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April 2015

Free Science Events in Toronto for May 2015

April 28, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

The Science and Technology Department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in Toronto. Applied science includes health, gardening, pets and food; all subjects found in the department's collection. Here is the May calendar (PDF).

May's highlights include:

The Toronto Public Library also offers many free science and applied science events:

At the library, May's highlights include:

Can't attend a program or want to read more about the topics covered? Try some of these titles:

The Lorimer pocketguide to Toronto birds  Extreme explosions  Toxin toxout  What does a black hole look like

Soap and water & common sense  46 science fair projects for the evil genius  The mindful way through stress  Learning Python

Asian Heritage Month Double Event: Iranian Architecture and a Musical Performance

April 24, 2015 | Maureen | Comments (0)

Celebrate Asian Heritage Month this May with two events at North York Central Library on Saturday, May 23. The afternoon will begin with an overview of the architecture of Iran. At one o'clock, Dr. Rafooneh M. Sani (Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus) will showcase Iranian architecture from the ancient to the contemporary. The magnificent city of Persepolis will be one of the topics of her presentation. Persepolis has a fascinating history. In 1930 archaeologists began excavations of this ancient city, which dates back to 515 BCE. The destruction of Persepolis came after the army of Macedonian king Alexander the Great looted it in 330 BCE. The city that had been known as “the richest city under the sun” was destroyed by fire, possibly as revenge for the destruction of the Acropolis in Athens 150 years earlier, by Xerxes, King of Persia.

2009-11-24_Persepolis_02  Persepolis. Photo credit: Hansueli Krapf. Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0           

After Dr. Rafooneh's talk, you'll have time for a treat at the North York Centre food court (just a one minute walk from the library) before the second event begins. If the weather is fine, you can sip your coffee outside, in Mel Lastman Square, an urban oasis just steps from busy Yonge Street. Sit by the fountain or the reflecting pool and consider the modern Canadian architecture that borders the square.

Be sure to come back to the library in time to get a seat in the auditorium for the three o'clock performance by the Shiraz Ensemble. The musicians will perform Persian instrumental music on instruments with intriguing names: the Tar (Persian long-necked lute), the Tombak (goblet drum), the Kamanche (spiked fiddle), and the Santour (dulcimer).

Both events are free. They will take place in the North York Central Library auditorium and will be conducted in English and Farsi. Please call (416) 395-5639 to register.

Here are some books with beautiful images of the architecture and art of Iran, which you can borrow from the library:

  Persian art and architecture Islam Splendors of Islam  

 If you are an ancient history buff, consider borrowing these movies on Persepolis:

Persepolis rediscovering the lost capital of the Persian Empire "In 520 B.C. King Darius I of the Archaemenids had a forty acre terrace piled up at the foot of the Kuh-e-Rahmat, the Mount of Mercy, in the central Persian plateau. Here the new capital of the Persian Empire was to arise, Parsa, or Persepolis."



Persepolis stage of kings


The pace of this movie is unhurried, and I mean that in a good way. It's a great antidote to movies with explosions, bullets, and nerve shattering sound tracks. The camera lingers on the awe inspiring ruins of Persepolis and the beautiful relief sculpture adorning it's walls and columns, while traditional music softly plays. These sculptures, which scholars believe were once brightly painted, depict fascinating scenes, such as representatives of subjugated nations bringing offerings to the King. It's easy to slip into a dream of the distant past, watching this movie.


Persepolis recreated, or Shukūh_i takht_i Jamshīd (no cover image available)

You have the option of watching this movie in Farsi or English. It begins with a stunning opening shot -- the camera pans the ruins of Persepolis against a crimson sunset sky. The halls and palaces of Persepolis are digitally recreated in this movie.

This is a Big One: North York Central Library presents Mona Eltahawy!

April 23, 2015 | Emoke | Comments (2)

Mona Eltahawy photoAs soon as I heard about Mona Eltahawy's upcoming book entitled: Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, I knew I would be interested in this woman's work.

According to her official website, Mona (Egyptian-American activist and journalist) is an award-winning columnist as well as international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues and global feminism. She is based in Cairo and New York City.

Mona is a contributor to the New York Times opinion pages, and her commentaries have appeared in several other publications and she is a regular guest analyst on various television and radio shows. She appeared on most major media outlets during the 18-day revolution that toppled Egypt's President. In November 2011, Egyptian riot police beat, sexually assaulted and detained her. Eltahawy was named one of Newsweek's '150 Most Fearless Women of 2012.'

In her book Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, (released this month), she crafts an argument about the complexity surrounding women's sexual and political identities in the Middle East and uses her experiences of sexual assault as well as her conflicted feelings about the hijab to unveil what she identifies as false choices for women in Islamic societies. Her book is very well-reviewed in Library Journal, which describes her account as "a strong, insightful, and well-researched analysis of many issues connected to Middle Eastern women's autonomy (e.g., the hijab, marriage, female genital mutilation). Her personal insights set this work apart."

Mona Eltahawy will read from her book at the North York Central Library Auditorium on Monday, April 27th, 2015. Free tickets are required and are available by clicking here.

Find her book and others of a similar subject at the Toronto Public Library below:

Book Title: Headscarves And Hymens: Why The Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution  Book Title: Muslim women reformers : inspiring voices against oppression  Book Title: Women in the Middle East and North Africa : change and continuity  Book Title: Price of honor : Muslim women lift the veil of silence on the Islamic world

Link to the ebook version of Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution:


Business Docs Are Definitely Hot!

April 17, 2015 | Kathryn | Comments (0)

Greetings fellow film lovers!  For the past several years I have purchased tickets to the Toronto Hot Docs Festival to catch some great documentary films. This year, however, I might have to miss the annual event which runs from April 23 to May 3. Fortunately, we have some fascinating films in the business department at the North York Central Library and I've decided to sign a few of them out and hold my own little film festival at home.

Burning In The Sun Broke Elizabeth Arden
Documentaries about commerce are fascinating and relevant because business is all around us and an intrinsic part of our lives. Just think of the many ways commerce shapes our lives.

One DVD I plan to watch is called Burning In The Sun. It's about a 26-year-old man named Daniel Dembele who is at a crossroads in his life. He decides to return to his homeland of Mali to start a local business building recycled solar panels. Daniel's goal is to electrify the households of local rural communities, 99 percent of which have no power. This story is about Daniel's journey to develop his idea into a viable company and improve the lives of his countrymen.

To add some variety to my film night I also plan to watch a documentary called Broke. This film, from Gemini-award winning filmmaker Rose Dransfield, is set in a pawnshop. It's owner, David Woolfson, a grumpy Jewish marchant from South Africa, is a banker of last resort for the down-and-out residents of Edmonton's grim inner city. He's been running the store for 16 years on his own.  Then one day an ex-convict shows up to volunteer his time at the shop and an unlikely friendship ensues.

To complete my film night, I will watch a film about Elizabeth Arden, a pioneer of the cosmetics industry who built a business worth billions that is still flourishing to this day.

To learn more about the world of business and be entertained at the same time, I also recommend the following documentaries available in DVD format from the North York Central Library:

Life And Death In Assisted Living Sourlands Last Shop Standing  Winnebago Man

  Craft In America Generation Like His way a portrait of Hollywood legend Jerry Weintraub Us And The Game Industry

iPad/iPhone Tips

April 17, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

Recently, I was helping a patron download movies from hoopla on to her iPad. While I was helping her, I showed her how to delete an app she no longer wanted by pressing and holding on the app and then pressing the x at the top left corner of it. She wasn’t aware of this. I proceeded to show her a couple more tips, like the ones below (the following tips work in iOS 8; they may or may not work in the older iOS):

Forcing an app to close

What do you do when an app isn't working or responding? You can force the app to close and then re-open it. Hopefully, this will resolve the issue. To force an app to close, press the home button twice. You'll see previews of your recently used apps. Find the app you want to close and swipe the app up.

Force close apps          Force close apps 2


Did you know you can type in different languages? I recently helped my mom add a Chinese keyboard to her iPad. Here’s how to add a keyboard: Settings > General > Keyboards > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard…

Keyboard          Korean keyboard

Once a keyboard is added, access it by pressing the globe button to the left of the space bar. If you have multiple keyboards, you can keep pressing the globe button until it toggles to the desired keyboard.

Internet address domain shortcut

Did you know when you are typing a web address in the address bar there is a shortcut to writing .com, .ca, .org, etc.? To access the shortcut, press and hold the period. Several domain extensions will appear. Select the one you need.

Internet domain shortcut

What song is that?

Sometimes a song will come on the radio in the car and I’m dying to find out what song it is. What do I do? There are apps available to help figure this out. Or you can just ask Siri. Siri works as a personal assistant and knowledge navigator. The feature uses natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations and perform actions.

To find out the song, first hold down the home button which will activate Siri. Ask Siri “What song is this?”. Then Siri will listen to the song. If Siri is able to decipher the song, it will let you know.

Siri song          Siri song result

Sometimes, Siri is disabled on the phone. To enable Siri: Settings > General > Siri. If Siri is enabled, a green button will appear next to it. To disable it, simply slide the button over to switch it off.

Siri on

There are also lots of things you can do on your device with your Toronto Public Library card.

You can download e-books, e-audiobooks, e-magazines, movies, television shows and full music albums. For help accessing these services, visit the websites below:

  • hoopla: movies, television shows and full music albums

The North York Central Library also offers free E-Book Drop In sessions every Saturday from 2-3 pm in the Atrium (call 416-395-5672 for more information). Bring your device and questions and we’ll be happy to help you access these awesome services one step at a time.

To learn more about iPads and iPhones, here are some books from the library:

iPad for the older and wiser   My iPad mini  Teach yourself visually iPad  The ultimate iPad

iPhone for dummies  iPhone secrets   iPhone with iOS 8 for seniors  The unauthorized guide to iPhone, iPad and iPod repair

You can access these books online:

iPad all in one for dummies  iPad the missing manual  iPhone all in one for dummies  iPhone for seniors for dummies

Do you know any useful tips for the iPad or iPhone? If you do, please share them below in the comments. Did you find this post useful? If you did, please let me know and I can share some more tips in the future. Thanks!


Telling the Science Story

April 14, 2015 | Jane | Comments (0)

The happy appointment of William Robins to the Victoria University (UofT) presidency had me thinking about the value of storytelling in different kinds of settings. For Robins, storytelling and humanities are the subject of his medieval studies research, and how he sees his mandate as a champion of the cultural value of both.

But consider the value of storytelling in the sciences, or at least with the vast and otherwise hard-to-fathom complexity of the Rosetta comet lander mission.

This is a mission that took decades to plan. More than ten years have passed since it was launched. Its objectives, most notably the spectacular comet landing that happened last November, have never been attempted before. The mission will involve hundreds of scientists (maybe even you!) before it is finished.

How does one put this across to the non-astrophysicists among us? The European Space Agency (ESA) responsible for the mission has thought of that, and has done an admirable job of keeping us posted by first naming the characters in the ongoing saga:

  • Rosetta: the comet orbiter named for the stone that provided the linguistic key to the ancient       Egyptian civilization.
  • Philae: the little comet lander considered "little brother" to Rosetta, Philae was named for a similar archeological/linguistic key to knowledge.
  • 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: the duck-shaped comet that is the primary object of the Rosetta mission, named for the people who discovered him
  • Rosina: one of a group of lesser characters very much attached to Rosetta. Rosina is an acronym for Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis.

  Then their stories are told in different ways . . .




...including fanciful stories that convey the excitement, scope, and grand promise felt by the scientists who’re undertaking this mission.



Such stories are entertaining in themselves, but also pique interest, open the door to more.

Next week North York Central Library Science and Technology department is offering a talk by University of Toronto research fellow Sebastian Daemgen. We hope you can come.

“Rosetta: Deciphering the Language of Comets."

He will be talking about “highlights from one of the most exotic places ever visited."

North York Central Library 5120 Yonge St.

Wednesday, April 22

7:00 to 8:00 pm

in the Auditorium

(second floor, just above the library atrium).






Water, water, every where*

April 14, 2015 | Carolyn | Comments (0)

Water Droplet
"Blue drop" by mjtmail (tiggy). Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

In Canada we are blessed with an abundance of water. When I thought about it at all, I used to think that my water consumption was about brushing my teeth, doing the laundry and watering the garden.

A book I read recently changed the way I think about water use. According to environmental journalist Stephen Leahy, author of Your Water Footprint, "each item you purchase, each form of transportation and energy you use, in fact each activity you do throughout the day has a water footprint we can measure. A water footprint is the total amount of freshwater required to produce an item or carry out an activity".

Here are some examples from Leahy's book of the water footprints of items we consume or use and activities we engage in every day:

  • one apple                                   125 liters
  • one cup of coffee                        140 liters
  • one kilo of beef                      15,400 liters
  • one 10-minute shower                175 liters
  • one round of golf                     8,000 liters
  • one smartphone                         910 liters
  • one pair of jeans                     7,600 liters  

There are online tools to calculate water footprints, both personal and for products and processes. I used the Water Footprint Calculator to calculate my household water use and the Water Footprint Network's resources on product water footprints to learn more about the water resources used to make everyday products.

Next week you can meet Stephen Leahy at the North York Central Library, where he will present a talk based on his thought-provoking book.

Location: North York Central Library Auditorium

Date: Wednesday July 22, 2015

Time: 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


If you want to learn more about our use of water:


* From The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The full verse:

Water, water, every where

and all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where

Nor any drop to drink. 

North York Central presents "The Pan Am Path: A Living Path Across Toronto"

April 13, 2015 | Aleks | Comments (0)

Pan Am GamesOn Tuesday April 21, 2015 North York Central Library is very pleased to have guest speaker Glenn Parkinson (Pan Am Path Board member) discuss the multi-use 80 kilometres of trails revitalized across Toronto. The presentation will take place in the Auditorium from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The Pan Am Path connects 80 kms of trails across Toronto in a way that allows residents, local organizations, artists and businesses to create public spaces that are reflections of those communities along the route. Find out more by attending the program or visiting their website.

As a tween, I remember taking my bike with my friends from Lawrence and Weston along the Humber River, all the way down to Lakeshore. It was a series of mazes where you would emerge from one park, cross a busy street and enter a new trail. At that age, it was exhilarating! A full day trip led us across Toronto, through beautiful blossoming James Gardens, under the overhanging train track from above and out onto Lake Ontario.

Explore the map!


Great country walks around Toronto - within reach by public transit Nature hikes - near-Toronto trails and adventures The great Toronto bicycling guide Toronto's ravines - walking the hidden country

You can also pick up the Toronto Cycling Map at any library.

North York Central Library Talk: What Makes Music Great?

April 10, 2015 | Muriel | Comments (0)


North York Central Library Talk: What Makes Music Great?

With Music Expert Rob Kapilow

Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.

North York Central Library Auditorium

Please call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

        What Makes It Great?        All You Have to Do Is Listen        Experiencing Mozart


We hear great orchestral masterpieces all the time: in the concert hall; at the movies; on TV; in video games; and on the radio. The
Toronto Symphony Orchestra has invited engaging music expert Rob Kapilow to lead you on a discovery of what makes these works so timeless and exceptional.


  How to Listen to Great Music       The Rough Guide to Classical Music      The Complete Classical Music Guide

Music in the Air    The Rough Guide to Classical Composers Beethoven    The Rough Guide to Classical Composers J.S. Bach

Be sure to visit NAXOS, the online music library available through Toronto Public Library, and listen to great music spanning medieval to modern - classical, jazz, electronic, world music and more, and find expert educational content.  


Interesting Business Authors Part 2: Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

April 10, 2015 | Kathryn | Comments (0)

Jason Fried  David Heinemeier Hansson  REWORK
Author photos courtesy of Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

If you read only one book about how to set up and run a business, make it REWORK by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. This book is jammed full of clever, sometimes funny, very practical advice that is easy to follow and carry through.

Fried and Hansson are the founders of a web application company called Basecamp (formerly 37signals) which they have deliberately kept small. The book is based on the authors' experiences running their business successfully through the ups and downs of the market. They are motivated to help aspiring entrepreneurs realize their dreams using a minimalist approach that produces maximum results.

They advise readers to rethink traditional business models that are bureaucratic and costly. Their theory is to keep things simple and streamlined--frugal even--and reject the advice of naysayers who claim you need to hire lots of staff, throw loads of money at marketing and expand your product base.  

By understanding your product or service and casting a laser-like focus on it, they say, your planning decisions will be obvious. Grow the business at your own pace in small increments and costs won't get out of control. In the end, your focus will become the completive advantage to leverage against the competition. 

In this vein, unlike many books on entrepreneurship that encourage business owners to work long hours, REWORK maintains that workaholism is "stupid". "Workaholics try to fix problems by throwing sheer hours at them," say Fried and Hansson. "They make up for their intellectual laziness with brute force. No one makes sharp decisions when they're tired."

To illustrate their ideas, the authors provide lots of real world examples. "Don't be afraid to give a little away for free, as long as you've got something else to sell," they advise. As an example, they discuss how drug dealers (who are astute business people!) give away free product samples, confident that customers will return with money in hand. 

  • Written in a minimalist style, REWORK often reads like a "to-do" and "to-don't" list for aspiring business owners:
  • Learn from your successes not your mistakes. Failure is not a prerequisite for success!
  • Long-term planning is essentially "guessing" and is inconsistent with improvisation--which you will need to do! 
  • Building a large company does not ensure success. "What's wong with finding the right size and staying there?" the authors challenge. "The bigger the organization, the harder it is to be flexible."
  • Make products YOU want to use, then you don't need to conduct studies to know whether they're good. Also, rather than one-upping the competition, try one-downing them--design products that are simple and then promote them as such.
  • Be frugal and embrace constraints.  Limited resources force you to do the best with what you have. Set up a home office, for example, or use Quicken instead of hiring an accountant.
  • Don't postpone decisions in the hopes that the perfect answer will come along. It won't!
  • You don't need databases to keep track of what people want--just listen to the requests you hear over and over from customers to know what really matters!
  • Premature hiring is the death of many companies. Hire when there's more work than you can handle for a sustained period of time.
  • It doesn't matter how long an applicant has been doing something, the important thing is how WELL they have done it.

With REWORK, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson have given entrepreneurs a great method for achieving more with less! 

You may also enjoy these books by the same authors:

  Getting Real Remote: Office Not Required

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