By Scott Feschuk - Friday, November 16, 2012 - 0 Comments
It’s that difficult time of year again, but come on people, we can get through this together. To better navigate our ordeal, it’s important that we take the time to review the challenge ahead. Here are the seven stages of Canadian winter:
1. Anticipation. As the long, hot summer surrenders to the first hint of an autumn breeze, many of us experience a small thrill: winter is on its way, bringing relief from the heat and promising the many splendours that accompany the most Canadian of seasons. We envision snow-flecked landscapes, ice-covered ponds and joyful Christmas choirs. Digging deep into the closet, we gaze fondly upon our parkas and mitts. We dream of frosty adventures ahead.
2. Despair. The first cruel winds of November cut through us and we pretty much want to fall down and die right there. Three days of hostile muttering ensue.
3. Sarcasm. A huge December snowfall—awesome! And maybe a little freezing rain in there because THAT WOULD BE PLEASANT. Wake up and there’s a metre of snow in the driveway—and hey, great, it’s the wet, slushy kind that weighs about a squillion pounds per shovelful and lays those of weak heart in their graves. Yay winter! Just when we finally get it cleared—literally, just as we finish clearing it away—the plow pushes a huge drift back in front of the driveway. Thanks for that, buddy! And for the record, that could have been anyone’s snow shovel that flew through the air and struck the window of the plow’s cab. We only ran away because we were in the mood for some exercise. Continue…
By Peter Nowak - Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 10:42 AM - 0 Comments
Right around early November, I usually get a familiar sliver of fear riding up my spine. It happens in anticipation of the horrific winter that’s on the way. Minus-20 temperatures (minus-four to Americans), back-breaking snow shoveling, winds that can flay the skin from your bones… It’s enough to scare one into a four-month-long hibernation.
We’ve been lucky this year, with an unseasonably warm winter here in Toronto. So far, there has been virtually no snow and temperatures near zero. I don’t know what that means in the larger ecological sense, but for the most part, all hail global warming!
In any event, I’m not sure why it never occurred to me that enduring such hardship is entirely optional in this modern age. I’m not talking about moving to Hawaii, there’s actually a much easier way to cope with winter: technology.
By Joanne Latimer - Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 8:40 AM - 0 Comments
Canadians have a (delusional) wardrobe bias toward summer clothing
“It’s an odd form of denial,” says Alexandra Mélançon, creative director at Be Sleek, an image consulting agency in Montreal. “We have a wardrobe bias toward summer clothing in Canada. You don’t need 20 sundresses. You need 20 cashmere sweaters! It’s not like owning more shorts will create a longer summer.” Shame, that. “Those two weeks of perfect weather in July have a psychic grip on our imagination,” adds Caroline Alexander, co-owner of Ludique, a personal shopping service. “We have to talk people into balancing their wardrobes.”
Guilty! Facing a closet stuffed with sundresses, I lament packing them away. Mostly, I resent paying money for clothing that doesn’t fuel the myth of an endless summer. Catyanna Antoniou, a 23-year-old marketing student at York University, couldn’t agree more. “I own about 70 little dresses and 90 pairs of heels,” says the upcoming Toronto contestant on the reality show Princess. “If I have any baggy sweats or turtlenecks, it’s because I’ve stolen them from friends or my boyfriend. Eighty per cent of my wardrobe is for summer, with only about 20 per cent boring warm things.”
As the owner of the knitting store Americo Original, Nicole Sibonney is an unlikely person to exhibit summer shopping bias: “Oh, I have over 25 swimsuits—which I wear with linen pants—and I wear sandals through to the end of September,” she says. “It all creates a little fantasy. Psychologically, summer clothes take up less ‘room.’ ”
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 10:45 AM - 0 Comments
After she lost her tail, Winter the dolphin is now a movie star
Aquariums aren’t generally the sorts of places to host a red-carpet movie screening, but on Sept. 21, Florida’s Clearwater Marine Aquarium will be an exception, and with good reason: one of its residents is a movie star. Winter the dolphin appears alongside Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr. in the upcoming film Dolphin Tale, which tells the true story of Winter—a dolphin with a prosthetic tail.
Rescued after she got wrapped up in a crab-trap line at just three months old, Winter lost her tail and two vertebrae. Transported to the aquarium, she underwent intense rehabilitation—and was fitted for a prosthetic tail attached by a stretchy plastic sleeve, like those designed for human use. “She learned on her own to swim in a new way,” says David Yates, the aquarium’s CEO.
The plucky dolphin is already a star attraction at the Clearwater aquarium, and with the release of the film, attendance should boom. “Every aquarium in the country says it’s hopeless,” one grim-faced character says in the preview, and another replies: “Well, they haven’t met Winter yet.” No word yet on whether Winter’s castmates will show up for the aquarium screening.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 4:25 PM - 0 Comments
Hopeful signs, The drips just keep on coming and Ontairy-airy-airy-o
U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the target of a Jan. 8 assassination attempt that left six people dead and 11 others wounded, continues to make a remarkable recovery. Less than two weeks after a bullet pierced her brain, the 40-year-old Arizona Democrat is breathing on her own, responding to verbal commands, and has regained movement in her arms and legs. (Her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly told the media she tried to give him a neck rub.) Doctors caution that she has a long way to go, but even such small miracles provide reason to be thankful.
The drips just keep on coming
The whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks is preparing to take on Switzerland’s tight-lipped banks for its next act. The details of the secret offshore accounts of some 2,000 companies and prominent individuals, provided by a former banker now on trial for breaching confidentiality laws, will be posted within weeks, promises founder Julian Assange. It will be interesting to see if any beneficiaries of the public bailouts of world markets have been hiding money away from the taxman.
Take a deep breath, residents of Ontario. The air you’re breathing is cleaner than it’s been for many years. The latest report on air quality in Canada’s most populous province reveals the fewest number of smog days going back 39 years. And major pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide are down as much as 64 per cent over the past nine years. The McGuinty government claims the good news is due to environmental policies such as car-emissions testing and the phasing out of coal-fired electricity, although half of Ontario’s air pollution drifts in from the U.S.
Don’t hate me
More great news for the drop-dead gorgeous: you’re beautiful and brilliant. According to new research out of the London School of Economics, physically attractive people—male and female—actually have higher IQs than the average person (13.6 points higher for handsome men; 11.4 points higher for pretty women). The smartness study examined more than 52,000 people living in Britain and the United States. Sarah Palin was not one of them.
Winter in Canada has always been the danger season, but this past week provided particularly stark reminders why. In Alberta, two brothers died in an avalanche while backcountry skiing at a provincial park. Another man met the same fate in British Columbia’s Kootenay mountains. And in Toronto, a 66-year-old woman with dementia froze to death in a suburban neighbourhood after wandering away from her home on one of the coldest nights of the year. Residents reportedly heard her cries of distress, but never called police.
Lebanon is bracing for more political violence after a UN tribunal filed a criminal indictment over the 2005 assassination of prime minister Rafik Hariri. It’s still not clear who investigators are blaming, but suspicion has long centred on the militant Islamic organization Hezbollah. In advance of the charges, the group withdrew from the country’s unity government, causing its collapse. Now there is fear of renewed fighting in the streets, as all factions take to the barricades. Will the price of justice be peace?
Is the shine off Apple?
Few CEOs are as closely associated with their companies as Apple’s Steve Jobs. Rightly or wrongly, the markets, and millions of Mac fans, seem to believe that all the tech firm’s innovations begin and end on his desk. So when the 55-year-old announced he is taking a leave to deal with an undisclosed medical problem (Jobs has had a liver transplant and has been battling pancreatic cancer for years), Apple stock quickly tumbled. Investors, who have flocked to the company—a bright spot in this recession—hope for a speedy recovery.
No sense of security
Airport security screeners are still touching your junk. An 82-year-old British Columbia woman who underwent a mastectomy was forced to reveal her prosthetic breast before boarding a plane, while in Calgary, a four-year-old girl endured a “terrifying” 20-minute inspection that included numerous pat-downs and one confiscated doll. Our advice? Focus on the pilots. An investigation was launched this week after a JetBlue captain lost his backpack—with a loaded handgun—inside New York City’s JFK Airport.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 1:06 PM - 7 Comments
300 vehicles trapped by Monday morning snowstorm
A snowstorm in southern Ontario near the City of Sarnia was so bad Monday that military helicopters began airlifting stranded motorists from the roadside on Tuesday around 10:40 a.m. The stretch of Highway 402 between Sarnia and Strathroy was hit by a blizzard Monday that left more than 300 vehicles trapped. One of the men rescued told the Toronto Star that his gas tank was “down to fumes” by the time he was picked up Tuesday morning. The man had left for work in Sarnia around 6:15 a.m. Monday and had been stuck in the same spot on the road since 8:30 Monday morning.
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 3:00 PM - 1 Comment
Snowstorms blasted the U.S. and took a bite out of the economy, too
During the first week of the 2010 Games, Vancouver’s winter weather—or more precisely, lack of it—was a hot topic. In the end, though, the spring-like conditions proved no match for a determined army of snow-shovelling workers. But while Olympic organizers were able to temporarily wrestle Mother Nature into submission, the bright minds charged with running the giant U.S. economy weren’t nearly so lucky.
In the United States, harsh winter storms pounded the densely populated eastern seaboard in February, and are blamed for taking the steam out of the country’s economic recovery. Washington, for example, was buried under more than half a metre of snow during a blizzard dubbed “Snowmageddon,” which disrupted the entire region and was followed by an encore performance less than a week later. The storms disrupted government and air travel and caused many Americans to stay home instead of going to work or to the mall, putting a dent in everything from consumer spending to employment. “This February marked the ﬁrst time in recorded history that each of the 50 states had measurable snowfall in the same day,” according to UBS, a Swiss bank. “It is therefore likely that this unusual weather played at least some role in the recent string of weaker-than-expected [U.S.] economic data”
It has been a different story north of the border—and not just in Vancouver. In Toronto, the country’s financial centre, bankers and lawyers have gone nearly the entire winter with nothing but bare concrete under their leather-soled dress shoes. Meanwhile, GDP numbers shot through the roof in the fourth quarter and talk has suddenly turned to taming the recovery, instead of stoking it. Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney will likely hike interest rates to cool any overheating, but praying for a few more snowflakes couldn’t hurt.
By Tom Henheffer - Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 12:40 PM - 2 Comments
Saskatchewan winters have gotten warmer in the last 30 years
You wouldn’t know it from the blizzard that swept through the province at the start of this week, but Saskatchewan is actually getting warmer.
“The number of days with temperatures above 30° C are increasing, and the number of days with cold temperatures [below -40° C] are decreasing,” says Dr. Elaine Wheaton, a climatologist with the Saskatchewan Research Council. The SRC is one of several organizations, including Environment Canada and the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre, examining climate change on the Prairies. According to Wheaton, temperatures in Saskatchewan over the last 30 years are the highest on record.
By Joanne Latimer - Monday, January 12, 2009 at 7:39 PM - 1 Comment
Terrified of a cold or flu ruining the Big Day, these women aren’t taking chances
See the women on the bus, clutching bottles of hand sanitizer? See them at work, chewing vitamin C tablets? They won’t shake your hand and they won’t touch the shopping cart in the grocery store. Who are they? They’re the winter brides of 2009. And they’re on germ lockdown.
“I’m really cautious in public. Everyone knows I’m anal about germs on a regular day,” says Amy Brown, 34, who is getting married in Toronto on Feb. 26. Brown teaches at her studio, Pilates for Life, where there is a big sign on the door: “In the interest of promoting health and wellness, please refrain from coming to class if you are ill.” Enough clients ignore this sign to make Brown nervous. “I work closely with so many people that it’s hard to avoid germs. My fiancé, Jeremy, is a firefighter, so he’s very ‘hands on’ with people too and he gets sick every winter.”