Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ottawhat 84 - Duncan McEachern


This week on Ottawhat, we were joined by our friend Duncan. We chatted about Star Wars (before having seen the movie), and generally had a fun time learning about Duncan!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Ottawhat 83 - Jon Stouffclair


Ottawhat this week had a musician on the show. We finally had somebody actually bring an instrument on the show, and Joe Stouffclair did not disappoint! Go and listen!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Feedback 7 - Starting Something (Season 2)


That's right, Feedback has finally returned for its second season! We had a great 6 months off, and we're back in style with 2 new songs, and a lot of healthy discussion about the upcoming EP from Sons of Pluto. We also talked about some of the new music we're into these days.

I missed these guys!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Future Chat 82 - Beard Prejudice


This week on Future Chat, we talked about Facebook (including my latest rant about Facebook, starting at 19:25), the latest attempt to save the world by reversing anthropogenic climate change, and how sugary foods won't impact all dieters the same way.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Damien's Incredible Mouth Skills

My good friend and co-host of the soon-to-be returning music podcast Feedback has a very particular set of skills, namely the ability to do a number of incredible things with his mouth. Among them, he can accurately replicate almost any sound nearly perfectly, including, as you'll hear, a drop of water.

This blew my mind, and since he happened to have a microphone right in front of him when he was showing me this talent, I am now able to share it with all of you.

Season 2 of Feedback debuts next week, so stay tuned at unwindmedia.com/feedback!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ottawhat 82 - Monica Haberl


The podcast this week featured our friend, Monica Haberl. She chatted with us about gender equality, something near and dear to my heart, among many other things (that we chatted about).


Monday, December 7, 2015

Future Chat 81 - The Tickets Are Now Diamonds


On the show this week, after solving some of Mike's electrical problems and getting him on the phone, we proceeded to talk about a new form of carbon, the increasing price and rarity of unlimited data plans, and how we might be able to get on student radio.

Friday, December 4, 2015

East Meets West 13 - No New Tim Hortons


This week on East Meets West, Nick and I had another fun hour talking about new rules in the Senate, our recent string of underemployment, and the ridiculous political treatment of refugees by governments.

I always have fun talking to Nick, and even though we're both nowhere near our possible career potential at the moment, we both keep our heads held high and hopes are at peak values right now.

Ottawhat 81 - Natalie Poirier


This week, we had Natalie Poirier on Ottawhat. She did a 6-week hike all alone across Ontario in support of angioma research, and she raised money under the name "The Brain Venture". It was a really cool story hearing what she put herself through for the cause, and all the interesting things we don't really think about going home to sleep in a warm bed every night.

I really like these chats with people who've got way out of their way to do things that are really important to them, especially when those people have extremely positive results.

We haven't had many people go and check out our Brew Donkey contest in recent weeks, so if you head to ottawhatpodcast.com/brewdonkey, you'll have a very good chance of winning a free brewery tour ticket (with a $90 value!).

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Big Day

It only makes sense that exactly three years (to the day) after doing my very first video on YouTube, I would cross the threshold of actually earning real money from Google. Let me tell you the story.

For a little over a year, starting on July 4, 2011, I had been writing on my blog (which still exists to this day). December 1st, 2012, I made my first YouTube video, a Google+ Hangout live chat with my good friend, Carolyn Higman. You can go watch it, the quality of the video is relatively embarrassing, and a lot has changed since then.
The first time I exposed my face to the world, three years ago to the day.
As a point of comparison, here is the latest episode of Future Chat, recorded this past weekend:


Over the years, a lot has changed. But one thing that hasn't changed is that I still love teaching, helping, writing, and learning about technology. Here's a brief timeline of my milestones on the internet.

July 4, 2011 - I start Living In The Future, my blog, on my birthday. I published the first post the following day.

December 1, 2012 - My first Google+ Hangout on Air.

January 14, 2013 - I agree to begin work with Sons of Pluto, a band with my friends. Work includes recording their practices, shows, building their website, making promo videos, and running their social media accounts. Those guys are now working on an EP!

February 7, 2014 - The first Future Tech Chat takes place. This is the spiritual successor to the first Hangout on Air from 2012, and the podcast continues on a weekly basis to this day under the more general "Future Chat".

March 27, 2014 - I make the first Attrell Update video. My sister and I go on to exchange videos on a weekly (or almost weekly) basis until December of 2014.

May 20, 2014 - The first episode of Ottawhat is released, after Keegan, Amaan and I decide we should start an Ottawa-themed podcast about people.

December 14-16, 2014 - East Meets West and Feedback debut, also marking the formal launch of UnwindMedia.com, a media network that is the home of my Internet-related work so far.

November 5, 2015 - Ottawhat News, a satirical look at events around Ottawa, has it's first viral post. In just a few days, over 65,000 people read about Peter Hayes and the Bier Markt.

December 1, 2015 (Today) - In an inevitability of time, math, and fortune, Unwind Media finally passes the threshold for being paid real money for ads on the sites I run. It is now just a matter of time  now until a cheque from Google arrives. It's not a lot of money, but it feels extremely good to hit that threshold.

I really love making things, and being creative. I've been doing it for over 4 years and I'm more excited now than I ever have been. I'm looking really hard for a job right now, and the stuff I do on the side is the only thing keeping me sane at the moment, as it's one creative outlet I have amidst filling out applications and writing cover letters.

Future Chat 80 - We're Not Eating The Bugs Yet


Mike and I joined up again for another fun episode, despite that fact that Nick was once again unable to join us.

I talked about the results of my one year plus experiment with personal hygiene. Tune in to hear what I did, and how things turned out.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Ottawhat 80 - Chris Bailey


This week on the podcast, we caught up with Chris Bailey. He was on the show before, talking about his Year of Productivity and how he was writing a book. Now, he's done the book and talked with us about the process and how productivity has changed his life. Chris is always a fun guest!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Future Chat 79 - Shoving the Gene In


Future Chat this week was a fun chat between Mike and I about genetically modified foods, the Tesla recall, and a recent experiment on self-control with kids and raisins.

We also got into a good discussion of online forums in the aftershow. Given the recent changes to Google+, we questioned the validity of wild-west type forums where moderators can stake their claims to certain topics, to the exclusion of others, even in a democratic forum. The aftershow starts at 1:01:41, and though we start from a Google+ angle, the discussion is interesting even if you don't give a crap about G+.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ottawhat 79 - Mayor Jim Watson


In a really great series of events in the last couple of months, we got to interview the mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, on Ottawhat this week. It was a really great time and I'm so glad we got the chance to do that. Hopefully it will lead to even bigger and better things for the podcast!

Go enter this week's Brew Donkey contest once you've listened to the show: ottawhatpodcast.com/brewdonkey.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Future Chat 78 - Overrun by Cod


This week on Future Chat, we discussed the food industry in some detail, some interesting data on how to change the mind of an anti-vaxxer, and more interesting energy projects going on around the world.

Future Chat is a ton of fun and if you haven't listened in a while (or ever), I would strongly encourage you to give it a chance. This weekly podcast is a real passion project of Mike, Nick and I, and we really have a lot of fun with it. It's a niche show, but we obviously think it's worth listening to. If you enjoy it, we'd really love to hear from you via Twitter @_FutureChatFM or by way of an iTunes review.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Ottawhat 78 - Ours is the Fury Podcast


This week on Ottawhat, we talked a fair bit about soccer, the sport I love most in the world. Our local soccer team is in the championship of the NASL (North American Soccer League) this Sunday against New York, after an amazing fall run where they only lost once in 20 games!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Future Chat 77 - So Much Swiping (BONUS: Snapchat after-show)


*The Snapchat portion of the after-show begins around 1:34:15*

Future Chat is a really fun part of each week for me. Sometimes, we've ended up kind of regurgitating the news and not really getting too in-depth in discussion. That didn't happen this week.

We ended up having really great conversations about the future of science in Canada (something we talked about a LOT last summer in our government funding of science episode). Then we talked in depth about the new BlackBerry phone, and some interesting points about tradeoffs you make in choosing BlackBerry and the likelihood of its success in Canada. Then we talked about a few stories relating to different renewable and non-renewable energy around the world, in Morocca, Kenya and China.

Perhaps my favourite part of the whole show though, was at the very end. Mike tried to figure out Snapchat when he first got it, but since the conceit of the app is lost on those who weren't in the their teens when it was released, he was having trouble. We explain how the app works, and I really hope if you haven't given it a try, that you will consider checking it out. If you do have Snapchat, go ahead and add me (sciencerob), Mike (ma_yyc) and Nick (nwamaddox), and we'll surely all have a great time! The Snapchat discussion starts around 1:34:15, I highly encourage you to listen. It's fun and informative.

Friday, November 6, 2015

East Meets West 12 - My Eyes Are Up Here


On East Meets West, Nick and I talked about Canada's new Cabinet, how our applications to the Liberal Party are going, and follow up our conversation on toplessness. The episode makes me pretty happy.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Ottawhat 77 - Poppa Bean Coffee



This week on Ottawhat, it's a very special episode, featuring Paul Foster from Poppa Bean Coffee. We also got a new set of mics, so it sounds great! But even better than that, we're launching the very first contest we've ever done. You can enter this week to win a free ticket for a Brew Donkey brewery tour.

Brew Donkey are a really cool company that gives really fun brewery tours and can deliver craft beer right to your house. The tickets are worth about $90 each, so you should definitely head to ottawhatpodcast.com/brewdonkey now to find out how to enter!


Monday, October 19, 2015

Election Day

This weekend, we had an international podcast on East Meets West. Matt "Tom" Staroste joined us from Australia to discuss the election that's upon us today. And while you might not have time to listen to the whole 2 hour podcast today before polls close, I really encourage you to listen to Matt's and Nick's 3-4 minute endorsements of the NDP and Liberal parties at the very end of the episode. It's how I decided my vote, and it's really worth your ears.

This part of the conversation starts at 1:44:00 of the 10th episode, which you can jump to right here. The full episode can be found below as well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Losing Weight Isn't Hard

Losing weight is easy, and let me tell you why (and how!).

I have something to tell you that could either be unbelievably hard to believe, or possibly instantly understood, depending on your own experiences. I've been talking a LOT about my weight and my health in the last 3 months or so, and I've started posting my weight on Twitter every day as a way to motivate myself to eat more responsibly.
This is how I feel now, stepping on the scale.
The thing that I've learned in losing almost 30 pounds in the last 7 months or so (and 25 lbs in the last 2 months) is that starting to eat isn't the problem. In losing this weight, I really haven't limited myself in the food that I have been eating. That's not to say I haven't changed my habits, but I still eat burgers, and pizza, and nachos, and all kinds of other delicious foods. I can probably even say I basically eat about as much of those things as I always have.

The MOST important thing I have learned when losing weight is this: stop eating. Don't let your hunger decide how much you should eat for the first little while. Restaurants are the worst for this. You have no control over the portion of food you get, and it can be difficult to control your intake this way, especially if you despise the inconvenience of doggy bags as much as I do. When I go to a restaurant now, I get the main dish I really want (be it a big, juicy burger, or a pizza, or whatever other thing I might want), and then get a side that has very little food in it. Fries are a terrible example of this, because there is a LOT of food in fries. I'm not trying to survive a year and a half on Mars, so I probably don't need to eat several hundred grams of potatoes along with my meal.

Once I accepted that I could eat less than I had been, I was fine missing "meals" and just eating a little bit when I felt like it. It is darn near impossible to gain weight while eating only fat and protein. Carbohydrates (sugars) are the real problem here. And in our modern grocery stores, everything is full of carbs. The simple reason for this is that carbs are incredibly cheap calories. Dipping those carbs in fat and covering them in salt is an easy and cheap way to make them DELICIOUS.

The other really important part of weight loss is your metabolism (to put it simply, that's the amount of food energy your body burns when it's just sitting there doing nothing else). I've been biking or walking 1-2 times per day since I really started focusing on my health. Because my bike ride is to work, that means I get 25-30 minutes of pretty intense exercise about 8 hours apart, splitting the day up nicely for my metabolism. It's a pretty common excuse that around 20-25 years old your metabolism drops off and you stop being able to eat whatever you want and maintain your health, but I really think the "change" isn't in your metabolism, but in the average adult's activity level.

With the activity that I've been trying to do every single day regardless of other circumstance, my good metabolism that I had written off as having "lost" in my late teens is back, and I can eat a good amount while still losing or at least maintaining my weight. For a little more background on this, Nick and I discuss active transportation and its impact on healthy weight in last week's episode of East Meets West (the discussion of health and such starts around 44:15, but I encourage you to listen to the whole thing).

Anyhow, to simplify things, or if you're looking for an easy set of guidelines that have been working for me so far, here are the easiest things I can recommend:
  • Have a food around that you can sustainably eat every day, and can prepare in a few minutes (no more, and no less; that is Soylent for me). Any more prep and you will do something easier. Any less prep and you will already be eating before you're hungry enough.
  • Exercise at least a half hour every day, twice throughout the day if you can, to keep your body burning energy.
  • Try not to order fries at a restaurant, unless that's all you're having (soup, salad, etc. is much easier to control the total amount you eat).
  • Stop thinking that fat will make you fat. Carbs will make you fat, but don't necessarily avoid them completely (you will need quick energy sometimes). Keep in mind that not all sugars are created equal, and simple sugars (like in candy) will spike your blood sugar and make you crash.
  • Stop using dinner plates (and stop eating "dinner" at all at home, if possible). The modern meal, and the size of dinner plates, means that on average we tend to eat way more than we need. Eat when you are hungry, and give it 15 minutes before deciding you need more.
  • Eat eggs. However you like them cooked, they are a great source of life stuff (vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, etc.). There's a reason you can grow a whole chick from an egg. It has everything you need for life. And stop thinking that eating cholesterol will make you have high cholesterol (it won't).
  • Last, I forgot one of the very important things, drink water! Not lots of water, but definitely some water. It keeps you from feeling hungry when you're not actually hungry.
It honestly wasn't that hard for me to lose a lot of weight just keeping these simple principles in mind, but if you have had trouble on "diets", I'd recommend keeping track of your weight every day. It will give you a good sense of how your habits are affecting your weight (and overall health, in general) and you will be able to stay ahead of bad habits (like eating too much on weekends). You can follow the steps here and download a useful spreadsheet to track your weight (ask me about it if you're interested in the modifications I've made to my version). And you can follow along with my weight loss journey here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I Still Hate Facebook

I have written a LOT ragging on the various things I hate about Facebook, and though some of my concerns have been addressed over the years, there is still a lot I just really don't like about the social network. Today, I'm going to detail what has always been one of my biggest nuisances with the website, and try to articulate exactly why it's so bad, and what they can do about it.

Part of me knows that the biggest "problem" with Facebook, the one I'm going to describe below, isn't actually a problem with Facebook. The problem lies with us, the idiotic users who are using it (or not using it) in ways its designers never expected. But as any good engineer knows, anticipating your users' needs and interactions is arguably even more important than creating an internally consistent and compelling product.
Pictured: Facebook Users
To put it simply, Facebook exists to make money for itself. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, it's a business after all, but in that pursuit the company ends up making decisions that are openly hostile to new and experienced users. I think this hurts the platform and actually ends up meaning that people will use Facebook less.

When you open Facebook, you're presented with a timeline called the News Feed, a stack of cards that can show status updates, photos, videos, links to websites, blog posts, events, pages, or crucially, advertisements. When the social network was just getting started, the thing that became the News Feed was essentially a linear timeline of the things people were saying to one another. You couldn't really "miss" an update because everything was in order and scrolling more, or clicking through to the next page, would simply show you the next item chronologically.

Today, that timeline has been completely distorted by Facebook trying to make money for itself. In case you haven't looked on the right side of the Facebook website lately, there are ads all over it. Facebook is fundamentally an advertising network now, because all semblance of time and chronology is lost when you are on the website today. Now, I'm not saying I mind ads on the side of my timeline, or even in between stories from my friends or sites I follow. I don't even mind Facebook highlighting stories it thinks I might want to see from friends its algorithm considers close to me.

The problem I have with how Facebook operates is that it plays fast and loose with the updates my friends, family and acquaintances actually want me to see. This is never more painfully obvious when I am talking to two people, and one of them tells the other about something they posted on Facebook. As is so often the case, I frequently haven't seen the story in question, even though historically I have enjoyed roughly 95% of the stories that those two friends have shared with one another.

This leads me to one of the problems with Facebook's treatment of relationships between humans. Even if you go through the effort to catalogue your friendships, and put your friends into groups, becomes obsolete shortly after you finish the initial grouping. Our relationships are in a constant state of flux, and our connections are constantly changing and increasing in number. No human alive with a job and a life could possibly keep up with fine adjustments of their friends list in order to actually monitor what they see first on Facebook, and since many people can end up posting several things to the network every day, there are just too many stories to realistically see all of them.

When you make a new friend and add them to Facebook, the site or app could easily prompt you to categorize them as a friend, acquaintance, co-worker, etc., and perhaps even ask you if you want to see all, most, or none of their updates. This would be a completely voluntary grouping procedure, but it would be really helpful to be able to keep your Facebook friends organized.

One of the results of the network as it is today is a phenomenon called a 'filter bubble'. This is when you spend so much time communicating with a subset of people that you tend to fall into a group where the views of the people in it all tend to be the same or very similar. As an example, if you're friends with a bunch of Conservatives on Facebook, over time you will see more and more conservative viewpoints and posts. Eventually, you can start to develop a bubble around you, and more liberal viewpoints will stop showing up in your feed, even though those viewpoints still exist around you.

Now, many people may actually WANT this, as most people don't want their viewpoints challenged, but when this happens totally invisibly to the user, it would be easy to start to think that maybe other viewpoints just don't exist, or are the extreme minority of the overall culture. Unfortunately, at the moment, it seems like Facebook's algorithms tend to favour this kind of extremist and filtering, and most people aren't aware this is happening.

Using a linear timeline (something that is not available on Facebook's main site by default) and exposing users to the built-in grouping tools would go a long way towards removing some of the friction people have when seeing ALL the things their Facebook friends post, as well as making it much more transparent to users that this kind of filtering and sorting of posts is happening. Facebook will continue to make money off its ads, and off Facebook Pages paying to show their posts in others' feeds, but I think all parties will benefit if everyone is aware of what's actually going on.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How to Turn the Page (on Life)

I'm not sure there is a wrong way.
This week, I learned that I will be entering a new chapter in my life. For those of you who are following me on social media, you will probably already be aware that I found out that my contract at NSERC, where I've been working for the last 11 months or so, will be ending come October 9th. That means that as of right now, I have a little over one week left to find work to replace that job.

Obviously, there are a number of negative ways I could choose to look at this. It would probably be very easy to sit back and let the bad news occupy my mind and bring down my mood. But I'm not going to do that. I've been here before. Since I left school in 2011, I've been unemployed 3 times, the longest time for 6 months (most of that by choice). The work I've done since I left school only vaguely relates to the work I am doing since I finished my degree.

Mostly, the reason I'm not worrying about new ventures is that things are going REALLY well in my life overall. Despite this looming potential unemployment, my life is mostly looking way up, which is something I'm really happy about. I just got married to the girl of my friggen dreams, I've lost almost 20 pounds since the beginning of July, I've got a large number of very satisfying hobby projects, and I have an amazing network of friends who have been incredibly supportive of everything I do.

I was very briefly hesitant to talk about my soon-to-be unemployment as publicly as I have, but in the many years since I basically became an open book to the world socially, my life has only gotten way better. And the reaction and help I've gotten from friends, colleagues, family and many other people is really quite touching. Once you tweet your weight to the world, directing them to a website where anybody can see what you've weighed for the last 30 days, there's really no reason to keep anything too secret.

Oddly (though maybe I shouldn't be surprised), the main question I get when people want to help me look for a job is "What kind of work are you looking for?". I think this is a weird question mainly because I don't really think too much about it. I want to work, I want to make a living and I want to do something I love. I really like media (video, audio and writing), the internet, technology, and science. I'm getting to the point where work I do in those fields can be put on my resume as real experience, something I definitely didn't see happening just a couple of years ago.

I've talked before about how wonderful if would be if Canada instituted a basic income for its citizens, because more than anything what I want to be able to do is to be creative. I want to share my experiences and knowledge with people who want to learn and try new things. I want to open minds. I've been thinking for a very long time about doing a big project where I get to do things like this on a regular basis, but for that today I really do need a day job where I make enough to support what I'd like to do for the other big part of my life.

However, even considering all of this, the biggest priority for me, and the reason why I'm so keen to get a new job as soon as possible, is that I want to start a family. I'm not in a rush to do that, but I do want to start sooner rather than later. And, seeing as how my wife and I are responsible and financially prudent, we'd rather wait until there are two sources of secure income in our lives before moving forward with that. And that is the most frustrating part of all of this. I just want to express my ideas and thoughts in a positive, constructive way and make the world a better place, and pass those traits along to the next generation of humans. But first, I need someone to take a chance on me.

It's worth it.

If you know of any job openings or places that might be hiring, especially those looking for young people who are ready to learn and looking to make a difference in the world, please let me know. You can send me email at me@robattrell.com.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What's my weight again?

Future Chat is on hiatus this week, while Mike schmoozes with Disney characters in Orlando, but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot to announce this week!

I've decided to take my health changes even more seriously, and give you real-time (daily) access to how my health changes are impacting my weight. I've never done anything like this before, and it might go terribly, but here we go...
Click through the image (or here) to get straight to the live version!
I've created a special page so if you're interested in my weight loss progress, you can follow along. Feel free to leave best wishes, or heckle me if I eat way too much on a given weekend. Go check it out!

It's a big week for me and my friends, Ottawhat is launching a brand new initiative! We're calling it Ottawhat News, and it involves us taking a look at the lighter side of news in and around Ottawa. I really hope you like it, and you can learn more here. You can also check out the first story, by our own Keegan On, below:

Deer Shot in Greenbelt, Refuses to Cooperate with Police

Also, don't miss the new episode of Ottawhat:

This week on the show, we spoke to Jessica Heuther from Ottawa Geek Market. She told us all about the event, going on during October 3rd and 4th at the Nepean Sportsplex. Jessica also works with Carnival Diablo, Canada's only* carnival sideshow...
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Thursday, September 10, 2015

How to make slow and steady progress

People ask me from time to time these days: "Rob, do you think you will regret keeping people updated on your weight from week to week?". To those people, I say "Maybe...but if it stops changing in a healthy direction, I'll probably just stop talking about it." For the time being though, my not so diet is going really well! Last weekend hit a small speedbump, but it seems to be back on track now.
More importantly, riding my bike to work every day has made me FEEL a lot better!
In addition to biking to and from work, I also did a 30 km bike ride on Saturday, followed by eating WAY too much on Sunday. Being active on a regular basis and not eating more than I need to has been extremely beneficial when it comes to feeling and looking better!

Check out the shows we put up on UnwindMedia.com this week below:

On this episode, we chatted with Mrigank Shail. He's a doctor fresh out of med school who's been all over the world studying and trying to better the world...
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On this week's show, we talk data plans, smartening your old appliances, and the next steps for Uber. Stay tuned for the after-show (1:35:00 or so), where...
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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Milestones! Gains! Losses!

That's a lot of views (I'm just one man)!
It's been far too long since I last wrote something on here, and given that a whole heck of a lot has happened in the last month! First up, around the time of the writing of this post, my blog is going to pass another base 10 milestone, racking up a total of 50000 views! This isn't a big milestone, but I still consider myself as just getting started, so I'm pretty pleased with it.

As well, in a follow up to my piece about weight loss/overall health, I'm pleased to announce that although my wedding and three-week vacation caused me to gain back a significant amount of the weight I had lost, as of today I will get back to a new all-time** low weight (**least I've weighed in over 2 years). I have been working really hard, and I wouldn't have been able to get to where I am now without my bike, my Soylent, and the willpower to not go nuts eating snack foods. I've also effectively eliminated traditional meals from my diet, relying on snacking and smaller portions throughout the day, which has also been nice for me.
During your wedding/honeymoon, you may experience mysterious weight gain paired with a complete loss of data.
Finally, I went almost a month without recording a single podcast, but I've been back at work on them now (Ottawhat did have an episode every week while I was on my honeymoon though, so you'll have to go and catch up on those). Last week on Ottawhat, we interviewed my beautiful new wife, Julia, and Mike and I have been getting into some great conversations on Future Chat. On Ottawhat this week, we talked to the owner and manager (2 people) of a local 1-screen cinema, the Mayfair. It was a really great conversation and you should go and check out their podcast too! Links to the episodes can be found below:

This week on the show, we met with Josh and Mel from the Mayfair Theatre. These diehard movie buffs told us all about the origins of the theatre, why they...
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On this week's show, we agree non-Celiac gluten sensitivity probably isn't a real thing, electric, self-driving cars will be all over our roads soon, and...
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The "Honeymoon" Phase of #JuliaRoberts2015

Getting married has honestly been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. The idea of committing ones-self to only one other person for the rest of your life seems like the kind of thing that would be terrifying, but so far I have been completely fine with it.

"The One Where They Got Married" #juliaroberts2015
Posted by Jacquie Watkins on Saturday, July 25, 2015

Even though the day-to-day events of Julia's and my life since we got married are basically unchanged (finalizing wedding stuff obviously notwithstanding), everything feels very different. Getting home and seeing Julia's beautiful, smiling face is that much nicer, going and running errands as she recovers from her excellent party on Saturday feels like no effort at all. I know we're still fully in the "honeymoon" phase of the marriage, but I think we are both acutely aware of the fact that this is going to take work. More importantly, Julia and I should easily be able to put aside our minor squabbles and disagreements, and focus on what really matters, our life together and our mutual happiness.

We are still fully entrenched in post-wedding business, like writing thank yous to everybody who was SO generous this past week, with their time and with their love, and our friends and family have proven to us just how much they care about our future together. I can't wait to get started!

At what point do we change #JuliaRoberts2015 to #JuliaRobertsForever?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bliss (The Aftermath of #JuliaRoberts2015)

Wow. There is nothing like a wedding to make a guy feel loved. I have about a billion thoughts and feelings going through my head right now, and I need about 4 more hours of sleep than I got last night, but it has all been so incredibly worth it.

I'm going to need several weeks or even months to process this past weekend, and to sort out all the thank yous, acknowledgements, and hugs that my friends, family and everybody else deserve for helping to make Saturday the best day I've had, ever. This won't be the last thing I write on the matter, and today it won't even be very long. Due to the incredible depth of my distraction in the last week, my work has been somewhat neglected, so I'll be focusing hard on making sure everything I need to do is complete before going on the honeymoon next week.

I just want to say I am so very grateful to everybody in my life for the incredible amount of support, friendship, love and kindness I've received in the last week. I will never forget the way I felt and still feel; I have a blessed life.

Pictures are just starting to trickle in, you can check out Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what people have been putting up. I'm just so excited to see what adventures will come next for Julia and myself!

A photo posted by Brian (BL) (@mystical_wizard) on

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Weight Loss (How I Am Breaking The Pattern)

One of my favourite things to do is open up and talk about things that are going on in my life. If you want to hear about me in more detail, I convinced my co-hosts on Ottawhat? to let me talk about myself for an hour this week (listen here).

But that's not what today is about. Today, I want to tell you what's been going on with my weight in the last month or so. You can see all the past stuff I've written about Soylent here, but this isn't really about Soylent either. This is all about my weight, and health.

Trust me, I was too small.
For the majority of my adult life, I have weighed between 230 and 250 pounds. Most health experts will tell you that for my height, that makes me about 50-70 pounds overweight. This puts me just a smidge past overweight, and into "obese" territory. For almost a year, when I tore my ACL in 2010-11 and couldn't do any real physical activity, my weight actually dropped down as far as 190 pounds, and I honestly looked like a skeleton. That is my "healthy" weight, so I know that I can't depend on a measure like BMI (which doesn't take density or body structure into account) to measure my health. Buoyancy is dependent on density, and I would drown if I tried to float, so I know I'm pretty dense.

All of that being said, in the last few weeks, I have been cycling to and from work about 70% of the time, and I have also not been taking a lunch. Instead, I have been having one serving of Soylent around 12:15 PM every day, in addition to breakfast and whatever I eat in the evening. The result of this is a pretty drastic drop in my weight since the second week of July, as you can see here.
The last month of weight measurements.
Luckily for me, since I first bought a WiFi-connected scale in February 2014, my weight has been a known quantity as long as I stand on it every day. What I saw from the last 18 months is that what I had been "doing" to lose weight, wasn't doing much. Even Soylent and cycling, as you can see from the graph above (starting at the end of June), weren't really having any effect on my weight.

The thing that finally started me down the path you see on the right side of the graph is a pretty simple change, that is, using this graph. I am currently using the measurements from my scale, and feeding them into the graph described here. It keeps a moving average of the last 10 days (so 9 days ago is weighted at 0.1 in the average, 4 days ago is weighted 0.6, etc., and today is weighted as 1). What this means, as described if you read the article above, is that if you have an off day or eat a whole pizza, it doesn't completely ruin your weight trend, because you will still have a string of good days before it that are factored in to your weight.

What I've been trying to do with this information is keep the blue line up there below the red line. That makes weight loss incredibly simple, and it means that I can in theory eat whatever I want on a given day, just that I have to be healthy overall. As you can see, I went to a birthday party last weekend where I ate a little bit too much. Where that would normally be a huge discouragement, with this data available, I can see that as long as I put work in to make up for it, everything will be fine.
This was a really good, too big meal, from 2012.
What all of this really comes down to is that to lose weight, I have had to limit what I eat. I don't necessarily need to eat healthy foods, but that definitely helps. Even more than losing weight though, this has come from a desire to be healthier. I know that I just plain eat too much food. At home, I have a lot more control over what I eat, and that really helps, but restaurants are becoming a bigger and bigger pain to eat at. The problem that I end up having is: the portions restaurants give you is WAY too big. Any restaurant worth its salt (heh) will know that the economics of food mean that they will make more money if they give you bigger portions. As meals (and servings) get bigger, you can charge more for them, and the only downside is that it's WAY too much food for any one person in one sitting.

What I have to get into the mindset of doing is mentally setting aside some of the food on my plate when I'm at a restaurant, and knowing ahead of time that I actively shouldn't be eating all of the food I'm given. At the moment, I treat the food on my plate at restaurants as a goal, even though I stop being hungry very early in the meal. I think, if I can keep up these measurements and motivations, and actually change my restaurant habits, I can keep this up and get to a weight where I feel a little better about myself and feel healthy all the time, as opposed to feeling like I should eat a salad more often (because salads are the worst).

That being said, as a work food replacement, Soylent has been unbelievable. It's all I'm eating at work these days, and it's been filling enough that I don't need to eat any snacks before lunch, and I don't feel starved biking home if I only have one small portion in the morning. Although I still don't love the sucralose taste.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New Polished Chrome

That's fancy!
Well, it's finally here. The new look for UnwindMedia.com is ready to go, and you can go and take a look now! I am really happy with how it's turned out, and it is now quite a bit easier to see information about the shows on the network.

I'm getting married this weekend, and going on a honeymoon the week after, so if this blog goes dark for a few weeks, please don't be surprised. Episode 67 of Future Chat is the last one until I get back in late August, but we are doing our best the next few days to prepare new episodes of Ottawhat? to come out while I'm gone. Hope you're having a great summer!

We spoke to fire dancer and actor Zoe Georgaras this week on the show. We learned how she got introduced to fire dancing, how fire safety and good insurance...
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In this episode, we discuss the possible coming shortage of medical isotopes and decay rates, we learn a little about Nick's work with gold, and we can't...
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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Website 2.0 is in Private Beta!

Unwindmedia.com 2.0 is almost upon us!
As I mentioned yesterday on Facebook and Twitter, there's a medium/big re-skin of UnwindMedia.com coming very soon. I've been researching podcast network websites and taking cues from some of my favourites, and there's also some brand new custom code pulling strings behind the scene to make adding new shows and hosts much easier should that ever be a thing that needs to happen. These changes would also make moving websites much more straightforward, in case THAT is a thing that ever needs to happen.

Below, you'll find links to Future Chat and Ottawhat as always, and if you've been waiting patiently for Feedback: The Music (I know I have), we want to take some time to really get it right. Hopefully there will be more to share soon!

On this episode, we sat down with Megan Honey, an up-and-coming standup comedian who will be competing this summer in a couple of comedy contests at Absol...
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In this episode, we discussed T-Mobile's new Uncarrier US-Canada-Mexico roaming plans, Sweden buying trash from Norway, and Mike doesn't believe you could...
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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Taylorette1989 is Over, and What is a Podcast?

#Taylorette1989 is done. No, we weren't able to get Julia into Taylor's inner circle (although this did happen), but I think both Julia and myself learned a lot about life, love, and what's important to us in the last 6 months or so of trying. I'll be writing a bit in the near future about my experiences trying to capture the attention of probably the most widely recognizable entity in the world at the moment.
Pictured: 6 months of hard work and dedication, and we get some pixels hosted on taylorswift.com!
There are a couple of really interesting secret things I had been doing for Taylorette that I'm excited to share in the coming weeks, but for now, I'm looking to the future. I have some big plans once the summer is done and all the wedding and honeymoon craziness is behind us. I miss making videos every week, and it's obvious to me that I haven't done enough to let my friends in on what I'm working on these days, so I'll be trying to do more of that too.

Another fun project that I think it might help me to talk about is sharing some of the things on the internet that entertain me on a regular basis. Most people I talk to bounce around viral videos and things that pop into their Facebook feeds, whereas I tend to follow the work of individuals and groups of creative people on the Internet, keeping track of what they're up to on a regular basis. I'm excited to talk about those people and what I'm able to learn from them, and I hope you'll enjoy it.

I'm still going through my week's supply of Soylent. As expected, it isn't something I think I can realistically have to replace ALL of my meals. That being said, I do like it (minus the artificial sweetener) and I have been able to not bring lunch to work for the last 2 weeks and get along just fine.

In the meantime, Ottawhat? and Future Chat continue to soldier on with their usual episodes, you can subscribe to them and listen to the latest episodes down below. It has come to my attention that even people who are close to me are not aware that Future Chat is a podcast. First of all, it seems like those people probably just don't actually know what a podcast is (really any episodic video or audio conversation or documentary could be considered a podcast). Second of all, if it's been a while, I would encourage you to check out one of these two shows, we have a lot of fun making them and really try hard to put together something anybody can enjoy.

This week, we sat down with training librarian and new mom Jessica Dubois. She told us all about her experiences with part-time online learning, her...
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This week on the show, we discuss all the latest goings on around Pluto, the ramifications of the leap second, and how you might not get Windows 10 for a...
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