the bottles are back

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Yes! I’ve done it. After a day of going to work, working, coming home, making dinner, then going to the Victoria Sketch Club’s 100 year anniversary Art Show, and writing a paper on investment strategy in the PC aggregate market, I actually have time for talking about this.
The Pop Shoppe is a company that has made pop for a long time. I think their deal was that you could buy a crate of pop in glass bottle form, take it home, drink it, and then bring the bottle back to be re-used. Ahead of their time maybe. My uncle always used to have a crate in the basement and he’d always let us raid it at family get-togethers while the grown ups would drink Adult Drinks. About 20 years has passed since I had seen these bottles around regularly and I hadn’t thought much of them, until I recently noticed them at the Market on Yates. I did do a double-take.
I don’t drink or crave pop at all, not the way I did when I was a kid. Tonight, I bought this pop as a reward for myself for doing some work I needed to do. Simple pleasure really, but it kept me motivated this evening. I wouldn’t have bought just any old pop though – this is a kick-back to some great memories and the brand is just so damn cool in a retro way. Yes there is an emotional attachment there.
The pop itself is actually flatter than I remember it. Maybe they’ve changed their formulas, maybe I’ve got a flat bottle, maybe some things are best left to memory. But let me have another sip – no, not best left to memory. Mmm this is good cream soda.
The bottles are different now than they used to be – taller, more normal. They used to be short and stout, at least in my memory. Also new: a URL on the back, thepopshoppe.com. Made in Burlington, Ontario.
Maybe they realized they had some brand equity but the refilling/crate business model wasn’t working out for them, or wasn’t profitable. Or maybe this was the only way to relaunch their brand, I don’t know. I did find them also in Wellburns at Pandora and Cook.
Aha, found it in their history:

1983
After a few years of slow sales, The Pop Shoppe shares stop being traded on February 3rd. It’s a sad day. Although head office is no longer, some Pop Shoppes stay around, but close over the next few years.
2002
An entrepreneur named Brian Alger resurrects The Pop Shoppe. Brian had grown up on The Pop Shoppe and was very keen on bringing it back, and getting into mainstream stores. Work began on formulating the same great tasting pop that the brand was known for.

Anyone else remember this pop?

snow in march

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Myself and Justin had a great gig at the Sunset Room this past weekend, complete with folks being turned away at the door since we were at capacity. We did a combined tag set, 3 tracks each at a time, back and forth, back and forth. Our sounds mixed together better than ever before. My Macbook was what we were playing off of and it performed well once we got the settings right for the external audio card. It looks like I might have another show coming up in May.
The time change happened in the middle of our set, which meant our 12:30 AM – 4:00 AM set was actually only 2.5 hours. One thing I love about the time change is the longer hours of light in the evening, which means summer is well on its way! But wait a moment..
It snowed on Saturday and it snowed this morning. This is actually a post about the weather. I know, I am ashamed and it is boring. But it’s also part of life and what we walk through in the morning on the way to work. Folks out east, if you were thinking about paying more for housing to live on the west coast where there is no snow, soak it up! Or shovel it up as it were.

tags and categories

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What is the difference between categories and tags, when would you need to use them, and what for? Would you ever need to use both at once? Within the context of blogging and, more broadly, the web, I’ve found myself explaining how to use tags and categories a few times in the last year. For this reason, I think it is a good idea to take a moment and document which principles I use to guide the creation of both and how to use them in a couple example scenarios.
First lets define categories and tags. Categories are defined as a division within a system of classification. Tags are keywords that are assigned to specific items, such as blog posts. We can already deduce two things from these simple definitions: categories require a system of classification for content, so you must have some context for your application of the term; tags require content on which they are based. In other words, content fits into categories, and tags fit the content. One is top down, the other is bottom up.
Lets use an example that could use both tags and categories at once for different purposes. If you are looking at MetroCascade‘s feed aggregator, you’ll see that have a system set up which pools new information brought in from sites that have RSS feeds for the Victoria area. Simply put, this is a hot spot for new information that is geographically relevant to the 250 area code.
Three questions which I would ask are:

  • Who supplies this content?
  • How will it be sought?
  • What is the information about?

Categories and tags define and eventually answer those questions.
For MetroCascade I would see it most optimally set up this way:
Categories: News (Authoritarian – very high traffic – for seekers of current events in the area) , Blogs (Personal, lower traffic – for community and interest)
Tags: Dependent on content provided. Tags should always be content-maker defined as the writers will always understand the key words best through intent.
Tags will cross over between categories, so a tag search for “inner harbour” would show blog posts about the inner harbour as well as news. The distinction about categorizing the feeds into News and Blogs is most important for the kind of aggregation options that will be given to end users. If a user wanted to be a part of the Victoria blogosphere, but did not want to be pummeled by the local news stories, they could simply view the blogs category. Subjects would change, tags would go all over the place (as they might with news, if news organizations actually took the time to tag – some do), but at the end of the day you’d have a useful distinction of information through categories which catered to the nature of the source and the intended audience rather than the subject matter itself. Subject trends will emerge through things like tag-clouds. This allows for subject matter to flow freely, yet remain quickly accessible through the tag link drill-down.
Another quick, more tangible, example. Imagine you ran a library. You will have two master categories: fiction and non-fiction. Subjects, or tags, like “sports, dragons, politics, mathematics” may branch into both or only exist in one category. You could have a sports book on how to coach tennis, or a sports book on the story of a tennis star who summons the power of a volcano to win the Elbonian Open. One is factual, the other is fictional. They both have subject matter relating to sports and, more specifically, tennis. Why does this matter? Because eventually you’re going to have to put the books on shelves and a tennis coach should be able to easily come in and find resources. Likewise, someone who wants to be entertained should be able to go to another shelf and not find themselves reading about the importance of pronating their wrist while serving. There is a fundamental need for the distinction, and its root lies in the understanding of how information is to be sought and used.
In conclusion, categories are rigid and tags are organic. Usually you will want someone who has a 40,000 foot view to control categories, and tags will be assigned over time through contributors.
How do you use categories and tags to organize your information?

how I like my tea

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Tea has always been a part of my life, and I’ve gotten pretty particular about how I like it. I like all kinds of black tea and happen to know a bit of trivia about other kinds of tea as well, such as caffeine content, origin of leaves etc. I particularly like Earl Grey Tea and so this is a short post on how I like to make it.
I find the bagged teas to be generally bland, milder, more washed out flavours and really just not quite the same experience as loose leaf tea. They’re still tea, but it always feels like a compromise for the convenience of bagged tea, which at home I do not need. When I am out, I am certainly not as fussy about how it’s prepared.
What do I use to make tea then?
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For loose leaf tea I use a brewing basket. We recently picked this one up from Victorian Epicure, but you can get them almost anywhere. Basically this thing sits on top of your mug or tea pot and you throw the tea leaves in it. The handles do a great job of not letting the basket fall in past the rim. When you’re done, it takes 10 seconds to turn this thing over and wash it out.
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This has to be my favorite earl grey tea from any shop, anywhere. As you can see, it is from the cleverly named SpecialTeas on Fort & Blanshard, in downtown Victoria. The “creamy” really means that there is some vanilla in the mix, smoothing the taste and adding some complexity to balance the bergamot oil which makes earl grey not just another black tea. As the bag suggests, brewing around 3 minutes at the right proportions leaves you with a brilliant tasting creamy earl grey tea that I find more satisfying every day. Overbrew a couple minutes for some more flavour, but be aware that you’ll also be getting more caffeine.
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I usually have milk in the tea, but sometimes – like this morning – I will drink it without. I don’t always have sugar in my tea, but every now and then I do like it. I have been listening to my friends talk about the superiority of raw, unprocessed cane sugar lately, and I found these raw cane sugar cubes at the local corner store. Per gram, they happen to be cheaper than the bags of raw sugar – which is weird, considering they need more attention to finish the product.
Anyway, that is how I like my tea. How do you like your tea?