A glass of ginger beer

Here's a simple recipe for ginger beer, with no other flavour additives (I'm still experimenting with those). 

Ingredients

  • Fresh ginger root (I use one chunk, about the size of my palm)
  • Sugar (1 cup)
  • Yeast (½ teaspoon)
  • Water (2 litres)

We live in an age of striving for positive feedback from our peers, but also making it so easy for our peers to give positive feedback that the effect is diluted. One can show that they "Like" a Facebook post or "Favourite" a Tweet in just one tap. Instagram makes it even easier, and lets you double-tap an image to give it your love, so you don't have to take the time to find and tap the heart button.

I used to use Hootsuite for scheduling posts on Twitter and Facebook, but have recently switched over to Buffer. Here's why.

Update: I use neither now, and schedule the odd tweet with Tweetdeck. I still like Buffer more than Hootsuite, so I'll keep this up for posterity.

Andy Maxwell:

This week an Irish man was handed a four-year sentence for running a pirate linking site. The Court accepted that he led no lavish lifestyle. In contrast, a man who stole almost £9m from a bank and bought homes worth £1.4m, three Bentleys, three Aston Martins, a Porsche 911 and a Rolls Royce, was also jailed. He received just 3.5 years. Fair?

"Advertising is the very essence of democracy." — Anton Chekhov

I came across that quote because of my least-favourite form of marketing: using Twitter to follow individuals, then unfollowing them, hoping that they followed you back. (It's pretty much the equivalent of a pump-and-dump scheme, but that's for another blog post.) Trying to find the source, I also came across a more recent author who said the same thing, but I was unable to find the original context.

Here are some ideas for what to get me for Christmas, for my birthday — if you can remember what it is, because I probably didn't tell you — or for any other reason.

Leading up to Mother's Day, 2011, I had a couple small seizures, but no one noticed or witnessed them, so I didn't really realize what was happening. On Mother's Day, I was helping make brunch for my mom (of course), and had another seizure. This time, people noticed. I went on to have all sorts of tests to see what was triggering them.

Högertrafikomläggningen

Once, in round-table discussion with several people from various walks of life, we were discussing some large problem with society. (I don't remember which, but it's not important.) Knowing that, in that circle of friends, I tend to not have very popular views, I was quiet and just observed the discussion. After each person had shared their points of view, which were all similar and did not have a good chance of success, I was asked what my opinion was. I said, "Maybe what we need is some sort of end-of-world scenario, like a full-scale local war, major natural disaster, or some type of apocalyptic event. Then society could rebuild itself, learn from the mistakes of the past, and prevent them from happening."

…that's not in person, is email. Here's why:

  1. Distributed
    Email isn't based on a central system. If Facebook was to go down, or get hacked, no one using Facebook's messages as their main way to communicate could talk. Sure, Microsoft and Google (combined) run more than half of the active individual accounts (citation needed), but they don't have to be functional for one person to send a message to another.

Last Sunday, the season finale of the new TV series UnREAL aired. As a dark comedy written as a behind-the-scenes look at the sculpted realities of a fictional "reality" show similar to The Bachelor, it is a worthy watch on many levels and for many audiences.

Here's three types of person that should watch UnREAL:

Inspired by Dustin Curtis, I've started writing out a bucket list. Some of the items are ones that I already completed, but would have been on the list, had I made it earlier.

Growing up, my dad (a born-and-raised Dutchman) said that the main cause of car accidents was the fact that people get distracted, and that the roads are too boring. To build on that, one of my cousins from the Netherlands came to Alberta last year, and drove a few thousand kilometres while here. At the end of his trip, he said, "The roads here are so straight and uninteresting, I nearly had to check my phone to keep things interesting!"

Mr. Robot looks like it could be a great show. Episode 1 introduced the main character, Elliot, a socially-isolated nerd who struggles with how society is controlled by corporations. One of the cool things about Elliot's character is that he's not socially isolated because he's a nerd, rather, it's because he prefers that — or at least it seems that way. The videography does a good job of showing enough of computer screens for one to see that it's legitimate, current technology, and so that people who actually understand what's going on know that it's accurate information and not just made up. 

Every couple months, the topic of the "Welcome to Edmonton" signs comes up. Do we need one? I don't mind the old ones. This time, CBC asked if anyone had suggestions for a new sign design, so we came up with one at work.

The idea is to portray the strength of character and resilience of the kinds of people who live in a city situated so far North (with a little pop culture humour thrown in). The sign would be made out of concrete to depict the sturdiness of our city and our people. The sloping top is meant to convey the river valley which is one of our main attractions with several key landmarks depicted on top (from left to right: Muttart, Legislature, Hotel MacDonald, Manulife, and Enbridge Tower). The glass swoop is meant to emanate the river itself.

One of the nice things about cars from the last five years is that they keep track of fuel usage and time that the engine runs, and they let the user easily access the information. Based on my last two months of driving, I've driven at an average of 64 km/h, which surprises me. I thought that the amount of idling to warm the car would have brought this down somewhat. 

I used to read comics with an RSS reader. Then I started using IFTTT to add them to my Pocket. Now, I've transitioned all of the comics that I read to be emailed to me once a week. Each day of the week, I have two emails (since I read 14 comics at the moment) in my inbox. Each email contains the last week worth of posts. It works out quite nicely. Also, if you don't know of a good RSS feed for a comic, ComicSyndicate is a good place to look.

Well, that's it for our time in South Africa. We had originally planned to go to Zambia in December to do some volunteer work at Koti Ni Eden, another of FCE's bases, but they advised us against it, mainly due to the higher-than-usual risk of malaria and the fact that our daughter would be highly susceptible to it. So, instead of spending Christmas in Africa and New Years in Europe, we've bumped up our schedule to spend two weeks with my relatives in Nederland and be back in Canada in time for Christmas. We both learned a lot in our six-week course. Being a condensed version of FCE's three-month course, it feels hard to process everything we've learned, but I have a binder full of notes that I plan on going over again to be sure I haven't missed anything. Now we're in Holland, and next week we'll go "home" to Canada and the search for work.

We spent a weekend in Hermanus, a bustling seaside town with many beaches. In the two days that we were there, we visited three different beaches and cooked over the braai many times. Hermanus is known for the fact that whales come quite close to shore, and we spent many hours just sitting on the beach and watching them. 

We've now been in South Africa for just over a week. It's been a mix of culture shock and excitement as we have gotten used to the way things work over here.

FCE's headquarters is located in Wolsely, a quick 1.5 hour drive from Cape Town. It's a small town of ~8,000 people, nestled in between some beautiful, bare mountains, and surrounded by farmland. We're right on the north edge of town, and it's about a five-minute walk to the few shops that are worth going to. (That picture is looking looking north from the entrance of the property.) For any real shopping, and non-exorbitant prices, it's a 20-minute drive to nearby Ceres (which is also where the nearest secondary school is).

We arrived in Cape Town last night, and tomorrow we'll be heading up to Wolseley. (The flights went flawlessly, Zelena was amazing, and nothing got lost!) To me, at least, the culture here feels like an interesting mix of traditional/local, Dutch, and British. Here's a few observations so far:

  • Looking up at a night sky and not recognizing a single constellation, except for the ones over the equator, is very strange.