Sunday, 29 March 2009

Sunday March 29th, 2009 April Fool's Day

It has been said that every silly act is a step towards wisdom. Mark Twain put another slant on it when he said that April Fool’s Day is the day upon which we are reminded what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four. (Twain’s Pudd'nhead Wilson).

According to the World Book in the Thunder Bay Public Library’s (TBPL’s) Virtual Collection, the history of April Fool's Day is not clear. The Day’s beginnings can be traced back to 1582, in France. Prior to that year, the New Year was celebrated for eight days, beginning on March 25. The celebration concluded on the first of April. Under Charles IX the new Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved to the first of January.

Some stubbornly refused to accept the new calendar and continued to celebrate their New Year on April 1. For this they were labeled "fools" and had practical jokes played upon them. This evolved into a tradition of prank-playing on the first day of April. Again, sign into TBPL’s virtual collection with your library card and you can read several funny accounts of April Fool’s Day tricks, including the 1957 BBC news account of the Swiss farmers enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. Reportedly many people called BBC to find out how they too could grow a spaghetti tree.
April Fool's Day is strictly for laughs, the benefits of which apparently are many. He who laughs last, laughs best; laugh and the world laughs with you; laughter is the best medicine. "I believe that if people can get more laughter in their lives, they are a lot better off," says Steve Wilson, M.A., CSP, a psychologist and laugh therapist. "They might be healthier, too." Your Thunder Bay Public Library has several great titles on just this.

The Penguin Anthology of Canadian Humour” edited and with an introduction by Will Ferguson, a collection of Canadian humour literature and cultural experience. Each story provides a good laugh.

How to be Really Funny” by Mark Stolzenberg ; photographs by Neil Bicknell, explains how to amuse any audience, using such classic principles of comedy as pantomime, slapstick, and improvisation

Lighten Up : Survival Skills for People Under Pressure” by C.W. Metcalf and Roma Felible, shows simple ways to not take ourselves too seriously.

I'd Rather Laugh: How to be Happy When Life has Other Plans for You” by Linda Richman, based on the premise that the best approach to almost any situation is laughter.

Enjoy the launching of a new book on April 14th in the Waverley Auditorium where you are invited to “Laugh Out Loud with Matt Jackson”. Here you can spend an evening of laughter as you join author Matt Jackson in an evening of slides, music and readings from his newest book entitled “A Beaver is Eating My Canoe : True Tales to Make You Laugh, Chortle, Snicker and Feel Inspired” edited by Matt Jackson.

A specialist in the science of laughter claims that it takes ten minutes on a rowing machine for his heart rate to reach the level it would after just one minute of hearty laughter. Not only that, laughter burns calories. Maciej Buchowski, a researcher from Vanderbilt University, conducted a study in which he measured the amount of calories expended in laughing. Turns out ten minutes of laughter burns 50 calories (equal to one piece of chocolate). (Taken from eLibrary Canada, TBPL’s virtual collection).

For fun go to find books on the Thunder Bay Public Library website and click on Search Library Catalogue to do a quick subject search on laughter. Listed among the books already mentioned, you will find a DVD entitled “Laughter yoga [dvd] : Step by Step Instructional Video”, directed and presented by Madan Kataria. Laughter yoga is an invigorating and relaxing blend of yoga breathing techniques and gentle laughter.

So enjoy the upcoming April Fool’s Day, skeptic or otherwise. And remember when in doubt, laugh. And breathe.

Caron E. Naysmith

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Sunday March 22nd, 2009 Legal Thrillers

The minutes tick by and the defendant's fate hangs in the balance; then the jury comes in and there is that moment just before the verdict is read when time itself seems to stand still. Welcome to the world of the legal thriller. Unlike most detective novels, the lawyer is both sleuth and presenter of the facts, manipulating and controlling much of the action. The lawyers can run the range from crusader to corrupter, each interesting in his or her own way. From the folksy Southern lawyer, the high priced corporate shark , the street front advocate or the tony British barrister, the characters are as interesting and as diverse as the cases they take on.

It was probably watching reruns of Perry Mason as a young girl that started my fascination with legal mysteries. Watching as the evidence stacked up for or against a prisoner on the docket, and how a white lie, a hair or an overheard conversation could send someone to prison always had me on the edge of my seat. Wandering through the stacks at the library, there are always a slew of legal mysteries to challenge even the most seasoned veteran of courtroom suspense, so as Winter slides into Spring, it's a great time to explore the halls of justice.

The Associate- John Grisham

Kyle McAvoy had a future with almost limitless potential, unfortunately for him, Kyle also has a dark secret, which falls into the wrong hands and forces him to take what should be a dream job as associate at the largest law firm in the world. Besides practicing law, Kyle is pushed into a scheme that involves lying and stealing and the knowledge of what is happening may get him killed.

al Legacy- Linda Fairstein

The New York Public Library houses dazzling treasures and deadly secrets. When young woman conservator of rare books was assaulted, and then another woman is found murdered in that same apartment with an extremely valuable book, believed to have been stolen. As Alex pursues the murderer, she is drawn into the strange and privileged world of the Hunt family, major benefactors of the New York Public Library and passionate rare book collectors. Would one of the well-bred Hunts be willing to kill for the treasures? The search takes Alex to the secret tunnels and chambers of the New York Public Library, there Alex comes face-to-face with the killer.

Eclipse- Richard North Patterson

On the eve of his divorce, Damon Pierce, a 40-year-old law partner e-mails Marissa Brand, a woman he was once in love with in college. Marissa is married to a reformer whose Nigeria-like country, Luandia, is awash in oil, an ecological disaster and an evil dictator. When Marissa's husband is arrested for murder, Damon agrees to defend him, throwing himself into the middle of a power struggle between tribal groups, environmentalists, a corrupt petro conglomerate and the sadistic leader of Luandia, all of whom want to see him dead.

Lisa Scottoline- Lady Killer

Philadelphia attorney Mary DiNunzio, agrees to help her high school nemesis, Trish Gambone, because Trish wants to escape from her abusive Mafia-connected boyfriend, Bobby Mancuso then Trish disappears and Mary's investigation is blocked by federal agents. Mary's investigation into Trish's disappearance may turn deadly as forces on both sides of the law don't want her to find the answers.

The Brass Verdict- Michael Connelly

When L.A. lawyer Mickey Haller, inherits the practice and caseload of a fellow defense attorney, who's been murdered, the high-profile double-homicide case against a famed Hollywood producer, takes top priority. As Haller builds a defense, he butts heads with LAPD Det. Harry Bosch, he and Bosch grudgingly agree to work together to solve what could be the biggest case in both their careers and the deeper they dig, the darker the secrets they discover.

Steve Martini- Shadow of Power

Attorney Paul Madriani agrees to represent Carl Arnsberg, a racist facing execution for the bludgeoning of author Terry Scarborough, whose nonfiction bestseller, Perpetual Slaves, has actually led to riots in the streets. Focusing on a secret letter by Thomas Jefferson, a troubled young man and a strange disappearance of a Supreme Court judge, Madriani must survive long enough to find the devastating answers hidden in the shadow of power.

Lori Kauzlarick, Public Services Assistant

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Sunday March 15th, 2009 Moving with TBPL

Four months ago I decided to make a drastic change in my life, the result of that change being that I picked up and left the comfort of my status as a resident of Southern Ontario and moved to Thunder Bay. On top of the stresses of packing, making arrangements to transport my belongings, and trying to find a place to live when I arrived I was uncertain about how to change my address, notify the proper government offices about my move, or how to start getting to know my new home once I got here. Now that I’ve had some time to adjust and get settled I thought what better use of this space than to talk about the trials and tribulation of moving!

Anyone who has recently moved or is currently in the process of moving will know what I’m getting at. No matter how organized you think you are there will always be some little detail that goes unnoticed. In this aspect, the Library may not be the first place you think of to look for information or guidance but it can turn out to play a key role in your preparations. As a new member of the library community I was lucky in that it was the first place I turned to try and find information about the city and its services.

The Library has books and access to different kinds of resources that can help make your move easier and less confusing. First, the Library has books that can help make sense of things, both for adults and children. To ease the strain of moving young children or teens, take a look at Big Ernie’s New Home: A Story For Young Children Who Are Moving, or The Teenager’s Survival Guide To Moving. To ease the strain on yourself upon arriving in your new home, try sitting down with Leslie Levine’s Will This Place Ever Feel Like Home? These books will help address the emotional and practical aspects of moving, including how to maintain old friendships, make new ones, and how to adapt to a new school or community.

If having even more books lying around while you’re trying to move is enough to make you scream, you could look into the wide assortment of online resources available to you. The community page of the Library website will guide you to information on life and community activity in Thunder Bay, with a focus on healthcare, education, local government, sports, tourism, and culture. Of particular interest here is the section dedicated to newcomers to the Thunder Bay area, which will set you up to know how to use sites such as and Service Ontario. is particularly useful for those who are new to Ontario. This site provides useful information about employment opportunities for newcomers, how to find housing and accommodations in Ontario communities, ESL classes, healthcare, legal services, and community/recreation activities in cities and towns across the province.

Alternatively the Library can also help in using the Service Ontario site, which I found to be very helpful once my move was complete and I needed to change the address associated with my driver’s license and health card. Service Ontario offers practical information on how to change your address, apply for a social insurance number, apply for a passport, and many other important life events.

Last but not least is the local newspaper. Not knowing the name of the local paper, I relied on the information available through the Library website to let me know where to look. This led me to the Chronicle Journal, which has proved to be an invaluable resource both leading up to and since my move. I have used the paper to track down ads for apartments, furniture auctions, and community events/attractions. Another local publication that’s worth sitting down with is Superior Outdoors, which provides a look into all the outdoor activity available to us in Northwestern Ontario. So the next time you are taking on a major task such as moving, or anything else for that matter, remember what the Library can do for you.

Jesse Roberts, Reference Services Librarian

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Sunday March 8th, 2009

The February 8th column was published today.