Sunday, 27 June 2010

Sunday June 27th, 2010 Going off the Grid?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live totally independent from those monthly or bi-monthly energy bills? Well, there are ways to never receive that monthly hydro, gas and water bill, become self sustained and most importantly, impress all your friends and neighbours with your ingenuity (and good looks). There is more and more of a movement where home and camp owners are looking into the possibilities of alternative and renewable energy as a way to decrease costs and become environmentally friendly. While you do not have to go entirely off the grid to reap these rewards, one can still benefit from having even one alternative energy source. If you are interested in learning about this subject, Thunder Bay Public Library has numerous resources to assist you in that department.

I will first mention the many recent books the library has on the subject of renewable energy sources and sustainable living. One publication that covers a variety of methods to consider is Renewable Energy Made Easy by David Craddock. This book documents the pros and cons of renewable energy and information on renewable and alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, hydropower, wave power, biomass and geothermal complete with case studies offering how-to projects. Another book which also features a number of renewable energy sources and detailed information and instruction pertaining to each is The Renewable Energy Handbook: A Guide to Rural Energy Independence, Off-grid and Sustainable Living by William H. Kemp. While this publication appears to be geared towards rural living, camps and cottages, every homeowner will benefit from the information contained within.

There are also books at TBPL which highlight specific types of renewable energy. One example is Power from the Wind: Achieving Energy Independence by Dan Chiras. Focusing on small-scale energy production, this publication offers readers detailed information with diagrams, charts and photographs concerning all avenues of wind energy, from theory to the practical. Moreover, if you are interested in the steps required to harness the sun’s energy in your maniacal quest to take over the world….or are interested in solar power to just save money, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Solar Power Your Home by Dan Ramsey and David Hughes is the way to go. This resource is easy to read and quite informative concerning the topic of solar power as a renewable energy resource.

While TBPL carries periodicals that feature articles concerning renewable energy and sustainable living, one monthly magazine I really want to draw attention to is Home Power. This magazine features information on renewable solar, wind and microhydro energy cover to cover for both the layman and expert alike.
Lastly, TBPL offers users access to a series of electronic databases (named the Virtual Collection) which contain a wealth of knowledge on almost every subject (accessed through the TBPL website at home or at the library, provided you have a library card). One electronic database to consider when attempting to gather information about renewable energy and sustainable living is GreenFILE. This database powered by EBSCOhost can offer users access to helpful articles from journals, magazines, books and reports that might otherwise be hard to locate.

Of course, completely transforming your home to go off-grid is a major project that will take a lot of time, money and energy (no pun intended); however, even implementing a small renewable energy adjustment to your home or camp might save you dollars in the long run, which you can then spend on those much wanted and needed margaritas. In fact, even I kinda feel like undertaking a small project……..or just sitting in sun drinking margaritas; either or.

Derek Gradner, Library Technician

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Sunday June 20th, 2010 Appreciating Simple Things

This spring I remembered my 2006 column about things I was thankful for. It’s one of the many thoughts I had during a family member’s stay in the Intensive Care Unit. Time goes slow when you’re waiting for test results and there’s a fear of the unknown, at least when you know what the illness is then you know how to fight it. One of the conversations I had during that time was about how any life-threatening situation can change the person being threatened. In my own brush with cancer there were things about me that changed. The biggest thing that’s stuck with me is my appreciation of nature. I recall driving to work that spring and noticing the trees were greener and the sky was bluer. This feeling has not left me. I’ve heard this is a common thing that happens to people. Last year I gave a friend who I know understands these feelings, a mug that says – Pick more flowers, watch more sunsets. I think that sums it up. Here are a few titles to get you on your way to a new appreciation of simple things.

The Best Things In Life Are Free: Cherishing The Simple Pleasures by Todd Outcalt

This book is about celebrating the simple pleasures in our life, the things that are important to us. There are chapters on family, friends, faith, hope and love, among others. And in keeping with the theme, there’s one on natural wonders. One chapter is about laughter and the power of a good laugh. It tells us that laughter helps you to cope with difficult situations and can make every day a bit brighter. In the saddest of times an unexpected laugh can do you wonders.

The Art Of Spooning: A Cuddler’s Jim Grace.

Are you a spooner? If you’ve never spooned before this book can tell you how to enjoy spooning and life’s other simple pleasures. For you non-spooners picture 2 spoons lying side by side in a drawer. I used to be a teaspoon but now I’m more like a tablespoon. This book is a light hearted romp. It answers questions such as – what do you do with your extra arm. One chapter is on making yourself spoon-ready. Sounds like a Seinfeld episode. This title is available in our collection as an electronic book. Hey, you could even listen to it while you’re spooning.

The World According To Mister Rogers: Important Things To Remember by Fred Rogers.

I first saw this book in a Wisconsin coffee shop. It impressed me and I kept reading things out loud to the person I was with. The foreword tells you that Mister Rogers kept quotes in his wallet and daily planner. Like Mister Rogers I write down things that I like and later transfer them to a little notebook. Whether it’s something I’ve read or a conversation over lunch, you never know what’s going to end up in my book. Fred Rogers offers us a book filled with quotes. Who knows, you may find something to add to your own book of quotes.

Living Life As A Thank You by Nina Lesowitz.

This book will help you to put more joy into your life. It’s filled with motivating quotes (oh boy) and blessings and has suggestions for how to practice gratitude. It offers ideas such as keeping a weekly gratitude journal or creating your own prayer book. Just cut out photos from nature magazines, paste them in a notebook, than add quotes or prayers. Whenever you look through the book it will remind you of what you are grateful for. One thing I found very interesting was a suggested gratitude practice that tells you to – Go for a walk and take in the bounty of nature. Look, really look, at the miracle of trees, plants, birds, and insects. When I read this section I thought – wow, I could have written that. And in fact I kind of did in my intro.

I hope you take the time to relish the simple things in life, maybe even the cup of coffee you’re having while reading this column. Now go out and enjoy the day.

Karen Craib, Library Technician

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Sunday June 13th, 2010 Soccer

Like thousands of other parents I have been spending a lot of time watching kids play soccer lately. The height of recreational soccer season, combined with the impending World Cup excitement, has caused me to contemplate the beautiful game. Here are some questions I had, and their answers.

How do you go off side in soccer?

According to the book Understanding Soccer: Rules and Procedures for Players, Parents and Coaches, the complex Offside-Rule is based on the notion that it is unsporting for attacking players to hang around the mouth of the goal, waiting for a pass and an easy score. With many exceptions and qualifications, attacking players are therefore generally prohibited from positioning themselves ahead of the ball. So, basically, in soccer the Offside-Rule is all about no cherry-picking!

Who was Pele?

Edson Artantes do Nascimento, more famously known by his childhood nickname of Pele, is one of the best soccer players ever to play the game. Nearly three decades after his retirement from competitive soccer, he is still idolized in his home country of Brazil. His “bicycle kick” started not only a movement in aggressive play but spurred sports scientists to break down the mechanics of previously simple actions such as striking the ball. Since retiring from professional soccer, Pele has been an active participant in activities of the United Nations, including UNICEF and U.N. environmental initiatives. The honours he has received include an honourary British Knighthood in 1992 and recognition as Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee in 1999 (although he never played in Olympic competition). In an age when video games have become universally popular, Pele is also noteworthy for being the first sports figure featured in a video game, a product of the Atari company that was called Pele’s Soccer. (Source: Biography Resource Centre in TBPL’s Virtual Collection)

Why is the official World Cup ball such a big deal?

The FIFA (International Federation of Association Football – the anagram makes sense in French!) Web site explains that the adidas Jabulani, which means “to celebrate” in isiZulu, is the 11th edition of adidas’s FIFA World Cub balls. The 11 colours that are present on the Jabulani pay tribute to both football and South Africa. They represent a colour for each team player, every official South African language, and for each of the 11 South African communities that will welcome the world next year. The design also celebrates two of the most important facets of the South African nation – diversity and harmony – as it is these principles that make it such a colourful and welcoming nation. The players are probably more concerned about the ball’s performance than its symbolism. Jabulani ushers in some major advances in football technology. It has a grip ‘n’ groove texture, which allows for maximum control, stable flight and perfect grip under all conditions. As opposed to the flat-paneled molding of previous adidas balls, Jabulani is made up of eight thermally bonded 3D panels that have been, for the first time ever, spherically molded to make this ball perfectly round. These features combine to make a football that is more accurate than ever before. If you are curious to see how this ball is made, go to YouTube and search for “Jabulani ball production.”

Is it possible to be TOO passionate about sports?

Yes: if you get stressed out watching your favorite sports team in action, you may face an increased risk of heart attack and other cardiac events, suggests a study in the January 31st, 2008, New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers assessed cardiac events in 4,279 German citizens during the 2006 soccer World Cup in Germany. They found that on days of matches involving the German team, the number of cardiac emergencies more than doubled overall, tripled among men and increased fourfold in patients with known coronary artery disease. (Source: Men’s Health Advisor, May 2008, Academic OneFile, TBPL Virtual Collection)

So, soccer fans, enjoy the action on the local fields and on TV during the World Cup, but stay calm! Visit your Library in person or online to get all your soccer questions answered.

Joanna Aegard, Head of Virtual Services

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Sunday June 6th, 2010 Cancer Survivors

June 6, 2010 is the 23rd annual National Cancer Survivors Day. Their website describes it as - an annual, worldwide Celebration of Life that is held in hundreds of communities throughout the United States, Canada, and other participating countries. For some time now I’ve wanted to write a column about cancer and especially cancer survivors. I don’t dwell on it, but I’m one myself due to melanoma. At this point in my life I have family and friends who are survivors. I also have family and friends who didn’t get to be survivors. I am truly amazed by some of the survivors I know. When I see what they went through, I can’t help but admire their strength and courage. And I am thankful every day that they are still with us. Here’s to all the survivors out there.

Irwin Barker

In June of 2007 Irwin who is a Canadian stand-up comedian was diagnosed with a rare type of terminal cancer known as leiomyosarcoma. His first year of treatment was covered in the CTV documentary “That’s My Time”, which aired in September 2008. If you happened to catch it, it was inspirational. Irwin said “Cancer has my body but not my spirit, and I’ll continue to make jokes, not so much about cancer, but in spite of it”. Last winter I was surprised to hear his voice on the CBC radio show, The Debaters. How refreshing to realize that 2 ½ years later Irwin is still with us. He is also a writer for The Rick Mercer Report and is a 5 time nominee for a Gemini award.

Life In The Balance: My Journey With Breast Cancer
by Marla Shapiro

Dr. Marla Shapiro is a physician, a medical contributor to Canada AM, the editor of Parents Canada magazine, a wife, a mother and a cancer survivor. Follow her on a journey from diagnosis through treatment. She talks about the emotional effects of cancer on her and her family members, who in turn tell their side of this journey. If you have a loved one that’s been touched by breast cancer this book may help you to really understand just what they are going through.

Live Strong: Inspirational Stories From Cancer Survivors by the Lance Armstrong Foundation

These poignant stories are taken from video interviews. Cancer survivors share their fears, talk about how they are coping and the impact that cancer has had on their lives. I think the description of this book in our library catalogue sums it up best when it says - Some people think the cancer experience is only about the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, as if after the disease goes into remission, it no longer exists. But survivorship goes beyond remission. Survivorship is an evolution.

We carry other books written by survivors such as Cancer Schmancer by Fran Drescher and Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips by Kris Carr. A quick search of under cancer survivor will get you over 8,000 titles. If you see something you’re interested in that we don’t carry, we can try to borrow it through our Interlibrary Loan service.

We also have books under the subject – Cancer Psychological Aspects. Here you will find titles to help you on your journey to healing. You not only have to heal physically, but also emotionally. That can take time. You learn to stop worrying, but it’s always there in the back of your mind.

There are lots of cancer websites you can check out, such as:

The National Cancer Institute

The Canadian Cancer Society

Regional Cancer Care

The last website will also connect you to further web resources.

If there is a cancer survivor in your life give them a hug today. Remind them how happy you are that they are here. And if you are a cancer survivor, this is your day. As my fridge magnet says – Celebrate each new day. Be good to yourself, you deserve a treat, even if it’s something as simple as buying yourself a coffee at your favourite coffee shop.

Karen Craib is a Library Technician.