Are You Really, Really Ready for 2016?

This image is no longer available

From the hottest restaurants to preparing yourself for the onslaught of refuges from south of the border, here are 10 things you need to know to prepare yourself for the New Year.

1. You’re ready to join the backlash against The Revenant.

Why this is important:

The revenge movie about a trapper in 1823 attacked by a bear and betrayed by his buddies is the frontrunner for Oscar Best Picture, having already won the Golden Globe. All the hype is a set-up for the backlash that is about to hit like the movie’s engineered avalanche, triggered by sending planes to bomb the Fortress Mountain location in Alberta. Here’s some backlash ammunition.

For some reason, actor Leo Dicaprio is being turned into a hero, maybe even (eye roll here) an iconic one. Sure, he may have been cold on occasion during the shoot, but the money he got for being somewhat uncomfortable — kind of like walking to school in Regina or Winnipeg in February — was a cool $25 million. Gruelling? Not really. Lucrative? Really.

And never mind all that drama and trauma of eating raw bison liver. Big deal. Lots of people have eaten raw liver, including me. I also know people who savour lamb eyeballs. True, Leo may be more used to foie gras and caviar, but he’s no hero for chowing down on a hunk of uncooked liver.

Also, among the so-called remote locations the film’s PR machine are touting is Canmore, Alta., less than an hour from Calgary and a popular ski resort. If your stomping ground is Malibu or Pacific Palisades, you may consider Camore remote but, for Albertans, it’s just around the corner.

2. You’ve seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Or not.

Why this is important:

The movie broke the record for biggest box office debut weekend globally.

However, if you haven’t seen The Force and never will, at least try to avoid confusing Star Wars and Star Trek. If you slip up, say you were confused only because J.J. Abrams directed both. Fake familiarity by saying you know that Daniel Craig was in the movie as a stormtrooper.

Above all, don’t mistake Chewbacca for the stuff some Blue Jays spit.

Finally, if your back is to the wall and there’s nowhere to go, point out that Force star John Boyega told People magazine, “My parents are not interested in Star Wars whatsoever.”

3. You know how to pronounce Saorsie.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 10: 73rd ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: Actress Saoirse Ronan arrives to the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016. (Photo by Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 10: 73rd ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS — Pictured: Actress Saoirse Ronan arrives to the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016. (Photo by Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Why this is important:

Irish actress Saorsie Ronan is among the top picks for a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Brooklyn, predicts Variety. The nominations will be announced Thursday morning. But even in Ireland, there’s an ongoing debate about how to pronounce her first name. The Irish Examiner ran a poll asking readers to choose either Sur-sha or Seer-sha as the correct pronunciation.

A couple of months ago, Ryan Gosling presented the actress with a Hollywood Film Award and instructed, “It’s Ser-sha like inertia’.” In return for calling her Ser-Sha, she called him “a blond Canadian Jesus.” Last week, she showed up on the Ellen Degeneres show holding a big sign that read, “Hello, my name is Sur-sha.”

4. You can figure out the exchange rate on U.S. dollars so you know what not to buy there and what to buy here.

Why this is important.

With the loonie diving, many if not most objects of desire will likely cost you more to buy in U.S. funds in the U.S. than if you use your Canadian money to buy in Canada. For example, an Apple 38 mm sport watch purchased in a U.S. state with a typical seven per cent sales tax would cost US$373.43.

In Canada, with GST, you’ll pay $507.37 Canadian.

But go to the bank to buy US$374 and it’ll cost you CDN$541.40 — making it $34.03 cheaper to buy the watch in Canada.

Which is exactly what the powers that be (Bank of Canada chairman Poloz and the Liberals) want.

A handy-dandy currency converter that lets you know exactly what you’ll get when you go to the bank to exchange Canadian money can be found here.

5. You changed your environment to support your resolutions and goals.

Why this is important:

Torontonian Kira M. Newman, writer and editor of University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good website is bang on when she suggests, “To change yourself, change your world — If you want to keep a New Year’s resolution, says the research, start by changing your environment.” She cites a 2015 University of Florida study showing that people high in self-control take more steps to minimize the temptation they encounter in daily life. They put their smartphones away when working, leave the credit cards at home and keep junk food out of the house.

“Resisting temptation is the salient moment of struggle. That’s when you feel it. If you can avoid temptation, it will not even occur to you: success without effort,” explains professor Roy Baumeister, a coauthor of the 2015 study.

Another study suggested that people who wanted to achieve positive goals were more successful when they kept things around and visible to remind them of their goals.

The right environmental cues can even influence behaviour without us realizing it. In one study, participants who ate a crumbly cookie were three times more likely to clean up after themselves when the air smelled of citrus cleanser; in another, participants playing an investment game were more aggressive when a briefcase sat on their table instead of a backpack. Surround yourself with inspiration, suggests Newman. Set up a workspace, a home, and a life that supports your aspirations.

Follow the Greater Good here.

6. You figured out how to be more kind and helping (and yet less overwhelmed physically and mentally).

Why this is important:

Because kindly, helping behaviour brings significant health benefits, including longevity and well-being and, especially among older adults, increased life satisfaction.

In the January 2016 journal Social Science and Medicine, Sara Konrath reports new findings that further a case for adding volunteering to the list of things that physicians recommend to all patients.

Konrath and her team studied 7,168 Americans over age 50. After adjusting for variables, they found that volunteering was associated with 38 percent fewer nights spent in the hospital.

“Most of the context of our day-to-day lives is embedded within relationships,” says Konrath. “The number and quality of those relationships strongly influences health. I’ve been looking at this for years now, and I haven’t found a study where volunteering didn’t affect health positively in some way.”

7. You’ll avoid restaurants with apostrophes on the menu – as in “dippin’ sauce,” “fixin’s” and “ ’n’.” You’ll also avoid ordering any combination that includes bacon unless it’s bacon and eggs or BLT.

Why this is important:

Because healthy food rarely requires apostrophes. Have you ever come across quinoa ’n’ kale?

Beyond the bacon and egg breakfast and the BLT lies a slippery slope, at the bottom of which you’ll find such culinary abominations as candied bacon ice cream, brown butter bacon ice cream, bacon banana bread and a brown puddle of maple bacon-smoked coffee.

8. You’ve done your Winterlicious research.

Why this is important:

Winterlicious in Toronto is scheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 11, but reservations start on Jan. 14. The top restaurants get booked up quickly, so you’ll need to reserve right away if you want to make it to Café Boulud, Canoe or other biggies.

Three-course lunches cost either $18, $23 or $28. Dinners are $25, $35 or $45. The list of participating restaurants and their menus, so you can plan in advance, are available at The following are restaurants are participating in Winterlicious for the first time:
Adega Restaurante
Bar Buca
Colette Grand Café
Concession Road
East Thirty-Six
Diwan at Aga Khan Museum
Pizza Rustica
Salute Piano Bar
Signs Restaurant
The Carbon Bar
The Chase Fish & Oyster
The Tavern by Trevor

9. You are prepared to cope with the onslaught of refugees and migrants coming to Canada.

Why this is important:

Because as soon as Donald Trump is nominated by the Republicans, Americans with functioning brains will head for the border and beg to be taken in as refugees from stupidity, racism and the potential impending loss of health care. If you think this isn’t a serious business, think again. Here’s what the Washington Post had to say about Trump’s popularity.

“It has taken a long time, but even Democrats are starting to realize that Donald Trump is not a sideshow but the main event in the GOP presidential race.

“Explanations for his enduring appeal fall into two rough categories: his personality and his politics. Some people not only love his ideas, but they also love the way that he delivers it.

“Charisma plus a powerful message has always been the formula for political success. Those who doubted Trump for so long perhaps didn’t recognize that he had a special brand of both.”

Here are four basic reasons that explain Trump remains so popular among some Republicans.
1. Trump has simple answers for everything.
2. A lot of people dislike immigrants.
3. People are sick of the political establishment.
4. He says things that people have been afraid to say.

10. You’ve stocked up on vitamin D supplements for the winter season and maybe CoQ, too.

Why this is important:

Experts agree that Canadians don’t get enough of the D from the sun and food, especially in winter months, and that a supplement is a necessity. Osteoporosis Canada recommends as much as 2,000 IU daily for adults over 50. Health Canada’s safe upper limit is 4,000 IU daily.

Some studies show that the D is valuable not just for supporting bones and teeth but also for helping to ward off dementia, diabetes, ulcerative colitis and other things we don’t want. Consider a really pure cod liver oil, just like we used to take as kids.
CoQ, meanwhile, is often recommended for people who take statins, which may be most people over 50, so it’s a good idea to ask your doctor about it if she’s prescribing statins.