Friday, 11 September 2015

Time to Get Out and Enjoy Nature

Photo Courtesy of Helen Schuler Nature Centre

The beauty of autumn is beginning to show on the leafy trees in our neighbourhood and with it comes the crisp morning air. While researching an article on youth nature programs at our local nature centre, I learned a lot about how important the outdoors is for our wellbeing.

Getting outdoors and enjoying nature is one of the best actions we can take towards to having a healthy body and mind, according to Coreen Putman, coordinator of the Helen Schuler Nature Centre in Lethbridge.

Lifelong Benefits

Encouraging children from a very young age to engage with nature can have lasting benefits for their physical and mental health, as well as instilling a continued conservation ethic for the future of the natural world, says Putman. 

“Contact with nature is vital for every aspect of childhood development - it is literally the best thing you can do for your child,” she says.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Crush on Crushy

Driving home from work recently, I couldn’t resist turning into an estate sale not far from my home “just to look” where I found this sweet little gem of a bottle to add to my vintage collection.

It’s an amber Orange Crush soda pop bottle featuring the Crushy logo. Crushy, whose orange-shaped head was usually printed in blue on signs, resembles ancient hieroglyphics or one of today’s emoticons when printed in white on bottles such as this one.

According to, Orange Crush was invented in Chicago in 1906 and founded as Ward’s Orange Crush in 1916, the brainchild of a California chemist named Neil Ward and entrepreneur Clayton Howel, who had already tried to make a go of it in the orange-soda business with Howel’s Orange Julep.

Sales of Orange Crush in the 1920s outpaced its competitors on the back of doctors recommending orange juice as an excellent source of Vitamin C, because the soda contained orange juice and pulp rather than the oils of the fruit’s peel, according to the 2013 book Fizz: How Soda Shook Up the World by Tristan Donovan.

Collectors Weekly also says from the end of World War II until the mid-1970s, Orange Crush was sold in a new amber-colored krinkly bottle, whose dark glass was advertised in an ACL (applied color label) on the bottle’s back as being able to “protect the fresh fruit flavor from the harmful effects of light.”

I think it’s fantastic that this particular bottle survived 40 to 70 years without getting chipped, cracked or broken. It was quite dusty inside when I acquired it, leading me to think it sat on a garage shelf for many, many years.

My earliest memories of Orange Crush have it bottled in clear bottles of the 1970s and being poured over vanilla ice cream by my grandfather making Orange Floats on a hot, summer day.

Those kind of memories are the type to make this bottle “priceless” to a vintage collector such as myself.

Today, the Crush brand and trademark are owned by Dr Pepper Snapple Group of Plano, Texas. Crush is also popular in Canada, where it is distributed by subsidiary Canada Dry Motts.

I haven’t added to my collection for a while and I’m not sure what made me attend this particular estate sale. I guess sometimes our intuition takes us places we wouldn’t normally go and where there might be a gem just waiting to be discovered. Follow your heart.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Digital Content Galore!

A few years ago, I invested in a tablet computer and a public library membership and I've never looked back!

Books, Books, Books

I mainly use my membership for digital content, and through the Overdrive App for iPad, I can spend hours exploring which books I want to read next. Bestsellers in categories such as fiction, self help, autobiographies, classics, and youth/children's literature, are all at my fingertips. 

Hmmm, How to Choose?

The software works intuitively and provides recommendations for future reading based on past selections as well as providing newly added materials. It makes the selection process a little less time consuming than browsing through a complete digital library of books on your own. Plus, the nerd in me gets a kick out of seeing what the artificial intelligence "thinks" I'll like.

Researchers and History Buffs

There's newspaper archives, as well as the entire National Geographic library to browse for research. Older Consumer Reports are also available for product research. 

Tons of Magazines

In addition to all the above, I can also flip through current and back issues of hundreds of popular magazines in every genre imaginable through the Zinio App for iPad. This alone can eat up a good portion of the afternoon. 

Get the Popcorn

Movie content is also available for streaming, however with a Netflix membership and cable TV, I haven't really explored all this category has to offer. I did test drive it just to see if it would stream through my Apple TV, which it did just fine. 

I think I'll make exploring this section a project for the winter months when the yard work chores are put to rest for a few months.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)

My latest love affair is with the Gale Courses. These free, six-week online courses are available in a variety of subjects from business training and accounting to writing and designing - plus much, much more. Whether you're looking for professional development or personal enrichment, these courses can get you on track. The ones I have taken are upbeat, current, fun and very rewarding. I have also taken several Coursera university level courses, and the Gale Courses compare very favourably to these. 

Don't worry about becoming too reclusive if you submerge yourself into an online education, because you can talk to like-minded people through message board discussion topics. These discussion boards - which the instructors monitor and participate in - offer their users fresh ideas, support, assistance and even companionship.

Tablet, Desktop, Smart Phone Compatible

Don't despair if you don't have a tablet computer. The content works just as well with the modern web browsers on most desktop computers. Just log in with your membership card and password wherever you have computer access and stay connected as long as you want.

World Class Content at Dollar Store Prices

Being a frugally-minded person, I have a hard time believing all this content is available through my Library card. Renewing the card annually is less than the cost of two glossy magazines at the grocery store checkout counter. Factor in the costs of physically getting to the library or stores to get magazines, movies and books in person or purchasing online subscriptions, and the savings of a accessing digital content with a library card really begin to add up. 

Fresh Content to Pick From

New digital content is being added all the time and there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to take advantage of all that is offered. I have to admit our house is a little less clean, our yard work needs doing and the dog doesn't get walked quite as often, but for me, the trade off is worth it.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

World Class Cyclists Wheeling Into Town

Tour de France heroes, big-race winners and top Canadian talent are among the field of 120 racers wheeling into the city for the first leg of the Tour of Albertacycling event on September 3.

The Lethbridge course, spanning 142 kilometers in six laps through the city, was planned to provide maximum viewing options for local residents hoping to cheer on their favorite rider and team or for those just wanting to see some of the top cyclists in the world close up in action.

“The Lethbridge event, designed as a circuit race with several laps, is a very fan friendly style of race where spectators can stay in one spot and see a lot of race action,” says Duane Vienneau of Edmonton, executive director of the Tour of Alberta.

“The Lethbridge segment is also unique because it features a later afternoon start, as local organizers wanted residents to be able to watch when they finished work for the day,” he says.

Although this is the first time Lethbridge has hosted a stage of the race, it is the second year Vienneau’s team has organized the Tour of Alberta.

Touted as being the only event of its kind in Canada, last year’s event attracted 15 of the world’s top cycling teams and was viewed by 200,000 live spectators. It was televised to 41 million viewers in more than 162 countries.

The economic impact for Alberta was estimated at $24 million, he says. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world's governing body in the sport of bicycle racing, has given the event a 2.1 rating.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Future grim for bears

Grizzlies and black bears in southern Alberta face a grim future if public perception of them doesn’t change soon, according to local bear expert Charlie Russell.

“These are wonderful, beautiful animals that are trying their best to get along with us,” says Russell, a Pincher Creek area author and photographer who has been studying bears in Canada and Russia for more than 50 years. 

“It’s almost like bears have been deliberately given the reputation of being highly ferocious animals because then it’s easier to justify hunting and killing them.”

Russell will be presenting his insights into bear behaviour on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the University of Lethbridge after spending the past 52 years closely observing the nature of these animals in their natural habitat.