Wednesday, July 04, 2018

A Mentos fizzle

I thought I would add to the Canada Day excitement by doing one of those dramatic Mentos sodapop geysers.

This effort was not so dramatic.

I couldn't get all the Mentos to drop in at once.

And several onlookers told me that it works better with a diet cola.

So next time, I will have a special insertion tube and will use a diet cola. I might even pay the extra for a name brand.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

I found wingbeans!

This may not be exciting to you, but to me it is monumental.

When I lived in Ghana between 1984 and 1986, my favourite green vegetable was the wingbean.

Dana, the Peace Corps Volunteer and physics teacher, was my supplier. He had learned that the miracle wingbean thrived in the tropical climate and set about doing what he could to promote it. Dana built enormous bamboo tripods to grow wingbeans and generously shared his crops with me.

Wingbeans (Wikipedia calls them "winged beans", but they'll always be wingbeans to me) are a miracle crop because every single part of the plant is edible and they are nitrogen-fixing. Because they are nitrogen-fixing, they don't need fertilizer and after you've grown some wingbeans, you can plant another crop that needs nitrogen without adding fertilizer.

My favourite edible part were the immature green pods, chopped and added to fried rice. A bit firmer than a green bean, with a slightly sweet, mild flavour.

I've gone 31 years without having a wingbean.

Until now. I've discovered them at the Lim Bangkok Grocery at the corner of Somerset and Booth, right here in Ottawa. They're not as long and healthy looking as Dana's used to be, but they've come all the way from Thailand.

I almost whooped out loud when I spotted them.

[Bonus points for anyone who can guess what I'm going to do with the two very ripe plantains I also bought today.]

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sleeping with Comedy Podcasts

I have never been good at sleeping. I used to have a lot of trouble falling asleep at the beginning of the night and then falling back asleep when I woke up during the night.

But listening to stand-up comedy podcasts has made a big improvement for me.

Over the past two years, I've acquired a large collection of podcasts. I've got people talking about current issues, recommendations on tools, descriptions of cognitive bias, Vinyl Café stories, all sorts of stuff. But it's the stand-up comedy that works best for me.

I think the comedy works because it's entertaining enough that I don't have the stupid thoughts that keep me awake, thinking about what I have to do the next day or what I should have said to someone earlier, and I can fall asleep because each joke is only a minute or two long. If I wake up during the night and can't fall back asleep even after listening to 20 minutes or an hour, at least I'm feeling entertained and not anxious that I'm not sleeping.

Stories don't seem to help me fall asleep. I love the Vinyl Café stories, but I want to hear the whole story too much.

There are a number of comedy podcasts out there. The ones I like best are from the CBC's Laugh Out Loud. They run 28 minutes and feature one to three comics. I'm getting to know them well and like them all. There is a great selection of comics with strong material. They're all recordings of live performances in Canada, so most of the comics are Canadian.

I really can't say enough about how much I like Laugh Out Loud. The selection of comics reflect Canada's diversity. There's a tremendous amount of openness, affection and kindness in their humour. Technically, the editing is seamless and the sound recording is impeccable.

This means that when I hear someone I like, there's a good chance I can see that person perform here in Ottawa, and usually for a ridiculously small ticket price. And now if I find myself in another city looking for something to do, there's a good chance I'll be able to see someone terrific.

Here are the mechanics of how I listen to the podcasts:
  1. I save the podcasts to the hard drive on my computer.
  2. Every couple of weeks, I copy the podcast files to my smart phone. Before I had the smart phone, I copied them to a tablet.
  3. At night, I put on a set of light-weight Bluetooth earbuds that have an eight-hour battery life. (I'm using Skullcandy Ink'd Wireless, they're comfortable while I sleep and the audio is good. I'm told the microphone makes me echo-ey when I use them for phoning, so I don't use them for phoning.)
  4. I play the podcasts using the free version of MediaMonkey. I usually set the sleep timer for 20 minutes. Most nights I'm probably asleep before 10 minutes go by, but if I'm not, it's nice not to have to start it up again.
  5. If I wake up, I start the player again for another 20 minutes. Maybe backing up to where it was around when I fell asleep.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Magi update

A while ago, Magi was not doing well. Or she was doing some serious method acting for her video career. But on her new regime, she is perky. More interested in looking around than in sprawling on the floor. She seems to like the view of the outside from the Ocean Table.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

What I didn't buy at the Superstore today

Because someone said we don't need another toaster.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Things I did not buy at the Value Village and why

I don't need the Charles and Diana mug because now I have a picture of it.
Yes, another lava lamp would be great, but this one has a plastic base and top cone, so it's not top of the line.

$5.99 for this small bag of marbles? It's a good reminder that "value" has multiple meanings and one is the price that a buyer is willing to pay. In this case, the potential buyer is not willing to pay the asking price.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

I hit a milestone at the Thrift Store

On a suburban adventure yesterday afternoon, Manon and I stopped at the Thrift Store at Belfast and St. Laurent. I was happy to find two cds.

At the cash, a young woman with a beautiful singing voice rang up my purchase. [Seriously... she was singing along with the radio and her voice made the song sound better.]

In the car, Manon asked about the cds and how much they cost.

"It's funny," I said, "the sign said they were $1.99 each, but she only charged me $3.58."

"Hmm," said Manon. she picked up the sales slip and started to laugh. "She gave you the senior discount!"

A little bit of online research tells me that I'm not actually eligible for the Salvation Army's senior discount until 2020, but I'm not going to drive back and give them 40 cents.

Meanwhile, I hope to enjoy my new-to-me Jane Siberry and Coldplay albums. Jane Siberry's Ulysses' Purse came out in 2016 and Coldplay's Viva la Vida came out in 2007. Not that long ago, right? Still, I guess the youngsters are downloading or buying vinyl; only old people are buying cds.

Tip: There are places where I am eligible for the seniors discount and you might be too if you're over 55 - Are You Taking Advantage of These Senior’s Discounts? at