Blog Posts by Lia Grainger

  • Shane Koyczan: B.C. poet’s anti-bullying video goes viral, warms hearts


    British Columbia poet and spoken word artist Shane Koyczan has written a powerful animated video of a poem about bullying, and it’s taking the internet by storm. More than a million people have viewed the video in the two days since it was first posted.

    You may remember Koyczan for his performance at the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, where he read his poem “We Are More.” His latest creation is a seven minute YouTube video is called “To This Day” (above). It features words by Koyczan and animated images by a long list of contributors.

    The video tells the story of Koyczan’s own experience being bullied in school, as well as the narratives of two other victims, a girl with a birthmark on her face and a boy who suffers from depression.

    Also see: Terminally ill mom learns to drive to fulfill her dying wish of driving her son to school

    An excerpt reveals his poignant use of language.

    “Every school was a big top circus tent and the picking order went from acrobats

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  • Milk and sugary foods do increase the risk of acne, claims study review

    A new study review is challenging the idea that there is no link between diet and acne. (Thinkstock)A new report examining more than 50 years of medical research has concluded there is evidence a high-glycemic diet rich in starchy carbohydrates as well as dairy products may have a significant affect on acne.

    “This is something I see all the time in my clinical practice,” says Dr. Frances Jang, a Vancouver dermatologist with more than 20 years of clinical experience.

    “I came from the school of thought that there was no association, but what I found was that when I told many of my patients to ingest less starchy foods — bagels, muffins, pizza — they could get a better handle on it.”

    Also see: DASH diet may be reputable, but don’t try it because Dr. Oz says so

    The common thinking among dermatologists and other physicians who treat acne today is that there is no a connection between diet and the troublesome skin condition. Experts are pretty much in agreement that fatty, sugary foods are not to blame.

    While back in the 1800s doctors and scientists believed foods like chocolate, sugar,

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  • DASH diet may be reputable, but don’t try it because Dr. Oz says so

    Dr. Oz may be a "faith healer," but he is not peddling science. (Getty)The so-called "DASH diet" appeared on the Dr. Oz Show Tuesday afternoon, and as such, will likely become the next big trend in dieting and healthy eating.

    Yet despite the often questionable logic of the great and powerful Dr. Oz, it seems that, much like the Oprah Effect, whatever appears on his program is pretty much guaranteed to become popular.

    What many people don’t know about the DASH diet — short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — is that it’s been around since 1997 and has already been endorsed by a shopping list of extremely reputable medical clinics and organizations, including the Mayo Clinic, the American Heart Association, and the American National Institutes of Health. The diet was designed based on more than a decade of research by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute with the goal of creating a relatively easy-to-adopt diet that would lower high blood pressure.

    Also see: Vitamin C doesn’t reduce your risk of a cold: study

    The DASH diet, when followed

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  • GQ writer wears pregnancy belly for 9 weeks: “I’m not man enough to be a woman”

    GQ writer Benjamin Percy wore a pregancy belly for nine weeks and wrote about his experience. (TODAY screengrab)GQ writer Benjamin Percy wore a pregancy belly for nine weeks and wrote about his experience. (TODAY screengrab)Being a lady is no cakewalk, especially if you’re a pregnant lady.

    In the hopes of gaining insight into the trials and tribulations of women who are “in the family way,” GQ writer Benjamin Percy wore a 33-pound “Empathy Belly” suit for nine weeks. An empathy belly is a strap on garment that is shaped and weighted like a pregnant woman's belly, designed to give men a taste of what it's like to be pregnant.

    His conclusions on the state of womanhood?

    “I learned that I’m not man enough to be a woman,’’ Percy tells the TODAY show.

    Also see: 13-year-old adopted son finally gets his ‘newborn’ photo shoot

    The novelist’s goals seemed noble enough when he embarked on the nine week mission.

    “Maybe—by helping me experience the one thing unavailable to men as parents—it will be more than a costume, but a way for me to alter my point of view, deepen my empathy, help me overcome my mouth-breathing-caveman deficiencies,” Percy writes in the latest issue of GQ.

    Percy wore two suits during the

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  • Vitamin C doesn’t reduce your risk of a cold: study

    Remember those times you popped vitamin C when you got the sniffles? Well, it might not have helped. (Thinkstock)Vitamin C has long been heralded as a helpful remedy to the common cold. We’ve all likely been advised to pop a few tablets when we’re coming down with something, and many take it every day to ward off the potential threat of a new virus.

    But is there any science to back this up?

    According to a recent study, no. A systematic review of existing scientific literature conducted by researchers in Helsinki, Finland finds that taking vitamin C supplements does not reduce the likelihood of catching a common cold, reports WedMD.

    Also see: Health benefits of omega-6 oils questioned in new research

    There is one rather surprising caveat to this finding. Among those exposed to brief but intense periods of physical exercise, vitamin C intake does have an effect. Specifically, the study review looked at previous studies involving marathon runners, skiers and soldiers.

    “I have generally not been impressed by vitamin C's usefulness,” says Reinhold Vieth, a clinical biochemist at Mount Sinai Hospital,

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  • Celebrating Saint Valentine: What’s the story behind Valentine’s Day anyways?

    The history behind Valentine's Day and the reason we celebrate it is open to a few interpretations. (Thinkstock)Valentine’s Day tradition tells us that February 14 is a day to celebrate the one you love with gifts, candlelit dinners, and amazing make-out sessions. Yet the day’s current amorous connotations bear little resemblance to the rather tragic story of the man whose life it celebrates, Saint Valentine.

    As is often the case with people who lived more than a thousand years ago, much of the information we have today about the life of Saint Valentine is of the vague and ambiguous variety.

    According to History.com, there are several different men named Valentine that the Catholic church acknowledges may have inspired the holiday.

    Also see: Boyfriend shaves head in solidarity with his girlfriend fighting cancer

    The most popular narrative is that of a third century Roman priest named Valentine who served during the reign of Emperor Claudius. The emperor believed that single men made better soldiers, so he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, saintly creature that he was, found the rule

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  • Infamous ‘Bitter Barista’ fired for bashing coffee customers on his blog

    Matt Watson was fired from Seattle All City Coffee because his blog slagged customers. (SpekulationMusic.com)Matt Watson was fired from Seattle All City Coffee because his blog slagged customers. (SpekulationMusic.com)Have you ever ordered a decaf low-fat soy milk latte from a seriously unimpressed barista, only to wonder afterwards if you got what you ordered?

    Well, if you were served by Seattle All City Coffee’s Matt Watson, you can be pretty certain that you didn’t.

    Watson is the creator of Bitter Barista, a blog expressing the daily rage and disappointment of one very disgruntled coffee slinger. The blog was entirely anonymous until Watson was recently outed by coffee news website Sprudge.com. Watson’s boss promptly fired him upon learning about the blog, reports Gawker.

    Also see: A mathematical formula for the perfect pancake

    “That makes sense,” says barista and coffee educator Chris Tellez.

    An employee of Dark Horse Coffee in Toronto, Tellez says a blog like Bitter Barista can have a terrible influence on the industry.

    “For someone like me who wants to make a career out of coffee, this is really frustrating,” says Tellez. “The customer isn’t going to understand or appreciate what we’re doing

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  • The ‘beer belly’ myth: A Q&A with beer sommelier Crystal Luxmore

    Canadian beer sommelier Crystal Luxmore says there's no direct link between beer consumption and a big tummy. (Thinkstock)Ever heard of the beer belly? Though Canadians adore downing beer by the pint, can or bottle, it has a nasty reputation as an unhealthy and fattening beverage.

    Now, a British nutritionist has conducted a review of the scientific literature on beer, and has come up with some pretty interesting findings.

    Nutritionist Kathryn O’Sullivan claims in her report that the beer belly is a myth, and that replacing wine with beer may actually help you lose weight. The Telegraph reports she also claims beer has myriad health benefits, and that it is generally misunderstood to be bad for you.

    Before we go any further, we should note that O’Sullivan was commissioned to write the report on behalf of the beer industry, and if that’s not a conflict of interest then Guinness isn’t delicious (Editor's note: Guinness is delicious).

    That being said, O’Sullivan makes some interesting claims that we thought would be worth fact-checking, so we got in touch with Crystal Luxmore, a Canadian Prud’homme beer

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  • Shrove Tuesday: A mathematical formula for the perfect pancake

    A mathematical formula has been created to achive the perfect pancakes. But is it really necessary? (Thinkstock)It’s Shrove Tuesday, better known as Pancake Tuesday in these parts. For those of you planning on flipping up a nice stack of celebratory flapjacks, the Daily Mail reports that British mathematicians have cooked up a handy formula to help you cook the perfect batch.

    First, here’s the rather intimidating equation:

    100 - [10L - 7F + C(k - C) + T(m - T)]/(S - E)

    Yes, these numbers do relate to pancakes. A team of math whizzes from the University of Wolverhampton in England decided that cooking the traditional breakfast food could and should be reduced to numbers.

    The math breaks down like this:

    L = the number of lumps in the batter (ideally 0)

    C = the actual consistency of the batter (scored out of 10)

    F = flipping score (scored out of 100)

    K = the ideal consistency of the batter (ideally 5)

    T = the actual temperature of the pan (ideally 377)

    M = the perfect pan temperature (377)

    S = the time the batter stands before cooking (ideally 30 minutes)

    E = the time the pancake stands before

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  • Mick Hobday: Man spends more than $58,000 tasting cornflakes around the world

    Mick Hobday has eaten 4000 bowls of cornflakes on five continents. (Facebook)Mick Hobday has eaten 4000 bowls of cornflakes on five continents. (Facebook)

    Mick Hobday has a very simple goal in life: “To eat a bowl of cornflakes in every country in the world.”

    The 33-year-old Brit has spent much of the last decade devoted to achieving that goal, and so far has eaten some 4000 bowls of cereal on five continents. He's munched flakes in 60 countries and shelled out more than $58,000 while doing so.

    Also see: Canadian man creates Sexcereal and lands $100,000 from Dragon's Den

    Hobday began his international travels and his cornflake tasting quest back in 2002 in Mexico, reports The Daily Mail. On his travel blog Hobsausage, Hobday explains the reasoning behind his unusual quest.

    “…if I do visit every country and somebody tells me I am not the first then I can pull my corn flakes as a wild card. I doubt very much if anyone has ever eaten a bowl everywhere in fact I also wonder if its ever been done in the entire cosmos over its 14 billion year history. My feat will be unique throughout time and space.”

    If it sounds a little crazy, that’s

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