lifehacks

My instant kombucha recipe for non-health-nut non-hipsters

(Skip to the recipe.)

Ok, so I’m once again in the throes of my pseudennial kombucha cravings, but I have a major problem, which is my brain. I have the kind of brain that latches onto something as the-omg-best-thing-evar-maybe-the-only-thing-I’ll-ever-want-again-omg-omg! for, say, three days, and then forgets about it.

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Worst. Shepherds. Ever.

I’m also frugal enough, if not wanting to pay three to four dollars per bottle for multiple bottles a day counts as frugal, to–well, not want to pay $3-4/bottle for…you get it. It adds up.

So I decide (again) to start brewing my own kombucha. Luckily I have some infrastructure (in the form of seventy dozen bajillion Mason jars) from previous episodes. But the issue is that from the moment I brew a huge jar of sweet tea and dump a disgusting object into it, it’s going to be two weeks or so before I get that first sip of sweet, sweet (by which I mean sour, fizzy, wretched, yet curiously compelling) kombucha. I expect you’ve spotted the problem. Two weeks, in brain years, is several lifetimes. In two weeks I will momentarily look up from my new all-consuming obsession with, say, fold-expressions in Vim, and wonder why my basement lair is swamped in jars full of floaty things.

So I’m holding out hope (because I always do) that this time the desire will still be with me in two weeks, and I’m taking specific steps to establish a more sustainable kombucha-production pipeline, which will help, but in the meantime I have discovered a hack that gets me the kombuchonic goodness I want without making me wait. It is, in that sense, a sour and slightly gingery version of the American Dream.

This hack is only for people who actually just like kombucha and want to drink a lot of it. I have no idea what health benefits (or detriments) it may entail, and it will give you the opposite of purist/hipster cred. But it hits the spot while you’re waiting out your two weeks for the real stuff.

Instant (Mock?) Kombucha Recipe

  1. Brew black tea.
  2. Add sugar in a roughly 1:8 ratio (sugar:tea, not vice versa).
  3. Add kombucha SCOBY and a splash of kombucha from the starter batch.
  4. Whenever you want, pour yourself a glass of the partially-brewed results.
  5. To that glass, add a splash of apple cider vinegar.
  6. Add a few drops of lime juice.
  7. Add crushed ginger to taste.
  8. Optionally add sweetener, depending on how sour the original stuff was. And how sweet you like it, if any. (I happen to have some elderflower syrup at the moment, which I used because it’s fancy.)
  9. Drink.

Strictly speaking, steps 2-3 are probably optional. It seems weak tea with apple cider vinegar and whatever other flavors you feel like makes a decent flavoral substitute for kombucha, though I imagine you get better results by enhancing incomplete kombucha than by merely faking it altogether.

Experiment with other flavors. Let me know what you find. Please direct any hate mail to ben@bazinga.biz.

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AutoHotkey Hacks for Lazy Nerds Who Like Webcomics

I am beginning to seriously groove on AutoHotkey. It’s a free open-source program that lets you automate things on your computer. A pretty common application appears to be making up your own keyboard shortcuts and/or autoreplace rules.

I initially found it early in my vim kick–a kick which, for the record, is gamely stumbling on as I continue to insist to myself that one day I will learn enough to make vim so magically, brilliantly super-efficient that it will…well, make up for the dozens to hundreds of hours I will have spent learning stuff about vim, I guess.

Anyway, I was getting all excited about vim and learned that many power users remap their keyboards so that CapsLock becomes Esc and vice versa, because vim involves hitting Esc a lot and the CapsLock key is closer and easier, and so I charged ahead and found a little program (the aforementioned AHK) that would let me remap the keys in a fairly straightforward, untechnical way, and I did, and I thought little more of it except for putting in a mental pin to remind me to look more into AHK’s capabilities at some point.

That point was a couple days ago, and boy are my arms tired! Wait, different joke.

Anyway, I started reading up on AutoHotkey a little more and it’s amazing what it can do! It’s really a full-blown scripting…thing. (Application? Tool? Sorry, The Giver. No precision of language here.)

I once jokingly told a colleague that I wasn’t satisfied with the fact that I’d semi-automated a report to where I could run one query, paste the results into one spot in Excel, hit refresh, and send it out. I wanted a single button that would run the query, paste the results, and send the report for me. And then I wanted a machine that would push that button for me every day.

It appears that AutoHotkey is that button. And maybe also that machine. Time will tell.

For now one of my favorite uses I’ve put it to is creating keyboard shortcuts that pull up ‘dashboards’ of all the websites and/or files and/or folders I need to monitor or work on a particular project, task, or topic. It cuts out the friction that slows me down from getting to work (on, say, writing) because I’d have to open the story and the planning document and my music and my tracker and whatever. Or whatever.

I’m sure there will be more on this later, but just as an appetizer, install AutoHotkey and run a script containing the following code, then hit Ctrl-Shift-A. You’re welcome.

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
;Fun Dashboard Ctrl-Shift-A
;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
^+A::
navOpenInNewTab := 0x800
navOpenInBackgroundTab := 0x1000

sites:=”www.reddit.com|www.xkcd.com|

http://www.smbc-comics.com|www.penny-

arcade.com/comic”

ie := comobjcreate

(“InternetExplorer.Application”)
ie.visible := true

Loop, Parse, sites, |
if A_Index = 1
ie.navigate(A_LoopField)
else
ie.navigate(A_LoopField,

navOpenInNewTab)

return

Near Miss #17 (Or Why ‘Distractions’ Aren’t What’s Keeping You From Working)

This was originally posted on 12/11/10 on a different blog. I still love it.

Oh my gosh, guys. There is such an intensely strong correlation between lack of clarity and distracting myself with internets. I’ve started paying attention, and it is practically one-to-one. When I know (e.g.) the next thing that needs to happen in my story, I make it happen. When I’m not sure yet, I open a new browser window and check something. Anything.

It’s kind of blowing my mind. Every time I hit Ctrl-N on pure instinct, I stop myself for a moment and pay attention to how my story/planning/life is progressing. Every single time, it turns out there’s a question I’m too chicken to face. I’m never just bored. I’m not even distracted. (!) I’m scared of uncertainty. New rule? Brainstorm, don’t evade.

Is this just me? (Seriously. Leave a comment. I’m curious.)

Case in point. For an upcoming DWC episode starring Summer, I had a rather obscure planning note: ‘Near miss with Alex.’ I don’t even know what that means, much less how to do it. Suddenly the internet blossomed before me. But I fought it. Opened a blank document and, before sense could catch up to me, typed “Seventeen kinds of near miss with Alex:” and started a numbered list.

Rrrgh. Seventeen is an insane number of kinds of near misses. I ran out of ideas after number 3 (and checked 43folders). Then I ran out of ideas again after number 5 (and checked my e-mail). Then I ran out of ideas again after 7 and 8, which were both lame anyway. (I quote: “7. He asks her out but she’s not feelin’ it. 8. She asks him out but he’s not feelin’ it.”) Then a bookshelf fell over for number 9. Then I ran out of ideas again and checked Penny Arcade. Not kidding. I ran out of ideas after numbers 10, 12, 13, 15 and 16, and checked some website every single time.

Lesson: If you’re like me, you’re never “getting distracted.” You’re not sure what to do next, and you’re trained to dodge the question instead of answering it.

Incidentally, numbers 11, 14 and 17 were were worth something.  Side lesson: You don’t actually run out of ideas. Just keep punching your brain. Training yourself to dodge that painful moment of effort is very comfortable, very easy, and totally deadly.