Category Archives: news

Addiction

Image courtesy of Gawker

It occurs to me that I might have an addiction. To purchasing magazines. Seriously. I cannot get enough of them. I “only” subscribe to four, but I sure do a great job of pretending I subscribe to others.

Every month, I look forward to opening my mailbox and seeing Style at Home, Oxygen, Clean Eating and Canadian Living.

Every time I’m in the store, I look for new issues of Today’s Parent, Parenting, House and Home, Kitchens, Better Homes and Gardens, Fitness, Fitness RX, Shape, Health, Best Health, so on and so forth. Our coffee table is piled high with back issues. As is my nightstand.

I heart magazines. I heart thumbing through their pages. I heart looking at their designs. I heart reading through their stories and perusing their images. They keep me company on the treadmill and stationary bike, at the doctor’s office, when I’m nursing my small child and when I’m kicking back on the couch.

Perhaps I should look into an e-Reader and score some electronic subscriptions. But then I’d be giving up the actual art of thumbing through a magazine.

I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

Yet.

Anyone have e-Reader suggestions? Do you subscribe to magazines? Love it? Hate it?

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I was born in May and I like food

I'm hard-pressed to think that I wouldn't like food regardless of the season in which I was born.

So, I spotted a story on Yahoo! News that struck my fancy: “Season of Birth May Affect the Rest of Your Life.”

Supposedly, the season in which you’re born “can affect everything from your eyesight to your eating habits and overall health later in life,” says some research.

Spring babies, for instance, are more likely to suffer from anorexia nervosa as adults (per Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics).

I must be one of the 92 out of every 100 people born between March and June who have NO interest in anorexia nervosa. I like me some food. It’s true.

I’d tell you about the rest of the findings in the article, but, after reading that statistic, I had to get up and find a snack.

You can read the full story here.

A Brits’ guide to greeting foreigners

Who you trying to kiss, Londoners? Certainly no one of Indian descent, I hope.

Good news! Britain’s national tourism agency has released etiquette guidelines for dealing with foreign visitors who will be journeying to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

You read that right. Etiquette guidelines. For dealing with foreign visitors. You can read about it here.

Hoping to help its countrymen (and women) become more welcoming of its guests, VisitBritain has updated the advice it provides to those likely to work with international travellers arriving from overseas.

Here is a sampling of the advice/suggestions/observations:

  • Don’t ask Brazilians personal questions.
  • Don’t be alarmed if the French are rude.
  • Do not imply to Polish tourists that they drink excessively.
  • French are notoriously picky in restaurants.
  • Brush off common Argentine jokes about a person’s clothing or weight.
  • Belgians take offense at people snapping their fingers.
  • Australians are fond of coarse language.
  • Japanese people consider prolonged eye contact impolite and smile to express a range of emotions, not simply to show happiness.
  • Be extra patient when dealing with guests from India or the United Arab Emirates.
  • Indians don’t like being touched by strangers and may be suspicious of the quality of British food (although something tells me they may not be the only ones re: the latter).
  • Middle Easterners are likely to be demanding with staff. Also, they do not like being told what they can’t do, so, don’t be bossy.
  • Guests from China and Hong Kong may find winking or pointing with an index finger rude.
  • Chinese visitors may be unimpressed by landmarks just a few hundred years old.
  • Do not discuss poverty, immigration, earthquakes or the Mexican-American war with visitors from Mexico. Instead, converse about history and art.
  • Canadian tourists are likely to be quite annoyed about being mistaken for Americans. Look for maple leaf pins or badges on tourists’ clothing to indicate nationality.
  • Americans can appear informal to the point of being very direct or even rude and won’t ever hesitate to complain.

Ha. Americans who complain. That’s a good one.

Sandie Dawe, chief executive officer of VisitBritain, was quoted for the story, saying, “Giving our foreign visitors a friendly welcome is absolutely vital to our economy. With hundreds of thousands of people thinking of coming to Britain in the run-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, this new advice is just one of the ways that VisitBritain is helping the tourism industry care for their customers.”

The frank etiquette tips were written by agency staff about their own native countries. Which makes me think that the majority of VisitBritain’s employees are anything but British.

Anyway, good luck, Brits. You have two years to memorize the stereotypes and prepare to welcome everyone with kisses on the cheeks and open arms. Except Indians. They hate hugging.

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I’ll take my news with a hit of fluff, please

Fluff in cotton balls? Excellent. Fluff in news? Not-so-excellent.

It’s really no secret that news reporting is no longer reporting of news. We all know that 24/7 cable news shows provide us with less and less news and more and more fluff in order to keep the airwaves filled. The true definition of “newsworthy” has been battered and bashed and dragged through the mud, thanks to a number of reasons: the Internet, reality television, Al Gore . . .

Anyway, there may be no fluffier fluff than the sound bites that accompany the reports of 680 News—Toronto’s All News Radio Station.

Now, I like 680 News. I like that I could, if I wanted to, switch on the radio at 2:30 a.m. and hear the news. I could turn on the radio at 4:47 p.m. and hear the news. Basically, I could turn it on anytime and be guaranteed to hear the news and a traffic report, the latter of which is a must-listen-to when travelling around the GTA.

This particular station prides itself on interacting with persons of Toronto (a good thing) and always features sound bites (a good thing, in theory) that make Torontonians sound like morons (a bad thing). But, this doesn’t stop 680 News from using the bites. Which makes me wonder: Are Torontonians morons or do 680 News reporters simply interview the first person they see and then move on to the next story?

Case in point: While running a few errands this morning, I caught a story about a loud noise that had occurred somewhere in Toronto during the early morning hours.

Reporter: People around Toronto may have awoken to a loud blast last night, as there was a loud noise during the early morning hours. Let’s talk to someone on the street who heard the loud noise. So, you heard a loud noise?
Person on street: Yes, a loud noise.
Reporter: And you thought…?
Person on street: That it was loud.
Reporter: And you wondered where it came from?
Person on street: Yes, I wondered about it.

I’d like to tell you that I listened to the rest of the story, but, by this point, I didn’t really care where the noise came from. All I could think was REALLY? THIS IS YOUR REPORT? WHERE DO YOU FIND THESE PEOPLE?! These bites are just a few of the many I’ve listened to in the past months and shaken my head at. Ugh. The point of a sound bite is to add interest to a story, not pointless drivel.

So, will these ridiculous sound bites keep me from listening to 680 News? No, because I like to know which streets and highways are clogged up and which are free-flowing. But seriously, 680 News. You can do better.

Really. You can.

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Look, Ma! No hands!

driving-cellphoneWay back in April, the province of Ontario passed a law that would make it illegal for drivers to dial, talk, text or e-mail on hand-held devices or to operate iPods or GPS units not secured to the vehicle’s interior. On October 26, that law went into effect.

I’m not sure exactly who is paying attention to the law at this point because every other vehicle I pass on the road contains a driver who is talking on his/her cell phone. No doubt a police officer’s conversation with a pulled-over driver would go something like this:

“I’m sorry, Officer,” said the pulled-over driver. “I haven’t seen or heard six months worth of TV or print or radio or Internet or direct mailing advertisements notifying me of the law going into effect. Nor have I seen the giant digital road signs on the QEW and every other highway flashing the message ‘NO TALKING, TEXTING OR E-MAILING WHILE DRIVING AFTER OCTOBER 26. IT’S THE LAW!’”

Of course, all the continued chattiness is probably due to the three-month grace period. After February 1, watch out! Drivers can receive a penalty of up to $500 if caught using a hand-held device.

I suppose the law a good idea. I’ve seen Ontario drivers in action. They’re crazy. Two raindrops fall, and traffic freaks out. Now imagine two snowflakes falling. Perhaps drivers and passengers will be safer. I, however, will miss driving and chatting. I was getting really good at driving while chatting or texting, scribbling notes and sipping a coffee. All at the same time.

These days, many a driver use hands-free devices. Car manufacturers are growing wise and making them part of their models. In essence, they seem like something that would make driving safer. After all, you’re not using your hands.

Unless you’re one of those drivers who constantly fidget with your counsel, pushing buttons to make you “hands-free” phone dial the right number. If that’s the case, please refrain from driving next to me. Please and thanks.

On a completely unrelated note, I recently passed my new favorite flashing road sign. This one is in Michigan and reads: “Fall is here. Don’t veer for deer.”

Solid advice.

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An all-new journalistic low

This morning, I turned on the local news to catch a glimpse of the weather forecast, and I stayed tuned in long enough to catch the beginning of “The Today Show” on NBC. Appropriately so, the lead story was about the weather that has cut off electricity to many and is snarling holiday travel throughout much of the northern United States.

The second story was about an US Weekly magazine photo of a shirtless Barack Obama vacationing in Hawaii and how female Americans are giving the president-elect’s toned body two enthusiastic thumbs up.

People are freezing to death (almost literally) in their homes as they sit without power and along roadways as their vehicles fail to operate. People are losing their jobs. People are starving. In fact, people are doing about a hundred thousand other things, and the second most-interesting, most-exciting, most-need-to-know story is that our president-elect has toned abs.

Thankfully, the Drudge Report kepts its senses and created a poll to see whose toned abs are better: Obama’s or Putin’s.

Seriously. I’m ashamed that one of my academic degrees is in journalism.

Believe it, folks. Journalism is close to almost dead.