Unique Soda Pop Birthday Experience Tradition 2017

This year, while in the US to go to the Destiny USA mall, we stopped at a restaurant on the way home and they had some interesting bottled sodas, and so I picked up some for Annie and me to try. It was something she did for my last birthday, and now it might be a yearly tradition.

For those that didn’t read last year’s instalment, please check it out -> Unique Soda Pop Birthday Experience.

We did this experiment over two days, and on the second day, my cousin, Kyle, was around to try some and provide his feedback as well. Enjoy!

Dang! That’s Good Butterscotch Root Beer

Imperial Flavors Beverage Company
Milwaukee, WI

Aroma
David: Very much like butterscotch candies, right away, but not much root beer scent.
Annie: Smells sweet, buttery, creamy. It smells good.

Sweetness
David: Not really that sweet. Not as much as the smell would lead you to think it would be.
Annie: Not overly sweet. I think this is a better butterbeer than anything else that markets itself as a butterbeer.

Flavour Profile
David: Mild taste, average carbonation.
Annie: Mellow flavour. Easy drink. Nothing offensive about it. Butterscotch flavour. I think Dang That’s Good is a good name for it.

Aftertaste
David: Short-lived, a little bit of a bitter caramel that remains.
Annie: Mild, and more in the back of the throat.

Overall Score
David: 2 / 5
Annie: 4 / 5

Sioux City Sarsaparilla

White Rock Products Corp
Whitestone, NY

Aroma
David: A bit of a weird funky smell that quickly disappears and then it is hard to “find the smell” again.
Annie: “Do I smell anything?” There is almost a plant smell to it.

Sweetness
David: It is almost bitter tasting. Not much sweetness at all. Sweetness disappears immediately on swallowing.
Annie: Not very sweet.

Flavour Profile
David: Almost like a lightly soured, watered down mug’s root beer. There is a hint of that root beer bottle caps candy taste, but it is very short lived.
Annie: The carbonation almost hides the flavour until the aftertaste. Tasting licorice when I breathe out. When it is in my mouth, I can’t identify flavours.

Aftertaste
David: Medicine-like.
Annie: That’s where I taste some sweetness and licorice as well as those root flavours in root beer.

Overall Score
Me: 2.5 / 5
Annie: 1 / 5

Moxie Original Elixir

Orca Beverage Inc
Mukilteo, WA

Aroma
David: Medicine smell. Very strong, with a hint of both bitterness and sweetness
Annie: There is a mint, cherry cough syrup.
Kyle: Smells like cherry dr pepper. Also, like old candies… the coke ones.

Sweetness
David: Not very sweet at all. Weirdly not sweet.
Annie: Needs to be sweeter to cover up the taste.
Kyle: Definitely bitter.

Flavour Profile
David: Ew… This is bad. Tastes like medicine and only gets worse and worse.
Annie: Cherry cough syrup. It is prickly and terrible.
Kyle: Tastes like dirt or from the ground. Tastes better at the start and then gets worse. Starts with a nice strong pop syrup.

Aftertaste
David: Bitter, like cranberry and medicine.
Annie: You swallow it and it gets worse.
Kyle: Bitter, very bitter.

Overall Score
David: 0.5 / 5
Annie: 0 / 5
Kyle: 0 / 5

Dumped out. Too gross.

Caruso’s Maraschino Cherry Cola

WIT Beverage Company

Aroma
David: Very cherry, smells like Maraschino cherries.
Annie: Smells like Shirley temple.
Kyle: Smells like Dr Pepper with lots of cherries.

Sweetness
David: Not as sweet as the smell led me to believe.
Annie: It is very sweet.
Kyle: It is mild, I like it, very nice.

Flavour Profile
David: Strongest cherry cola I’ve tried, but milder carbonation than other sodas I’ve had. Kind of one note though as it is just “cherry cola”, but done well.
Annie: Like a tang of alcohol. Like a slight hint when you swallow it.
Kyle: I like it, it tastes really good. Not as “cherry” as I thought it would be. I like it, and I hate cherries.

Aftertaste
David: Like a cherry popsicle that you finished a while ago.
Annie: Cherry with a hint of medicine. Definitely doesn’t linger much.
Kyle: Cherry, short.

Overall Score
David: 3.5 / 5
Annie: 2 / 5
Kyle: 4 / 5

Double Cola

The Double Cola Company
Chattanooga, TN

Aroma
David: Stinky feet.
Annie: Rotting vegetables. It is funky and not the good funky.
Kyle: Maybe smoky, dirty laundry.

Sweetness
David: Not very sweet. Hard to identify sweetness because of the taste.
Annie: Covers her mouth
Kyle: Not sweet or bitter. Like syrup and dirt mixed together.

Flavour Profile
David: That’s the grossest thing I’ve ever tasted as a soda. Tastes like I think a pop version of vegemite.
Annie: Tastes like grass and dirt. Tastes wormy.
Kyle: Definitely tastes like the ground.

Aftertaste
David: Didn’t last long, but I wouldn’t take another sip.
Annie: “Oh, ew…” The aftertaste is better than the drink itself. Grassy?
Kyle: Doesn’t linger too long. It’s not good.

Overall Score
David: 0 / 5
Annie: 0 / 5
Kyle: 0.5 / 5

Dumped it out.

Caruso’s Dark Cream Italian Style Soda

WIT Beverage Company

Aroma
David: Buttery smell with a hint of vanilla.
Annie: Caramel, buttery. This is making me happy.
Kyle: I like the smell.

Sweetness
David: Above average sweetness.
Annie: A touch on the high side of sweet, but good.
Kyle: Good sweetness, not too powerful or too weak.

Flavour Profile
David: Reminds me of a very mild melted grape popsicle. Weirdly enough.
Annie: Vanilla, caramel, maybe a bit of marshmallow, creamy, buttery. Pleasant. Makes me happy.
Kyle: Tastes like maple syrup to me in pop form.

Aftertaste
David: No bitterness that sticks around. Very nice.
Annie: Nice sweet, not too long of a linger. Cuddles your mouth.
Kyle: Pleasant aftertaste.

Overall Score
David: 3.5 / 5
Annie: 3.5 / 5
Kyle: 4 / 5

Birthday and Christmas Wishlist 2017

I am going to be thirty-five in a little over two weeks. How did that happen!? A month and a week after that is Christmas time. Every year that sneaks up on me!

I’ve updated my wishlist on Wishlistr to give people ideas of what I most want.

Some highlights include:

  • stories of me
  • keyboard and mouse wrist rests
  • size 13 socks
  • big johns beef jerky

And of course, if you are feeling extra generous, a donation to the Guelph General Hospital in memory of Lily and Anika would always be appreciated. Just don’t forget to let us know you did so.

NomadicGamersEh?

A friend of mine from high school recently asked what I thought about her changing her gaming/blog brand and that conversation progressed to me helping her make the switch. She chose a new domain name, after some great back and forth with me tossing ideas at her. I’ll list those ideas at the bottom of this post for anyone that is looking to pick up more domains or is also looking for a gaming brand they can use.

Anyways, she thankfully already had a WordPress powered website, so the transition was going to be very easy for me, as migrating sites is a big part of my job. After over a week of waiting for her host to help with various things, she decided to move her site to a new budget web host. I migrated the site, did some optimization, and forwarded the traffic from the old site to the new site.

Old Site Pingdom Test Results
Score: 85
Load Time: 2.74s
Page Size: 1.8MB
Test Location: San Jose
Link

New Site Pingdom Test Results
Score: 86
Load Time: 2.49s
Page Size: 1.3MB
Test Location: San Jose
Link

After Basic Optimization Pingdom Test Results
Score: 88
Load Time: 1.86s
Page Size: 1.3MB
Test Location: San Jose
Link

Just changing hosts saved an average of a quarter second per page load for her visitors, but after I did some no-cost optimizations, I was able to get the site to load almost a full second faster than it used to on the old host. Sometimes, it would load as quick as 729ms, but that isn’t consistent. The numbers above are pretty average.

Had she the budget to spend on the site, I could potentially have gotten the average to under 1.5 seconds, and if she was willing to switch to a more performance-focused theme, maybe under 1 second in load time on average, but I am pretty happy with what I was able to do without spending any additional money.

I think she is happy with the site as well. It was really nice to get a message from her one evening saying, “jebus the site is fast, lol.”

I really enjoy working on helping people optimize their sites. If your WordPress powered website loads in over 2.5 seconds according to Pingdom, it might be time to contact PressTitan. We can help you do better!

Update: I totally forgot to add the URLs that I thought up for her new brand. These were all available when I mentioned them to Steph.

installepic.com
oncrit.com
goodcrit.com
northgamer(s).com
ehgamer.com
keenergamers.com
looniegamers.com
klickgamer(s).com
looniecommunity.com
looniebound.com
looniesim.com
critloonie.com
critcanadian.com
welovetocrit.com
critrite.com
critright.com
thundercrit.com
critmaven.com
criteh.com
ehbound.com
ehgamerfamily.com
gehmes.com
ehcrit.com
ehquest.com
looniequest.com

What’s New?

Seeing that Annie is back posting on her blog, it inspired me to do a bit of an update on mine. The last time I posted was in July. Since then, I’ve settled in my job with David Krug, a long time connection on the web, and we are working together on PressTitan. I help manage almost sixty WordPress powered websites with regards to not only their hosting platform but also their optimization from a performance perspective. Over the whole network of sites, there are probably in the neighbourhood of five million page views per month or sixty million page views per year. It is immense to think about. Because of that job, I’ve been able to do a bit of coding here and there to come up with custom solutions to our needs. I’m always learning something new, and I’ve been really enjoying it.

Besides my work, I’ve had time to spend on putting videos on YouTube. I bought a new desktop computer, and it is pretty powerful, so with Annie busy doing school work and continuing to volunteer with 1 Million Teachers, I have a bit of free time to play some games. But how do I justify playing video games? Post them on YouTube for others to view and be entertained by, or that’s the idea anyway. I kept my YouTube brand similar to the company brand: Canadian Titan. Over the last month and a half, I’ve recorded and uploaded over 75 videos, so if you are interested in science fiction focused gaming, please check it out.

Annie and I continue to enjoy living in Kingston and get to see both her family and mine on a regular basis. We’ve been very fortunate in that respect as both Annie’s family and my family have been visiting us regularly which helps Annie feel less homesick. We haven’t had any visits from Annie’s friends yet, but if they do decide to come…we always have a decent pull-out couch and some air mattresses…

Other things I want to write about I’ll do so in other posts, as they deserve their own mentions. I really want to finish out 2017 by getting this blog to 1,000 posts, and I’m only eight away after this post.

THIA Project

While I’ve been out of work, I haven’t been sitting idle. I’ve been balancing my time between applying for new opportunities, helping 1 Million Teachers where I can, and developing an idea of my own.

THIA Project is a concept that I had more than half a year ago, and I’ve been spending more and more time on developing it. The goal is to create a youth focused, gamified educational and community platform specifically focused on mental health and mental health triggers.

I have started to put everything together for an alpha product that I can have people try. I’ve been working hard on a website, YouTube videos, and extensive business planning. Business planning is not really my forte, so I’m definitely working through that large learning curve. I do feel that I’m finally getting to the point though where bringing on outside help makes sense. I’ve let my friends and family know on Facebook that I’m looking for help and I have been ramping up my attendance at local business events in Kingston.

What will happen with the THIA Project is unknown, but I definitely enjoy spending time on this endeavour and believe it to be a worthwhile cause. If you would like to learn more about what I am doing and why, please check out my three slide presentation below.

If you are interested in helping or know someone that might be, please have them contact me by commenting on this post, or via my contact form.

Being Jobless is Stressful

I have been spending multiple hours per day applying to companies, both to positions that I find online as well as unsolicited emails of my resume in hopes of finding an unlisted position somewhere. I am looking in Kingston as well as remote jobs online with companies that are willing to hire a Canadian.

Summertime is the worst time to be looking for a position, as businesses slow in the summer, but I’m hopeful that someone will see my value and get me all trained up for the autumn spike that often comes as businesses want to gear up for the late fall holidays and the winter.

I have primarily been looking at Project or Product Management positions, though I’m also willing and able to take on technology generalist positions where I’m responsible for a little bit of everything.

During my time at Innovate Kingston, I did everything from printer and laptop support to working with third party vendors to get a fiber optic network set-up at a historical site. I was responsible for the marketing website server set-up and managing a development team for the platform creation. I’m really fairly comfortable doing nearly anything with technology.

As hopeful as I am that I’ll find that opportunity that will suit me for the long term because I’m tired of moving from company to company every year or so, I am also realistic that I need to find something shortly as we didn’t really plan for this jobless period and Annie is going back to school this fall to pursue her dreams.

So as long as I can find something that can keep that dream alive by keeping us financially afloat, that’s what matters most to me right now.