Friday, 30 March 2007

April 1st, 2007 Don't be fooled!

I've heard that eating too many bread crusts will make your hair curly. Fortunately common sense and logic lead me to believe that this simply isn't true. If it were, I would be dining on bread crusts for the rest of my life in the hope that my straight hair will suddenly develop luscious waves.

Many common fallacies, myths, lies, old wives' tales and urban legends abound. In fact, many of us probably quote some commonly used but strange facts on a regular basis. How many times have you been told to feed a cold and starve a fever? The Pedant's Revolt, Know What Know-It-Alls Know, by Andrea Barham is an entertaining look at some of the most common misconceptions. Had a little too much to drink? A cup of coffee will not sober you up, nor will it help to speed up the process. The human body metabolizes alcohol at a fixed rate, therefore, the only sure fire way to sober up is time. And speaking of coffee, which beverage contains more caffeine-coffee or tea? An actual tea leaf does contain more caffeine but fewer leaves are required than coffee beans to brew a single cup. A cup of coffee is the winner.

Thomas Craughwell has written a number of books on urban legends, or, in his words, absolutely true stories that happened to a friend, of a friend, of a friend. In Alligators In The Sewer, he retells more than 200 common urban legends. Of course we've all heard of the tourist recently returned to New York from Florida with their souvenir baby alligator. When the novelty wears off the alligator is disposed of by flushing it down the toilet. Miraculously it survives and grows into a giant living in the sewer system. Have you heard the story of the babysitter who receives threatening phone calls only to find out the killer is calling from an upstairs bedroom? This story was so popular it was made into a movie, twice in fact. Check out the most recent version available on dvd at your library titled When A Stranger Calls.

For untruths of a natural kind, try the book Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind by Warner Shedd. Porcupine quills are barbed, or are they? A porcupine quill is usually described as being barbed, and they are not. Each quill is made up of a series of sharp scales all going in one direction. When you rub the quill in the opposite direction of the scales, it will feel like tiny barbs. These scales make it easy for the quill to enter, but more difficult and painful to remove when going against the scales. Contrary to popular belief, a porcupine cannot throw its quills. Rather the rapid movement of the tail back and forth will make it appear as if the quills are being thrown.

The website has a huge collection of myths, legends and folklore. Stories are arranged by subject categories with links to the hottest urban legends, weird news, and what's new. Some subjects include Cokelore, Food, Computers, and Old Wives' Tales. Within each category there is a colour coded legend signifying whether the information is true, false or of undetermined validity.

John Stossel, a reporter for the news show 20/20 features a weekly segment called Give Me a Break in which he questions conventional wisdom, oftentimes on controversial topics. His latest book is called Myths, Lies, And Downright Stupidity. I know some people will find his statements disturbing, but they will make you stop and think. If anything, they will provoke much discussion at the water cooler. Here are a few examples of what he calls myths. A chiropractor can cure your child's asthma. Homeopathy is a good treatment for allergies and the flu. Expensive coffee tastes better that cheap coffee. A full moon makes people crazy. We are running out of oil fast. Bottled water is better than tap. To find out his explanations as to why these are not true you will need to read the book, preferably a copy borrowed from your local library.

Mythbusters is a television show on Discovery Channel devoted to investigating urban legends and myths. Special effects experts use modern day science to verify fact from fiction using real demonstrations. Trying to make a toilet explode, filling a vehicle gas tank with sugar, flying a kite during a thunderstorm, and trying to break a glass by singing are just some of their entertaining antics.

So don't be fooled this April 1, and if you need to verify a story or fact, give the Reference Department a call and we will be happy to check it out.

Michelle Paziuk, Library Technician

Thursday, 22 March 2007

March 25th, 2007 Grief

Good grief Charlie Brown. Grief – the subject no one wants to talk about. Right now I bet some of you have already stopped reading. Grief is a very lonely thing, maybe part of the reason is because we don't talk about it. We are all touched by it, it's hard to avoid. You've probably lost someone, maybe a grandparent, a friend, a co-worker. When I am grieving I turn to books, to try to find answers. It's a constant surprise to see in print, the very thoughts I am having.

The library has books on grief for a variety of situations, such as miscarriage, the loss of a child, a spouse, a parent. There are books on how to help children and teens to deal with grief and books on pet grief. Here are some titles we carry that may help you.

I Will Remember You by Laura Dower is a grief guidebook for teens. There is a chapter on remembering. It gives suggestions such as starting a grief journal, creating a memorial web page, visiting the family, and sharing memories with other mourners via online chat. If you know a grieving teenager please tell them about this book, or as a parent you might want to read it, to help your teen.

The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion is the story of a personal encounter with grief. While her only child is suffering from septic shock and is on life support, her husband dies suddenly of a heart attack. What follows is the story of her daughter's recovery and the author dealing with the loss of her husband. You may be able to relate to things such as her reluctance to give her husband's clothing away. She doesn't want to do it because she believes he will need them when he comes back. Sometimes that belief is the one thought you hold on to and you think that if you can just make it through a year, then you should be rewarded by your loved one coming back.

Shortly before her death in 2004 Elizabeth Kubler-Ross completed the manuscript for On Grief And Grieving, co-written by David Kessler. Her first book, published 36 years before this, profoundly affected the ways that we think, when she introduced us to the five stages of dying. It is fitting that her final work should be about grief. The five stages of death fit seamlessly into the five stages of grief. In the afterword of this book it tells us – The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. If I was to write one thought about grief, that would have been it.

Healing A Friend's Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas For Helping Someone You Love Through Loss by Alan D. Wolfelt. If you've ever had a close friend grieve for the loss of a loved one, this book is for you. It teaches us that the best way to help is to lend an ear and a shoulder to cry on. It reminds us to be mindful of the anniversary of the death. Anniversaries and holidays such as Mother's Day or Father's Day are hard on those left behind. I think it's a good time to send a card or note, to let them know you are thinking about them. The book also gives suggestions such as taking over a favourite meal, going to a movie, a gift certificate from a spa, going for a drive, a weekend getaway or even watching the sunrise together. The sun is a symbol of life and renewal. No matter how small the gesture, it will be appreciated.

We know how we grieve for the loss of a pet, but does a pet grieve the loss of an animal companion. The Heart That Is Loved Never Forgets by Kaetheryn Walker, has a chapter on this subject. Surviving pets may exhibit symptoms of grief, such as changes in eating or sleeping habits or they may appear to be looking for the missing companion. Some may appear to be depressed and sometimes will pass away shortly afterwards, seemingly from a broken heart.

Dreams can help us heal after the death of a loved one. Grief Dreams by T.J. Wray has chapters on the four common types of grief dreams – visitation, message, reassurance and trauma. I believe there is a pattern to these dreams. In the beginning it can be very upsetting, to have dreams or nightmares about your loved one. But as time goes by, it's as if the dreams change and you come to appreciate the opportunity to spend time with the departed, in the only way you can. It becomes the visitation dream, which this book describes as both calming and consoling.

Midlife Orphan: Facing Life's Changes Now That Your Parents Are Gone by Jane Brooks. It doesn't matter how old we are, we never stop needing our parents. When your second parent passes away, you become an orphan. As the book describes it, it is the end of an era and makes you more aware of your own mortality. Relationships change and you might now find yourself the matriarch or patriarch of the family. If this sounds like you, perhaps this book can help. Losing a parent can be devastating at any age. I liken it to being a member of a special club, that no one wants to belong to. The only good thing I can see about it, is that maybe you in turn can help someone when they lose a parent. When my father died I attended a grief support group meeting. I never thought I could speak about something so personal in front of strangers. But I did and it lightened my heart. There are various grief support groups in town. If you need help, please contact one.

For articles on grief please visit the Virtual Collection on our website. There are various databases you can search such as the Health and Wellness Resource Center. The Virtual Collection is accessible 24 hours a day.

Never underestimate the power of a good laugh. Laughter has such a wonderful effect on the body. Why not take a break and lose yourself for a few hours in a funny movie or book. It is a welcome relief from grieving, if only for a short time. Woody Allen makes me laugh and he said it best when he said I'm not afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens. The library carries some of the classic Woody Allen movies. I hope that the titles I've suggested are of assistance to you, and remember, be good to yourself.

Karen Craib is a Library Technician at the Thunder Bay Public Library.

Friday, 16 March 2007

March 18th, 2007 Sisters, sisters, never were there such devoted sisters

Sisters come in all shapes and sizes. You can have a little sister who is close in age or maybe a big sister who is more than 20 years older than you. You can be ages apart, yet still close at heart. You can grow up sharing a room or not even sharing the same roof. You can live miles apart or just minutes away. No matter where you live or how old you are, you will always be sisters. This column is in celebration of sisters. Here are some of my favourite books about sisters.

The Girls by Lori Lansens. The story begins with – I have never looked into my sister's eyes. This is the story of Ruby and Rose, conjoined twins joined at the head. In their small home town they are simply known as The Girls. At twenty nine years of age, they are old for conjoined twins and as the end of their life nears, Rose begins to write their story. She enlists Ruby to write some of the chapters in her own words. Abandoned as infants by their unwed teenage mother, they are raised by Lovey and Stash Darlen. What follows is a story of a remarkable bond between two sisters, struggling to have a normal life and seeking joy where they can find it. This story will be in your thoughts long after you close the cover on the final page.

Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas. Set during the Civil War, Alice, a young bride is left on the family farm with only her stern mother-in-law for company, when her husband enlists. Newly pregnant Alice tries to win over her husband's mother. Lonely for her family Alice passes her spare time writing letters to her sister Lizzie. Her letters tell a story of food shortages, a sense of isolation and the difficulties assimilating into a small town. Her fondness for quilting leads to involvement in quilting bees and she slowly makes friends. After she becomes a murder suspect she finds support from an unexpected place, her mother-in-law. It is a tale rich with joys and sorrows.

Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright. Similar to Alice's Tulips this story is told through the letters between two sisters, Clara and Nora Callan, as well as Clara's journal entries. Set in the Depression, Clara, a school teacher lives in a small Ontario town, while Nora moves to New York to become a radio soap opera star. Although her career is doing well, through Nora's letters we come to see that life in the big city is not as exciting as you would expect. We follow Clara as she struggles through a series of twists of fate that almost shatter her life. In the end we discover that things are often not as they appear. This novel won the Governor General's Award in 2001.

What We Keep by Elizabeth Berg. After 35 years Ginny and Sharla are on their way to meet the mother who left them when they were young. With their mother facing a possible terminal illness, Sharla would like to make peace and asks Ginny to come with her. As she travels home, Ginny reflects on her childhood and events leading up to their mother's leaving, viewed through the eyes of a child. USA Today said What We Keep is about ties that are buried but not broken, wounds that are dressed but never heal, and love that changes form but somehow survives.

A Place Where The Sea Remembers by Sandra Benitez. This is the story of two sisters, set in the Mexican village of Santiago. Chayo has been trying to have a baby. When her younger sister Marta becomes pregnant she agrees to adopt the child, only to find herself pregnant. When she and her husband tell her sister that they've changed their minds, her sister puts a curse on Chayo's unborn baby. Later her remorseful sister tells her about the curse and tries to have it reversed. But is it too late? It's a story of love, betrayal and the relationship between the two sisters, set against a harsh backdrop. The library does not carry this book, but through our Interlibrary Loan service we can borrow it for you from out of town. It is well worth the short wait.

If you are interested in finding other novels about sisters, be sure to visit the Virtual Collection on our website. In NoveList you can do a search by selecting Search Our Database and choosing Describe A Plot. Then just enter the word sisters and add the limiter adult. Remember the Virtual Collection is available 24 hours a day. So if you're lying awake at night wondering what to read next, we're there at your fingertips.

A sister is someone you share a history with. As parents age and pass on, you may be the ones left sharing the family memories. She's someone you can vacation with or just go for a coffee with. No matter how far apart you live, your sister is just a phone call away and someone you'll carry in your heart forever. If you're ever looking for ideas for a mini-getaway, you and your sister could take a drive to Grand Marais. There you can visit My Sister's Place for lunch. It's a restaurant and the name always amuses me. Be sure to ask to have your photo taken and visit their photo wall while you are there. It's a lovely way to spend a day with a sister. Or maybe even a friend, who is as close as a sister.

I hope you have a chance to enjoy one of the books I've suggested. If you find one you like, be sure to recommend it to your sister. I think Christina Rosetti said it best when she said For there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather. Now go hug your sister.

Karen Craib is a Library Technician at the Brodie Library -
If you have a comment about today's column, we would love to hear from you.

Friday, 9 March 2007

March 11th, 2007 Recommended Tax Books

It's that time again! Come down to any branch of the Thunder Bay Public Library or go on-line to if you are working from home. Click on "Virtual Collection", then "Featured Sites", and choose either your library's resources or the Canada Revenue Agency Site.

Smart Tax Tips : winning strategies to reduce your taxes updated for 2007, over 160 tax and RRSP tips by Grant Thornton (leading firm of chartered accountants and business consultants) is the annual must-have for all Canadians interested in tax-reducing strategies. Tax tips include everything from alimony and asset transfers to RRSPs and charitable donations. This special updated edition features the 1% reduction in the GST rate, New Canada child tax benefit, non-refundable tax credit on monthly public transit passes, and new rules for the taxation of eligible dividends.

Tax Tips 2007 for Canadians for Dummies compiled by a group of skilled Canadian accounting professionals offers simple-to-use money-saving shortcuts that make doing your taxes a breeze. Answers to the five most commonly asked tax questions are supplied. Where do I file? When is my return due? What happens if I file late? Can I change my return if I find a mistake? Where can I get missing forms? Whether you're self-employed, planning for retirement, or filing your taxes for the first time, this useful guide provides strategies to assist you in planning for tax-time year round.

Make Sure It's Deductible : little-known tax tips for your Canadian small business by Evelyn Jacks, Canada's best-selling and most trusted tax author, presents important tax facts in a clear, friendly style, that's easy to read and apply to your business. This updated 3rd edition includes new ways to: maximize new tax brackets, rates, and tax-free zones for each family member; understand the new rules for deducting fines, tools, and other assets; take advantage of new perks for small business owners; minimize taxes and maximize social benefits; and utilize the new lower corporate tax rates and higher small business deductions. Jacks addresses these issues in a way the average person can understand.

Live it up Without Outliving Your Money : 10 steps to a perfect retirement portfolio by Paul Merriman shows you how to create and maintain the perfect retirement portfolio. From determining what assets have the highest probability of giving you the returns you need, to controlling taxes and expenses, the simple strategies out-lined will help you in your portfolio. This guide will motivate you to get into action and improve your situation, allow you to tailor a financial plan that takes into account the right amount of risk for you, provide useful tools to keep your emotions from derailing your investments, examine multiple strategies for withdrawing money once you've retired, and help you find and hire a financial advisor whose interests are the same as yours. If you want to make sure your golden years aren't your lean years, invest your time in this book.

101 Tax Secrets for Canadians : smart strategies that can save you thousands! by Tim Cestnick offers 101 tips for year-round tax planning. From brand new changes to the tax rules, to little-known strategies, Cestnick reveals the smart tips and advice that can save taxpayers from all walks of life thousands of dollars on their tax bill. Whether you are an employee or self-employed, a student, a retiree, an investor, single or part of a family, there are tax-saving tips for you in this book. Personal tax rates and tax credits were changed in the 2006 federal budget, affecting every tax-paying Canadian. And the new universal child care benefit was introduced, providing all families with $1,200 per year for each child under age 6. Check this out for many more "secrets."

If you aren't really up to working on your tax returns, try Susan Dunlop's witty, mystery novel Death and Taxes. It's April, the streets are empty, with taxpayers holed up with receipts and deduction
schedules. Homicide detective Jill Smith is on her way home when she stops to help out a fellow officer standing over the motionless body of the most feared and hated auditor for the Internal Revenue Service. Smith unravels a mystery as baffling as a 1040 tax form.

"Isn't it appropriate that the month of the tax begins with April Fool's Day and ends with the cries of 'May Day!'" - Robert Knauerhase

Jo-Anne Agostino is Public Services Assistant

Friday, 2 March 2007

March 4, 2007 Slow Movement

Is life becoming too fast for you? Concerned about climate change and wanting to make a difference in your life to help to slow this change? Was one of your new years resolutions to "stop and smell the roses"? If you answered "yes" to any or all of these questions then you will
want to learn more about the "Slow Movement".

The Slow Movement aims to address the issue of 'time poverty' through making connections. If we think about the following trends. Buddhism is the fastest growing religion in the world today. People are turning to organic foods in droves. Schools are in turmoil. Home schooling is becoming commonplace. People are downshifting.The slow food movement is gaining popularity with 811 convivia worldwide. (

What is Downshifting?
Downshifters are people who adopt long-term voluntary simplicity in their life. They accept less money through fewer hours worked in order to have time for the important things in life. Downshifters also place emphasis on consuming less in order to reduce their ecological footprint. There are two primary aspects to downshifting. One is about connection: connection to life, family, food, place; and the other is about maintaining a healthy balance: balance in the personal, work, family, spiritual, physical, and social aspects of their life.

Check out Downshifting: Reinventing Success on a Slower Track by Amy Saltzmann. The library has copies.

What is Slow food all about?
Opposed to the culture of fast food ,the movement known as slow food seeks to encourage the enjoyment of regional produce, traditional foods, which are often grown organically and to enjoy these foods in the company of others. It aims to defend food and agricultural biodiversity (

To learn more about slow food, plan to attend "Eat Your View" April 10, 7 pm. Waverley Auditorium. Presented by Slow Food Superior, come find out what the Slow Food philosophy is and what our local Slow Food convivium is doing to change our region's food landscape. Slow food samples and door prizes will top off the evening. Check out for more information on this local group.

Part of the Slow Food Movement is growing your own food or at least using food grown within a 100 mile radius of your home (The Hundred Mile Club).To learn how to grow your own food, join the Master Gardeners on April 24, 7 pm. Waverley Auditorium for Vegetable Gardening with Master Gardeners.

I heard about the 100-Mile Diet. What is that?
When the average North American sits down to eat, each ingredient has typically travelled at least 1,500 miles: call it "the SUV diet." On the first day of spring, 2005, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon chose to confront this unsettling statistic with a simple experiment. For one year, they would buy or gather their food and drink from within100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia. Dozens of individuals and grassroots groups have since launched their own 100-Mile Diet adventures. Check out to learn more.

I don't want a life-style change. How can I "slow" down easily?
The Slow movement advises some ways of slowing down: Get a Slow hobby, a leisurely pursuit like knitting, yoga or gardening. Spread out your chores; do one load each day instead of all at once, or dust one day and vacuum the next. Stop watching the clock; on weekends try waking up to your body's natural rhythms rather than an alarm, and leave your watch at home Shop at a farmer's market Prepare a sit-down meal and savour it without watching TV, or reading. Enjoy the conversation if you're dining with others, or peaceful solitude if eating alone.

On vacation slow down; don't try to cram every sight into your must-see list. Visit slow cities with local restaurants where you can eat slow. Prune your to-do list, make time for the people and activities that you enjoy.

Barbara Philp, Head of Adult Services