Automation

When we moved into this old house, I invested in a bunch of low-cost sensors, plugs, and cameras. In part, this was due to being hysterically told, “Crime is rampant in Montague,” and to monitor temperatures and humidity so that when certain thresholds were reached, an action could be performed. It’s also nice to not have to reach around to turn off hard-to-reach power switches for lamps.

I’ve got a mix of HomeKit and Alexa/Blink devices in the home and studio.

Yesterday, for some unknown reason, HomeKit stopped working, and all the lights everywhere were on. I tried some quick fixes, but I refuse to put effort into what is supposed to be a timesaver. That era was supposed to be over a decade or more ago. This morning, it came back, and I discovered the studio was 10˙C.

Also, this morning, the TV turned on itself and started playing Pipi Longstocking Bedtime Stories.

Attempting to turn off the Christmas lights, Alexa said they didn’t exist. I looked on the app, and the name had been changed to 0.

If I attempt to answer the door with our doorbell, the person will likely be back in Charlottetown by the time it connects.

I have each Alexa device we own set to a different voice. The bedroom is Aussie, the living room is British, and the office is indistinct. I am constantly being sold something.

Siri never works, but the American voice I have it set to sounds fun announcing Island place names.

HomeKit routines have a mind of their own. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

I tried to order a heater through Amazon that would quickly warm up my office in the morning, but it kept arriving in pieces. Homedepot has 4, but their automation doesn’t work either because each time I go there, no one knows where they are.

Instead of writing, I just finished troubleshooting an issue with Supercast, which is supposed to automate paid subscriptions. I spend far too much time acting as their tech support.

I recently subscribed to Spark Email’s Pro plan (or whatever it’s called) to automate email through Ai. They forgot about how important the user interface is, and now I spend more time looking for actions so I can do things with my mail – 2 steps forward, 6 steps back.

Alexa just told me someone is in the driveway; it’s likely a fly or the neighbour’s cat.


Compete

Sleep Tight Media’s three current public podcasts joined another network – sort of a network within a network. The relationships were obfuscated enough that we hired someone at great expense to review the contract, but funnily enough, we got a more detailed analysis from ChatGPT. There is no press release, and I am unsure if we are allowed to mention them by name until we move our digital bits to their platform.

These arrangements become necessary in these early stages if we want to continue paying our mortgage and continue with an activity that has great personal value to us and our listeners. We need help growing our product, and bringing in revenue is the only way I know of other than eliciting help from others.

It’s also become necessary because, in the past six months, there has been an explosion of interest in our category. When we started, there were plenty of others, many of which processed more talent and resources than we did. But I generally never uttered the word competitor. Now, a day doesn’t go by when I don’t see something new, not just stories for kids podcasts but bedtime stories as well. Coincidentally, our formula seems to work as I see it being used by many others.

Most of these podcasts come from companies with actual organizational structures. Some are big, like Amazon; some are much smaller. We are all competing for an audience and need revenue to continue.

Of course, it’s great to have confirmation that what you are doing works well enough that others want to do it, too. And it’s especially great to have kids’ audio get the attention and growth it deserves.

The downside is I am competitive and like to try to win. But how do you compete when you are creating something that you feel appeals to children? This isn’t candy bars, but it’s not art either.

This is the question I have been wrestling with: how do we compete against overwhelming odds while staying true to doing what we love to do?


Agreements

My concept with entering agreements has been:

I don’t have the time nor the immediate expertise to do this myself, so I want to hire you to do it for me. In return for bringing advertising to our podcasts, you take a generous 50%.

But this power dynamic doesn’t exist.

Instead, it’s more like:

Since I lack the resources and the necessary skills, I’m forced to rely on your services despite the terms being unfavourable. For which, I reluctantly agree to surrender a substantial 50% of the revenue.

I don’t know if it’s possible for but the largest creatives or artists to upend this dynamic.


A comedy show

Camren and I flew to Victoria last Thursday so that he could tour UVic, swim with their swim team, and get a general feel for the city. We both came away with a great first impression and were struck by just how friendly and helpful people were.

We left a day earlier than necessary because we were flying Air Canada, an airline with the efficiency, reliability, and customer service similar to Soviet Airlines of old.

Flying out of Charlottetown to anywhere of distance often requires catching the early morning flight that leaves at ~ 5:20, which we did. Other than my carry-on setting off all kinds of alerts, to the embarrassment of the newbie security agent, our flights went without a hitch. Except that, in flight, we were told we couldn’t eat the snacks I prepared because someone had a food allergy. Air Canada’s aircraft lacked amenities, and the seats had little room. Most people have caught on to the fact that if you check your baggage for a fee, you stand a good chance of not seeing it when you land.

Surprisingly, Air Canada sent an email a day after we arrived offering a credit due to a poor flight experience.

Our flight back could have been smoother.

First, our flight was delayed leaving Victoria due to a staffing issue in Toronto. At this point, we could still catch our connecting flight.

Once boarded, we had a further delay because the “only person who could approve the flight by checking the checklist” was not at the airport. Luckily, he “was still on Vancouver Island.” We finally left 45 minutes later. Making our connecting flight was increasingly doubtful.

In flight, I got a notification that our flight to Charlottetown was “delayed due to airport constraints.” It was only a 15-minute delay, but we could make our flight after all.

I received another notice, “This flight is delayed due to airport constraints,” and again later, yet another delay. The 3-hour total delay meant that we would most certainly make our flight, though I expected that they would, in the end, cancel, which necessitated a last-minute search for a hotel.

When we arrived in Toronto, we had to wait on the tarmac because our gate wasn’t available. An earlier Air Canada flight had broken down at the gate.

Then, when we finally arrived at the gate, they wouldn’t open the door because we were told the door was damaged and someone with more authority had to come and approve its opening.

Hours later, we boarded our flight to Charlottetown with the usual asinine board by zone. You can pay $75 to board earlier in the hopes that your carry-on will be placed nearby, though if you carry a backpack, that may have to go under your seat.

This kind of nonsense used to drive me crazy. I don’t know if it’s my advancing age or just low expectations, but through all of this, all I did was laugh like we were taking part in some kind of reality comedy show.

We finally arrived in Montague at about 4am, the late hour which negatively impacts everyone’s week.

There are many positives to living here on Prince Edward Island. But the hassle-free ability to leave for places afar is certainly not one of them.


New Cover Art

I finally found some time to update our current shows cover art. It’s been a lot of fun spending time looking at pixels again. My philosophy has been to create something simple, that is both recognizable and readable. Despite the bulbous typeface, I think it works.


From the future

Since moving to the hinterlands, we get a lot of strange messages from Canada Post. Usually, they state that our package couldn’t be delivered, which is code for, it’s in your mailbox. This one is new. It states that a card was left – except that the time the card was left hasn’t occurred yet. I guess Canada Post has managed to travel into the future. I’ll sit on my step waiting for them this afternoon.


Podcast Nomination

We have been nominated.

We are thrilled that Sleep Tight Stories and Sleep Tight Science are included in the 6th Annual Canadian Podcast Awards list of impressive nominees. We never promote and as such seldom get included in any “best of” lists, awards, or get accolades from peers, so this is a nice surprise.

“Nominees like Sleep Tight Stories exemplify the wealth of talent we have here in Canada and reflect the unique attitudes, opinions, ideas, values, and creativity of Canadians,” said John Leschinski, Chair of the Canadian Podcast Awards. “We had over 500 podcasts submitted this year from across the country – It’s truly an incredible honour to be recognized and chosen by your fellow peers within the Canadian podcasting community.”

The Canadian Podcast Awards were established in 2018 by Podcamp Toronto to showcase the very best in Canadian on-demand digital audio production. The awards feature categories across topic areas such as documentary, politics, arts, and culture. Past winners include Front Burner, Parkdale Haunt, Minds of Madness, and Our Native Land. A full list of previous winners can be found at canpodawards.ca/award.


Homedepot Charlottetown is a PITA

Whenever possible, I shop at one of the hardware stores in Montague. They tend to have long-term employees who know what they are talking about and give customer service far exceeding what you could experience in a big box store. But they don’t sell everything.

I’ve been working out of our garage since the end of June. It gives us more space than what we had in Charlottetown, and I have the added advantage of being able to have comfy naps. The garage is supposed to be insulated, but like our old house, it was likely insulated on the cheap because it’s damn cold. So, I opted to buy a combination of radiant and forced air space heaters to keep our gear from freezing. However, each time the Vornado we ordered arrived from Amazon, it arrived broken and in pieces.

I haven’t been to Charlottetown during business hours for 2 weeks, so yesterday, I raced to pick up Camren, and having 20 minutes, I thought I would first drop in and pick up the heater at Homedepot, who also sell Vornado products.

Their website and app say they have 4 in stock and tell you exactly where they are. Except that section doesn’t have heaters; it’s the next aisle over, and they aren’t there.

Anytime I have to ask for help from the mass of employees roaming the store or chatting in groups, my time would be better spent walking up and down the aisles. But I was in a rush. One lady reluctantly agreed to look for the product but couldn’t find it on her terminal and didn’t know where the heaters were. So she asked someone else who double-fisted 2 terminals and also had no idea. Then she said that she would ask someone else but that he was busy at the moment. Eventually, he came over to tell me that they were likely in the clearance section and that if not there, it was likely a mistake in their inventory system. They weren’t there.

So I lost 30 minutes of my time trying to spend money.

I’m not a big fan of Canadian Tire, either. Their staff suffers from the same problems that Homedepot does, but at least their inventory system works so that you generally don’t have to interact with them.


Getting closer

Since I took the photo on the right, electrical and water have been installed. We almost have a functioning kitchen. We are hoping next week, the backsplash and flooring will be done. The problem I have now is that we have 3 different appliance finishes. Black, white, and silver, which drives that side of my brain insane. Many of the appliances that came with the house are from another generation, which means, unlike much of what you buy today, it will last. Our washer and dryer may be the same age as our kids, but they work and work well.


Higher and higher

Our kitchen is being renovated. When we bought this old house, we knew it had to be done. The kitchen was functional but in dire need of updating, especially since the counters were below standard height.

At first, we thought, with help from YouTube, we could do this ourselves. IKEA has some nice kitchens with decent warranties, and a couple of acquaintances had good results in their house.

Then we realized the logistics of purchasing the cabinets, taking down the old ones, putting the new cabinets together, hiring a plumber and electrician, and installing them would not work. We have no time. So we looked for someone to do it for us, but we couldn’t find anyone.

Our next step was to go to local cabinet makers, and we watched as the price went up and up and up. Part of their conditions were that the area in which the cabinets were installed had to be damn near perfect before they would come in and install.

So we got “lucky” and found a contractor to handle all the moving parts, and we watched as the price went up, and up, and up.

This forced us to abandon our initial plans to replace the flooring.

Meanwhile, we discovered that quality sinks and facets are incredibly expensive (They better last until I am carried from the house). Oh, and small profile range-hood microwaves? Unbelievable – it just heats food! Oh, and the cabinet maker recommended a cabinet-depth fridge; coincidentally, our fridge is nearing the end of its life.

As I sit here, six tradespeople are in the house at hourly rates likely greater than my own. We have gone from let’s make the wall smooth so that they can attach the cabinets, to ripping out the wall, replacing plumbing and putting in new lights and electrical. Oh, and we are back to the flooring again.

This is scope creep extraordinaire.


Running Waypoint

I stopped going to CrossFit over the summer to focus my energy on following a marathon training program without the intention of actually running a race. My goal was to slowly add mileage to see if I could handle the kind of regime I had before I returned to Canada without the added complications that CF has brought in the past. For the most part, it has gone well, especially considering that the summer and fall weather has been mostly wet. No injuries, and the only real challenge is mental. My other goal was to spend time in the backroads and trails from Cardigan onward. I had no idea this part of Prince Edward Island was so beautiful.

That training cycle is over, and now I am trying to regain some discipline to go out in this damp, cold weather to start again. So far, I haven’t been successful. I prefer the comfort of my heated office at 6 a.m., but I’m sure I will find the discipline again.

The picture above is of my favourite 5K waypoint, where I would stop and enjoy the view while drinking some cold brew coffee that I bring along in my running bag.


The Rube

I made a costly mistake this past week.

Since deciding to pursue Sleep Tight full-time, one of our biggest challenges has been “monetizing” our audio to pay ourselves, pay for help, and fund future products. Unfortunately, this has proven to be very challenging for us, and while our goal is to move away from advertising, it still presents the largest share of our revenue.

We’ve long since passed the threshold (if we were in a different topic category), where we should have enough revenue to support a couple of full-time salaries.

Unable to solve the lack of advertising alone, we first signed a non-exclusive agreement with Redcircle. This gave us access to their marketplace, a minimum guarantee, and other benefits. Unfortunately, in the year we were with them, they didn’t sell one ad, and they reneged on the contract.

Next, we signed an agreement with a company in Denmark to license our audio in other languages. While our lawyer might bristle at the terms, I didn’t feel that holding on to these language rights had much value, as we would likely never have the bandwidth or interest to do it ourselves. After ten months, our agreement has yet to result in any activity.

This year, we signed an exclusive agreement with Airwave for advertising and growth. And this as well has failed, with minuscule impressions sold and no growth.

So when a couple of other agreements came our way, I decided to have someone look over the agreement that we thought most interesting to avoid terms that would bind us and our IP to another unfruitful term. I have no contacts with experience negotiating these kinds of contracts, so I turned to a local law firm. The fact that Sheryl and I produce Sleep Tight Media without outside input is part a problem of our location and our personalities. I know of no one whom I might consult.

Here is the mistake: I knew lawyers were expensive but didn’t realize how expensive. My expectation of costs was so far off the mark that I almost laughed when told how much the services would cost. I expected someone to spend an hour reviewing and an hour writing notes of concern. I got a meeting, no notes, and whatever information gleaned was from my terribly written notes. Getting their “red lines” would cost extra. None of this was communicated until the meeting was concluded.

I like the people whom I dealt with; they are smart and personable.

I should have asked upfront the straightforward question: how much is this going to cost, and what do I get in return? I did that with my mortgage, though they could have been more forthright, too.

So I feel like a rube.

Before going to this meeting, I asked the same questions I had for them to ChatGPT and got exhaustive answers, many of which were as good as they gave. Some answers were better. They laughed when I mentioned ChatGPT, but I look forward to the not-so-distant future when I don’t have to spend a month’s salary for a 60-minute conversation.


Canada to regulate podcasts

I haven’t had time to parse through these new rules, but my inclination is that like most legislation it will have a net negative effect. I get the feeling that podcasting as an industry in Canada, which is already far behind other markets in terms of corporate and government support, will continue to suffer from a competitive disadvantage. One positive is that someone in government actually knows that podcasts exist, which when we went looking for support to develop non-commercial children’s audio a couple years ago, wasn’t the case.

Opinion: The Canadian radio market is the most regulated in the Western world. It’s no coincidence that it is also one of the worst-performing radio markets, with dwindling audiences and poor finances that are worse than any other country. But all of the large owners of Canadian radio also own lucrative mobile, cable and television licenses; so they never speak out against the CRTC’s rules, lest the regulator threaten those parts of their companies. Canada deserves better; but it’s unlikely that it’ll get it.

Podnews


Human Error

I started my day today with an email from a parent cursing at me because we disappointed his child by promising a birthday shoutout and not delivering.

Every Monday evening on our paid subscriptions and Tuesday morning on our public feed, we give shoutouts to kids whose parents have supported us from around the world. The reason this has proven so popular had initially eluded us, but we’ve found that kids love to hear their names and the names of others before we get to our bedtime story.

This started as a small token of thanks to our few subscribers at the time but has now morphed into one of the main drivers to convince parents to subscribe. It’s also become a 3-minute long list of over 20 names for Sleep Tight Stories alone. We manage all these interactions manually, by email and cut and paste to a spreadsheet, which I initially thought was a good strategy as I like to interact with our listeners as much as possible.

But we keep making mistakes due to Google Sheets issues or sloppiness. Other pods put a larger monetary value to this, of around $50US, which might make the list more manageable. That pricing seems rich to me. So it’s either hiring someone to manage this interaction for us or somehow automating the collection of this data.

I’m not interested in hiring, so I guess we will create a form of some sort. It’s hard to keep this kind of engagement personal as it scales.


Replaced by a computer

I’ve been struggling lately with a new schedule and the reality that my early mornings spent drinking coffee and running through the trails near Cardigan are coming to a close. I knew it would be a tough year, but waking at 3 so I can drive Camren to early morning training has worsened my cognitive decline due to lack of sleep. All this also means that I have found myself way behind schedule.

I was sitting at my desk with a story due 3 hours later on Tuesday afternoon. I didn’t have time to continue a series I had started, and I was stuck trying to come up with anything else. So, I relented and opened ChatGPT.

I subscribe to ChatGPT, and it has saved me from having to pay someone to do research or spend an hour on Google so I can write one sentence based on fact. It’s pretty good at giving me ideas for AD copy, too.

If someone asked me, and I realize no one would, what are you good at, I would say, nothing really. I might add I am empathetic and have some creativity (like we all do).

I entered into ChatGPT a long prompt asking for story ideas, and it returned a list that was so complete I didn’t feel qualified to write them. I asked for something simpler, and it delivered again. It’s more creative than I am.

Defeated, I went and prepared dinner.

I’ve already been replaced.


Visitors

It was great to connect again with Guy, and meet Yan Yan and Jing when they visited from Brooklyn this week. Guy and I went to Grad school together in Taiwan and haven’t really been in touch, with the exception of one social or another, since.


Ghosts in the machine

I sometimes think there are ghosts that inhabit the space between receiving an email and entering that data in a Google Spreadsheet: there are so many errors and missing info. Not a week goes by without a mistake.

One of the popular features of Sleep Tight Stories is the weekly shoutouts and birthday wishes to kids from all over the world. Kids love hearing their names on the show, and many more find it interesting to hear where other kids are listening from. We do this once a week, and often, there will be 20 or more messages to go through. You must be a supporter to get mentioned, but we seldom turn anyone down. A few other podcasts put a $50 US price tag on these, but that seems too aggressive for our tastes.

The process is entirely manual. Parents sign up for premium or send a donation, then reach out via email, and I reply telling them when the shoutout will appear. The data is then entered into a Google spreadsheet. It’s laborious, and I have struggled with all the emails this summer as my focus has been spending as much of my mornings outdoors as possible.

I should automate, but setting up a secure form is a pain, and then we lose this opportunity to ask questions and hear feedback. If we continue to grow, this will be unsustainable, so I hope a solution will present itself in the coming months.


Andrew Shue

我的好友非常懂得欣賞生活中一些美好的事物 (食物、藝術和文學)。更令人值得敬佩的是,他天生有種讓身邊的人感覺溫暖、備受愛護的感覺。 他展現的智慧和仁慈寬厚,對我的人生影響很大。 因為他的緣故,讓職場有家的感覺,且同事關係如家人一般。 若當初沒有遇見他,我在臺灣的生活絕不會如此充實。 他的英年早逝令人感到十分婉惜。


Catriona in Taiwan

Catriona has been in Taiwan this past week or so, living her best life. She has always considered Taiwan her home, so this is a homecoming for her, with lots of time spent with friends, shopping and eating.

She also met one of our dogs, who must be close to 20 years old, if that’s even possible.

Knowing my sensitivities to the high cost of living here, she sent us a note mentioning she paid the equivalent of $10CAN for a fancy meal at an all-you-can-eat hotpot restaurant. You can’t get a freezer-burned hamburger for that price in Charlottetown.

Taiwan telecoms make it easy to keep in touch. She got a local sim with unlimited data for $15 at the airport. As a result, she has been liberal with the pictures of fresh mango and other delicious fruits, helping Sheryl and I pine for when we can return.

Catriona returns next week, but I half expect her to call and say she is going to finish her degree there, such is her love for the place.


The Post Office That Doesn’t Sort Mail

The last time I went to the post office, I thought I just met an employee that was having a bad day and had a penchant for exaggeration. It turns out that that is her normal demeanour. It also turns out that they were quite serious about automatically returning mail-to-sender if there is no post office box in front of the address.

Before we managed to secure this PO Box, a client needed to send me a package, and since I didn’t know where we would be living, I thought the safest bet was to give our new address. Unfortunately, at some expense, they sent it by priority post and not by courier. They notified me yesterday that it was returned to sender. Embarrassing.

The same happened with some legal documents that were sent to our address.

I’m not sure what the employees at this particular Canadian post office do, but I can confirm that they don’t sort mail.


Welcome to the community

We bought our first lawnmower recently. Another indication that I must be putting down roots. Our house came with a ride-on lawnmower, but I am determined never to sit my ass on one of those things ever.

I wanted to cut the grass immediately, but Sheryl kept reminding me to think of the bees, think of the bees. So we waited. And there is a bee who comes around a lot, so I will plant some flowers for it later.

Then after filling the new fresh, out-of-the-box lawnmower with oil and gas, I tried to start it, and it wouldn’t start. We both tried repeatedly but had no luck. We were defeated by the most simplistic of machines (I wanted to buy a battery-powered one, but I don’t think they are ready for a field like ours.)

Then the rain started. And the grass continued to grow.

After the grass turned to dandelions, we got our neighbourly welcome note in the form of a letter from the town stating that our grass was too high and must be dealt with or we will be fined.

It’s a somewhat derelict area except for an Airbnb whose owner naturally lives elsewhere and, as such, isn’t a neighbour or neighbourly at all. So I suspect they complained, so we will not sully the look of their $ 450-a-night rental.

Dandelions are a terrible look.


The mailbox

I don’t know if this is the norm for every home across the Island, but where we moved, you must get a community mailbox before receiving mail. So shortly after closing on our house, I went to the nearest post office and asked:

“Hi, I would like to get a mailbox, please. We just moved in up the street.”

“Ok, before I can give you a mailbox, I will need to see one piece of ID and mail with your address on it.”

“I don’t have mail with my new address on it because I can’t receive mail until I get a mailbox.”

We went back and forth with this a couple of times until I suggested I come back with something stating I lived at the address in question.

It took a few weeks to return because they close at 5 pm. But they reluctantly gave us a mailbox (we arrived 10 minutes before 5) but with a stern warning – “We don’t sort mail at the post office. We return to sender if you don’t include the box number in your address.”

I get the feeling that there is some stress at our new local PO.


Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul

It’s interesting to be confronted with something different, like values and interests. I’m thinking this as I sit in an otherwise peaceful location as motorcycle after motorcycle thunders by, breaking the peace and disturbing all nearby.

I get motorcycles. It’s fun. But I don’t get the need for the modifications to make them as noisy as possible. The revving to accentuate their power. Especially when they know that it bothers others. Maybe that’s the point(?).

Perhaps, it’s similar to buying an $85,000 big truck when all you ever haul is a bag of groceries or two.

I suspect it’s mostly men. There must be a more constructive way to express your masculinity than by giving the middle finger to those around you.


All men need a drill

We are moving. I’ve written a number of different versions of this over the past month, but due to time and procrastination, they were never finished and now reside in my day-one diary.

At the end of this month, I’ll vacate my Victoria Row office for temporary digs until a more semi-permanent solution is finished.

Next month we leave our apartment in Stratford (finally) for an old house full of old house problems, but problems that we will own. I admire character homes for their quirks, and I look forward to trying to make it an interesting place to live.

The road to this decision was long, starting with whether or not we would continue living here. Health care, the cost of living on a small island, services, etc., have changed since we arrived. Changed for the worse.

We have no ties here, and we’re free to leave, but Sheryl has a job she loves with great people, so that tipped the scales to the side that said stay.

After that quick decision came the realization that every home we looked at was selling for 2 or 3 times what it would have sold for 2 years prior. That’s a tough pill to swallow. Timing is everything, I’ve been told.

Owning this home has taught me that a new vocation may be in order. Goodbye user experience, podcasting or writing children’s stories. Hello, carpentry. The house needs work, and contractors are like unicorns; you are more likely able to find a unicorn in the woods than someone available to help fix something. Despite the shortage of workers, there is only one course on Prince Edward Island to teach the skills you need, and it’s a full-time program at Holland College. Luckily we have Youtube.

I’m now off to the hardware store to buy a drill because my 92-year-old Uncle said that all men need one, and I’m sure there will be lots of drilling in our new old house.


Goals achieved

Catriona and Camren have been talking about specific goals for a couple of years, and it’s wonderful to see that they have achieved them.

For Catriona, this means embarking on her first solo trip to Taiwan this summer. She’s planned, arranged and paid for everything herself, and aside from visiting friends, eating good food and doing the usual touristy activities, she plans to set aside a day for a health check-up. She finds the medical system here as dysfunctional as I do.

Camren will start working as a lifeguard on the North Shore and is spending hours each week taking more courses in preparation. His days of working at Sobeys on Allen Street have come to a close.

The environment they’re growing up in is more challenging than when I was their age, which makes me all the happier that they can still follow and achieve their dreams.


Data

This chart indicates my weight gain since 2016, with the big jump representing when we moved to Canada. In total it represents about 12kg.

Unfortunately I don’t have as convenient a chart for activity level and amount of calories burned, but that data shows unsurprisingly a drastic decrease in activity levels. I went from a daily average of 12km of running a day to 5 – sometimes less than 5.

I have no convenient way to track what I eat, but when we lived in Taiwan, for the sake of expediency we would plan our our meals for the week. So I have that data in my calendar. We ate far more fish, green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit than we do now. Partially because they were far more readily available and affordable. We don’t plan our meals now, as the cost of food here is much much higher than we imagined possible, and variable. It was pretty much consistently cheap before, though there might be the odd sale on imported goods.

Data is a wonderful way to understand the changes in your body, and a great tool to change behaviour. I would love to eat like my son, it’s a lot of fun to continuously eat, but my body just doesn’t require it. One of the pleasant side effects of being really active, is you get to eat more. And eating is one of the greatest pleasures.


April will be better

March felt like a difficult month. Perhaps because I was out of my groove due to all kinds of distractions, it may have also had to do with the lousy virus I suffered through and the then lack of any kind of meaningful exercise. Or perhaps I am just tired of winter. While my March sucked, it certainly doesn’t compare to Catriona’s.

One of the factors influencing our decision to move back home was to provide better educational opportunities for the kids. COVID ruined that for a time, and now the UPEI faculty strike is having much the same effect.

I haven’t been generally impressed with the classes that Catriona has been taking at UPEI. Some were online only, others were “just read the PowerPoint,” and others seemed like a complete waste of money. Catriona’s very introverted, so it goes against her nature to continually chase her professors for answers to her questions. Her introversion also makes for a sub-par social experience, though I’m not sure what opportunities there are for that anyway.

With the strike, I’ve tried to convince her to seek education elsewhere, but she’s not ready to leave home yet. She doesn’t also share my views towards the classes she is taking and generally supports the faculty’s efforts towards better treatment from the administration. The emails she receives from the administration about the strike are so asinine. I can’t imagine why they bother sending them.

While I can’t convince her to seek a better education elsewhere, there is no doubt that Camren won’t attend UPEI in the fall. He sees the experience she is having and will go abroad to experience something more.


Subscription nonsense

In trying to create a living out of our creative efforts, there are few things that annoy me more than credit card charge disputes in Stripe.

Yes, subscriptions are hard to manage, and some companies count on customers being absent-minded enough to continue subscribing to their service even if they aren’t using it. That’s not us. I want people who subscribe to our paid feed to listen and engage with us.

And yet I just spent 20 minutes filling evidence that we didn’t defraud a credit card holder of a $7 payment to our service. Win or lose, this costs me $15. Ridiculous.

This wasn’t the first time this happened, and it likely won’t be the last.


We’ve joined Airwave

Airwave Media, the leading edutainment podcast network, announces a major expansion into the Kids & Family category with the acquisition of popular children’s podcasts What If World, Tumble Science Podcast for Kids, Sleep Tight Stories, Sleep Tight Relax, and Sleep Tight Science.

From history and science to arts and wellness, Airwave has quickly built a reputation as the go-to network for fun, smart podcasts for the “constantly curious” listener. They are excited to expand that brand into children’s programming with these first shows and plan to grow Airwave Kids with additional deals and original content in 2023.

“Kids content is a natural fit for Airwave.” says Ben Mathis, Head of Content for Airwave. “We believe in the power of podcasts to make us better, smarter human beings, and that starts when listeners are young. Parents who listen to our podcasts that educate and inspire want the same things for their children.”

Source: PodNews