New Roaster and New Flavour

Hello Coffee Lovers,

I’ve been complaining about capacity for the past few years. We used to roast with the fantastic Behmor 1600+ Coffee Roaster, two of them. They are great but lack in capacity. Doing roughly 1.5lbs each every 45 minutes.

To give you an idea, for a medium convention we’d roast 40-60 lbs of coffee. that would take us roughly 16-20 hours of roasting. It was getting to be too much work. Taking 4 days or more to roast for a large convention like Ottawa Comiccon was tedious.

I looked into all kinds of options and discovered RK Drums. They custom-build roaster drums, turning motors, and a whole lot of other awesome stuff. We took the plunge with last years profits and two weekends ago I spent a long day building a bbq and modifying it for coffee roasting with equipment from RK Drums.

Isn’t it pretty?

The first roast came out a little burnt and smoky, but this past weekend I spent 5 hours roasting and I’m confident the coffee will be up to our high standards.

New Flavour!

This coming weekend at Geek Market we are debuting the newest JenEric Coffee flavour:

The Mighty ThOrange

Yay for coffee!

Hope to see you this weekend at Geek Market.

Éric

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The Bear who wanted to be a Wizard – Heroes, Legends, Fairies, and other Absurdities

In a realm of magic, in a time of heroes; lived a young black bear. She loved all things that bears love, berries, chasing small animals, sleeping, and of course magic. She would sneak into the village and watch the travelling magicians and wizards.

From the bushes she’d watch them as they made people disappear and then reappear, changed eggs into birds, and pulled rabbits out of hats. There were different kinds of performers, those that used genuine magic and those that used illusion and sleight of hand. The best ones combined both.

One day while she was hiding in the bushes she hear a young boy ask how the wizard had learned magic.

“Well my boy! I learnt magic from the greatest magic school in the world. The illustrious Pigmole.”

The little bear had been trying to teach herself magic and she could do some decent sleight of hand but couldn’t do any real magic, no matter how much she practiced. She was convinced it was because she needed to be taught.

Saying goodbye to her parents, she set out on a long walk to go to Pigmole School of Magic and Mystery. Along the way she met a large black crow.

“Where are you going little bear?” asked the crow.

“I’m going to become a powerful wizard,” replied the bear.

The crow laughed rudely and when it could breathe again, it said, “You’re a bear. They’ll never let you learn magic.”

“If they can teach pigs and moles, they can teach bears.” With a furrowed brow and a determined grimace, which looked pretty funny on a bear, she continued on her way.

At the gates she came up to a large stone statue. When she was within a few feet, the statue creaked and turned to face her saying, “Shoo bear. Go away.”

“I want to learn magic.”

“We don’t teach bears.” The statue refused to speak after and only blocked her way. The big crow laughed from a distance.

Instead of going home, she decided that she’d find another way to study at the school.

She suck onto the grounds and hid in the bushes, being careful not to leave any traces. She’d listen at the windows and learn everything she could. She slept in the old forest and ate what she could find there.

After several months she was starting to get the hang of basic spells. She still couldn’t pull a rabbit from a hat but she wondered if that was because she didn’t know any rabbits.

She became careless with her hiding and one day, the large black crow saw her at a window and started laughing uncontrollably. The noise attracted the groundskeeper who, seeing the bear said, “Ah ha! You’re the one who’s been trampling my garden!”

“No. I swear I’ve only been listening to lessons. Please. I want to keep learning magic.”

“If you’re not the one trampling my garden, than who is?” The large imposing man asked.

“I don’t know, but if you let me, I’ll find out and then maybe I can stay?”

The groundskeeper nodded.

It took less than a day of hiding for the bear to find out who was destroying the garden; it was a family of rabbits. They were tiny, scrawny looking rabbits. “Stop doing that!” she screamed and the rabbits all ran away.

That’s when she got an idea.

Borrowing the groundskeeper’s hat, she locked herself in a shed and started pulling the rabbits out of the hat. It worked and within moments she had a family of rabbits in the shed with her.

“A bear that does magic?” asked the littlest rabbit as its stomach growled.

“Yes and I can teach you how to do magic so you can find other food than the school’s garden.”

The bear taught the rabbits and the groundskeeper kept his word. Over the years, the old forest filled with animals who would come to learn magic from the great bear wizard.

She studied hard and despite the school never letting her in, she became its best teacher.

The moral of this story is simple: Never doubt a determined bear.


Heroes, Legends, Fairies, and other Absurdities are the expanded versions of stories I’ve told my children at night before bed. They’re short, silly, and were completely improvised in the telling.

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Comments, Politics, and Entertainment.

Dear Imaginary Friends,

I have an unhealthy obsession. I’m a little ashamed of myself actually. I just can’t seem to stop… reading the comments online.

I know I really shouldn’t but there’s a weird fascination to seeing the worst of humanity interacting. I’m fascinated, repulsed, and I feel a little gross after.

My particular weaknesses are looking at comments on stories relating to Doctor Who, Captain Marvel, CW’s superhero shows, and Canadian politics.

Comic Showing an archaeologist looking at Egyptian hieroglyphics and saying, “I should know better than to read the comments section.”
Comic from Rhymes With Orange

The comments are a squirming cesspool of humanity’s worst qualities and worst arguments. One that I’ve heard a lot lately is that there’s too much politics in entertainment. Make me think of the old Peanut Butter cup commercials, “You got peanut butter on my chocolate.”

Unlike chocolate and peanut butter (yummy), the idea that you can have any form of entertainment devoid of politics is laughable. Even when you think something isn’t political, it is.

The reason most people don’t notice is that the politics align with theirs. If you’re a straight, white, cis, middle to upper class person, you won’t notice any politics in something like Friends, Big Bang, or How I Met Your Mother. You might glance over the commentary on sexism or classism in those shows as just normal everyday stuff. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

I can hear the “Well actually, it’s more blatant” and that’s bullshit. If you’re one of those people who thinks old shows didn’t make political comments, you weren’t listening. Star Wars, Diehard, North by North-West, all had political messages in them. It’s nearly impossible to separate politics from art because it’s impossible to separate belief from creation.

Those complaining that things have become too political aren’t complaining about politics. They’re complaining that they aren’t seeing their politics reflected back at them.

Later Days,

Éric

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I’m not going to See Captain Marvel

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Why am I not going to see Captain Marvel? My in-laws (whom I go to the movies with) are out of town. We’ll go see it, probably, the 19th. I do wish I could go see it opening weekend but it’s time to ramp up for spring (by name only in Ottawa) convention season.

Did you think I was going to talk about the Brie Larson controversy?


The actor said in an interview:

“About a year ago, I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male. So, I spoke to Dr. Stacy Smith at the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, who put together a study to confirm that. Moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive. After speaking with you, the film critic Valerie Complex and a few other women of color, it sounded like across the board they weren’t getting the same opportunities as others. When I talked to the facilities that weren’t providing it, they all had different excuses.”

This has led to plenty of insecure men to call her racist and sexist and somehow means she doesn’t want white men to see the movie. I’m not sure they’ve learnt to read critically.

Even after she said:

“What I’m looking for is to bring more seats up to the table. No one is getting their chair taken away. There’s not less seats at the table, there’s just more seats at the table.”

The angry white men are still very angry.

They’ll argue that it’s just about:

  • Bad writing – she’s overpowered
  • Ethics in Journalism – she shouldn’t get to choose
  • Should be a man – they think Mar’vel was a better character
  • Ruining science fiction – Because she’s too powerful
  • Bad acting – the Oscar winner just wasn’t built to be a superhero
  • Too feminist – there are women in the movie who are in the lead roles

I’m sure I missed some sad-puppy, proud boy, kkk, incel, gamergate, bullshit in there.

Long story short, the entire controversy is just another, in a long list, of made up sexist crap.

This movie looks amazing and I can’t wait, even though I will have to, to see it.

Éric

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Top Five Ways to Argue Like a Toddler

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

This could easily be an article about how to argue on the internet but it’s not. I’m here to teach you the valuable skill of arguing like a toddler.

5. Where is…

I was prepared to answer why, what, whom, and even how… but repeated instances of where, I wasn’t ready. Here’s the way it typically goes.

Dragon: Where is Granny?

Me: At home.

Dragon: Where is Granny home?

Me: Same place it always is.

Dragon: Where?

Me: *Says address*

Dragon: Where is that?

Me: If we go down the street and turn left it’s at the end of that street?

Dragon: I can’t see it. Can you show me?

The trick with this is to keep asking the same question no matter how absurd it sounds. Really throws people through a loop.

4. Scream louder

Trying to talk to my wife from another room is now followed by, “Don’t yell at MUM!” the same thing happens if my wife replies; “Don’t yell at PAPA!”

If I say something to her sternly my daughter sometimes counters with, “Don’t yell at me.” Then she yells louder over me, ignoring what I’m saying.

This is advanced, and definitely common online. The goal is to just keep saying what you’re saying while telling people to stop being mean.

3. Walk away and pout

When she knows she’s done something wrong but doesn’t want to admit it, she’ll pout and walk away. Stand in a corner or just glare at us from across the room.

Me: Please pick up your toys before dinner.

Dragon: No.

Me: Please pick up your toys.

Dragon: No.

Me: Now.

Dragon: *Walks away and pouts*

You wouldn’t think this was useful in adult life or online, but suddenly turning around and ignoring someone throws all the power to you for a small amount of time.

2. Ask again… and again and again

She normally does this if she really wants to eat or do something. She’ll say, “I NEED candy!” I’ll reply with, “Not now” or “no.” She then says, “Can I have candy?”, “Candy?”, or she’ll repeat I need. The less attention we pay to her the louder and more repetitive she gets.

This is similar to 4 but more insistent. When using it, make sure everyone knows what you want. Over and over again.

1. Because Yes/No

This is quite possibly the hardest possible thing to argue with.

Me: Why did you throw your teddy bear?

Dragon: Because Yes.

Or

Dragon: I NEED orange!

Me: You just ate 2 oranges. Do you really need another one?

Dragon: Because yes?

Because Yes and Because No, will stop the conversation and make the other person question why they’re arguing with you. It’s a wonderful way to argue when you don’t really care about educating but really want to annoy.


Okay so arguing with a toddler is very similar to arguing online. I think I might start using #1.

Later days,

Éric

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Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 2


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2


Chapter 2: Asteroids and Pirates

Stars filled her view screen and Annie sighed. Space was beautiful. Reluctantly she manoeuvred the little fighter back towards the debris field and her next target.

Hokulua Station had shields that would deflect most debris but with a micro-star at its core, it generated enough gravity to pull stray asteroids and rubble with it. Small fighter ships were used to defend the station against big impacts. There were also occasional pirates or planet-hopping wildlife.

“Hokulua tower, I’m on vector to my next target.”

“Roger that Echo 2. Make it snappy, you have your other job to get to.”

The next target was an asteroid the size of a living quarter. Her scans showed that the asteroid was mostly water which would require a wide beam plasma blast. But it wasn’t moving right.

“Tower. Target is moving slower than expected. Can I get a proper scan from Astrometrics?” Annie wished that her older brother James was at the coms. He’d have listened.

“Echo 2, a second scan isn’t necessary. Blow that thing and come home.” Just as she expected, the old man just wanted to get the job done.

“Negative tower. Scans are indicating water but-”

Tower cut her off with, “No Buts, child. Just do your damn job.”

“I’m sorry tower. Without a second scan I’m going to do a scoop-and-shoot.” That old man would rather risk the station than be a few minutes late. Annie was convinced there was something off with the asteroid.

“Stop showboating and destroy that asteroid or I swear to the Eater-Of-Stars you’ll never fly again.”

A scoop-and-shoot maneuver was exactly what it sounded like. She’d fly by the asteroid and then extend the little ships shields. It would scoop the asteroid and she could move it away from the station. Once it was at a safe distance she’d shoot it.

It was a tricky thing to accomplish. Annie swung back around and started to follow the asteroid, matching its speed and direction. She needed to be right on top of the thing to catch it in her shield. The darned thing was moving really slow and she almost bumped it.

It was made harder by the swearing and insults from the tower.

“Tower, this is hard enough without you berating me. I request radio silence.”

“Echo 3, here. I second Echo 2. Shut up tower.”

“Echo 4 agrees with the other Echos.” The rest of the Echos agreed.

She’d forgotten that she wasn’t alone out here. There were a half dozen other ships. She appreciated their backup.

The asteroid took much less force than it should have to move. She overdid the throttle and went twice as far as she should have.

“Tower. I have completed scoop and I’m moving to a safe distance to shoot.”

The normal safe distance is fifty times the size of the object but in this case she doubled it. She shot a short direct plasma blast at the edge of the asteroid. If it was water filled, like the scanners said, it would chip off a corner and nothing else. If it was what she suspected, it was going to explode.

A piece chipped off and Annie sighed. “Tower. I have-” she was cut off by the shockwave from the exploding asteroid. It tossed her ship towards the station with such power that her vision blurred and she thought she was going to lose consciousness.

Everything was ringing and it took a while before she could hear the station Tower. When she could hear clearly she heard her brother James, “Echo 2, do you copy?” He sounded worried.

“Echo 2 here. Tower I copy.”

“Echo 2 get control of your ship. We have bogies incoming.” The ship was spinning like a grounder in zero-g for the first time. She gently took control and directed it away from a crash course with the station.

“Tower. Did you say bogies?”

“Yes. Echo 2. Form up with the rest of Echo wing and get out there.”

The attacks from pirates were rare and Annie had the seconds it took her to meet up with her squad to wonder at the coincidence of the timing. If she’d been at the regular safe distance for a scoop-and-shoot, there would be a hole in the station. That’s not to mention if she’d listened to tower.

Echos were the only squad out there. They didn’t have a regular patrol or military presence. They were so far out from colonised space that no one expected an attack. If they’d showed up just ten minutes later there would have been no one around.

“Echo squad. This is Echo leader. We don’t have to win this one, we just have to make sure no one dies. We hold them back until Alpha squad can come clean up.”

The battle was a blur of ships, asteroids, blasters, and commands. After it was done, Annie barely remembered any of it. They’d been lucky that the Pirates had only sent a scouting party. A few clean shots to their ships and they turned tail and ran.

If they’d come in a destroyer sized ship, the station wouldn’t have been able to defend itself.

As she peeled off her flight suit, James came up to her his brow furrowed in anger. “What the black-hole were you thinking?” His reddish-purple eyes, exact copies of hers, glowed with frustration.

“Something was off and I asked for a second scan. I followed procedure until that mouthy space-monkey tried to cut corners. I was right, too. If I’d followed orders we’d have lost a ring or worse.”

He pulled her into a hug and said, “You scared me, sis.” After a pause, he added, “I’ll check the logs and talk to the bosses. But until a full review, you’re grounded. Except for space walks.”

She’d forgotten about her second job. She hoped repelling space pirates was a good enough excuse.

Read Chapter 3 in March


While you wait for the next chapter, check out previous serial stories:

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Throwback Tuesday – The Last Horcrux (2014-02-05)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m frightfully busy at the moment and so you get to revisit one of my favourite short stories. Also some of the only Fan Fiction I’ve written. I don’t like writing Fan Fiction because I worry that I don’t get the voice of the characters or the feel of the world.

This story based off a comic. Here we go.

Click to read the rest of this hilarious comic

In the last days before the battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort decided that he must survive. To this end he created a last Horcrux, one that no one could ever find. Unlike his others, he used and ordinary grain of sand.

This last Horcrux was tossed into the deepest ocean. On its way into the deepest parts of the ocean, a deep water fish mistook it for food and chased it down. It swallowed the grain of sand and proceeded to swim into a magical tear between worlds.

The tear led into a lake. Being a deep water fish, the poor fish was completely blinded by the light in this little lake. It was quickly caught by a fisherman, who gutted it and brought it home. The fish’s guts however were left on the beach to decompose.

There the grain stayed for a few years until a jewellers apprentice came looking for sand to temper jewellery. The sand on this beach was perfect. He collected a large sack of sand including the grain which was a Horcrux.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY


Thanks for reading!

Éric

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I’m Fat and so is Trump

Hello Internet,

I’m fat. I’ve been considered morbidly obese since seventh grade. Here I am at my thinnest and best shape of 200lbs and 220lbs:

The left (200lbs) was taken in 2003 and the right (220lbs) in 2005. The difference in weight could have been mostly hair.

My entire life I have seen people like me be one of three things: Villain, Weirdo, and Dork. These were the roles I could play in society and my role models were comedians (John Candy).

There were three universal truths about being fat:

1. You were messy, smelly, or gross.

To this day I am obsessively clean about eating and hygiene. I’m struck with terror at the idea of being messy with food in front of people or having BO.

2. You Love fast food.

I watched my mother (who weighed 300-400lbs for most of my life) struggle with this constantly. She wanted to be healthy but being poor meant it was easier to buy frozen and fast food. I still marvel at the privilege inherent in people who hate veggies. Fresh veggies are better than candy to me and growing up they were a rare treat.

That being said I do love me some McDonalds and A&W.

3. You were lazy / it’s your fault

Oh this is the reason so many people have eating disorders, Yo-Yo diet, or try dangerous things. Sometimes you’re just fat and sometimes you need to balance the need to lose weight and the time/money it would take to lose.

Hey advice person, let me stop you right there. I am perfectly healthy. My blood glucose, cholesterol, etc are better than most men half my age. Other than arthritis, allergies, and IBS; I’m fine. Also keep your chia/coconut/superfood to yourself.

Trump

I don’t hate Trump; I loathe him. His entire being, especially his presidency, is an assault to common sense, humanity, and decency. His treatment of minorities, the economy, and the English language are horrifying.

He’s also fat and likes fast food. We have that in common.

The disgusting thing about Trump serving fast food to a bunch of athletes is that he served them 2-3 hour old, cold, fast food. He could have commissioned a bunch of fast food trucks to show up and it would have been quirky. Instead he pre-ordered a bunch of food and as it cooled he gave a nonsensical speech.

His weight, ass, belly, flab, etc. do not represent his worth, or lack thereof, as a human being. His actions and words represent his monstrosity.

Please stop making fun of him for his fatness. Every time you associate causation between his being fat and his repugnant behaviour you tell me, and children who look like me, that we’re no better than Trump.

Fat is not a representation of worth. I am not inherently bad because of a number on a scale.

Stop mocking and associating Trump’s weight with his worth.

The living personification of capitalism and hate has given you a plethora of material to mock.

I’m fat and so is Trump. Our size doesn’t make us twins and the fact that we have that in common means absolutely nothing.

Be kind,

Éric

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Dear Pegasus – Secret 2

Dear Pegasus,

You could have had a normal nickname, Lump or Bean or something, but that’s not how your mom and I think. We like geeky and strange things, I hope you will too.

In my first letter to your sister I told her we weren’t perfect, and that is still true. I can be impatient, prone to being loud, and sometimes I’m impossibly dense.

As your parents we’ll do our best for you, we’ll try to help, understand, and encourage you. At some point we will fail. I’m sorry for that but it’s inevitable. I hope you’ll forgive us. No matter what, there is one thing we’ll never fail to do and that’s love you. No matter what, we’ll always love you!

If I have one wish for you, it’s that you grow up to understand the strength in love, in emotion, and in knowing yourself. That you’ll understand the power of words and the unmitigated strength of kindness.

I love you Baby Pegasus,
Your weepy Father

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Molecular Coffee

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Atomo Coffee sounds like something from a science fiction story. Coffee that isn’t from coffee beans. It’s the lab grown meat of coffee.

My biggest worry with this sort of thing is allergies. I have a severe intolerance to coconut oil and milk, along with IBS, so I try to be very careful.

Here’s what they say:

Atomo will not have any allergen components or materials that impact metabolic disorders.

For the insoluble, non-volatile portion of the molecular grounds, we are still exploring many options and targeting an upcycled play that would take the byproduct of a current commercial operation and add value to it by using it as the carrier matrix for our flavor and mouthfeel compounds – essentially the proteins, carbohydrates and oil components you can expect from coffee grounds. Some examples of that would be watermelon seeds or sunflower seeds husks. Much of what we are doing at this stage is still proprietary as we have a good journey ahead to optimize the perfect molecular coffee that can be enjoyed as your daily ritual. All compounds and strategies will be shared as they evolve and are optimized.

The kickstarter is already funded and has 22 days to go.

I’m interested and a little skeptical. What do you think?

Éric

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