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August 2, 2022
Down to earth

Good ol' Charlie Brown spent a lot of time on the ground.

Whether he was playing baseball, trying to kick that football, or daydreaming with his pals, Chuck and the grass were well acquainted.

Maybe that had something to do with his ability to sort himself out and get back on his feet. And that's what the folks behind a movement called biohacking would like you to consider. 

They suggest everyone spend 30 minutes a day earthing – touching grass, soil, rock..anything connected to the Earth – as a way boost energy, improve sleep, and manage the one thing Charlie Brown knew all about.

"My anxieties have anxieties" ;)
IN THE NEWS
Future of Covid
Source: unsplash.com
Scientists from the U.S., the U.K., and Europe are predicting a series of COVID waves this winter but say deaths and hospitalizations are unlikely to rise.

Chris Murray, head of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said there could be up to a million infections daily this winter in the U.S. alone, double the current daily numbers.

Experts say despite a rise in cases, high vaccination rates coupled with booster drives, hybrid immunity from previous infection, and milder variants will keep most people out of hospital. Highly effective COVID treatments are also available now which we didn't have last winter.
 
These forecasts raise questions for all countries about when they will move out of the pandemic phase and toward a state of endemic disease. Many experts thought this would happen in early 2022 until the arrival of Omicron and its subvariants.
 
The question remains whether a new variant will emerge that could outdo the Omicron variants. According to the World Health Organization, a new variant that is better able to evade prior immunity would be the worst-case scenario.
ECONOMY
Toronto trailing other cities
Source: pexels.com
A recent study using data from cellphone towers suggests that Toronto's downtown economic recovery lags behind many other urban centres and one author of the study says "we're not going back to normal."
 
The study used cellphone tower information to track the return of people to the downtown areas of 62 urban centres. Toronto landed 49th among the North American cities studied between March and May of 2022, with 46% of pre-pandemic volume. Salt Lake City, Utah had a robust recovery with 155% and San Fransisco, California came in last at around 30% of pre-pandemic pings.
 
Director of the School of Cities at the University of Toronto and one of the co-authors of the study, Karen Chapple, said Toronto's slow recovery is in part due to longer-lasting lockdowns. Chapple said structural issues are also at the core, with so many jobs in technology and financial services that allow remote or hybrid work.
 
Although traffic spiked downtown with a rise in summer events since May, Chapple doesn't see Toronto ever going back to pre-pandemic levels.
HOUSING
Home building innovation
Source: Instagram/@nidus3d
We've been hearing about the amazing things 3D printers can do, but did you ever think we could 3D print a house? Thanks to the innovations of the Kingston, Ontario company nidus3D, 3D houses are here and more are on the way. 
 
The company 3D printed the first single-storey unit in Canada earlier this summer in Windsor, Ontario and now the first two-storey unit is being built on Wolfe Island off the coast of Kingston.
 
The printing machine takes regular concrete and pours it layer by layer to build the walls of the home. Founder Huge Roberts explains that the information on where the machine needs to go and how to do it come from "the typical blueprints you would need to build a house."
 
Right now, building a 3D printed home is slightly more expensive than building a wood structure but they hope it becomes more affordable over time.
 
This method reduces waste as they can build with way less material and the homes are built to last much longer than traditional structures.
MEDICINE
Foods increase dementia risk
Source: pexels.com
A study presented at the 2022 Alzheimer's Association International Conference shows eating too much ultraprocessed food can lead to cognitive decline.
 
The study revealed that eating ultraprocessed foods for more than 20% of your daily calorie intake can contribute to decline in areas of the brain that involve executive functioning – our ability to process information and make decisions.
 
The study followed more than 10,000 Brazilians for up to 10 years. Just over half of the participants were women and the average age was 51.
 
Those who consumed more than 20% of their daily calories from processed foods saw a 28% faster decline in global cognition and 25% faster decline in executive functioning compared to those who consumed less than 20%.
 
Co-author of the study and assistant professor at the University of São Paulo Medical School, Dr. Claudia Suemoto, said those who ate the most processed foods were more likely to be younger white women with a higher education and income.
 
Suemoto said preparing your own food is worth it "to protect your heart and guard your brain from dementia or Alzheimer's disease."
TRAVEL TUESDAYS
Ancient Irish woodland opens
Source: Twitter/@WoodlandTrust
Thanks in part to a generous donation from Canada's Garfield Weston Foundation, a rare and ancient woodland in Northern Ireland opened to the public yesterday after 500 years of private ownership.
 
Last year, the conservation charity Woodland Trust Northern Ireland bought 386 acres of the 523 acre woodland, known as Mourne Park. The group had been working in partnership with the former owners to restore the woods over the last three years.
 
They've since completed the first phase of restoration featuring three new walking trails open for free to the public. The three trails are loose gravel walkways of varying length and difficulty. The Bluebell Walk and the Woodland Loop are both just shy of a mile and the Whitewater Trail is 2.7 miles long.
 
Previously, the estate was closed to the public and access could only be granted through annual subscriptions. Woodland Trust launched a new campaign in June to acquire another 113 acres to continue their work.
 
Ancient woodland is rare in Northern Ireland so the charity's mission will be to protect and restore the woods, re-establish habitats for wildlife and remove invasive species like rhododendron and laurel.
SCIENCE
Where's the beef?
Source: H. Alexander Talbot
Recently 3D printing has been taking on everything from innovations in healthcare to innovations in home building but now, we can eat it too.

A team of scientists at Osaka University have developed a way to print a 3D meat alternative using cells from Wagyu cows. Here's how they did it. 

They collected bovine satellite cells and bovine adipose-derived stem cells. These were chosen because both can develop into more than one cell type. The cells were then suspended in an edible gel which acted like scaffolding and allowed them to form fibres. Over time these grew into muscle, fat, and blood tissues.
 
Once the three tissue types needed to make a steak were grown, they needed a template to be printed. Using Wagyu beef as their model, scientists organized the muscle, fat, and blood into an arrangement that replicated the steak. After that, Ctrl + P and dinner was served.
 
Can we place your order
CURIOSITIES
Reunited and it feels so good
Source: Twitter/@guardiannews
For many of us, our old favourite toys live on in memory only but for one Staker in Peak Hill, Australia, fortune was on his side.
 
Now 58, Tim Goodwin grew up in Somerset county in South West England with his two brothers and they loved racing their Matchbox cars. Goodwin had always loved Ford Capris, stating "A Ford Capri is an Englishman’s Mustang." 

When he was old enough to get into the tool shed, he was allowed to customize his toy cars. Goodwin did just that, painting his pink car red and removing the tow bar. Leaving it to dry, a kid down the street snuck into the shed and took several toys, including Goodwin's prized Capri.
 
Unable to track the thief, life moved on. Goodwin moved to Australia in 1994, got married and had children. One day on a whim, he went searching for his old Lesney Ford Capri toy on eBay a few pages later, he had a match.
 
The seller was in Doncaster, England, about 370km from his hometown of Wellington and doesn't remember how he got the toy. Goodwin paid $34.62 and is elated to be reunited with his childhood love.
FUN
Let's go green
Mourne Park isn't the only place in Ireland getting some Canadian love!

Staker Maureen F was recently on the Emerald Isle and stopped by the memorial sculpture honouring Ireland's renowned poet, writer, and senator W.B. Yeats.

Here he is proudly sporting his support for Stake ;)

In honour of the man himself, we're playing a wee bit of trivia. Let's see how well you know Irish expressions. Good luck!
Have a great day ahead Staker!

Today's edition was written by Karli Vezina and Maureen Norman
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