Sunday, 25 October 2009

Sundary October 25th, 2009 Ghosts

At Halloween the ghouls, goblins and trick or treaters will be out looking for snacks to score, but do you believe in ghosts? Evidence is what separates belief from non-belief, but they are really two sides of the same coin. A believer needs little (or no) evidence and a non-believer needs scads of evidence (and even then might doubt).

A believer might read Premonitions and Psychic Warnings: Real Stories of Haunting Predictions by Edrick Thay (2005), a collection of personal accounts of omens, signs and premonitions and be quite satisfied. A non-believer might cast such a book aside as hogwash. Likewise for The Paranormal Caught on Film: Amazing Photographs of Ghosts, Poltergeists and Other Strange Phenomena by Dr. Melvyn Willin (2008). While the photographic evidence may seem dubious to skeptic, it is asserted that the photographs in this book have been examined by qualified experts such as Dr. Vernon Harrison, a specialist in forgery detection.

For both believers and non-believers, The Ghost Files by Jeff Belanger (2007) would be a good read. Belanger argues for not being rigid in your belief system, whether that system allows for ghosts or vehemently denies the possibility. To simply dismiss without evidence is unscientific, and to believe without evidence can lead to gullibility and superstition.

That being said, what evidence is there for ghosts and the paranormal? Truthfully, a lot. Since the rise of empiricism it is often thought that there has been a resultant fall in superstition, mysticism, and paranormal occurrences, but this is not quite true. Within the last few years, there have been many publications citing up-to-date and intriguing research into ghosts and psychic phenomenon. It seems that ghosts and psychic phenomenon are perhaps related, like electro-magnetism and quantum entanglement.

Like paranormal phenomena, psychic phenomena are split into camps of believers and non-believers, investigators and skeptics. Some bona fide scientific researchers, however, like Gary Schwartz, PhD leave the question of PSI phenomena open ended. The results of his research are incredibly exciting. In his book The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death, increasingly stringent controls were applied to psychic readings. For some trials the subject wasn’t even allowed to speak to the psychic, and yet the results of accurate readings were upwards of 90%, well beyond chance or guessing.
Interestingly, while watching a DVD called The Brain, directed by Richard Vagg (2008), Schwartz and his experimental results were reported on in a segment on ESP. Other segments in The Brain focused how knowledge of the brain is applied in sports psychology and Navy SEALS training. To have Schwartz’s investigation into psychic readings included amongst such pragmatic avenues of thought might leave you wondering, What capabilities exist on the peripheries of consciousness?

This is where psychic phenomenon and paranormal phenomenon seem to overlap, although there is still doubt to the veracity of psychic ability and the paranormal. Richard Wiseman, PhD, for instance, in his book Deception & Self-Deception: Investigating Psychics (1997), states that evidence for authentic paranormal activity is lacking. He leaves the door open to the possibility of PSI, but says he has yet to find decisive proof. I wonder how he might regard Psychic Warrior: Inside the Stargate Program: the True Story of a Soldier’s Espionage and Awakening by David Morehouse (1996). Would he consider the evidence amassed by the CIA and the Stanford Research Institute in remote viewing (telepathic espionage) as decisive proof? Or does a skeptic need to personally experience ghosts, goblins, and separate realities before he or she believes?

If you want to do some of your own research into the science of psychic phenomena, check out the virtual library collection (it’s okay, don’t be scared!).

Chris Waite, Public Services Assistant

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Sunday October 18th, 2009 Healthy Lifestyles

Learning how to have a healthy lifestyle is a preoccupation of many in this day and age of fast food, job losses, and hi-tech gadgetry that promotes sedentary living. We are fast realizing that we need to become more responsible for our own health and that what we do about it today will have an impact on our health in the future. With this responsibility comes a willingness to try different things.

Alternative medicines, practices and therapies have become more mainstream, health food and nutrition stores more commonplace. There is a renewed interest in the folk medicines of past generations. The library has much to offer those wanting more information on alternative medicines and therapies. I have highlighted some find titles of interest.

Don’t forget to check out the Health category of our virtual collection. There you can search 9 online databases specifically on health related topics. For those of you who like a more hands on approach, join Teresa Magiskan of Anishnabwe-Mushkiki on October 2, at 7 pm at the Waverley Library auditorium for The Medicine Wheel and Sacred Medicines. Learn about the four colours of the wheel and the seven directions, and the traditional healing methods of First Nations cultures.

The library collection has many titles to help you on your journey to wellness through both traditional non-traditional methods. Here are just a few samples of the titles you will find – and don’t forget to check out our e-book titles off of our website.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Natural Remedies, 2009. “Put away the ice pack! This book will help you find a better way to treat all kinds of health issues – from high blood pressure to poison ivy. You get simple explanations of many common symptoms and their possible causes; research-based information on vitamins and minerals, healing herbs, acupuncture, aromatherapy and other alternative therapies; proactive disease-prevention strategies you can easily incorporate into your life.”

Indian Herbalogy of North America, 1973. “For more than twenty years this pioneering work has served as a bible for herbalists throughout the world. It is an illustrated encyclopedic guide to more than two hundred medicinal plants found in North America, with descriptions of each plant’s appearance and uses, and directions for methods of use and dosage. Native American traditions are compared with traditional uses of the same plants among other cultures where the science of herbs has flourished, particularly in Russia and China.”

For more up-to-the-hour information, check out our online databases such as those listed below. Find them on our website at and click on Virtual Collection.

ALT HealthWatch. This is an online resource on alternative and complimentary health care treatments such as Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Herbal Remedies, Homeopathy, Massage, Reiki, and Yoga. It searches such journals and magazines as Total Health, Alternative Medicine Review, and Natural Health.

Health Source: Consumer Edition. Geared for the non-professional reader, this source provides information on many health topics including good science and nutrition, childcare, sports medicine and general health. Magazines covered include Good Health, Shape, and Natural Health.

If none of the resources I’ve listed has piqued your interest in alternative therapies, then at least come and borrow one of our pedometers and go for a walk. Let the library help you towards a more healthy lifestyle!

Barbara Philp, Head of Adult Services

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Sunday October 11th John Hughes Movies

As I drove to work one morning last August, National Public Radio announced that director John Hughes had passed away. I knew his name, but little more than that. As they listed his movies I thought – wow, that’s a Library Detective column right there. I was surprised at how many entertaining movies of his I had enjoyed: here are a few.

Home Alone

Written by Hughes, it is described as his greatest commercial success. It introduced Macaulay Culkin as an 8 year old boy who finds himself accidently left home alone when his family leaves on vacation. After his initial joy at realizing he has the house to himself he has to use every trick up his sleeve to outwit a pair of bumbling burglars, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. A hilarious time ensues as we watch him booby trap his home to defend it. The movie spurred three sequels, but I think the original was the best. We carry it on dvd and vhs.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

23 years later I still think about this movie, written and directed by Hughes. It’s a sheer delight and I recall seeing it in the theatre and wishing I was Ferris. Not many students fake an illness, gather a couple of companions, borrow a parent’s Ferrari and set off to explore Chicago. They take in a baseball game, visit the Sears Tower, and more and even take part in a parade (one of my favourite parts of the movie). You can’t help but feel good watching Ferris riding on a float lip synching to the Beatles song Twist and Shout. Who wouldn’t want a day off like the one he had? It’s available on dvd.

Planes, Trains And Automobiles

Available on dvd, it’s a hilarious cross country trip featuring two of my favourite comics. Businessman Neal Page, played by Steve Martin is trying to get home for Thanksgiving. His trip is complicated when he meets traveling shower curtain ring salesman Del Griffith, played by John Candy. Everything seems to go wrong for Neal and he just can’t seem to shake non-stop talker Del. Hmm – it would be like a road trip with me. As irritating as Del is, he’s a big man with a big heart. The scene I remember the most is when Neal accidently dries his face with a large pair of Del’s underwear. According to The Internet Movie Database, Steve Martin says this one is his favourite movie that he starred in.

Pretty In Pink

In the 1980’s a John Hughes teen movie meant Molly Ringwald. She also starred in Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. In this movie she played an outcast girl from the poorer side of town. When she’s asked on a date by a preppy boy, their friends start taking sides and disapprove. After being snubbed by his friends at a party she has to decide if he is worth dating. It featured a cast of young actors such as James Spader, Andrew McCarthy and Jon Cryer, who now stars on Two And A Half Men. It’s worth watching just to see Jon in an eighties hair style. It’s available on dvd.

Maid In Manhattan

Available on dvd and vhs this romantic comedy stars Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes. Hughes wrote it under the pseudonym of Edmond Dantes, a name taken from The Count Of Monte Cristo. A chance first meeting results when Fienne’s character finds a hotel maid dressed up in a hotel guest’s clothing. He believes her to be a socialite and she has trouble coming clean (a little pun). He comes to love this independent single mom. It co-stars Stanley Tucci and the late Natasha Richardson. We also have the soundtrack.

That’s just a few of his many movies; there are 38 to his credit. He also wrote one of my favourite movies, Christmas Vacation. Sadly we don’t carry it. We do have two other movies, Uncle Buck and Beethoven. Stop by and pick up your evening’s entertainment. We’ll supply the movie and you supply the popcorn. Enjoy!

Karen Craib is a Library Technician

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Sunday October 4th Giller Nominees

Working at the library, the most common question you are asked is “What’s a good book to read?” I can wax for hours on the books, authors and genres that I love, but finding something that someone else may love as well, can be quite challenging. Depending on someone’s interests and experiences, their tastes might be diametrically opposite to mine, so asking a few well placed questions about previous books and what the reader actually liked or didn’t like will tell someone doing Reader’s Advisory a great deal about what they may enjoy. Some of my favourite new authors have come from patron recommendations, and surprisingly many of them are Canadian.

Like most of us, I was introduced to Canadian novels in high school and hated them, well to be truthful, I did like Stephen Leacock but, I still handle any book by Margaret Atwood as though it is something that has been sitting in the back of the fridge for a month. Telling a 14 year old girl that all Canadian novels are about death and isolation pretty well killed any interest in further exploration and actually the pickings for Canadian novels in the 1970’s were slim. Skip ahead to this year and the world of Canadian writing could not be more interesting and varied. The long-list of the 2009 Giller Prize novels was released last week and there is really something for everyone.

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood is a natural disaster has occurred that alters the Earth as we know it, destroying most human life. The story follows two very different women, Ren and Toby who have survived.

The Incident Report by Martha Baillie is both a mystery and a love story, in the novel set in Toronto, notes begin appearing by someone who believes himself to be Rigoletto, the jester from Verdi’s opera, promising he will protect the young librarian, Miriam.

The Disappeared by Kim Echlin is set against the killing fields of the Pol Pot’s Cambodia, the story centers around a passionate love affair between a Canadian woman and her Cambodian lover.

The Heart Specialist by Claire Holden Rothman is based on a true story, this is a historical novel of an ambitious woman who dreams of pursuing medicine during the dawn of the twentieth century.

The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles follows a former slave and a young Quaker,suffering hardships during the taming of the West in the years following the Civil War.

Factory Voice by Jeanette Lynes is a mystery and coming of age story of four women working at the military aircraft factory in Fort William in 1941.

The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon is a debut novel set in the ancient world involving Aristotle and the boy who you grow up to be Alexander the Great.

The Bishop’s Man by Linden MacIntyre explores the life of Father Duncan MacAskill as he struggles between human wants and his desire for spiritual peace.

Fall by Colin McAdam centers around two boys in an elite boarding school and Fall, the girl they both want.

The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels begins in Egypt in 1964, when a newly-married Canadian couple settle into a houseboat on the Nile and life tests both their love and their beliefs.

Valmiki’s Daughter by Shani Mootoo deals with the struggle of both a father and a daughter as they seek to repress their feelings and their sexuality.

The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger is a historical novel concerning the life and loves of a maid to a Victorian novelist and world at the end of the nineteenth century.

Lori Kauzlarick, Public Services Assistant