Rice is Awesome

Rice Photo from Keetsa.com Rice is my favourite food and as I learn more about human nutrition and food preparation it has only become more important to my culinary lifestyle. Simply put, rice is delicious and it only gets better when adding some of other great flavours. Spicy food gets an extended run when all of the flavour is integrated into each grain of rice. Mmm, I know what will be prepared at dinner tonight.

Now manufacturers are using rice and its organic waste to produce new biodegradable products and materials. Keetsa, a mattress and sleep product firm, produces and sells their rice/tea sleep sets online at Keetsa.com - I would recommend them to people looking for an expensive alternative to traditional mattresses.

Rice recipe books are usually lacklustre, I've found that simply importing rice into other great recipes has been a much better choice. Unfortunately most of my recipes come from different places across the internet and the Linux recipe book programs are far too technical and unattractive at this point. Rice is great on its own, so maybe all that effort isn't entirely necessary. Mmm.. bland.

Rice even has a history in the hacker community in Captain Crunch, a cereal based on rice crackers that doesn't go soggy in milk. Japanese patents taken over by Americans after world war two led to this innovative food making its way to western tables. Hackers found their calling from the marketing of this cereal, the captains trusty dog was called by whistle, the Cap'n Crunch whistle which was packaged in. That whistle would become the key to free communication and thus a hacker subculture found its roots. Through intellectual property theft from the Japanese and American marketing - seems like a pirates life.

Rice can be grown in nearly any safe climate, this is another reason why my interest is piqued. If rice can be grown in Niagara I would be very interested in subscribing to receive the freshest, delicious (and hopefully affordable) rice that I would ever consume. So if you haven't enjoyed rice recently please take the time to find some and get creative.

(I'll be looking into more rice based greentech in the coming weeks, please stop by to see the results.)

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OPIRG Members at Brock (Shoutout)

OPIRG Red LogoHello. The OPIRG weekly newsletter had an interesting mention about myself and this website. Though I am used to giving a shout-out to the OPIRGBrock.org website and all of the people that make OPIRG Brock possible this is a small honour. Please go to their website to learn more about them, however if you would like to hear more about how the website revamp came together please stay and read.

The OPIRG-Brock website had numerous issues with readability and accessibility. Though the images on the website were pretty it did not effectively convey the information to search engines and translation engines. Can't auto-translate an image file. Most of the work was spent rewriting the website from scratch to fit it nicely into the content management upgrade.

Now for the geeky bits. After upgrading the Drupal install and all associated databases we stuck with the default theme and added all of the customizations that would help define the OPIRG-Brock brand. This brand is not to waver from the feeling behind OPIRG-Brock, this brand is to increase its relevance in the community and act almost as a seal of approval that what will go down with OPIRG will be [adjective] (awesome, creative, inclusive, insightful, etc.)

This comprehensive approach has already yielded great benefits in search and will include built-in translation and the Podcasting system (which is ready, shy of the actual content). Please get involved with OPIRG, become a general volunteer. If you have the ambition start a working group, I'd support a trains initiative.

Rough Week

This post may be a week late, though it is not without reason. Over the course of the week from Sept 15th to Sept 22nd the world sucked hard.

Monday: Spent a beautiful day cycling until I was swept off my bicycle by a truck. Getting hit is bad, people speeding away afterward WORSE.EMTs say I'm alright, which is good.

Tuesday: Spent in preparation for a series of meetings which meant I couldn't fix the bicycle. The meeting of Welland City Council was a snore. Waste of a day. (and evening)

Wednesday: Bicycle shop opens at 1pm instead on Wednesdays, no repairs and no ride. Although I did get to attend the Positive Spaces workshop, which was good. Later that day I attended the Teaching and Learning Policy Committee (Which I joined to follow-up on Sakai.) and we focused on a recognition system to promote senate work... not every meeting can be about my ♥ on Sakai.

Thursday: Drummed on through my classwork, finally got to the bike shop. Some parts were irreparable and the bill exceeded my spending cap. Spending cap breached and that killed my date with Alie. (Sorry Alie, we can go to the movies again next week, by bike!)

Friday: Spent working on a series of new website features for KurtisMcCartney.com and OPIRGBrock.org, good. Finding a present for my Grandmothers 80th Birthday - on my broken budget was the bad. Bad, Fail, Error and so-on... Alie, I'll be 'fundraising' to apologise to you in a very big way.

Saturday: Aforementioned Birthday for the Octogenarian, good day for her and phenomenal way to hear her cut up the MTO for making her take the Driving test later this week. After fighting against discrimination (women) for so long the new discrimination (ageism) is equally hated. Then I mentioned the ageism in Auto Insurance... Everybody hurts.

Sunday: Lift, move, store, restore. Menial tasks requiring feats of strength hurt after a while. At least I had Discovery by DAFT PUNK to make things Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

See you tomorrow on my own personal fail train. All Aboard.

Welland Cycling in Autumn

Eglise Sacre Coeur of WellandFall is coming and for a couple of reasons I am very glad that it did. For one, I have managed to cycle to three of the four corners of Welland in one shot. This means that trying for a round trip to Brock may not be too far off. I have even considered starting a mid-range bike club, for the people in town that are enthusiastic about human powered transportation even though they loathe people in spandex shorts. Critical Mass has been another excellent way to do that, though someone might perform a "Die-In" and get mixed up with "Die-Thru" a spray-paint protest/art group in Welland. The City of Welland has put bike lanes into every street that the new LED Street lamps have been installed. Good times for cycling in Welland.

I have included an image of the Sacred Heart Church (Eglise Sacre Coeur) of Welland. Every time that I ride this part of Welland's French Village is included. Even though there are no bike lanes and it hardly seems like an arterial road going down Empire St. in Welland is like a blast from the past. The church is across the street from the Desjardins Caisse which is less impressive visually but equally important to residents that are not yet fluent in the English language. Many of the Francophone Caribbean and Former-Africans also love cycling as an affordable form of transportation.

We all grew up with bicycles, why did you stop?

Campus Sustainability Assessment

Brock University Bright FutureI will be attending the Campus Sustainability Assessment Meeting on Thursday Sept. 11th at Brock University. This initiative has existed for some time and I was honoured to receive a personal invitation to the event. I know that Brock had a 58% waste diversion rate for 2007, making the recycling and organic diversion projects a relative success. Though there is a lot more that can be done.

Everything from heating, lighting, doors, etc. has been included in this assessment. This makes the greentech dork inside me very happy. The results of this meeting will indicate what kinds of development Brock will pursue and in turn set an example to local governments in the Niagara Region. We already have a headstart with the LED conversion away from High pressure sodium and it is beautiful. I will post more during and after the meeting until then check out these resources:

OPIRG will also be all over this event so be sure to check out OPIRGBrock.org for their involvement.

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Election Issue: Civil Infrastructure

Everything I talk about tends to have a close connection to Civil Infrastructure, the services and technology implemented developed nations. Most of the time I advocate building things better, stronger, more efficient and with only top quality materials. I have had a chance to speak briefly with each of the major candidates running for office in my riding (Welland/Niagara Centre)- all of them can agree that infrastructure is important although their plans for implementation and development differ greatly.

Considering all plans there are a couple of ways that this batch tip-toes around. Disclaimer: I still prefer to remain non-partisan as I have at least one disagreement with each of these candidates, no names will be used.

Manufacturing Bailouts - I understand the importance of keeping jobs in Niagara, my father worked at John Deere for just shy of 30 years. However without investing in infrastructure we missed numerous opportunities in middle and south Niagara. Road, Ship, Rail, and Electrical Utilities promoted development in the early twentieth century and these have fallen apart due to neglect. The workers have been punished for this - charity bailouts only seem to make the hurt go from the pocketbook to local pride.

Transit Funding - Great idea, I have seen growth happen before my eyes due to the new money put into this system. Welland Transit, St. Catharines Transit and Niagara Transit are practically one seamless network. Runs into Port Colborne and Pelham give NOTL residents hope they will be serviced soon. Even more hope for all Niagara to have commuter rail soon.

Incentive Based Taxation - Gas taxes usually go to road and highway maintenance, and cigarette taxes indirectly help healthcare. Carbon taxes should not be implemented as a punishment but as a way to promote rapid infrastructure change. The trust system doesn't sound adequate to deal with the environmental dangers already present. This is not about Global Warming - it is about our rivers, our canal and our land. I would hate to see a contaminated zone like the INCO Nickel zone in Port Colborne come to Welland. I support the incentive based carbon tax where it goes right back into the bottom line of the companies it is taken from.

Lots more for this election but these are my biggies federally that have been ignored in the past. When you vote federally, think local.

Brock Senate 2008/2009

Brock SenateAs the academic year begins another tradition at Brock University comes into effect. Brock Senate, as described by Jack Lightstone, is a component of the Bicameral system found at Brock since its creation in the twentieth century. Bicameral in a similar, if not the same, way as the government that funded the initial development of the institution. It was a eloquent interpretation of our reason for being there.

The introduction of committees for the 2008/2009 academic year was made on September 3rd. I will continue my work on the IT and Infrastructure Committee, and it has been brought to my attention that an opening is available on the Teaching and Learning Policy Committee. I hope that I can continue to support the Sakai project from the student side on these committees.

More information available on the Senate website:

Orientation 2008 - Club Fail

BUSU and Brock Orientation week Orientation week has come to Brock again this year, for those of you lucky enough to attend I hope you have a chance to see my friends and i at the club fair. Club fair (or Club fail) is an event intended to introduce incoming students to clubs, services and each other during the orientation week. I will also be publishing promotional material for some of the clubs though I cannot mention which ones at this time.

Frosh week is another off campus component to student orientation. Though I wouldn't recommend doing keg stands, attempting to join the century club or any other type of drinking game I cannot say that I haven't tried a couple prior to 2008. Sometimes the world seems better when you are looking up to your peers. Literally.

Get involved, it probably won't kill you.

More Linux Please

Ubuntu 2008Going into another year with Linux I cannot emphasize how it has changed my life. By focusing on what is important about computing, namely sharing, processing, and storing massive amounts of information made easily available. This website is hosted on my Ubuntu Server, which would be at 8 months of non-stop uptime if there were no power outages in the Niagara Region. (Still looking for a UPS solution, preferably integrating solar technology.) Even large vendors use Linux in their servers, Amazon has been using Linux for nearly a decade. Uptime isn't everything and I would like to highlight some of the other benefits of using a Linux based operating system.

I find myself working face to face with more people, in a pleasant environment. People come first, not machines and it is easier to do all of this when one does not have to worry about IF their technology is working. Linux works, it works harder and is great at what it does. When I notice new Linux development making Linux more attractive to Creatives and business types of people and I am proud of the versatility of Linux in these fields. Linux is best suited to academic functions, mass rendering and large scale networking something that other software vendors cannot even compare to.

If you are interested in discovering a new world of usability and excellence, Linux may be for you. Otherwise nobody is forcing you to make the switch.

I will not be hosting a Ubuntu Install party for 8.10, though I would show up to one if anyone else is planning one for the Brock/Niagara community.

OPIRG Brock Revision

OPIRG 2.0Great news for OPIRG members and social media enthusiasts at Brock University as the newest revision of the OPIRG website came online today. This new revision includes easier access, easier readability and many new features. Some highlights of the additional coming changes includes sitewide page translation, podcasting, a new polling engine and a lightweight RSS feed aggregator. All this and more using an open-source backbone, namely Drupal. Already a mainstay on OPIRGBrock.org it has now opened a world of opportunities to the campus and community members of the OPIRG.

The Volunteer and Program co-coordinators for 2008-2009 have expressed their need to reach out to a larger community and encourage involvement at Brock University. Although the Blogspot site for OPIRG will continue to exist for the time being eventually all information can be found easily at OPIRGBrock.org. Check it out now, you'll hear more about this later - believe it.

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