[Microblog] Transient Thought

I have been in one spot for too long, I think as I take a bus down Gordon Street for the thousandth time. Time to move.


[Microblog] Patience

My thoughts are occupied by the uncertain and weighty circumstances of friends.


[Microblog] Transient Cookies

Cookies for a friend.  I only saw them for about 10 minutes before packing them all up and shipping them off.


[Technology] Permanent flux and brokenness

So Google Hangouts for Android now supports SMS and IM.  That's great.  Except for when my friend Kevin is messaging me and then half of his messages appear in one app (texts) and the other half another (IMs) indiscriminately and inconsistently.  Trying to chat with him from G+ Hangouts results in me missing random messages, since G+ Hangouts doesn't catch texts.

So, obviously, the next feature we need is letting GMail/G+ manage your texts too.  That would actually be nice, if I could send a text to any friend from my web browser.  My SwiftKey virtual keyboard on my phone is pretty great, but it's still painful have long conversations through compared to a full keyboard.

It's amusing how quickly I stop considering the privacy impact of letting all my communications be hosted remotely together in the same location.

Anyway, it's sad how people have been solving the problem of digital messaging for over thirty years and it's no better now than it was before, or it's worse.

[MIcroblog] Transient Sights

Bluejays and squirrels dancing in the trees outside my bedroom window.


[General] More amateur webdesign


Now with Richard's patented amateur web design!

The prettiest parts are for members.


[General] Veganism, vegetarian, and meat consumption

So, I almost never write about this because I don't have the time to provide well-cited research.  However, Business Insider published an article titled "7 Charts That Could Convince You To Become A Vegetarian" last month, which I finally got around to reading and thought it was a good overview of some of the concerns I have as a vegan.  I've taken some notes and listed them here.

I'll note that it's good to approach any literature on contentious subjects with some skepticism.  I'm generally skepticism of claims from those who advocate vegan diets and those who advocate for meat.  I've added some of my own comments below, bolded key words for many claims, as well as identifying BI's source where they listed it.  (They did a decent job of citing their claims.)  I don't have time to investigate potential biases in some of these claims (which I'm sure there are a few) but a lot of it seems logical and reasonable to start with.

I think I might try to list more data points that I encounter here for future reference, as I have a terrible memory, and don't like parroting the gist of something I've learned when speaking to someone very skeptical.  Much of the language below is theirs, just concise.
  • concerns on land, water scarcity; health; animal welfare (FAO: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
  • 870 million chronically undernourished (FAO, worldhunger.org)
    • 5 million adults, 10.9 million children die from malnutrition annually
    • (food production or distribution problem?)
  • global food prices at "near record highs" and are volatile (FAO)
    • India has "dangerous inflation" (BI)
  • African continent has greatest hunger, least arable land
  • using land for cabbage instead of beef feeds 22x more people
    • (what type of land?)
    • cabbage 0.3g protein/23g, meat 3.2g protein/23g
      • cabbage "high" in Vitamin C, fiber
      • protein available through other legumes, leafy greens
      • (I'm told that the amount of protein in a typical vegan diet is still safely above the level of protein deficiency)
  • water scarcity
    • growing problem (BI)
    • 2.7 billion (40% of people) affected for 1+ months per year (waterfootprint.org)
    • meat as inefficient use of water in food production
      • 1kg beef requires 77x the water used for 1kg potatoes (International Water Management Institute)
      • pork uses 0.3x as much as beef, chicken 0.15x as much
        • (so, 23x and 11.5x as much as potatoes, then?)
  • carbon (and CO2-equivalents)
    • CO2-equivalent footprint as much higher
      • (lots of people don't care, as they don't believe in climate change)
    • 1kg of lamb 40x as much CO2e as 1kg of tomatoes
      • (example for the two extremes, if you look at the chart, lamb is the worst meat and tomatoes the 2nd best non-meat; beef and chicken are 10x and 2.5x as much as rice (2nd worst non-meat), 13.5x and 3.5x as much as tofu)
    • methane produced by livestock on farm
    • legumes (inc. soybeans) as most energy-efficient source of protein compared to vegetables and meat (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)
    • however, vegetables require pesticides and fertilisers that harm the environment too
  • factory farming
    • common (across USA) (Food & Water Watch)
    • accusations of animal cruelty 
      • e.g. chicken beak removal (peta)
        • (I get told "You have to or they'll hurt each other!", but then again, you've trapped them in tight cages or crowded barns with no way to exist but grow fat and die; I'm not sure of removing their means of expressing themselves is the ideal solution there)
    • sources of pollution for air and water; disease
      • (were cattle the source of the e. coli in Walkerton?)
      • e.g. a large pig farm contributing to human illness (?) (dailymail.co.uk)
      • overuse of hormones and antibiotics (Food & Water Watch)
        • contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria (treehugger.com; hey, Hank Green's site!)
          • can pass to humans through meat consumption (really? irradiate it all!)
      • excessive pollution cases (organicconsumers.org)
    • animal density on farms increasing
  • nutrition, health
    • shows Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (Dr. Joel Fuhrman, drfuhrman.com) for foods (wholefoodsmarket.com), which considers range of micronutrients including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidant capacities, etc. (also protein and fiber, apparently)
      • shows vegetables, legumes, fruit, whole grains as more nutrient-rich than fish, dairy, meat, eggs, cheese, which are more nutrient rich than refined grains, oils, and sweets.
      • (potential for bias in scale's definition, perhaps?)
      • animal products as high in protein, iron, but lacking other vital nutrients
    • higher longevity for those with low meat consumption in cohort study of NAs and EUs (American Society of Clinical Nutrition)
      • long-term (17+ years) vegetarians as living 3.6 years more than short-term vegetarians 
        • (I'd like to see more granularity in such a study!)

[General] Controlling Facebook

So, I had disabled my Facebook account for two weeks, in part because it really was a regular (if small) distraction that interrupted my focus.

I really needed to communicate with someone through it today, though, so I've re-enabled it, but hope to continue to enjoy my freedom from distraction with the following actions.
  • I've blocked it on my own computer.  That helps prevent me from casually going over to it.  I can override that for when I actually need to use it, but it's a hassle, and prevents instant gratification.  I think I will check it on a weekly basis.  No more time for keeping up-to-date with the newsfeed, I guess.
  • I've removed the Facebook app from my phone, so no more omnipresence for me.
 I think Facebook is uniquely useful, but without good self-discipline, it like anything else can impede my other goals.


[General] Helping others and learning stuffs

Today I made a website for a group on campus, Guelph Queer Equality.  It's not published yet, but here's a screenshot:

As you can see, it's fabulous.  I volunteered to do this because I support their work on campus and it benefits good friends of mine.  They didn't have a website before, but wanted one, so I thought my skills could be useful to them.

I'm not brilliant at visual design, but they didn't have any website before, and what I can provide for free is (hopefully) preferable to nothing.

I enjoyed doing this because it did not take too long and was a break from my regular work (thesis, TAing, GRAing, etc).  Here are some fun things I got to play with
  • HTML Canvas.  I've poked at it a couple times before, but never really  made it far.  It felt like one of those weird things I might never quite understand.  Basically it gives you a space on your page to draw on.  You have a context that you can use to draw shapes, letters, images, etc.  In this screen shot, the name "Guelph Queer Quality" is drawn on the canvas, and the rainbow and the whitespace are drawn too.
  • Web fonts.  The header and the URLs are done in Snippet:
  • PHP.  The elements of the site that are consistent across pages are in template PHP files that get included into the primarily-content-based named pages (Updates, Events, FAQ, etc).  Also, the blog posts are actually just a feed from a Blogger blog, whose atom feed is getting parsed.
  • JavaScript and CSS.  This was used to position content in the right place, and required many calculations.
I also briefly was using neat stuff like CSS transforms but that was too much for the group. :D


[General] Peterborough and Koryu

This past weekend I went to Peterborough for a koryu seminar.  Koryu are traditional schools of iaido, of which there are many, and are distinct from ZKNR iai (called seitei), which is a standardised set of kata used for teaching and grading within the International Kendo Federation (which has iaido and jodo sections, and includes members like the Canadian Kendo Federation, which my dojo is a part of).  My dojo's line of koryu is Muso Jikiden Eishen Ryu, which is pretty popular in Canada.  Another popular one similar to Jikiden is Shinden.  Anyway, for now Peterborough.  Later I'll write a post about the seminar itself.


I have a very fond place in my heart for Peterborough, and I've acquired a few favourite locations.  This is my third time there, and this time I sought out two eateries I've visited before, the Night Kitchen; a hip pizzeria that's open until 3AM!, and the Planet vegetarian and vegan bakery.  Sadly, I never did make it to the Planet again, as their hours are a tad ridiculous (9AM-3PM on weekends, closed on Mondays, 9-4 other days), but I did make it to the Night Kitchen where I introduced friends to their flattest late night pizza.  

Speaking of food, I also had another Best Ever moment, this time at Brio Gusto, an actually classy place to eat, without ridiculous prices.  I had a veganised La Rioja, a pasta dish.  I regret not taking a photo, but it was too consuming.  The only other Best Ever dish I've had was the ratatouille at Sky Tower in Auckland.
in lieu of la rioja, a ratatouille
We also ate at the old Stone brewing company, where political conversation at our table proved offensive enough to a table of neighbouring patrons that they left.

I was getting a desperate hunger for chocolate, and recruited friends to join me on a random quest to try to find a chocolate vegan dessert, at 10:30PM, in a town small than Guelph.  Hilariously, we stumbled upon blackhoney, a delicious café open late with an affordable vegan chocolate oblivion cake.
Chocolate oblivion cake
It was magnificent.  While eating it, I noticed that someone at another table was wearing a hakama and iaidogi and, when I enquired, it turned out that they do practise iaido but actually weren't there for the seminar (!).  

[Budo] Peterborough Seminar lesson

So, the Peterborough Examinar managed to catch some awful posture of mine for posterity's sake (if sift through the photos at the top)
At least with that kata in Eishin Ryu has my opponent on the floor at that point...


[General] E-mails

I hadn't really replied to most e-mails for the past two weeks due to saturated busy-ness.  So, I just stole 2.5 hours of sleep to go back and deal with e-mail from the last two months.  Out of the almost 200 in my inbox from the past few months, I only archived half of them, but at least it doesn't say I have 40 unread ones still.

Information overload.

[General] Best Trick or Eat Ever?


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