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Photo essay: Otherworldly selfies in the natural world

Aaron Hutchins | posted Tuesday, Jan 20th, 2015

For years, Paul Zizka used to dislike photos of the wilderness if there was a human element to them. No people. No buildings. But then, on a picturesque winter’s night walking alone along the shore of Lake Minnewanka, Alta., Zizka just couldn’t find the perfect foreground. So, he put himself in the picture. What he discovered was that the photo told an entirely different story. “Sometimes, if you include a person, you can convey a sense of vulnerability,” he says from his home in Banff, Alta. “It makes some people think: ‘That’s the last place I’d want to be.’ Or sometimes it’s: ‘That’s the first place I’d want to be.’ A moment of bliss in the mountains.”

Before taking any self-portraits, Zizka will shoot the entire scene without any man or man-made elements. Then, once he’s done with his nature shots, he’ll jump on the other side of the lens and get creative. Rarely will you see Zizka’s face in his self-portraits, however. “It would make the image more about me,” he says, “than the magic of having a person there, part of nature.”

It can be lonely work. The wind is howling. The mountains can be intimidating. And how many people are willing to venture out alone into the cold winter’s night and wait for hours for that perfect background to shoot? “You hear the odd noise in the bush and you know there’s nobody around for kilometres,” he says. “It can be a bit daunting.” He has pictures to prove it.

To see the full gallery, click here.

3 simple things you can do to avoid the flu

Sydney Loney | posted Thursday, Jan 15th, 2015

Take a sick day

Last year, the flu killed 258 people and sent 3,720 to hospital — in Ontario alone. Still, past studies show Canadians are reluctant to stay home no matter how horrible they feel: Almost 80 percent of us have gone to work while ill (46 percent of women cite guilt as the reason they don’t call in sick). This is bad because of the contagion factor (you’re germy for up to seven days after symptoms show up) and because lack of rest makes you sicker for longer.

Stay in bed if you have a temperature of 38C (100F), says Susan Poutanen,a microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. “You should also stay home if you develop a runny nose, a sore throat, chills, aches or a cough — some of the first signs of the flu.”

Three steps to avoid the flu

1. Sleep more: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say less than seven hours makes you almost three times more likely to catch a cold. Stick to a strict sleep schedule and do whatever it takes, whether that’s wearing an eye mask or switching on a fan, to help you fall asleep faster.

2. Beware the break room: It’s the most infected area at work, say researchers at the University of Arizona. Highly contaminated spots include doorknobs, copy-machine buttons, coffee-pot handles and sink tap handles.

3. Wash, rinse, repeat: A study in the American Journal of Infection shows the flu virus lives on hands and surfaces for up to 10 minutes—and most people touch
their faces once every three minutes. The best defence is to wash hands frequently, lathering up for 20 seconds each time.

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