200 Calories-worth of Bagel

I’ve been on a bit of a diet recently – trying to drop about 20lbs or so before my 40th birthday in May.  So far I’ve been keeping it simple – mostly portion-control and smart food/drink choices.  I’ve been laying off the booze (although that’s partly a function of being busy in other aspects of life), sticking mostly to water rather than iced-tea or soft drinks, I have been keeping cookies and other snacks out of the house, and generally trying to eat lots more vegetables and lots fewer carbs.

I’ll write more about that and my progress separately, but because of all of this, I found this series of photos interesting.

 

 I’ve been playing around with the OC Transpo Live Next Bus Arrival Data Feed API and built a simple little mobile web site that will tell you when the next bus is coming for your stop.  Check it out: OC Me

Simply enter a stop number and click Get Routes, or if you have geolocation enabled on your mobile device, you can find a stop close to you on a map.  The application will get live GPS and schedule data from OC Transpo, and tell you which buses are coming soon, with an estimated arrival time.

This was all built in JQuery Mobile, and has only been tested to work on my iPhone 4.  I have no idea how well it works on other platforms.  On the backend it’s PHP, and I’ve written some xml-caching functions so I don’t overload my API calls to the Live Data Feed API.  The app is mostly bilingual, but the current translation is probably pretty bad (I have a translator girlfriend who promises she’ll help me fix it up at some point soon).

No doubt there are plenty of other bus tracker apps out there for OC Transpo, including their own official iOS app, and many of them have far more features than I intend to build into mine.  I built this mostly as a personal proof-of-concept project, but I figured I’d throw it out there for others to see anyway.

I will post the code to GitHub soon in case anyone wants to see how it was built and perhaps build one of their own.

Tar Sands

The Tar Sands are a literal stain on our country’s landscape, and yet our political leadership has staked our entire economy on its development and expansion.  The process is wasteful, complicated, and throws off all kinds of toxic byproducts into our lakes, rivers and forests destroying ecosystems and wildlife habitats.

ThinkProgress on How To Make Gasoline From Tar Sands, In Six Simple Steps

After all of this, it takes as much as four tons of sand and four barrels of fresh water to make a barrel of synthetic oil, which is good for about 42 gallons of gas, or one fill up in a ’97 Suburban. The good news is about 10 percent of that water is recycled! (On the downside, the other 90 percent is dumped into toxic tailing ponds, which currently cover about 50 square kilometers [19 square miles] along the Athabasca River, and is leaking into the ecosystem at a rate of perhaps 11 million liters a day.)

This is nasty stuff, and our children will pay for our shortsightedness.

For a brief time I ran a foodie blog at finediners.ca, but after a brief initial spurt of creativity, it kind of trailed off and I haven’t published there in a long while.  I eventually let the domain lapse, and I’ve since felt bad that there were a handful of interesting articles there that were just orphaned and destined to be lost.

I finally decided to do something about that and I’ve migrated all that old content to this blog (wordpress export/import worked great!).  I still have to cleanup some of the stubs I had posted to this blog linking to the articles on the now-dead domain, but it’s nice to know that the writing I did there hasn’t been lost.  Since all those articles are buried in the archives here now, I thought I’d link to some of my favourites here:

Makin’ Bacon Part 1: DIY Cold Smoker

Makin’ Bacon Part 2: The Cure

In The Kitchen: Bacon Jam!

What do you do with day-after Risotto?

Butchery 101 – Strip Loin

In The Kitchen: Mom’s Easter Bread

In The Kitchen: French Onion Soup

In The Kitchen: Wine Marinated/Braised Beef Short Ribs

In The Kitchen: Fish in a Bag

Most of these are early experiments in my journey towards learning to cook.  Looking back at these, I realize that I’ve gotten a lot better since then and could probably do a much better job on those dishes.

The Catholic Church has invested nearly $2 million attempting to deny equal marriage rights to all.

Taking up where the Mormons left off in 2008, the Catholic Church – and its affiliate, the Knights of Columbus – have made considerable investments in the marriage fights in Minnesota, Maryland, Washington State and Maine this election cycle – spending nearly $2 million. In addition, a close ally of the Church and past co-conspirator, the National Organization for Marriage, spent more than $5.2 million this cycle. Final campaign figures for Maryland and Maine will be available by the end of the month.

Marriage equality opponents across the four states raised $11.3 million. The Catholic Church’s contributions make up 17 percent of that total figure. When you add in the contributions of Church ally NOM, the reality of the coordinated effort becomes clear: the Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus and NOM are responsible for funding nearly 65 percent of all anti-equality efforts in Minnesota, Maryland, Washington State and Maine.

Who’s with me?

Whether you get your results from CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, C-SPAN or one of the broadcast networks, take a drink* every time someone on screen says anything on the following list:

  • Ground Game
  • Firewall
  • Sandy
  • Photo ID
  • Recount
  • Youth Vote
  • Enthusiasm
  • The Name of a Third Party Candidate (Gary Johnson, Jill Stein,Virgil Goode, Rocky Anderson)
  • Ohio
  • Reagan

Farhad Manjoo on Microsoft’s Surface:

The first problem is speed. Everything you do on the Surface takes more time than you expect. When you load an app, switch between apps, launch a Web page, go back to a previous Web page, check your email, and do pretty much anything else, you’ll find yourself waiting a half-second too long. This sounds like nothing, but when you compound that time time across every action on the Surface, the wasted half-seconds add up to an annoying trudge.

It’s not just the extra time that kills, but also how the tablet clues you in to its slowness. The surface is littered with little visual bugs that make you think the thing’s broken. When you pinch-to-zoom in on a Web page, the text first shows up looking jagged and low-res; after a small wait, it gets sharp. Every single time you go back in the browser, you’ll see the previous page grayed out; it takes a split second for it to light up.

When you switch the Surface from portrait to landscape mode, its interface doesn’t switch immediately. There’s a half-second where nothing happens, enough time to make you wonder if the switch registered the orientation switch, so you begin to turn it back the other way just as the screen flips to the new orientation. And when the screen does eventually flip, it’s not as smooth as the iPad. Instead the Surface’s screen simply quick-cuts from landscape to portrait and back again, and while that gets the job done, the transition feels less than elegant. And then there were the times I found myself tapping the Surface like a madman, because I couldn’t tell whether it was just responding slowly or whether it hadn’t even noticed me. This happened often. It wasn’t pleasant.

Mike Tidwell, writing for The Nation:

The presidential candidates decided not to speak about climate change, but climate change has decided to speak to them. And what is a thousand-mile-wide storm pushing eleven feet of water toward our country’s biggest population center saying just days before the election? It is this: we are all from New Orleans now. Climate change—through the measurable rise of sea levels and a documented increase in the intensity of Atlantic storms—has made 100 million Americans virtually as vulnerable to catastrophe as the victims of Hurricane Katrina were seven years ago.

He describes our options: 1) abandon our coastal cities, 2) adapt and fortify those cities against the rising tides, or 3) we could, you know, STOP BURNING THE SHIT THAT IS MAKING OUR PLANET HOTTER! (paraphrasing)