Friday July 8, 2022
An impossible choice

Let's be clear. There are no wrong answers once you hear the sweet sounds of the Dreamsicle Man cruising down your block.

Depending on how far your allowance went in any given week, you might even be looking at that Mouseketeer Bar or Nutty Buddy Cone. 

Then again, maybe you wanted the soft serve. Make that dipped.

For our friends in Orillia, looks like they might be getting back into the frozen goodies game. Councilor Mason Ainsworth is sponsoring a petition to end the ban of ice cream trucks in residential neighbourhoods, which has been in place for decades. 

The petition comes after Ainsworth's motion was voted down by council last November. Now he's got the community behind him, rallying for sweet justice.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream ;)
Recession, yes. Bad, no
Relatively good news from RBC economists, who say that there is almost definitely going to a be a recession in late 2022 or early 2023, but that it will be short-lived and fairly moderate.

An article was published by RBC economists Nathan Janzen and Claire Fan on Wednesday, saying, "a historic labour squeeze, soaring food and energy prices and rising interest rates are now closing in. Those pressures will likely push the economy into a moderate contraction in 2023."

Canada's economy has largely been booming since pandemic restrictions began lifting, and growth at that pace will eventually see inhibiting factors catch up with it.

There is only so much room to grow when the labour market is so tight. Companies can only produce at whatever their maximum capacity is, and with interest rates rising so rapidly, business expansion is being hindered, which will ultimately stall economic growth.

Janzen and Fan expect that contraction to be moderate, leading to a slight rise in unemployment and a cooling of consumer demand. It will not be as severe as previous recessions like in 2020 and 2008.
Wave? More like tsunami
The Omicron wave of COVID was like no other wave before it in terms of the contagiousness and transmissibility of that particular variant.

To give a clear picture of just how hard Canada was hit by Omicron, the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) released a report this week revealing that between December 2021 and May of this year, over 17 million Canadians were infected with the Omicron variant.

The report was based on 21 studies that looked at how many people in the country had antibodies in their bloodstream as a consequence of a prior COVID infection.

Before December of 2021, just 7% of the Canadian population was found to have prior infection-related antibodies, but that number rose by 45% over the next six months.

According to the CITF, that translates to an average of 100,000 cases a day over the entirety of that time period.

The report found the highest level of infections to be in Canadians aged 17-24, of whom 65% had antibodies in their systems by May of this year. This group was followed by 25-34 year olds, 57% of which had antibodies by May. Just 31% of Canadians over 60 had antibodies by May.
Zero-interest loans for green renos
The City of Toronto announced yesterday that it would offer zero-interest loans of up to $125,000 for residents who wish to retrofit their homes with green energy solutions.

These include solar panels on the roof, geothermal power, new windows, or electric heat pumps.

The loans will be offered in 15 year terms for most things, with a 20 year term for the bigger ticket items. 

According to the city's statement announcing the program, up to 57% of all carbon emissions in Toronto are produced by homes in the city, most of which comes from the burning of fossil fuels for heat and hot water.

The program is being offered by the city, but it's being funded by the federal government, partly through grant and partly through a loan to Toronto.

Altogether, the federal government is providing just over $14.5 million for the program, with $9.712 million considered a loan, and the rest considered a grant.
Space bubbles reversing climate change
Source: Space Bubbles Project/MIT
Well, if the green retrofitting of homes in Toronto doesn't work, we can always rely on engineers at MIT to come up with innovative ways to tackle problems.

In this case, researchers from the school have proposed two new ways to save the planet from a fiery end.

One of the ideas is called solar geoengineering. This would involve releasing reflective aerosol particles into the atmosphere that would reflect some of the sun's radiation away from the Earth, potentially slowing or stopping the process of global warming.

The method faces some challenges. It's unproven, there may be unforeseen ramifications to releasing these particles into the atmosphere, and there's no clear way to recapture them after they're released.

Onto idea two: bubble block. This would involve building an armada the size of Brazil comprised of bubbles made of silicon, and positioning them a million miles from earth in front of the sun.

MIT has no shortage of wild imaginations hard at work, and it's safe to assume if the human race ever figures out how to course correct for climate change, someone from MIT will probably be involved.
Clearly delicious
Source: Instagram/@tomeinohito
If you're looking for the perfect dessert, look no further than this Japanese food artist's work. Her name is Tomei, which means "transparent" in Japanese, and it couldn't be more fitting.

These treats look like the dessert version of snow globes, with custard, whipped cream, fruits, and whatever other ingredients she decides to use, suspended in what looks like mid air inside these translucent pastries.

One of her latest specialties appears to be a piece of the sky, with whipped cream suspended inside a block of gelatin, making the cream resemble clouds and the gelatin resemble the twilight sky.

Some of these dishes look like ice blocks with the internal ingredients frozen in time. None of the treats are actually frozen though, and you can take a look at examples, as well as how she does it, here
Tips to cut costs
Travel is back, plain 'n simple and along with it, rising costs. The average international airfare for flights departing from Canada was up 11.6% year over year in May, and is now above pre-pandemic levels at $960.

Despite the messes that have become commonplace at airports, airlines are raising prices, mostly to pay for the rising cost of fuel, as well as to hire more staff in order to clean up and prevent the aforementioned messes.

So how do you avoid the soaring price of taking a trip somewhere?

First off, remember the basics. If you're flying anywhere, it will cost more money on a weekend and in the middle of the day. You'll be able to save some money by flying out very early or very late.

Next, there's the occasional option of using alternative airports. For example, if you're going somewhere that has a flight from Hamilton Airport, don't fly out of Pearson!

Domestic flights are still below pre-pandemic levels, so if you're just looking to get away anywhere, keep it domestic, and save a couple bucks (or more).

Search engines like Kayak, Hopper, Flight Hub, and Google Flights are all useful tools as well for finding the cheapest flights available at any given minute.
LIvin' like the Howells
The Barenaked Ladies listed just about everything you could ever dream of doing with a million dollars. But would that pay for your dream life?

A new study from the journal Nature Sustainability asked people how much they think they'd need to live the good life for their whole life. Answers varied widely, from $10,000 to $100 billion. 

It's probably fair to say that there's nothing you could do with $100 billion that you couldn't do with $1 billion, but realistically, what's the threshold? At what point will you be left wanting?

The study found that it depends on who you're asking. Of the Americans that were asked, 32% chose the $100 billion option, but only 8% of the Chinese people asked agreed.

It illuminates the realities of what people consider to be the definition of happiness and if money can buy it. Previous studies have found that, generally speaking, more money equals more happiness.

However, there is, indeed, a threshold. The average person essentially agrees that $105,000 a year is enough, after which there's no increase in happiness.

The new study supports this belief, and basically hypothesizes that most people are looking for comfort rather than extravagance. Except for maybe Thurston and Lovey ;)
Are you down to DQ?
Everybody's favourite scallywag had a serious side hustle in the '70s that lasted for decades. That's right, Dennis the Menace was the DQ spokestoon right up until 2001. Here are even more scrumpdillyicious facts about everybody's favourite ice creamery. 
Have a great weekend, Staker!

Today's edition was written by Michael Cowan and Maureen Norman
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