Let’s Do Lunch


“Lunch is for wimps.” Gordon Gecko in the 1987 film Wall Street

According to the blog Sad Desk Lunch over 62 % of American office workers eat their lunch in the same spot they work every day. Social scientists have termed this “desktop dining”.  I admit to sending an email while munching a sandwich. However I vow to up my game by trading my tired brown bag for an Indian tiffin or napkin wrapped Japanese bento box to tote a portable picnic.

If you share my lunch box blues, here are some cook books that will spark your imagination to prepare lunches to help you power through your work or school day:

portablefeast    The Portable Feast provides brilliant solutions whether you’re planning a picnic in the park or eating “al desko”. Here are secrets to packing salads so they stay crisp by layering in a jar to be tossed together later. Great containers tailored for transporting the make and take meal are also highlighted from the latest in collapsible boxes to Korean covered stainless steel rice bowls

whatareyoudoingforlunch   What Are You Doing For Lunch? outlines the benefits of brown bagging from improving your health to enjoying convenience and flexibility. Includes a sample menu of 20 days of lunches.



lunchtogo    Cooking Light Lunch to Go Whether you are a busy parent, student or worker bee stop spending money in the cafeteria or fast food outlet and start preparing your own healthy economical and tasty lunches. Recipes for 80 simple, satisfying and time saving dishes are included.



bestlunchboxeverBest Lunch Box Ever Filling a lunch box is booby trapped with challenges like keeping some foods hot and others cold, preventing sandwiches from going mushy and fruit from bruising and taking into account fussy kids and food allergies. This information from a dietitian will help you tackle packing lunches every day.


So take your lunch break up a notch. Get away from your desk, use a cloth napkin and real china, read a book or listen to music and congratulate yourself on all the money you’re saving. If you estimate $5 multiplied by 20 lunches per month you will save $1200 per year. Now where you will spend all that lunch money?


Celebrating 50 years of Star Trek

Cover image for The fifty-year mission : the complete, uncensored, unauthorized oral history of Star trek : the first 25 years

September 8th, marked the 50th anniversary of the first broadcasting of Star Trek, and the beginning of an enduring cultural phenomenon.  I chose to mark the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise in this post not only because I was a big time trekker in my teens, who was inspired by its optimistic vision of the future,  but also because I owe a big debt to the television series and paperback novels for helping me learn English as a second language.  Fans can rejoice that a new series is on the horizon but we can also take comfort in the fact that the library has a lot of material in its collections covering its diverse crews and eras for us to keep on trekking.

Cover image for Star trek, the next generation. Season 1 [DVD videorecording].  Cover image for Star trek voyager. Season 1 [DVD videorecording].  Cover image for Star trek enterprise. Season: four [Blu-ray videorecording]  Cover image for [DVD videorecording]. : Star trek.

There are of course the television series (five up to now) and motion pictures, starting with the classic from the 1960’s that started it all to the most recent prequel  series Enterprise with Captain Archer at the helm.  The library has also all the feature films available on DVD or Blu-Ray, which means you can re-discover old favourites or discover them for the first time.

Cover image for The crimson shadow  Cover image for A ceremony of losses

Despite the enduring impact of the shows and movies, the Star Trek universe owes a big debt to the novels that sustained its fanbase and help build its universe to the extent that it did.  Not only do these stories have helped flesh out characters and worlds beyond what was on-screen, they also serve to this day to continue the lives and careers of the different crews after their shows ended, extending the longevity of the series and their casts.  A recent release is the Next Generation/Deep Space Nine crossover novel The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack which tells the story of Captain Picard and his crew’s effort to rebuild the Cardassian homeworld with the help of Ambassador Garak (promoted at the end of the DS9 TV series), despite efforts from factions hostile to a peaceful future with the Federation.  In A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack, both crew feverishly work to avert the slow extinction of an entire species, fighting not only on the scientific front, but also the political one as different governments maneuver to use the crisis to their respective gains.


Cover image for The Star trek encyclopedia : a reference guide to the future  Cover image for Star Trek, the official guide to our universe : the true science behind the starship voyages  Cover image for The Star Trek book

As much as we loved the action, humor and camaraderie of the shows, the Star Trek universe has also garnered respect for its attempt to create a coherent vision of the future mostly based on solid science that more often than not correctly anticipated present societal and technological trends and is credited for directly inspiring technological innovations (notably cell phones and portable tablet computers).  This in turn created literature exploring the mythology and fictional universe of the show, like the Star Trek Encyclopedia, while other non-fiction works like Star Trek: the Official Guide to Our Universe or The Star Trek Book set out describing the real science behind the fiction.  Sure, technobabble used as plot devices that didn’t always made sense was often used, but such books reflect how the shows’ writers tried to plausibly address real scientific concepts as well, making it what science fiction at its best is all about.


Cover image for Leonard

But what if you are interested in the lives of actors themselves?  Leonard Nimoy, the actor best known for his portrayal of Commander Spock past away recently, and like some of his fellow “crew member”, he struggled with the challenges of newfound fame and of being typecasted into this one role.  His friend and colleague William Shatner relates in his newest book Leonard how they met on the set of another television show before their lives became irrevocably linked Cover image for Born with teeth : a memoirfor over five decades, and shares stories from the people who knew him best to celebrate his
life.  Kate Mulgrew also gained international fame as Captain  Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager,  but in her memoir Born With Teeth, she tells of her struggles to establish herself as an actress despite many challenges, including difficult family issues, and her ongoing career in television.


Cover image for Gene Roddenberry : the last conversationFinally we must not forget to include the man who started it all with his revolutionary concept of “a wagon train to the stars”: Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.  In addition to an authorized biography, the library has Gene Roddenberry : the last conversation Portraits of American genius by Yvonne Fern and deals with the author’s interactions with Gene during the last year of his life, presenting through their discussion his views on humanity and its future that shaped his vision of the show.


Whether you are a diehard fan of Kirk’s original 5-year mission or prefer the adventures that followed in the next following decades, there is ample trek treasures available at the library.  May there be 50 more years of trekking through the stars.



You Got the Power

“That is, power is power. That is, power is a word the meaning of which we do not understand.”

― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

After a course in leadership and management I tried to define for myself the meaning of “power.” My strategy was to search through Winnipeg Public Library’s catalogue for books with the keyword “power” and then read all of them. While I am still pretty well stuck with the definition by Leo Tolstoy at this point, I managed to work myself through a whole mountain of books, some of which I would like to recommend.

Power Politics

The New York times has called Noam Chomsky, “arguably the most important intellectual alive” and “perhaps the clearest voice of dissent in American history.” Our expectations of Mr. Chomsky will not be disappointed by the collection of interviews in Power Systems : Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire. Chomsky explores many of the immediate threats to the U.S. and the dangers they pose to the “U.S. Empire.” Regardless of the fierce backlash he faces in his own country, he continues to be undeterred in his activism. He compares 9/11 to Bill Clinton’s bombing of a factory in Khartoum, Sudan, that resulted in as many as tens of thousands of Sudanese deaths. He charges the U.S with “stabilizing” countries by invading and destroying them. Regarding Osama Bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. troops he comments, “We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic.” Chomsky’s words will not find universal acceptance, but he isn’t afraid to speak his mind; and that is what makes his writing particularly exceptional and this book very worthwhile reading.

Power Yoga

I have to admit that I tend to be more of a couch potato than an athlete, but I do love yoga and its many benefits. This is why Power Yoga for Athletes, by Sean Vigue, caught my attention. I was not disappointed. Whether you’re looking to improve balance, focus, control, breathing, posture or flexibility; strengthen your back, joints, or core; or reduce or heal injury, yoga has been recognized to help with all of that. In this book, however, the author goes a step further and adapts yoga practices to the sport of your choice, to enhance performance, strength, and focus. Each pose features step-by-step directions, instructional photography, the muscle groups being worked, the overall benefits, and the sports for which each is ideal. Whether you already practice yoga or not, this book is a great addition to your regimen of athletic development.

Power Cleansing

Cover image for Power souping : 3-day detox, 3-week weight-loss plan : 50+ simple and delicious recipesMany of us may be familiar with the idea of juicing for weight loss, detoxification and boosting energy. In Power Souping, nutritionist Rachel Beller explains how souping can do all that, with the added benefit of being low in sugar and high in fiber. Plus, with the colder months not so far off (sorry) a nice hot soup sounds a whole lot more enticing to me than juice. Good bye juicing! Hello souping! Beller offers more than 50 delicious soup recipes, most vegan and many gluten free. The book also contains an easy 3-step action plan:

  • 3-Day Detox: pure, clean souping to jump-start your weight loss
  • 3-Week Transformation: shed up to 15 pounds with tasty soups and other healthy meals
  • Maintenance Method: tips to keep you on this simple and sustainable plan

What makes this book soup-erior (again, sorry), though is that it offers not only a practical, science-based weight-loss method, but also a guide to feeling your amazing, energetic best. This book is definitely worth a look, even if you do not need to lose weight and just want to boost your energy.

Power Horticulture

Cover image for Power plants : simple home remedies you can growPlants and their healing properties have been known and used for thousands of years. Unfortunately, much of this traditional knowledge has been lost to the western world. Two of Canada’s top authorities in their fields, gardening expert Frankie Flowers and alternative medicine expert Bryce Wylde have teamed up to help regain some of the lost art of harnessing the healing powers of plants. You do not have to go wildcrafting to reap the benefits of certain plants. Power Plants: Simple Home Remedies You Can Grow introduces you to a carefully selected list of forty-nine plants that can be grown in almost any Canadian garden. With Flowers’s easy instructions you can go step by step from planting to harvesting. Bryce then picks up with clear guidelines on how to put the plants to work; fighting everything from constipation to heartburn, high blood sugar to bad breakouts. Even if you have the legendary black thumb the book will help you out with simple substitutions. So go ahead and plan to supercharge your health with a simple trip into your garden.

Power Eating

Cover image for Power vegan : plant-fueled nutrition for maximum health and fitnessWhat do Canadian endurance athlete Brendan Brazier, world class tennis player Venus Williams, and Canadian two-time world champion pairs skater Meagan Duhamel have in common? Other than being super athletes, they are also vegan. Power vegan : plant-fueled nutrition for maximum health and fitness by Rea Frey is a guide to finding the foods that will power your daily life. The idea behind power eating is not a fad diet. Rather, it is about incorporating foods into your life which make you feel good, are easy to prepare, and are fairly inexpensive. I am confident that you will find more than one dish in there that you will thoroughly savour. The book is filled not only with tips, but easy 30-minutes-or-less recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, and snacks. Whether your goal is gaining energy, building muscle, or simply feeling and functioning better, you will be provided with the tools to get healthy while avoiding all-too-common pitfalls. This handy guide is not about being tied to the gym or the kitchen, but rather about creating a lifestyle for yourself that keeps you fit and healthy while being kind to the planet and all its creatures. In this complementary article you learn about Meagan Duhamel’s journey as a high-performance vegan athlete. Be encouraged to follow in her footsteps!

This is just a very small selection of materials I have found in the Winnipeg Public Library’s catalogue under the keyword “power”. There were so many more I really enjoyed, which got me interested in different subjects and broadened my horizon in a variety of fields such as history, politics, nutrition, sport and social psychology. As always the library has been a true treasure trove of knowledge and entertainment. A treasure trove right at your fingertips to explore, enjoy and challenge your brain, because “There is great treasure there behind our skull and this is true about all of us. This little treasure has great, great powers, and I would say we only have learnt a very, very small part of what it can do.” -Isaac Bashevis Singer


Go Canada!


While I completely agree with the Thomas King quotation, I do admit to feeling that Canada is a place which sees more good writing per square kilometer than most.  There are so many great Canadian authors it’s hard to choose who to read next. At this time of year, though, the decision is easy, at least for me. It’s back to school season, which still speaks to the kid in me who will never graduate from the excitement and anticipation of the first day back. Canadian writers are as adept at writing for kids and teens as they are for adults. Don’t believe me? Check out some of the books listed below, and see how right I am.


The Dark Missions of Edgar BrimThe Dark Missions of Edgar Brim by Shane Peacock
Edgar couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t terrified. From the time that he was a baby, and his father read him stories filled with monsters and demons, Edgar has been filled with fear. His only comfort was that the horrors in books were only imaginary… or were they? After the mysterious death of his father, Edgar is sent to boarding school, where he learns the truth about monsters, and how to fight them.


Darkest MagicThe Darkest Magic Cover by Morgan Rhodes

Crys and Becca Hatcher survived their encounters with magic and mages, and are hiding out in Toronto while they try to figure out what to do next. In Mytica, Maddox and Barnabas continue their quest to defeat the evil goddess Valoria. But their worlds will intersect once again, with disastrous results.


Shooter Shoot Cover imageby Caroline Pignat

For the five kids locked in stuffy bathroom the Friday afternoon lockdown was becoming routine, something they almost looked forward on boring Friday afternoons. After all, it was always a drill, just someone playing a prank. Until one of them gets a text: “OMG not a drill!” This time, there really is someone in the school with a gun, and he may have a partner nobody knows about.


The Skeleton TreeThe Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence

It was supposed to be fun, an adventure, a chance to miss some school. But the sailing trip along the coast of Alaska turned into a fight for survival for Chris and Frank, when a sudden storm sinks their boat. Stranded in the wilderness with no food or clothes, and no means to contact civilization, the boys must learn to work together if they want to get back home.


index1     Beware that Girl by Teresa Toten

Kate O’Brien is not who she seems to be. As a student at the exclusive Waverly School, she’s determined to parlay her scholarship status to become one of the in crowd, which will then lead her to Yale. Olivia Sumner was born to be a leader of the in crowd, yet she too has secrets. The two girls, so different, yet so much the same, come together to protect their pasts, and each other, from an outside threat that could defeat them both.

No matter how young or young at heart you are, reading a Canadian author is always a worthwhile experience.  So take off with me to the Great White (or Write) North, and experience for yourself how great it is to read Canadian.


An Information Guide About Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls



Vigil for Tina Fontaine. Winnipeg. August, 2014. Photo credit with changes (Flickr), Steve, Creative Commons License.

On August 3rd the federal government announced an independent Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.  The establishment of such an inquiry was one of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.  The current timeline for the Inquiry calls for it’s work to be completed by the end of 2018.

Winnipeg Public Library has created an information guide to help the public learn about the work of the Inquiry as well as the topic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.  You can find this guide by visiting www.winnipeg.ca/library, opening the “Our Collections” menu and clicking on “Subject Guides”.


The Inquiry will eventually have it’s own offices, contact information, and website. To learn about the Inquiry, the public should visit this site. Please note the existence of a national toll-free crisis line for anyone needing support after reading the information found within this site.

The “About the Independent Inquiry” section of the site is especially useful.  It provides information about what the Inquiry will and will not (or can and cannot) do, in addition to other practical information such as timelines and budget.

Five Commissioners will conduct the Inquiry.  These include:

  • Chief Commissioner, the Honourable Marion Buller, Provincial Court Judge, British Columbia Mistawasis First Nation, Saskatchewan
  • Commissioner Michèle Audette, Former President of Femmes Autochtones du Québec (Québec Native Women’s Association), Mani Utenam
  • Québec Commissioner Qajaq Robinson, Associate, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP Iqaluit, Nunavut
  • Commissioner Marilyn Poitras, Assistant Professor Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • Commissioner Brian Eyolfson, Acting Deputy Director, Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, Legal Services Couchiching First Nation, Ontario


Perhaps the most anticipated part of the Inquiry’s announcement was its Terms of Reference.  Some groups, such as the Native Women’s Association of Canada, have expressed concerns related to family supports, investigation of cold cases, jurisdictional issues connected to the provinces/territories and the Inquiry, and the need to work with the justice system to implement changes.  Amnesty International has echoed some of these concerns. Others were concerned about representation. Pauktuutit, the national Inuit women’s organization, expressed disappointment that the Inquiry does not have an Inuk Commissioner (Commissioner Qajaq Robinson is not Inuk).


There have been a number of studies – by both organizations and academic researchers – about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls over the last number of years.  We have brought these together in our information guide here.  The most recent study, conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, concluded that 1181 Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or were murdered between 1980 and 2012.  Some people expect the number is much higher.

Our information guide also has a section of Manitoba-specific information which will be added to as the Inquiry’s work progresses.  Currently you can find a fact sheet (2010) with statistics about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in our province,  a map of a number of cases, as well as cold case information for some victims.

We have also included a link to a toolkit for families created by family members of missing and murdered women and girls, in partnership with local organization Ka Ni Kanichihk.  The kit provides practical information – including document templates – to assist families whose loved ones have gone missing.

Winnipeg Public Library will update our information guide as the work of the Inquiry progresses, including adding suggested book titles about violence against Indigenous women and girls and Indigenous women’s rights and resilience. We invite everyone to share the guide as a resource for learning about the Inquiry and the important issues it will examine.

As always, we also welcome your questions. You can ask them in person at any of our locations, by calling 204-986-6450, or submitting them online using our Ask Us! service.





Artisanal Audiobooks: Adult Storytime

When was the last time someone read you a story? You were probably a kid, right? Maybe it was a teacher in elementary school doing a group read of a classic. Or maybe it was your Mom or Dad (or Grandparent) reading you a familiar favourite at bedtime. Whenever it was, I am guessing it was probably a long time ago.

Studies have shown that reading (and being read to) is beneficial to children and adults alike. Not only do stories provide mental stimulation, improve memory, ignite curiosity, expand vocabulary and help develop analytical skill,  being read to in a group setting also results in a shared experience and creates community. Also, it’s really, really fun.

What would you say if I told you that you could come and hear some library people read you stories AS ADULTS and that it is completely free? Would you come? I hope so, because WPL is holding its third “Tales at Night” Adult Story Time at The Good Will Social Club (625 Portage Ave) on Wednesday, August 24th at 7:30 pm.

Since we are holding our adult story time at a licensed Social Club, you can even grab a beer and a slice of pizza while you are listening to the stories. So, even if you don’t enjoy the stories (but why wouldn’t you?), there will be pizza and beer. I should also mention that, as a bonus, we will be treated to some comedy improv towards the end of our program featuring our very own newly appointed Manager of Library Services, Ed Cuddy. Now who would want to miss that? We will also have a “Pop Up Library” there, where you can sign up for a library card, and find out about all the other programs and collections WPL has to offer.

If you want to get an idea of some of the stuff we’ve read in the past and may read again, please check out the following titles.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls  by David Sedaris


We’ve read a David Sedaris short story or essay at each of the “Tales at Night” so far, so why would we stop now? We have a “summer themed” story picked out that we think you will enjoy.



Poetry and Short Stories of Dorothy Parker


At our February Tales at Night, we opened and closed the event with a couple of wonderfully funny and clever Dorothy Parker short stories. She is a joy to read (and to hear out loud).



Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales by Ray Bradbury


Ray Bradbury is one of our all time favourite short story writers, and we are really excited to read one of his this time around. It’s funny and scary and weird and nostalgic and I’VE SAID TOO MUCH. Hope you can come!








Microhistories – Fantastic Reads

Summer is here, and that means Winnipeggers will be heading out to our fantastic beaches to relax on the sand. As we build our sand castles and try to keep all those tiny grains from getting onto our towels, it’s interesting to reflect how we are surrounded by trillions of grains of sand that have come together to create the beaches that we enjoy. If you scoop up a handful of sand, each of those tiny grains will have its own source and story. As such, a microhistory is a genre of book that rather than looking at the beach as a whole, finds one grain of sand and tells its story, and in doing so often reveals the story of the beach as well.

This metaphor might be a bit laboured, but microhistories are fantastic reads and I’ve highlighted six that would make a great addition to your next trip to the beach.

PaperMark Kurlansky’s Paper: Paging Through History is an in-depth look at the history of paper and how the invention of paper changed the world. It sounds dry but Kurlansky brings the subject to life and shows how paper as a piece of technology will not be left behind by the digital devices that are now ubiquitous to modern life.

If you like Paper: Paging Through History, Kurlansky has written a number of other excellent microhistories that you can check out at the library. His best known work is Salt: A World History, but Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, and The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell are also cracking reads that trace the impact of these foods on history.


OliveOlive Oil has become a common kitchen ingredient in modern cooking, but do we really know what’s in the bottle in our kitchen? If you are interested in dramatic stories of true crime and delicious descriptions of mouth-watering food, then Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller is the microhistory for you. This title explores the history of olive oil, and dives into the worldwide corruption involved in it’s trade.


HomeIn  At Home: A Short History of Private Life, Bill Bryson looks at everyday objects that fill the typical modern home, exploring the history of how they wound up there. These ordinary objects are vehicles for the story of how our homes became comfortable refuges from the outside world. Bryson is a gifted writer and he infuses his books with fascinating details and a dry humor.



PackingHeading in the opposite direction from our comfortable homes on earth and straight into the challenges of space, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach examines all the different questions that need to be answered before NASA can safely send astronauts into space. From the physical to the psychological Roach leaves no question unanswered. Packing for your summer vacation will seem like a breeze after you read Packing for Mars.


ProofIn Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers, the reader is taken on a tour across the world exploring the current science of distillation and the thousands of years of history and culture behind the alcoholic drinks consumed around the world. This book is for a reader that wants to know all about the scientific and technological details that combine to get a drink into your glass.



GlassesIf Rogers hasn’t completely slated your thirst for alcohol related literature, try A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom StandageProof: The Science of Booze focused on the science of alcohol and A History of the World in 6 Glasses takes on the historical side of the story, using six common drinks (beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and soda) to trace the development of modern civilization.


If these books have piqued your interest, there are many more microhistories waiting for you at Winnipeg Public Library.