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The Pan Am Games are Here, Canada!

Posted by amustard on July 2, 2015

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Attention sports fans! The 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games are right around the corner. As Canadians, we take advantage of any opportunity to cheer on our fellow countrymen, but these games are particularly significant to us this year as they take place right in our backyard – Toronto, Ontario.

Since 1951, the Pan Am Games have taken place every 4 years in the year preceding the Olympic Games. Modelled after the Olympics, the Pan Am Games are a multi-sport event featuring individual countries competing for Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in various summer sport disciplines. While the Olympics are a world-wide competition, the Pan Am Games are specific to countries in North and South America.

The 2015 games are already making history, both in Canada and within the sporting world. With over 6,130 athletes from 41 nations, the 2015 Pan Am Games will be the largest multi-sport event ever held in Canada (in terms of participating athletes) doubling the size of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It’s also important to point out that a record 45% of participating athletes are female, which is the most ever for a multi-sport event, in any country.

Immediately following the Pan Am Games, the Parapan Games will begin, which showcase events in which athletes with physical disabilities compete against one another. The Parapan Games are unique as they serve as a regional qualifying event for the Paralympic Games, which take place next year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

You may remember the Pan Am / Parapan Am Games TV commercial that Ontario Tourism released last fall which featured athletes and fans gearing up for the big event. This commercial is a personal favourite of mine which includes breathtaking visuals of the host city, and an overall theme of being united through this experience (BTW the official motto of the games is ‘United We Play’). If this commercial doesn’t get you excited about the games, I don’t know what will.   

For us non-Torontonians looking to watch some of these events live in person, several other Ontario cities will be hosting a handful of Pan Am / Parapan events including Caledon, Hamilton, St. Catherines, Cookstown, Simcoe, Haliburton and many more. A list of all venues can be found HERE, and Tickets for the games can be found HERE.

Here at Execulink, we have a special interest in the rowing events, taking place July 11th – July 18th.  Execulink has an office/storefront located in Thedford, Ontario – a town that will soon be cheering on a local athlete, Tim Schrijver. Tim was named to Canada’s National Rowing Team and will be competing in two classes at the games – the Men’s Four and the Men’s Eight. The rowing regatta takes place on the Royal Canadian Henly course, the same waters that Schrijver learned to row in his Brock University Days back in 2010. We would like to wish Tim and the rest of the Canadian Athletes (a full list can be found HERE) all the best in their respective events.

Execulink is also excited to help bring the Pan Am Games experience to the households of our TV customers. You can catch the games on CBC, the official broadcaster of the games, on channel 5 and on channel 205 (in HD) starting on July 7th. The Pan Am Games wrap up on July 26th.

For those following the games on Social Media, make sure to follow @TO2015, @CBCOlympics and @TeamCanada as well as the hashtags #CBCPanAM, #TO2015 & #PanAmGames for news, scores and updates on the Pan Am Games.

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Andrew Mustard, Marketing Coordinator


Devoted Leafs fan through the good and the bad - mostly bad. Born and raised in Stratford, Ontario - with more swag than Bieber. Success isn’t a maybe - it’s a must.


Adventure is Out There: How to Travel Smart on a Budget

Posted by cfeehan on June 30, 2015

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Raise your hand if you ever daydream about getting up from your desk, driving to the airport, and taking off on the next flight to Rome; do the same if you’re impatiently counting down the days until your next planned vacation, or even simply reminiscing about past travels. Now look around – that’s a lot of hands in the air. The desire to travel – to wander, to explore, to experience the world – is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society of thrill-seekers and passion-followers. Thankfully, the internet is home to thousands of resources to help you travel cheaper and more conveniently. 

Flights

With so many flight search engines out there, it may be difficult to find the best one. Here’s our guide to some of the best and most reliable ones.

Quick Tip: Remember to never use just one flight search engine. Use multiple to find the best deal, and search 6-8 weeks before your flight to find the best price (or up to 3 months before if you’re travelling during peak season).

Skyscanner – This site compares flights, hotels, and car rentals from many popular sites to find the cheapest deals, then pass on the savings to you.

Cheapoair – This site frequently offers coupon codes, as well as automatically offers discounts upon checkout. And who doesn’t like discounts?

  • Canada: Get up to $30 off with code GLOBE30

Kayak – This website compares hundreds of travel sites at one time and in one location, much like Skyscanner. But as I said before, search your flight specifications on many search engines to get the best results!

Quick Tip: Be flexible on your flight dates. Flying out on the weekend could cost you hundreds of dollars more, because this is the most popular time to fly. If you can be flexible, you can save a lot of money!

Priceline – This website finds you deals on airfare, cruises, rental cars, hotels, and vacation packages. They even have a ‘Name Your Own Price’ feature that allows you to bid for the best price!

Places to stay

Once you’ve arrived at your destination of choice, you’ll of course need a place to stay. You could go the traditional route and stay in a hotel, but if you’d like to go off the beaten path and save a bit of money, you could try one of the options below.

AirBnb – This website offers over a million listings from people all around the world renting out their homes, villas, and even castles. You can refine your search based on price, amenities, property type, size, and more. Pay close attention to the cancellation policies and descriptions of each property, however, in order to find out whether the host will be home during your stay and whether your deposit is refundable in case you choose to cancel your reservation. And pay attention to the reviews from previous guests – they’ll tell you a lot about the property and the host!

VRBO – VRBO stands for “Vacation Rentals by Owner”, and it’s a lot like AirBnB. It may not be as aesthetically appealing, but it does the trick just the same!

Tripping – This site is the world’s largest search engine for rentals. Tripping.com compares properties from some of the world’s most popular travel sites, with prices ranging from $10-$10,000/night…so it’s safe to say, your options are endless!

Quick Tip: Always search travel plans, whether flights or accommodations, in incognito mode in your browser. Prices really do increase based on the cookies in your browser when you search the same thing over and over. When you search privately, this factor is eliminated. In Google Chrome or Safari, incognito mode is enabled by hitting Command (or Control if using a PC), Shift, “N”. For Firefox and Internet Explorer, hit Command (or Control if using a PC), Shift, “P”.

Less Expensive Lodging Options

Hostels.com – This website has a bunch of great deals on accommodations with no booking fees. Believe it or not, you can find hostels on here for only a few dollars!

Hostelworld – This convenient website that has a compiled list of hostels, hotels, and bed and breakfasts. This is one of the best sites to use for booking cheap rooms and lists hostels from all over the world. Its large online community leaves reviews and ranks each hostel based on security, location, value, staff, cleanliness, atmosphere, and facilities.

Couchsurfing – This site is the ultimate in cheap accommodations. I say this because it’s absolutely free! The hosts on this site happily rent out their couches, air mattresses, futons – whatever they have available – to budget travelers in the area for no cost.

Places to Stay, with a Twist…

If you’re looking to take a unique route, you can look into house-sitting for someone while they’re out of town. It’s a win-win – they get their house looked after, and you get accommodations in a foreign country for free! Some good sites for listings are:

Free City Tours

Aside from flights and accommodations, there are many other things you’re going to want to arrange while travelling. Like learning more about your destination, for example! You can learn a lot about the area’s history, culture, food, and more on tours – the fact that the ones below are free are just a huge bonus. They’re offered in a variety of countries on a variety of continents, so I hope you can find what you’re looking for.

Volunteering

One final, very unique way to cut costs while you travel, especially if you’re travelling alone or with a friend, is to volunteer while you explore. A lot of the time, the places you volunteer offer free accommodations, internet, and meals in exchange for your help. Examples of volunteer positions include hostel worker, English teacher, babysitter, farm worker, and even pet-sitter! Here’s a list of sites that list volunteer positions all over the world:

  • HelpX – Through this organization, you live with a host and work for them for 4 to 6 hours a day, then have the rest of the day to explore.
  • Idealist – Their easy-to-operate platform makes searching for volunteer opportunities fun – and they have over 13,000 of them, which means that you have a ton of great options.
  • WWOOFING – This site has been pretty popular lately among budget travelers. It’s virtually the same idea as HelpX, but volunteers are matched exclusively with organic farms where they work for 4 to 6 hours a day in exchange for meals and a place to stay.

So there you have it. If you’ve ever used “I don’t have enough money” as an excuse not to travel, your reasoning is no longer valid! There are so many ways to save money when travelling, and the online resources working in your favour are endless.

I wish you the happiest of travels, fellow explorers!

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Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.


Seniors’ Internet Usage Infographic

Posted by cfeehan on June 24, 2015

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The internet. The world wide web. The mysterious black abyss behind your computer screen. What you choose to call it may vary, but one fact remains the same: a lot of us use it, no matter how old we are. The reason that the internet is so widely used is that there are SO many things you can use it for – booking vacations, shopping online, conducting research, looking up the weather, playing games – the list could go on forever. The infographic below goes into detail about the internet habits of seniors (people over 65 years of age) and a bit about their baby boomer counterparts (people aged 45-64). Check it out – you might be surprised by what you learn!

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*The information and statistics in this graphic were drawn from the Statistics Canada publication entitled “Online Activities of Canadian Boomers and Seniors” which used two main sources: the 2007 Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS), and the 2007 General Social Survey (GSS).

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Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.


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“Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be 21 again!”

How many times have you heard a middle-aged person or senior say something along these lines? To them, 21 might elicit memories of spinning in a poodle skirt, rocking out at Woodstock or rocking a perm. But with the incredible technological and social advances in the past couple decades, the youth of today do things a bit differently. The only world they know is one where every picture is a selfie, where dating can be done without ever meeting face-to-face, and where even books are electronic. But who would have thought that those same perm-wearing, head-banging kids would be the ones having to learn to use these new-fangled technologies at the age of 45? This concept of a changing culture is one that While We’re Young explores masterfully. 

While We’re Young is a dramedy that centers around the lives of 40-something childless couple Josh, a documentary director and Cornelia, a documentary producer. Although the pair isn’t weighted down by the responsibility of having children or typical 9-5 careers, the burden of Josh’s 8-year-long work-in-progress documentary prevents them from truly taking advantage of the “freedom” they have.  But when Josh and Cornelia meet Jamie and Darby, a young, quirky couple who share their passion for documentary-making, their monotonous lives are kick-started and they’re reminded of what it means to be young.

The first half of the movie was a lot of fun. Watching Josh and Cornelia go from a beat-down couple losing touch with their friends – who were suddenly having children and moving on with their lives – to an invigorated, renewed set of human beings was inspiring. Seeing Ben Stiller become hipster-fied due to Jamie’s influence was pretty hilarious, and watching Darby surprise Cornelia with hip-hop classes was incredibly entertaining as well. The second half of the movie, however, took a huge turn. I won’t give anything away, but I will say that you’ll probably drastically change how you feel about a few of the characters by the end of the movie! Director Noah Baumbach did a great job with the twist; it’s intriguing enough to keep the audience captivated, but not so absurd that it ruins the realism.

I really, really enjoyed the casting in this movie. Ben Stiller was fantastic as failing documentarian Josh and Naomi Watts played his wife Cornelia very well. I have come to love Adam Driver’s stark persona and I think he was perfect for the role of Jamie, and Amanda Seyfried did a great job as the lighthearted but assertive Darby. They even got Ad-Rock from the Beastie Boys to play Fletcher, a middle-aged, newborn baby-clad friend of Josh! I have no complaints.

The film’s ability to ironically juxtapose the new-school, technology-based lives of Josh and Cornelia with Jamie and Darby’s minimalist way of life littered with paraphernalia from decades preceding their time was very clever. Scenes of 40-somethings watching Netflix on their iPads or texting around the dinner table cut with ones of 25-year-olds writing on typewriters and playing board games to keep busy reminded the audience of an idea that isn’t exactly original – that young people are always trying to act older, and older people are always trying to act, and subsequently feel, younger. Although it isn’t an original idea, it’s executed in a compelling way, so I have to give Baumbach props.

Overall, this movie was very funny. There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments (especially at the Ayahuasca ceremony – don’t worry, I didn’t know what it was either until I saw the movie. But you won’t be disappointed), and a lot of whimsical, charming throwbacks as well. It was cute. If you’re looking for a lighthearted comedy laced with nostalgia, humour and a few painfully awkward moments, finished with some more thoughtful tones, I’d highly recommend this film.

You can find While We’re Young on Execulink’s VOD channel (ch.100) from June 23th to July 30th, 2015.

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Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.


Welcome Back, Philae

Posted by cfeehan on June 17, 2015

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DLR, CC-BY 3.0 [CC BY 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

After seven long months of silence, Philae’s awake and he’s ready to rumble!

In case you’re not caught up, Philae was the first spacecraft to ever land on a comet – a comet that it took a total of 10 years to reach. It was dropped on the surface of Comet 67P by Rosetta, its mothership, last November, and has not been heard from since.

Philae, which is about the size of a washing machine, was dropped last November, but it accidentally bounced into a corner that was too dark for its solar panels. Because of its placement, it only worked for 60 hours before its battery ran out. Many predicted that it would be destroyed by the intense cold, but against all odds, it started communicating again this week! Since November, the comet has moved closer to the sun, and this caused Philae to be woken up.

The European Space Agency (ESA) said that Philae had contacted Earth, via Rosetta, for 85 seconds on Saturday in the first contact since its battery ran out seven months ago. To announce the lander’s awakening, a Twitter account linked to Philae tweeted the message, "Hello Earth! Can you hear me?"

"I think we're optimistic now that it's awake that we'll have several months of scientific data to pore over," says ESA's senior scientific advisor, Prof Mark McCaughrean.

Although it’s been hibernating, it’s woken up at a key moment. The comet is approaching the sun, and there’s now more potential for discovery. Jets of gas are blasting off the comet, and they could be carrying the ingredients needed for life.

Scientists are hoping that Philae’s work on Comet 67P may give them the key to discovering whether comets helped to get life started on earth.

Comets contain a lot of water and carbon, and "these are the same sorts of molecules responsible for getting life going," says Prof Monica Grady from the Open University.

"What we're trying to find out is whether the building blocks of life, in terms of water and carbon-bearing molecules, were actually delivered to Earth from comets."

Now, all we can do is wait with anticipation to see what Philae can tell us about Comet 67P and hopefully, about how life started on earth.

If you want to keep up with Philae on Twitter, check him out here. And if you’d like a version of Philae’s landing on Comet 67P that’s easy to share with your kids, watch the animated video below!

We’re excited to have you back, Philae!

You must install Adobe Flash to view this content.

 

Before you go, check out these interesting facts about Comet 67P:

  • 67P is bigger than Mount Fuji and has an icy core 4km wide
  • May be “binary”: two comets melded together during the creation of the solar system
  • Has a mass of 10 billion tonnes

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Blogger-Karen-bio.jpg


Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.