Posts Tagged 'Canada'

What Exactly is Boxing Day?

It’s something you’ve probably seen on every paper calendar turned to the month of December. Most of us are familiar with Christmas Day on December 25, but we see December 26 marked as Boxing Day and always wonder what exactly that means. I remember asking that exact question to my family when I was younger and this was the explanation my grandmother gave me: “It’s the day when you put all the toys you got for Christmas back in their boxes after you’ve played with them.” Well upon further examination it seems that my late grandmother was more interested in giving me an explanation that kept her house clean than saying she had no idea what it was. In truth we don’t really know how the holiday originated.

Here’s what we do know: There are two possible explanations concerning how the holiday came about. During Advent in the weeks preceding Christmas, the Church of England would set up boxes that the congregation would put money into. The day after Christmas those boxes would be emptied and donated to the poor. The other possible explanation is that the aristocrats of Victorian England would give Christmas presents to their servants on the day after Christmas in boxes and the servants would then have the rest of the day off. In truth though we don’t know for sure if either of those explanations is correct or not.

Another thing we know is that it is a national holiday in the UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia and many other former British colonies. In Britain the holiday has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year, compatible to Black Friday here in America. They also have annual fox hunts and football matches (the kind of football where players actually use their feet) much like we have sporting events on Christmas and Thanksgiving. It is an interesting holiday and no one really knows why it exists. But if this is a holiday you celebrate and you have the day off, well happy Boxing Day!

Also Boxing Day has nothing to do with the sport of boxing. Sorry Mr. Ali.

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A La Carte Cable is Coming… to Canada

It has long been a source of frustration for people with cable in America. Many cable customers pay a lot of money to access hundreds of channels just to get those few channels that they actually want to watch. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just pay for what you actually watch. I’d love to be able to pay just to get ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, Comedy Central, and SNY which are the only cable channels I watch (Yes I’m a Mets fan, and yes the past few seasons have taken years off my life).

Well it turns out that the dream of a-la-carte cable is becoming a reality… in Canada. Since 2011 the Canadian government has been pushing the telecom industry to unbundle their services and many Canadians have been happy with the results. In the province of Quebec about 70 percent of cable customers now get a very basic broadcast package and pick a few individual channels that they actually want to watch. Most cable companies in Canada now offer some kind of a-la-carte service if the customer also uses them as a phone or internet provider as well. While Canadian cable companies have lost some revenue, a-la-carte cable has helped them salvage the business of customers who might have just cut the cord entirely by completely ditching cable. That is a trend which is growing worldwide thanks to the rise of services like Netflix.

So when will we see this coming to America? Not very soon if ever. Both cable providers and content producers have been viciously fighting any legislative attempt to unbundle cable offerings because they have a lot to lose financially. It is estimated that a-la-carte cable would reduce the total industry revenue by about $70 billion which is about half of the total revenue the Cable TV industry currently brings in. They also argue that the price customers currently pay to get the most watched cable networks like ESPN would go up and that many of the less watched channels would not be able to survive such a change. Bundling is how the popular and profitable shows and channels subsidize everything else and that would mark a sea change to the whole television industry.

Personally though, I like the consumer choice of paying only for what you want and not anything more and I would be willing to accept the unintended consequences of such a change. A-la-carte pricing options would make channels have to more directly compete against one another to get more viewers and direct, ruthless competition often produces a better product at a better price for customers. Imagine applying the philosophy behind cable bundling to just about any other product or service and you would find it ridiculous. Saving money by being able to buy only what you want without having to buy many other things you don’t want is something that would be very good for everyone who enjoys watching television.

Sadly that’s only a fantasy here.

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Teenager Builds a Human Powered Flashlight

Canadian teenager Ann Makosinski has just invented a battery-powered flashlight. What’s remarkable about it though is that you are the battery. The flashlight draws it’s power directly from the heat that radiates from our body and converts it into electric light. It achieves this by using what are called Peltier tiles that produce electricity when one side is heated and the other side is cooled. In this case the heat source is your hand and the air surrounding the flashlight is the cooling source. It is there where its sole limitation lies. The light will not work if the outside air temperature is within 5 degrees Celsius of your body temperature. Translated into Fahrenheit, it won’t work if the outside temperature is between 89 degrees and 107 degrees. Fortunately the outside temperature on most parts of the Earth drops below 89 degrees at night, which is exactly when a flashlight would be most useful. I wish that I could have invented things like this when I was fifteen.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

Best Scenic Drives in the U.S. & Canada

Driving can be both the most stressful and the most relaxing of activities. While there are few things more frustrating than sitting in traffic on your daily commute, a relaxing scenic drive down winding coastal roads can be truly therapeutic. offers a list of the most relaxing coastal drives around the country and Canada with breathtaking views and an experience you will never forget.

17-Mile Drive, California: Winding along the coast of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea, the historic 17-mile drive is a perfect way to explore the beautiful Northern California coast. Be sure to stop at beaches for wildlife sightings, enjoy lunch or shopping at the Lodge at Pebble Beach, and snap a few photos of the famous “Lone Cypress.”

Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia: he Cabot Trail, a loop road through the Cape Breton Highlands. Stop for hikes around St. Ann’s bay, enjoy a whale-watching outing and take a break for shopping and dining at some of the small towns of Cape Breton Island.

Hana Highway, Hawaii: While you’re vacationing in Maui, rent a car for a day to explore the coastal Hana Highway, one of National Geographic’s “Drives of a Lifetime.” The Hana Coast offers 52 miles of tropical forests and waterfalls, black-sand beaches, and breathtaking vistas on Maui’s Eastern shore.

Acadia National Park Loop Road, Maine: Located on Mount Desert Island, the drive navigates through mountains, forests, lakes and rocky coastline. Stop off at the many observation points for photo opps, take a break at Sand Beach, and try some fresh seafood in the town of Bar Harbor when you’ve finished the loop.

Cape Cod Scenic Drive, Massachusetts: This 63-mile scenic drive along the southern coast of Cape Cod Bay — which follows Massachusetts Highway 6A to U.S. Highway 6 at Orleans – stops off at such destinations as Cape Cod National Seashore, Provincetown, and the Three Sisters Lighthouse.

Cape Cod Scenic Drive, Massachusetts

Cape Cod Scenic Drive, Massachusetts

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

The World’s 15 Most Amazing Waterfalls has compiled a list of the world’s 15 most spectacular waterfalls around the world – their size and power are awe-inspiring, especially when seen up close. Even more amazing is that in a time when NASA satellites and Google Earth seem to have recorded every square inch of the planet, even large waterfalls continue to be discovered. Below are three waterfalls around the world that made up the top 3 on the list. Click here to see the full rankings.

#1: Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina: Located along the Iguazu River on the border between Brazil and Argentina, the Cataratas del Iguazú (as they’re known in Spanish) feature more than 270 drops along their 1.7-mile-wide cliffs, which range in height from just under 200 feet to nearly 270 feet.

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls

#2: Angel Falls, Venezuela: Discovered in 1937 by American pilot Jimmie Angel, the first to see them from the air, Venezuela’s Angel Falls are accessible only after a five-hour canoe trip through the middle of a tropical forest. The falls’ majestic scenery was the inspiration for the 2009 Pixar animated movie ‘Up.’

Angel Falls

Angel Falls

#3: Niagara Falls, United States/Canada: Probably as famous as any waterfall on the planet, Niagara Falls is actually made up of three separate waterfalls – the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, which lie on the American side of Niagara, and the Horseshoe Falls, which lie on the Canadian side.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

Seven of the World’s Most Massive Meteor Craters

Most have heard the news reports and seen footage of the meteor that recently streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains on February 15th injuring many people and causing sharp explosions. takes a look at seven more of the world’s largest meteor craters.

1. Barringer Meteor Crater, Arizona

This crater was created 49,000 years ago when a nickel-iron meteorite weighing in at several hundred thousand tons & traveling at of 40,000 miles per hour hit Earth. It’s the best-preserved impact crater in existence. The crater is ¾ of a mile wide and 575 feet deep!

Barringer Crater, Arizona


2. Lake Bosumtwi, Ghana

Lake Bosumtwi is Ghana’s only natural lake and it was created when a meteorite his Earth about 1.3 million years ago. It created a hole in the ground with a six-mile diameter! The crater slowly filled with water to form the lake which is a vital source of life for the area. The lake is considered sacred by the Ashanti people of Ghana.

Lake Bosumtwi, Ghana







3. Clearwater Lakes, Canada

About 290 million years ago, a pair of asteroids hit Quebec on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay. Their impact created what is now known as Clearwater Lakes. The larger lake is a whopping twenty-mile in diameter while the smaller one is 13.7 miles in diameter.

Clearwater Lakes, Canada







4. Wolfe Creek, Australia

Wolfe Creek is also a well-preserved crater thanks to its approximate age of 300,000 years and the desert environment of Australia’s Outback. It has a diameter of approximately half a mile wide and its center is dotted with trees and shrubs.

Wolfe Creek, Australia







5. Aorounga Impact Crater, Chad

This eleven-mile wide crater is located in the Sahara Desert. Approximately 200-300 million years ago, a comet or asteroid with an estimated 1-mile diameter slammed into the earth and created the Aorounga Crater. According to scientists, impacts of this size only occur about once every million years.

Aorounga Impact Crater, Chad







6. Pingualit, Quebec, Canada

This crater is located in Pingualuit National Park. It was created about 1.4 million years ago and is known to natives as the “Crystal Eye of Nunavik.” Today the crater is filled with water from rain and melting snow. It’s so pure that the salt content of the water measures only 3 parts per million.








7. Oldest Asteroid Impact, Greenland

This 62-mile wide crater is possibly the oldest asteroid impact crater known to man and was created more than two billion years ago. Finnefjelf Moutain which stands more than 3,000 feet high is believed to be the crushed core of the structure.

Oldest Asteroid Impact, Greenland






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10 awe-inspiring places around the world has compiled a visually stunning look at the 10 awe-inspiring places around the world. On a planet as beautiful and diverse as our Earth,there are thousands of amazing places to visit. Each one offering something sure to satisfy your traveler’s curiousity as well provide you with a memorable experience. Why is a list like this so great? The answer is simply it hards you narrow down your options when planning a trip by offering input by those whose who have already been there. As the new years slowly creeps in and you begin to plan your big vacation for 2013, be sure to consider some of the gems in this list. Personally, we recommend visiting #10 on the list, Jiuzhaigou World Heritage Site for its breathtaking landscape and wildlife.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

Five Flower Lake, Jiuzhaigou Valley - Photo courtesy of:

Five Flower Lake, Jiuzhaigou Valley – Photo courtesy of:

Here is the complete list of 10 awe-inspiring places around the world:

1. Antelope Canyon, Arizona, United States

2. The Great Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef, Ambergris Caye, Belize

3. Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

4. Trolltunga, Odda, Norway

5. Golden Circle Route, Reykjavik, Iceland

6. Moraine Lake, Alberta, Canada

7. Kyaikto (Golden Rock), Yangon, Myanmar

8. Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

9. Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia

10. Jiuzhaigou World Heritage Site, Sichuan, China

Worlds’s Worst Power Outages

National Geographic remembers the world’s worst power outages.

  1. Northeastern U.S. and Canada, 1965- The “great Northeast blackout” began when a power surge near Ontario set off a chain of failures across New York State and beyond. The blackout spanned the course of 80,000 square miles. In only four minutes, the darkness fell across Massachusetts all the way to Boston.

2. India, 2012- India’s massive power failures occurred on July 30th & 31st. They were unprecedented in size and left 670 million people without electricity across the nation’s north and east. Before the power was restored on August 1st. about half of all India’s residents were left in the dark by a rolling blackout. The ultimate source of trouble was a predictable one. India’s power structure is often unable to meet peak power demands.

3. Europe, 2006- In November of 2006, during the Norwegian Pearl’s departure down the River Ems, the ship indirectly caused a two-hour power outage for 10 million people on the evening of November 4. The German power company E. turned off a 380,000-volt line over the river so that the ship could pass safely and easily beneath it on its way to the North Sea. The dead line quickly increased pressures elsewhere in the German power grid and sparked a chair reaction of blackouts across parts of Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, and Croatia.


4. New York, 1977- This massive blackout in NYC unfortunately lead to some vigilante behavior. The lightning-sparked outage lasted July 13th & 14th but left 9 million New Yorkers without power. During this time, arsonists torched buildings like the one below on Marmion Ave in the Bronx. In total they set a reported 1,000 fires. Thieves and rioters also ran loose and trashed about 1,600 stores around NYC.


5. Northeastern U.S. and Canada (Part 2), 2003- On August 15t, 2003, nearly 50 million people were left without power for as long as two days in southeastern Canada and the Northeastern US. It crippled many trains and stranded numerous travelers causing a mass of commutes to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on foot. The U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force came to the conclusion that equipment failures and human error had combined to cause the blackout, which started with power lines shut down after contact with tress.

6. Hunan Province, China, 2008- This blackout was caused by historic winter storms that took out an electrical tower and other parts of the grid in China’s southern Hunan province back in February 2008. In Chenzhou, about 4.5 million people were without power for nearly two weeks. In addition, 11 electricians has already lost their lives at the time the below picture was taken while they attempted to repair infrastructure.

7. Brazil & Paraguay, 2009- On November 10, 2009, the power supply dried up at the enormous hydroelectric works at the Itaipu Dam. As a result, 67 million people were left incomplete darkness. The picture below is of pedestrians attempting to cross the busy street in the dark. The cause of the blackout was due to storms which had short-circuited several vital transformers, completely cutting off power from the largest hydroelectric source in the world. The blackout caused about 1/3 of all Brazilians to lose power for four hours and all of Paraguay saw suspended service for a short period of time.


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Eight World Cities and How Much They Cost to Live In has an interesting article about Eight World Cities and How Much They Cost to Live In. The article features cities like San Francisco, USA; Salta, Argentina; Vancouver, Canada; Cairo, Egypt; La Linea de la Concepcion, Spain; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Ulsan, South Korea; and Melbourne, Australia. A major takeaway is that San Francisco, Vancouver and Melbourne have some of the highest rent in the world while the cost is similar around the world except for Cairo, where the price is significantly less.

Churchill has short-term apartment rentals nationwide. Please call us at 866-255-0593 for more info.

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