever there is alcohol and barely give it any thought,” she said, “but in the early days of my recovery, it was hell!”

Instead of salivating while watching the wine meet the lips of the guy across the room, offer to help cut fruit and veggies or rinse some glasses, ” anything to get your mind off the fact that you can’t drink,” she said.

“Look for people who are not drinking to start up a conversation. Believe it or not, there are more people who are not sloshed than you might think,” Griffin added. “Make a game or a challenge out of finding the folks who are not drinking.”

And perhaps most important of all, she said, “Prepare before the battle.” Think about what you’re going to drink before you get there. Stay away from caffeine-laden energy drinks and go straight to the bar and ask for a non-alcoholic beverage with a smile.

“I found for me, I didn’t have to stay all night,” Griffin said. “If I felt uncomfortable, even if it wasn’t already midnight, I gave myself permission to leave or go outside and call a sober buddy, and most importantly, breathe – the moment will pass.”

____

Follow Leanne Italie on Twitter at https://twitter杭州龙凤/litalie

Environment Canada picks unusually warm temperatures top weather story of 2012 – Montreal

TORONTO – Canada coped with a slew of natural disasters from freak storms to floods this calendar year, but the country’s meteorological watchdog says Canadians will remember 2012 as the year when the weather was too hot to handle.

Environment Canada says unusually high temperatures from coast to coast ranked as the top climate-related story of the year.

Senior climatologist David Phillips says Canadians experienced warmer than average conditions right through the year, making the stretch from January to November the fourth-warmest on record since 1948.

Phillips says the three-month stretch from July to September was the warmest such period on record over the past 65 years.

He says a highly active hurricane season culminating in superstorm Sandy was the second most notable weather event of the year, since it cost Canadians more than $100 million in property damage.

Extreme flooding throughout British Columbia rounded out the top three weather stories of the year.

Phillips said the prolonged warm spell that defined the 2012 climate agenda can’t be attributed to a single season or phenomenon.

Story continues below

杭州龙凤

“It wasn’t just about a nice, fuzzy average temperature for the whole year,” Phillips said. “It was composed of a winter that was cancelled and a summer that seemed to go on very long to be one of the hottest on record.”

Unusually temperate winter conditions altered the look and feel of the entire season even in the country’s arctic regions, Phillips said, adding national temperature averages saw the mercury rise 3.6 degrees above seasonal norms.

The month of March was a particularly dramatic illustration of the trend, he said, adding the summer-like conditions that shattered thousands of temperature records throughout the country catapulted that month’s mild conditions to fourth spot on Environment Canada’s list of notable 2012 weather stories.

But come the fall, Phillips said the Maritime and Central provinces that basked in the March heat witnessed the other end of the spectrum as the Atlantic hurricane season swung into particularly high gear.

A total of 19 tropical storms roiled North American skies this year, Phillips said, adding the figure is roughly double what’s seen during a more typical season. While only 10 of those morphed into full-fledged hurricanes, some of them left their mark on Canadian soil.

Hurricanes Chris, Isaac and Leslie brought heavy rainfalls to areas ranging from Newfoundland and Labrador to Ontario, but all paled compared to the damage inflicted when the remnants of Hurricane Sandy made themselves felt in late October.

At least two people were killed when the system reached Canadian shores, Environment Canada said, adding the storm also caused more than $100 million in property damage and left 150,000 people without power.

Phillips predicts the year ahead won’t offer much respite for storm-weary Canadians.

“Since 1995, we’ve only had two years where we’ve had normal or a quieter than normal hurricane season,” he said. “Clearly we’re into a cycle where we see more of these tropical storms that are appearing in the Atlantic. The water is warmer, the winds favour it.”

British Columbia residents who were spared the wrath of Sandy didn’t have much cause to celebrate, as they were still recovering from a series of devastating floods earlier in the summer, Phillips said.

An unusually deep snow pack accumulated during the winter, combined with June downpours that saw some areas receive more rain in a day than they would usually see in a month, spelled disaster for dozens of communities along the province’s rivers.

Widespread flooding swept away bridges, damaged local infrastructure and even touched off a fatal landslide near Johnson’s Landing, B.C., that buried four people under a pile of rubble.

Water figured largely in the rest of Environment Canada’s top weather picks of 2012.

The unusually warm and wet summer on the Prairies nabbed fifth spot, while sixth place went to unprecedented melting of sea ice over the Arctic Ocean.

Urban flooding in Thunder Bay, Ont., Montreal and Hamilton came eighth, Calgary’s massive hail storm secured ninth spot and flooding caused by an ice jam on New Brunswick’s Saint John river rounded out the top 10.

Environment Canada bucked the trend with its seventh-place honours, which went to serious droughts and heat waves that hampered crop production on Canada’s east coast.

Phillips said Canadians hoping for a more stable weather map in 2013 would be wise not to hold their breath.

“There’s a lot of jokers in Mother Nature’s deck from the weather. We have seen a lot of it in recent years, and I don’t think we’ve seen everything yet.”

Edmonton’s startup culture gaining maturity – Edmonton

EDMONTON – Edmonton isn’t mentioned in the same breath as startup hubs like San Francisco or Chicago and that’s perfectly fine with an entrepreneurial community that is flourishing nonetheless.

In fact, they prefer it.

“I really feel Edmonton is the sleeper startup community of the country,” said Ken Bautista, CEO and co-founder of incubator/accelerator Startup Edmonton. “I feel that we have the resources, the talent and the connections. We’re not trying to be another Silicon Valley. We want to embrace what we do here.”

What makes Edmonton a top-notch environment for startups is open to interpretation. But it’s not just wishful thinking or a branded initiative from local business leaders. A study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business ranked Edmonton eighth in the nation for its startup viability. Their metrics took into account levels of business ownership and how local policy helps those entrepreneurs thrive.

Story continues below

杭州龙凤

From the city’s perspective, having the capacity to sustain entrepreneurs is important to Edmonton’s economic health and image. It’s the reason the city has invested in projects like Startup Edmonton and TEC Edmonton, an accelerator housed at the University of Alberta. According to Edmonton Economic Development Corporation CEO Brad Ferguson, the city sees its role as a bridge between individual entrepreneurial nodes.

“Anytime you can enter new life or new blood into a business community, it has the ability to transform,” Ferguson said. “A new idea, a new technology, a new process, those are all things that have the ability to transform industries and keep them competitive.”

This is similar to a theory proposed by Richard Florida, a professor of regional economic development at the University of Toronto, that suggests the economic fortunes of present-day cities will be predicated on the strength of their “creative class.” The currency of this workforce is information, ideas and technology.

This could be the reason talented commerce graduates at the U of A are eschewing jobs in the energy sector for startup opportunities. Cam Linke was one of those students. The former Golden Bears quarterback started his first company (DemoCamp Edmonton) not long after graduation. At age 29, Linke already has a CEO title on his resume as the head of a digital survey collection company called Touch Metric. He’s also the co-founder of Startup Edmonton.

Wearing a colourful hooded sweatshirt and two metal studs in his ears, Linke is the archetype for the enterprising creative.

“We have entrepreneurial roots here in the province,” Linke said. “There’s an acceptance of going out and striking it on your own and not get that oil-and-gas job. There’s also a generation of people who don’t want to design a flow valve for the next 60 years of their lives.”

Ten years ago, someone with Linke’s skills might have left for a more hospitable startup climate. Now Bautista, 35, believes Edmonton can retain its talent by offering a proven model to success. What the city needed was a few more generations of entrepreneurs to act as mentors and reinvest in local businesses.

Jared Smith is one Edmonton entrepreneur who embraces that responsibility. As the partner and co-founder of Incite, a local marketing company, Smith engages with students and young entrepreneurs as a mentor. He previously served as chair on the board of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and was one of Startup Edmonton’s founding partners. The U of A grad is also a regular keynote speaker at the Rocky Mountain Business Seminar, a conference for students in Jasper.

“We needed to create a culture for startups in Edmonton,” Smith said. “There is a magnetism to that now. And it’s not just a young maverick culture here. There are patriarchs and matriarchs who have set the stage by doing some really great things.”

Having sustainable growth is what drives Bautista’s vision of Edmonton’s startup scene. While food trucks and mobile apps are cool, he wants startups building businesses with growth potential.

“We need to focus on raising the game in terms of startups,” Bautista said. “It’s not just starting a business; we’re talking about a scalable business that can mean something for Edmonton.”

The next step is to cultivate a high-performance culture. Bautista feels entrepreneurs need three principles to be successful: speed, traction and hustle.

Since quitting her job with the city over the summer, Justine Barber has hustled to expand her online startup. The 29-year-old came up with the idea to sell made-to-measure boots after a trip to Bali and quickly recognized Edmonton lacked the market for custom-made women’s footwear. When she returned home, Poppy & Barley was born.

Barber, along with her sister and co-founder Kendall, is a member of Startup Edmonton’s “Flightpath” program, which helps accelerate a business’s development. In exchange for six per cent equity, Barber received a $15,000 cash investment and office space at Startup Edmonton. The added appeal of the program is the exposure to industry experts. Barber regularly meets with mentors and receives valuable advice on how to grow her startup.

“We’re far more sophisticated now than we might have been,” Barber said. “My sister and I didn’t have a tech background, so it was helpful to have access to people who could help with website design or marketing.”

Although Barber had a degree in commerce from the U of A, she hardly considered herself an entrepreneur. But the St. Albert native had an idea and identified a need in the market. Six months later she was a full-fledged business owner.

Barber’s desire to grow the idea into a viable startup is what Bautista wants to see from more Edmontonians. When startups turn into success stories, those founders grow roots here. Retaining talented entrepreneurs has always been the endgame for Bautista. That’s why the CEO meets with students at the U of A and MacEwan University, letting them know the path to entrepreneurship should not be an intimidating one.

“It’s not about picking winners for me,” Bautista said. “It’s about changing the conditions so that more people are able to step onto the field and be successful.”

Environment Canada picks unusually warm temperatures top weather story of 2012

TORONTO – Canada coped with a slew of natural disasters from freak storms to floods this calendar year, but the country’s meteorological watchdog says Canadians will remember 2012 as the year when the weather was too hot to handle.

Environment Canada says unusually high temperatures from coast to coast ranked as the top climate-related story of the year.

Senior climatologist David Phillips says Canadians experienced warmer than average conditions right through the year, making the stretch from January to November the fourth-warmest on record since 1948.

Phillips says the three-month stretch from July to September was the warmest such period on record over the past 65 years.

He says a highly active hurricane season culminating in superstorm Sandy was the second most notable weather event of the year, since it cost Canadians more than $100 million in property damage.

Extreme flooding throughout British Columbia rounded out the top three weather stories of the year.

Phillips said the prolonged warm spell that defined the 2012 climate agenda can’t be attributed to a single season or phenomenon.

Story continues below

杭州龙凤

“It wasn’t just about a nice, fuzzy average temperature for the whole year,” Phillips said. “It was composed of a winter that was cancelled and a summer that seemed to go on very long to be one of the hottest on record.”

Unusually temperate winter conditions altered the look and feel of the entire season even in the country’s arctic regions, Phillips said, adding national temperature averages saw the mercury rise 3.6 degrees above seasonal norms.

The month of March was a particularly dramatic illustration of the trend, he said, adding the summer-like conditions that shattered thousands of temperature records throughout the country catapulted that month’s mild conditions to fourth spot on Environment Canada’s list of notable 2012 weather stories.

But come the fall, Phillips said the Maritime and Central provinces that basked in the March heat witnessed the other end of the spectrum as the Atlantic hurricane season swung into particularly high gear.

A total of 19 tropical storms roiled North American skies this year, Phillips said, adding the figure is roughly double what’s seen during a more typical season. While only 10 of those morphed into full-fledged hurricanes, some of them left their mark on Canadian soil.

Hurricanes Chris, Isaac and Leslie brought heavy rainfalls to areas ranging from Newfoundland and Labrador to Ontario, but all paled compared to the damage inflicted when the remnants of Hurricane Sandy made themselves felt in late October.

At least two people were killed when the system reached Canadian shores, Environment Canada said, adding the storm also caused more than $100 million in property damage and left 150,000 people without power.

Phillips predicts the year ahead won’t offer much respite for storm-weary Canadians.

“Since 1995, we’ve only had two years where we’ve had normal or a quieter than normal hurricane season,” he said. “Clearly we’re into a cycle where we see more of these tropical storms that are appearing in the Atlantic. The water is warmer, the winds favour it.”

British Columbia residents who were spared the wrath of Sandy didn’t have much cause to celebrate, as they were still recovering from a series of devastating floods earlier in the summer, Phillips said.

An unusually deep snow pack accumulated during the winter, combined with June downpours that saw some areas receive more rain in a day than they would usually see in a month, spelled disaster for dozens of communities along the province’s rivers.

Widespread flooding swept away bridges, damaged local infrastructure and even touched off a fatal landslide near Johnson’s Landing, B.C., that buried four people under a pile of rubble.

Water figured largely in the rest of Environment Canada’s top weather picks of 2012.

The unusually warm and wet summer on the Prairies nabbed fifth spot, while sixth place went to unprecedented melting of sea ice over the Arctic Ocean.

Urban flooding in Thunder Bay, Ont., Montreal and Hamilton came eighth, Calgary’s massive hail storm secured ninth spot and flooding caused by an ice jam on New Brunswick’s Saint John river rounded out the top 10.

Environment Canada bucked the trend with its seventh-place honours, which went to serious droughts and heat waves that hampered crop production on Canada’s east coast.

Phillips said Canadians hoping for a more stable weather map in 2013 would be wise not to hold their breath.

“There’s a lot of jokers in Mother Nature’s deck from the weather. We have seen a lot of it in recent years, and I don’t think we’ve seen everything yet.”

Mix of rain, snow expected to hit Toronto

TORONTO – Environment Canada issued a freezing rain warning for parts of the Greater Toronto Area, including the Halton-Peel and York-Durham area Thursday night.

Mixed precipitation is expected to bring Toronto its first real taste of winter early Friday morning with heavy rains expected to turn into snow during the day.

A system that has developed over Colorado is making its way toward southern Ontario, Environment Canada said in a special weather statement.

Rain is forecast to begin Thursday afternoon and into Friday morning.

“Rain showers will change to snow on Friday afternoon in Toronto as the centre of the storm passes and winds pick up from the west,” Anthony Farnell, Global Toronto’s Chief Meteorologist said Thursday. “They will gust to 70km/h which will cause reduced visibilities in any snow squalls that develop. Roads will become snow-covered and icy on Friday night and Saturday as the storm slowly winds down.”

While there won’t be a large amount of snow accumulation in Toronto, Farnell said the storm could bring strong winds and dropping temperatures. Along with the busy travel season, conditions could significantly slow down commuters.

Story continues below

杭州龙凤

The little amount of snow Toronto does get, however, will not stick around for long and Farnell warns that it will likely be a green Christmas in the city.

Those areas north of highway 7 though “are almost guaranteed a white Christmas,” Farnell said.

Eastern Ontario is expected to get hammered by winter weather.

On Wednesday, Farnell predicted areas near Georgian Bay will get up to 30 cm of snow from squalls “with near zero visibility and drifting snow.”

Environment Canada has also placed Ottawa and the surrounding area under a snowfall warning, suggesting the area could see up to 30 cm of snow.

Snow in the Ottawa area will taper off by Saturday, according to Environment Canada.
 

 

 

Is technology hurting us by making life easier? Some say it’s just evolution

TORONTO – Canadians may be among the world’s most prolific Internet users but it seems all that time online hasn’t made us a nation of careful spellers.

Many of us often type “facebok” into Google and rather than correcting the obvious mistake, let the search engine fix it. Monitoring Canadians’ search habits would reveal that many, many more consistently type in “faceboo,” “faebook” and “fcaebook” – but they know Google will get the point.

Others can’t be bothered to tap out even eight characters and have learned that entering just “face” or “fb” will get them exactly the link they’re seeking.

Is that lazy or efficient? Should we be thanking Google’s engineers for saving us a few seconds or lament that technology is dooming us to intellectual laziness?

It seems hardly anyone can remember phone numbers anymore since we starting storing them in our mobile phones.

Outside of schools and some workplaces, the practice of putting pen to paper is becoming increasingly rare. To many, scribbling with a pen feels quaint in today’s digital age.

Story continues below

杭州龙凤

Who needs maps and a sense of direction with GPS technology – which is now nearly ubiquitous on smartphones and tablets – to guide the way?

And now voice recognition software is exploding in efficiency and popularity, raising the prospect that typing could eventually become another skill that’s made redundant by convenient, task-relieving technology.

For Matthew Thomas, 33, it was the signing of a birthday card that made him consider just how infrequent old-fashioned manual tasks like handwriting have become in his typical routine.

“I realized how rarely I’m actually ever writing anything by hand and there was like a moment of panic where I felt a little scared because as I was writing I was having a hard time,” Thomas said, noting that he felt the need to concentrate more and think about the act of writing compared to the automatic process of typing.

“When you’re typing you don’t really think, you don’t have to think – (and autocorrect) thinks for you. So I was like, ‘Wow, I’m really scary now when I don’t have Google or spellcheck to help me out.”

More than a decade of work has gone into the technology that powers Google’s autocorrect abilities, which anticipate what users want to say as they type – even if their spelling is way off base.

Google would be a great judge of whether our spelling abilities have deteriorated with the advent of autocorrect tools but Mark Paskin, a senior staff software engineer, said the company hasn’t studied those kinds of changes.

But there are clear hints that users have grown lazier with their typing, knowing Google will back them up.

Much like the “face” and “fb” searches, the most popular queries entered into Google are one-word entries that produce an easy link to a website. For example, the most common search in Canada over the past nine years is Facebook, followed by Youtube. The fourth most popular of all searches? You, which for most users would produce a link to YouTube.

“If the user is doing it intentionally and it gets them to what they want then from (our perspective) that’s a fine query because that’s what we’re trying to do, get the users what they want,” Paskin said.

There’s no doubt that today’s technology is radically altering our day-to-day life and how we function and think, said Martin Hand, an associate professor at Queen’s University.

“I would never think of it in terms of, ‘Is it good or bad? Is it helping or hurting’ or something like that … but it’s almost impossible to achieve anything without some engagement with some software,” Hand said.

“There’s something slightly different with the technologies and media we’re currently using in that they’ve become completely infrastructural, ambient, unavoidable, they’re more like electricity than television, such that it’s very difficult to actually engage in any tasks without negotiating technology in one form or another.”

While old skills are no doubt fading away, technology is leading to the creation of new skills, which come with a new set of expectations, he added.

“Sometimes there’s a bemoaning that (students) don’t know how to write anymore or they can’t do handwriting, but they’re expected to do all sorts of other things. In a sense it makes things easier but it doesn’t make life easier, it changes these other things you’ve got to be able to do,” he said.

“There’s a co-evolution of technology and ways of doing things and the expectations that come along with. There are new skills you’re required to have.”

Noted futurist Ray Kurzweil agrees that the eventual loss of time-tested skills isn’t a crisis for our species and represents part of our evolution.

“We are already a biological non-biological civilization that’s augmented by the tools we created,” said Kurzweil.

“There was controversy when I went to college about these new mobile devices you could carry around that would calculate arithmetic. There was controversy that kids wouldn’t learn how to do arithmetic – and probably kids’ arithmetic skills have fallen off. But they’ve put that effort now into better things, actually learning how to solve problems and create new knowledge.

“Yes, we’ve become dependent on technology and it’s not going away.”

Smartphone users calling less and using their device like a mobile computer

MONTREAL – Here’s my cell number. Call me, maybe?

Or maybe not. Cellphone users are doing less calling as they buy more smartphones and use the device for texting, emailing, web surfing, mobile apps, social networking and watching videos.

And it’s that surge in data use that Canada’s telecom companies – big and small – are banking on as the revenue driver of the future.

“It’s no longer just your teenage kids. It’s everybody,” telecom analyst Brahm Eiley said.

“They use their phone the way they would use their PC,” Eiley added, noting how the use of the web is evolving from computers to mobile devices.

Dan Maitland has an iPhone and hardly uses it for calls.

“These are not just phones,” said Maitland, 39, who makes software that helps train pilots to be safer at flight simulator company CAE Inc. in Montreal.

“They are small computers that have the ability to make a phone call.”

Maitland said he uses his iPhone for such things as web searches, apps, accessing files for work and reading.

And Maitland is doing exactly what wireless providers expect and want him to do to help increase their data revenues in the years ahead.

Story continues below

杭州龙凤

The amount of voice minutes used by consumers on cellphones isn’t increasing, said Eiley, co-founder of the Convergence Consulting Group in Toronto.

“Over the last two years, voice minutes have not seen any growth, whereas smartphone penetration has almost doubled.”

Faster wireless networks are also helping drive the increasing use of data by consumers, Eiley added.

The Convergence Consulting Group expects that about 55 per cent of all cellphone users in Canada will have smartphones by the end of this year. That’s expected to increase to 65 per cent by the end of 2013 and go up to 80 per cent by year-end 2016.

The increase in the use of data is increasing revenues for Canada’s big three wireless carriers.

Rogers (TSX:RCI.B), Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus (TSX:T) have been experiencing year-over-year growth in wireless data revenues with the rise of smartphones.

Convergence Group’s Eiley said by the end of this year, data will make up roughly 39 per cent of service revenue, which includes voice and data, for Canada’s major wireless providers.

Rogers’ CEO Nadir Mohamed looks to a data-driven future, noting that about 65 per cent of Rogers’ customers have adopted smartphones.

“Ultimately, there’s no reason for me to think of a world other than everybody will have a smartphone, smart device with a connection to data, and then it’s just a matter of how much,” Mohamed said at a recent telecom conference in New York.

“The underlying trend will be more and more data consumption.”

Maitland said he changed his monthly plan to increase his data usage and brought down the number of voice minutes to 200 from 250 – and it’s costing him less.

He doesn’t like making calls.

“I almost even go out of my way, personally, to find ways to be able to communicate with other people where I don’t actually have to use the phone itself.”

New wireless carrier Wind Mobile also sees data driving its growth.

Wind chairman and CEO Anthony Lacavera said the company’s customer base is shifting to smartphones and away from talk-and-talk phones, which now have a small percentage of sales.

“I would say 2012 was the year people figured out that mobile apps can do as much as they can do with their laptops,” Lacavera said from Toronto.

“People now realize there’s an app for everything and now I can do all the stuff I do on my laptop with my smartphone. Consumers have really figured that out and that’s driving the data growth.”

Lacavera is predicting that 2013 will be the year that smartphone users really start to watch video and TV on their devices.

“The next round of data growth is going to be driven by that.”

Rogers’ CEO Mohamed also noted that mobile commerce, which Rogers recently launched with CIBC, will also grow in the coming years as consumers use their smartphones to pay for transactions, also adding to growth.

Eiley said the major wireless carriers correctly predicted the increase in the use of data.

“The big guys were right, they were talking about this years ago. They were talking about how all these different uses of data would drive growth.”

The country’s wireless carriers will have the opportunity to bid on spectrum – radio waves over which cellphones operate – later in 2013 to build out faster data-friendly networks.

The federal government is expected to auction off the premium 700-megahertz wireless spectrum, which will give both rural and city cellphone users better service.

Rogers, Bell and Telus have already rolled out faster, next-generation networks with Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology that’s suited to data use, and smaller carriers are expected to follow after the spectrum auction.

Despite the changes in how consumers use their mobile phones, landlines at home haven’t gone the way of the Dodo.

By the end of 2012, 82 per cent of Canadian households will have a residential wireline phone, the Convergence Group said, and just under 18 per cent of households will have only a cellphone.

IMF urges European Union to swiftly introduce full banking union to stabilize financial system

BERLIN – The International Monetary Fund urged the European Union Thursday to step up its efforts to stabilize the bloc’s financial system by swiftly moving toward a fully integrated banking sector.

The 27-country group still faces great challenges “with continuing banking and sovereign debt crises”, the IMF said, adding that it needs a comprehensive region-wide solution as its banks are so heavily interconnected.

In its first financial stability assessment for the bloc, the IMF welcomed this month’s EU decision to create a single banking supervisor, but called it “only an initial step” toward a full banking union. That will require further steps such as a joint deposit guarantee, a single set of rules for banks and a joint bank bailout fund, it said.

European policymakers, however, are reluctant to create a full banking union because joint liability implies one country’s taxpayers would someday have to bail out struggling banks of another EU country.

Leaders in more economically disciplined countries such as Germany and the Netherlands are concerned that their taxpayers’ money could be used to bail out banks in weaker countries without giving them a say over the use of the funds.

Story continues below

杭州龙凤

The fund usually carries out financial stability analyses for single nations, but now moved toward carrying out an EU-wide review because it reckons that banks’ risks are closely interconnected across the 27-nation bloc, and even more so between the 17 nations using the euro currency.

The IMF also recommended that the EU should beef up its bank stress tests in a bid to identify problems stemming from liquidity issues or structural weaknesses.

“Experience suggests that the benefits of a bold approach outweigh the risks,” it said.

The Washington-based institution also urged the EU to make its new, permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, rapidly operational for bank recapitalizations.

That would shield national governments to some extent from the burden of taking on more debt when they have to bail out their banks – a move that weakens their own financial position. A swift and fully functional ESM could therefore help decouple bank and sovereign risk, the IMF argues.

The full IMF review of the EU financial system has not yet been published because it is still being discussed with EU officials, it said.

___

Juergen Baetz can be reached on Twitter at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活twitter杭州龙凤/jbaetz

Tart suitable for holiday entertaining filled with festive flavour of eggnog

This dessert brings you the festive flavour of eggnog in the form of a tart. The pat-in, cookie-like pastry is easy for novice bakers yet will look as if you’re a pro.

If your schedule is busy, you can easily make this treat a couple days ahead and refrigerate. Serve with whipped cream, flavoured with a hint of nutmeg, for a special touch.

Eggnog Tart

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Crust

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour

45 ml (3 tbsp) icing sugar

2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt

125 ml (1/2 cup) unsalted cold butter, cubed

1 egg yolk

30 ml (2 tbsp) whipping cream

Eggnog Filling

1 pkg (250 g/8 oz) plain cream cheese, softened

125 ml (1/2 cup) whipping cream

125 ml (1/2 cup) granulated sugar

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

5 ml (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract

2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground nutmeg

Pinch salt

30 ml (2 tbsp) bourbon (optional)

5 ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon (optional)

Topping (optional)

500 ml (2 cups) whipping cream

5 ml (1 tsp) nutmeg

Story continues below

杭州龙凤

Crust: In a food processor, pulse together flour, icing sugar and salt. Pulse in butter until mixture has the texture of fine crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk with whipping cream; drizzle over flour mixture. Pulse dough to combine. Loosely divide dough into quarters, clump together and pat each quarter into tart pan. Press pastry evenly over bottom and up sides of a 25-cm (10-inch) tart pan with removable bottom. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

Cover dough completely with foil; fill with dried beans or rice to weight the crust. Bake in bottom third of a 190 C (375 F) oven until edges are a light golden colour, about 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes.

Filling: In a food processor, blend cream cheese, whipping cream and sugar until creamy, about 1 minute.

Add whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, nutmeg, salt, bourbon and cinnamon (if using), and blend until smooth. Gently pour mixture into tart shell.

Bake in a 180 C (350 F) oven until filling is set but still jiggling slightly in the centre, about 20 minutes (the filling will continue to set as it cools). Let tart cool completely in pan on a rack. (If making ahead, cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.)

Just before serving, remove sides of pan. If desired, whip whipping cream and fold in nutmeg. Cut tart into 8 wedges and serve with whipped cream.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 460 calories; 32 g fat; 3 g carbohydrate; 1 g fibre; 9 g protein; 270 mg sodium.

Source: Egg Farmers of Ontario.

US home sales jump to a 5 million annual pace in November, highest in 3 years

WASHINGTON – Sales of previously occupied homes in the United States jumped to their highest level in three years last month, bolstered by steady job gains and record-low mortgage rates.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales rose 5.9 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in November. That’s up from 4.76 million in October.

The pickup in activity in the U.S. market contrasts with a recent slowdown in Canadian sales of previously owned homes. The Canadian market recovered quickly from the 2008-9 recession and had shown strong demand and rising prices until this summer, when the sales volumes began to decline.

In the United States, previously occupied home sales are on track for their best year in five years. November’s sales were the highest since November 2009, when a federal tax credit that was soon to expire spurred sales. Excluding that month, last month’s sales were the highest since July 2007.

American sales are up 14.5 per cent from a year ago, though they remain below the roughly 5.5 million that are consistent with a healthy market.

Story continues below

杭州龙凤

Job growth and low home-loan rates have helped drive purchases. Prices are also rising, which encourages more potential buyers to come off the sidelines and purchase homes. And more people may put their homes on the market if they feel confident they can sell at a good price.

In addition, the excess supply of homes that built up during the housing bubble has finally thinned out. The number of previously occupied homes available for sale fell to a 10-year low in October. The supply of new homes is also near its lowest level since 1963.

At the same time, more people are looking to buy or rent a home after living with relatives or friends during and immediately after the Great Recession.

These trends have supported a steady recovery in housing. Builder confidence rose in December for a seventh straight month to the highest level in more than 6 1/2 years, according to a survey released Tuesday by the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo.

The pace of home construction slipped in November, but it was still nearly 22 per cent higher than a year earlier. Builders are on track this year to start work on the most homes in four years.

Economists note that the increase in building should lead to more construction jobs, though it hasn’t yet done so. That could mean more construction hiring is coming.

– With files from The Canadian Press.