this post will be taken entirely out of context.

Something felt a little bit off in one particular line of “Critical Praise / Review” for Rob Bell (and ostensibly, his new book How to Be Here):

Bell will be joined by the likes of Brian McLaren, James Martin, Diana Butler Bass and Carol Howard Merritt. — Christianity Today

I could see it working if Bell “joins the likes of…”, but there’s something about how it was written that sounded like a high-schooler’s essay pieced together with sentence fragments taken from all over the internet.

Not far off, that line is actually taken from a Christianity Today article about a podcast/YouTube channel that Rob Bell is involved with — where he is “joined by the likes of Brian McLaren, James Martin, Diana Butler Bass and Carol Howard Merritt.” (It’s so important the article states it twice.)

Now, I know pull-quotes are used out of context all the time, but at least they’re usually coherent. 😛

And then I then read the first pull-quote from Publisher’s Weekly….which sounded familiar because it was already used wholesale as part of the publisher’s product description.

I’m going back to my cave now — the internet is making my head hurt.

Equalization and You

Equalization is a federal program where they spend more money in regions that are economically depressed. Full stop.

This five minutes 30 seconds is the best description I’ve heard of how equalization payments work in Canada. It’s two Albertan political strategists .

The Strategists: Episode 564

I’ll start you at 31:40 into the episode. Listen at least to the 37:10 mark.

We pay the exact same taxes (federal rate) in Alberta as they pay in Quebec…there’s no “I’m paying more because I’m a rich Albertan — you’re paying more because you’re rich.
Every province does a form of equalization…every city does a form of equalization, because we don’t make the same money and the reason we do a taxation system to begin with is to redistribute funds to those who need them.

Bonus quote, from later in the episode:

Ralph Klein was the one who started to establish this idea that we’re sending a cheque somewhere down East. Well I’ll tell you something — before the 1970’s, we needed it too. People have to remember that in Alberta we were a have-not province. Then we got a little bit of oil an gas going our way and things started to work for us. But it didn’t really start to work for us until the late 1960’s and the 1970’s.

Link Roundup – 2016 03 02

Some things worth looking at from the past week or so:

Kids These Days

Congrats for making me hate both sides of this argument.

A millennial complained about her job; the Internet responded by complaining about millennials. This guy actually had some great things to say.

He is what’s missing from most “conversations” on the Internet.

A series of bad choices, published for all to see online, goes viral and like magic, old and young people alike start rattling off all that’s wrong about kids these days.

Listen, assholes: You made mistakes when you were young. So did I. We still make mistakes.”

Sometimes, it’s not just the kids’ fault. We don’t have to coddle her mistakes while still admitting that it’s kind of a screwed up world out there for anyone looking to forge a living as a young adult.



Why are we so obsessed with the human form that we’ve become paradoxically indifferent to it? — Patrick Kirk-Smith, from his review of Starkers

Starkers, by Davy and Kristin McGuire. Take a look at their projects page for a ton of other incredible projector-based work, such as The Icebook.

(via Prosthetic Knowledge)


Air Fountain

So mezmerizing.

By Daniel Wurtzel.

(via Prosthetic Knowledge)


The man who made ‘the worst video game in history’

An interesting insight from a game developer turned psychotherapist:

Programmers and therapists are all systems analysts. It’s just that I’ve moved on to a much more sophisticated hardware.

The article is mainly a history of Atari, and nothing like that quotation.

PDF problems

I don’t like that I now have to think twice before printing PDFs — I find more and more they’re not actually designed to be printed — just viewed.

The reason: all the background colour. White text on a dark background looks nice on a produced brochure or report, or on a website, but not when I’m printing it at home to read in detail. It just hurts to think of all that ink being wasted — even if I print in grayscale.

Here’s a possible guideline: don’t design a PDF page that will be so wet with ink that it will warp as it comes off a consumer printer.

Installing Debian on Orange Pi PC

After misinterpreting the forum and trying to use loboris’ instructions on the official OrangePi Debian Server image, then having temporary success with a friend’s help, I’ve finally got it working.

The short story is to use loboris’ image, and his uImage and script.bin files, and follow the instructions here.

Step 6 took place within the BOOT folder — so really just copying the uImage_OPI-2 file over uImage, and script.bin.OPI-PC_720p60 over script.bin. First make sure you’ve copied the most up-to-date versions of those two files into the BOOT folder.

My initial error on step 6 was to assume that I was copying from the non-SD location and copying onto the SD. So I started in dev/sda and tried copying into dev/sdb (i.e. BOOT)

I ran through all the steps using Lubuntu. It was quick and works.

Orange Pi PC

I decided it’s finally time to get a mini server running at home to handle the basic webserver stuff that my shared host can’t handle (python, etc.).

I recently bought an Orange Pi PC from a friend, and it’s got a little more oomph than my old Raspberry Pi Model B, so that’s what I’m going with for now.

The issue I kept running into with the rPi was forgetting what hardware version I had, and the specs of that version. To avoid that with the OrangePi…

Stats for future reference (from

Orange Pi PC

Same chip and RAM as:

  • Orange Pi 2
  • Orange Pi Mini 2
  • Orange Pi Plus
  • Board imprinted with: PC v1.2
  • CPU: ARM H3 Quad-core Cortex-A7 H.265/HEVC 4K 1.536 GHz
  • GPU: ARM Mali-400 MP2 @ 600 MHz
  • RAM: 1GB DDR3 (shared with GPU)
  • SoC: Allwinner H3
  • Storage: TF card (max 64GB) / MMC card slot
  • NIC: 10/100M Ethernet RJ45
  • Video Input: A CSI input connector camera:
    • supports 8-bit YUV422 CMOS sensor interface
    • supports CCIR656 protocol for NTSC and PAL
    • supports SM pixel camera sensor
    • supports video capture solution up to 1080p@30fps
  • Audio Input: MIC
  • Video Outputs:
    • supports HDMI output with HDCP
    • supports HDMI CEC
    • supports HDMI 30 function
    • Integrated CVBS
    • supports simultaneous output of HDMI and CVBS
  • Audio Output: 3.5mm jack and HDMI
  • Power Source: DC input can supply power, but USB OTG input don’t supply power
  • USB Ports:
    • three USB 2.0 HOST
    • one USB 2.0 OTG
  • Buttons: Power Button (SW4)
  • Low-level peripherals
    • 40 Pins Header, compatible with Raspberry Pi B+
  • GPIO(1×3) pin: UART, ground.
  • LED
    • Power LED
    • Status LED
  • Key
    • IR input
    • POWER
  • Supported OS
    • Android Ubuntu
    • Debian
    • Raspberry Pi image
  • Product Size: 85mm x 55mm
  • Weight: 38g
Orange Pi PC board (click for larger version)
Orange Pi PC board (click for larger version)

Starting out with Debian Server for OrangePi2.

Death, the Prosperity Gospel, and Me

Kate Bowler — a professor at Duke Divinity School — has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

But one of my first thoughts was also Oh, God, this is ironic. I recently wrote a book called “Blessed.”

A few years ago she wrote a history of the prosperity gospel, and this article is a sort of mini history, particularly looking at how it shaped the ways in which Christians respond to “bad things” including impending death.

The prosperity gospel has taken a religion based on the contemplation of a dying man and stripped it of its call to surrender all. Perhaps worse, it has replaced Christian faith with the most painful forms of certainty. The movement has perfected a rarefied form of America’s addiction to self-rule, which denies much of our humanity: our fragile bodies, our finitude, our need to stare down our deaths (at least once in a while) and be filled with dread and wonder. At some point, we must say to ourselves, I’m going to need to let go.

Many of her points also permeate the non-prosperity North American church. She deals with the religious, the cultural, and the personal with depth, humour, and frankness.

Cancer requires that I stumble around in the debris of dreams I thought I was entitled to and plans I didn’t realize I had made. But cancer has also ushered in new ways of being alive.

Read it.

Curried Chicken with Mango Rice

I’m going to try storing recipes I’ve enjoyed making here. So I don’t have to keep printouts with scribbled modifications in a binder on a shelf.

Also, I want a record of my go-to recipes with an accurate (for me) prep time.

This one came about because of a large bag of frozen mango sitting in the freezer, leftover from the good intention of making smoothies regularly.

Curried Chicken with Mango Rice
Serves 4
Quick prep with chicken, frozen mango, and rice.
Write a review
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
  1. 1 teaspoon curry powder, or to taste
  2. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  3. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  4. 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  5. 1 cup chicken broth
  6. 1 small can coconut milk (1/2 cup to 165ml)
  7. 1 cup white wine (sauvignon blanc gives a great bite to the dish)
  8. 1 cup basmati rice
  9. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  10. 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  11. 1 cup diced mango (if using Costco frozen, cut the pieces in half first)
  1. Combine curry powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Rub mixture into chicken breasts. Set aside.
In a large, non-stick skillet, combine
  1. chicken broth
  2. water
  3. wine
  4. rice (uncooked).
Stir in
  1. brown sugar
  2. dried parsley
  3. remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. mango
  1. Arrange chicken pieces on top of rice, and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Let stand, covered, until all liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
  1. Changed wine to 1 cup, due to increasing heat to medium-low (rice was undercooked when cooked on low -- had to cook for another 20 minutes or so on medium-low with another 1/2+ cup of wine, due to rice being undercooked in original recipe).
  2. Subbed in coconut milk instead of 1/2 cup water, for creamier result.
  3. Subbed basmati rice for long-grain white rice, because basmati.
Dates Made
  1. 2016-01-24 | It was a winner, and the first choice for tomorrow's lunch.
Adapted from
Adapted from

Tracking irregular paycheque deductions in YNAB4

We use You Need A Budget (YNAB) for our budgeting needs. (Aside: we love it!)

There’s a particular way we decided to track my food spending at work that takes me a minute (or three) to remember every time I sit down to reconcile the budget, so I’m recording the steps for me, and the reasoning for anyone else who might want to follow this route.


If I buy food at work, the only way to pay is to have the amount taken off my next paycheque.

This used to cause a problem for us because my food spending was often being tracked against our budget line in the month after I bought the food, since we couldn’t track it until I received my paycheque/stub.

The problem was sometimes even a bit worse since my paycheques are counted as next month’s income in YNAB. This caused problems where I could have bought food in October, but the cheque would come in November, and only be counted towards our December budget.

Our ideal state was to continue counting income as being for the next month, but to count all food spending for the month in which I actually bought the meal.

To achieve this we added an on-budget Credit Card-type account for my cafeteria card at work, so that:

  • YNAB will emulate the “buy now pay later” nature of the cafeteria card
  • food spending is tracked for the month in which it is spent
  • paycheques can be easily counted as Next Month’s Income when they come in
  • when a paycheque comes in, a payment is made to the Cafeteria Card account to cover any food purchases deducted from that paycheque

What this looks like in practice:

  • I buy a delicious stir-fry at work on Nov 21 for $5.95
  • I swipe my physical cafeteria card in the cafeteria
  • I enter $5.95 into YNAB as an Eating Out transaction on Nov 21, paying with my Cafeteria Card account within YNAB
  • when my next paycheque comes out on Dec 4, it is for $994.05 instead of $1000, since the $5.95 has been deducted

When the cheque/paystub actually arrives, I enter it into YNAB:

  • enter the actual amount of the cheque in Inflow (994.05), as a Split transaction
  • first split: as a transfer to the Cafeteria Card account, enter the amount deducted from that cheque for food into Outflow (5.95)
  • second split: put the amount remaining to assign (1000) into Inflow as Next Month’s Income

Entering the cheque into YNAB

I go in this order because as soon as the $5.95 is entered YNAB tells me that $1000 is left, so I never have to actually do the calculation myself to determine what my pay would have been before the deductions.

Why this works for us:

  • spending is tracked in the month of the spend, so we always know how much we really have in our Eating Out line
  • income and spending is accurately reflected, instead of just counting the cheque amount as income when the cheque comes, which would ignore my food spending
    • this means YNAB is showing my true net income
  • I get to avoid the tedium of manually calculating the gross amount on my paystub every time, and figuring out how I’m going to accurately add that and the food amounts weeks after the fact

BTW, the first YNAB link above is a referral link — if you buy using it you get $6 off, and I get $6 from them as a thank you. They have a free 34-day trial you should check out first, though.

EDIT: 30 minutes after publishing this I found out a new version of YNAB is in the works. That new version will deprecate how YNAB currently deals with credit cards. Title now reflects that this is applicable for YNAB4 (and likely 3 — I can’t remember how it dealt with credit cards).