Cravings “Waist Watchers” mini cheesecakes

*Update 20060125: Cravings now has their own website:* “”: . There’s even a copy of this blog posting on their “message board”: page. *I recommend that you comment on their guestbook instead of this page, since they’re much more likely to respond over there!*

*Update 20050324:* There’s a Canadian Food Inspection Agency alert out on the Cravings and Zarky’s Waist Watchers products; people with allergic reactions to soy protein should read

I can’t believe that a Google search doesn’t turn up information on these things; they’re sinfully delicious! (_Update: it does now_ :-)

A company called “Cravings” in Perth, Ontario (near Belleville; about 1.5 hours east of Toronto) makes a product called “Waist Watchers”; they’re mini cheesecakes with various flavour toppings. Each one is 60g, with 56.6 calories and 0.6 grams of fat, which makes them 1 Weight Watchers point each.

They’re _delicious_. The only complaint I have is that one isn’t enough :-). At only a point each, having two isn’t excessive. They’re light and airy; they appear to have come up with a mixture that captures many tiny air bubbles, allowing them to have the texture and flavour of cheesecake without a zillion calories.

Even better, the product isn’t packed full of chemicals; The product is made from: fruit, cheese, skim milk, flour, canola oil, egg whites, pineapple juice, lemon juice, cornstarch, baking soda, sugar, gelatin, flavouring, and colour.

*Update 2005/05/18:* There has been some confusion recently about the nutritional data for these products. I’m not an expert, but my understanding is that the data is allowed to be estimated, and (more importantly) is allowed to be rounded. So a product with “100 calories” can, in fact, contain anywhere from 76 to 125 calories :-). Both of these can easily explain why the nutrition data is the same for all variants of the product.

I highly recommend them. Flavours in the store today: Cherry, Rasberry, Blueberry, Lemon, Lime, and Chocolate. They’re all good! The chocolate is mixed through, and is more like chocolate mousse than cheesecake; the lemon is like lemon meringue pie :-). The company has recently introduced the Cravings Waist Watchers Chocolate Fix; I haven’t tried them, but reports from others are positive…

They are available at “Reid’s Dairy” and “Almost Perfect” stores in Southern Ontario; check the comments below for other locations, and if you know of others make sure you add to the list.

Cravings, PO Box 20053, Belleville ON K8P 5V1. (613) 264-8095

*Update 2003/11/11:*: Tanya (see comments) was able to obtain Craving’s phone number, which is (613) 264-8095. They will apparently take down your contact information and let you know about distributors in your area. If you do call them, please report back here so that other people can find them too. Thanks!

posted at 6:06 pm on Wednesday, February 26, 2003 in Miscellaneous | Comments (145)
  1. Terri says:

    I just tried the chocolate fix and they are fantastic. I’m near Belleville and find that you can find cravings at any I.G.A. They taste just like chocolate maccaroons. I’m going to try the receipe above and try to save a few bucks. Try weight watchers chocolate caramel bars. They’re a very tasty treat too.


  2. deb says:

    The calories on the ones i have been purchasing have increased -so the different flavours do have different calories… some as high as 70 (not that its high but relative to the 56 we thought we were consuming)…. just thought i would let you all know…

  3. Joyce says:

    I bought the chesecakes with the new labels. I don’t find they are much different in Nutritional values. The old cheesecakes had 60g and the new ones 70g. I believe that accounts for the higher calories etc. Instead of doing a general label, the label is now representing each flavour on it’s own. It is still a great product and I can eat them, have a scrumptious dessert and still stick to my diet. The other great thing is that my daughter, when we go to Reid’s, asks for Cravings Cheesecakes instead of ice cream and I can actually let her have them because there is no artificial sugars in them. My daughter, 9, really loves them as well as myself.

  4. Jackie says:

    If you are looking for these fabulous little desserts in the Ottawa area, I live in the east end of Ottawa and have found them at the Loeb stores in the frozen food section. The Chocolate Fix is a fantastic cocoa, coconut and sugar treat that is so good. What a tasty treat for yourself at Christmas time when there is so much stuff around that isn’t a good choice to eat when watching your weight.

  5. deb says:

    Anyone know if these are available in Mississauag area?

  6. Crystal says:

    Someone mentioned that these cheesecakes can be found at Mac Million’s in Milton??? Where abouts in Milton is Mac Millions? I ask because when I did a search I couldn’t find it.


  7. Susan says:

    Cravings now has their own web site. It has a list of stores where we can purchase their products and ask questions. It is a great site, they incourage customer feedback. I found the people to be very friendly. Give it a try.

  8. Kim says:

    Hi Harald,

    Greetings from Cravings Cheesecakes. Thank you for all the good words! Shame on me for misspelling your name. Please accept my apology. We would take pleasure in linking to your page. We appreciate all comments from your page or our page. Keep watch as we will be update our site frequently. All the best to you Harald in 2006.

  9. Heather says:

    I have just started to love these little treats and came across them out of town…does anyone know where to get them in the Waterloo, kitchener, cambridge area I would love to find out. Thanks everyone

  10. Crystal says:

    I am in Kingston Ontario, I have found them at IGA and a friend says she got hers at LOEB You have to look for them, they now have a haystack type treat, it is AWESOME and only 2 points per serving, if you need a chocolate fix that will do it…

  11. Natalie says:

    The cheesecakes and chocolate goodness is also available at the Loeb by Hunt Club and Merivale in OTTAWA. I found them last weekend at the back of the store in an open-top refrigerated compartment. Enjoy the treats :)

  12. Devon says:

    I don’t believe in promoting sales through blogs but I’m aware of many requests for Cravings products in Toronto/Mississauga and as a distributor for Cravings, I think I owe it to those people to let them know that both the cheesecakes and chocolate fixes have been available in the Toronto area for a couple of months. Sales in those stores have been surprisingly slow, in my opinion, so I think few consumers are aware that these stores carry the products. Since a Google search lists The Blog of Harald first and foremost, this seems to be the best method to get the word out. Here are the three newest venues: Beach IGA, 2040 Queen St.E., The Beaches (416) 694-3011; Thorncrest IGA, 1502 Islington Ave.(at Rathburn), Etobicoke (416)233-0621; Bruno’s Fine Foods, 4335 Bloor St.W.(corner of Mill Rd.), Etobicoke (416)626-9876. These last two stores are close to Mississauga.

  13. Wow!So many comments and great info. I just disovered Cravings Cheesecakes this week and Chocolate Fix. They were served at a function called Celebration of Life Awards Ceremony at the Halton Regional Center. There was a lovely display of food after this event and a whole section was filled with these desserts.Each one had a big label telling about each flavour.I am a Weight Watcher and my husband is a recent survivor of heart surgery so we were interested. We each tasted one and couldn’t believe the delicious flavour. We “took” a couple home and spent a lot of time today searching for a store that might sell them.We did go to Mary Lou’s Market in Burlington but didn’t see them so we will go back there. We will also check the Sobeys here in Oakville and I will tell the manager to get them if they don’t have them.I also plan to try the recipe.Thank you !!!! My Weight Watcher group may be onto them too. Norma 6/5/2006 8:15pm

  14. Kerri says:

    A comment to Norma that the Cravings products are available in Burlington at Zarky’s which is located just south west of Appleby and Upper Middle. They have all flavours and usually a good number in stock.

    Also, I have made the recipe for the Chocolate Fix and to have a bar the same size as the Cravings Chocolate Fix (80g) following that recipe would be equal to 3.5 points per bar not 2 (and that was using low fat margarine instead of butter which makes a big difference to points). Out of that recipe, you can only get about 14 80g bars and the total points from all the ingredients is 48. It seems impossible to use this recipe to duplicate the 2 point 80g bars. You would have to cut the sugar in half, substitute low fat margarine and cut it in half and cut the oats in half to get it anywhere close to 2 points a bar and I have no idea how that would taste!

    I really hope their labelling is correct!!

  15. Tina says:

    We live up in Timmins, and have discovered these awesome cheesecakes in our Loeb store. They are sensational. Thank you waist watchers!!

  16. Leslie says:

    I can’t believe how great these deserts are, it sure makes watching ones weight ALOT easier, I say keep up the good work and keep them coming.


  17. Lisa says:

    ok ok ok…..I am on a strict low carb diet….only 20 grams or less….I can’t find anything but jello to have for dessert,:( So it would be nice if I could find out what the carb and fibre count is on these million dollar treats. I need the carb count and then i have to subtract the fibre count to come up with the NET carb amount. I think they should still make them with the crust…cause all that the carb counter has to do is not eat the crust…right. The only problem with that is that i don’t know how many carbs is in the crust and how many are in the filling so it would be hard to count,,,,can someone pretty please tell me with a cherry cheese cake on top.

  18. Neil says:

    Even I’m hooked on the Chocolate Fix things! The grocery store is always sold out of them, when my wife and I see them, we usually just buy them all. It’s insanity. We have to make our own.

    I’m going to try Heathers recipe, thanks a lot.

  19. Leslie says:

    Hi again, just wanted to know if anyone has found a recipe for the Cravings “Cholcolate Fixs” that is closer to the calorie count that is on the “real one”, as I found the recipe on this site away higher.


  20. Karen says:

    I am in Ottawa and am an addict of these yummy 1 point desserts. I buy them at Loeb on Merivale, but perhaps they have them at other Loeb’s. FYI.

  21. Katherine says:

    I buy them at all the Loeb stores in Ottawa. I usually get Chocolate fixes, and I’ve seen all of the fruit flavoured cheesecakes but not the chocolate ones. Is there anywhere in Ottawa that sells the chocolate cheesecakes?

  22. Kristen says:

    Wondering if anyone has located Cravings in either Orillia or Beaverton area? I am leaving for the cottage for the summer and will not be able to live without my fix for 2 months??

  23. Devon says:

    Katherine, the other flavours of cheesecakes (including Chocolate, Strawberry, Peach and Black Forest)can be ordered from Steven’s Creek Country Market in North Gower (613) 489-1100. YOu need to give them a couple of weeks lead time so they can order them in for you.

  24. Suanne says:

    I found these at Dominion in Oakville at Neyagawa Blvd & Dundas St W
    Maybe other stores of this chain will carry them…. They were located back with the regular frozen cheesecakes in the bakery section.

  25. Pam says:

    We have been buying them for awhile. For anyone who needs a chocolate fix, their product is great. The coconut and rolled oats help and fibre add sweetness. The Cravings products were not moving that quickly when they started selling them at the Dominion on Neyagawa and thought we were the only ones buying them, and they were not being replenished. A couple of weeks ago, we noticed they are starting to move and the store was running out. As we had spoken to the store manager in past and he told us to let him know if we ever needed anything, we caught him and told him how much we like these and why and that they were out. He ordered more in so they are stocked up again. The Dominion on Upper Middle in Oakville now also carries them. My mother-in-law also tried them when she was here and is taking some “empties” with the labels on them back with here to Winnipeg to talk to a few store managers in Dominion and Safeway in Winnipeg to ask them if they can start stocking them too.

  26. Lesley says:

    The brownies are sooo scrumptious. I only pray A&P here won’t stop carrying them. Please start selling to more companies like maybe Safeway so I can get them all the time. They help my chocolate and sweet tooth here in Thunder Bay Ontario

  27. artsy says:

    You can buy them in Guelph, ON at the Ultra Food & Drug store. It’s open 24 hrs. I love them, there GREAT!!!!!!! Especially the Chocolate Fix and the Key lime pie cheesecake!

  28. Sal says:

    Thanks for all these comments everyone. I had seen these treats at the Dominion near by and was a little cautious. I finally bought them and found them to be delicious. Looks like they are safe too, judging from everyone’s comments. The Dominion in the Iona Plaza on Central Parkway (Mississauga) carries it.

  29. ashley says:

    For you Mississaugians: You can buy them at Dominion at Southdown and Lakeshore Rd.

    Diabetes doesn’t win this time! Usually low-sugar treats are full of artificial sweetners and preservatives leaving diabetics with a choice between two products that are harmful to our bodies (sugar or chemicals)… These are actually a treat I can eat without all of the junky additives and sugar substitutes.. but not affect my sugars too much – weeee!

  30. Traci says:

    I tried this for the first time tonight and LOVE it. I’ve only tried the lemon one so far. (70 cal)
    My fav treat is cheesecake so I wasn’t expecting to like it but thought I would give it a try and I’ll totally buy them weekly or so now :)

    Location wise: I’m in Toronto (Yonge/Eglinton) and they’re in the cheesecake freezer at my local Dominion. They’re in small pudding cup-like containers with bright wrappers. Keep your eye out for them. Def worth it.

  31. Lisa says:

    I live near Lindsay, Ontario and you can get them at Valu-Mart on Russell Street and at the new Reid’s Dairy place called “Quickert” beside Blockbuster video in the Whitney Town Centre. they are awesome!

  32. Debbie says:

    In Cambridge, ON you can get them at A&P on Frankling Blvd. Accross from cakes in a freezer bunker.

  33. Misha613 says:

    ***In Ottawa try loeb in the Glebe.

    Proud to be part of the club!!

  34. Jessica says:

    For the person who asked where you can get the cheesecakes in can get them at Dominion in Hopedale Mall! They’re delish! :)

  35. Brian says:

    Has anyone found a distributor for the Chocolate Fix in the St Catharines area?

  36. Donna says:

    Just tried Cravings website and it is no longer in use. Anyone know why? I love these treats but they are getting too pricey at A&P’s here in Brampton where they are $1.89 now and increased several times over the last several months. They are also available at Molinaro’s Fine Italian Food at only $1.59 (or so) in south Mississauga so I try to buy them in bulk there now.

  37. chk says:

    Most likely, someone forgot to pay the hosting bill… :-)

  38. Donna says:

    Just checked and they are $1.50 at Molinaro’s.


  39. Kim says:

    My husband discovered these in Dominion about a year ago ($1.89 now and getting up there). I love him for it. I do find over the last couple months their quality control has been lacking. Got a bunch of chunky one’s a couple months ago and now we have a bunch of runny ones, very icky. We’re thinking we can make them ourselves as the ingredients are basic and put them into the mini Ziploc containers, which are the same size.

  40. Wendy says:

    I have heard through the grapevine that Cravings plan to open a retail outlet in 2009 and will offer on line orders. Watch for their announcement. If I get the word I will post it here.

    Kim, did you notify Cravings of your concerns. I know they make every order as it comes in and have no stock. Every order is made fresh. E-mail them, they are down to earth, very nice people.

  41. Jennifer says:

    I found these little yummies at Metro in Scarborough. They were in a freezer with other cheesecakes near the bakery. It’s the first time I’ve seen them and I only bought the chocolate fix because chocolate is what I always crave. I just ate my first one and it was delicious! Their website says they’re now at Costco so I’ll be checking next time I go there.

  42. Janet Ruderman says:

    People who are trying to watch their weight should not eat the Chocolate Fix. The product label is incorrect. I contains closer to 300 than 110 calories. You cannot make an 80-gram product with sugar, rolled oats and margarine as the main ingredients for less than that. Science is science. Face it.

  43. JG says:

    I bought $120 worth at Molinaro’s last week, since Quickerts went bankrupt and I thought I had no other options. They are all BAD – Shame on me for not checking the bottom of the containers, but the dates on them went back to march 2008! The woman at Molinaro’s told me that she gets new stock every Thursday and that she sell’s 10 cases per week – so no old stock! Cravings told me they hold NO stock and it might be a distributor problem. Beware – check the dates!

  44. Deanna says:

    The Metro stores in Newmarket have stopped carrying these. The gentleman from the bakery department said that soon all Metro’s will stop carrying them. What is going on with this product and does anyone in the Newmarket area know where I can get them?

  45. Devon says:

    There seems to be a lot of misinformation about Cravings in Metro stores. As their distributor, we can assure you that Metro is not discontinuing the products. There has been a problem with delivery lately and most stores seem to be out of stock, but will be restocked when this temporary situation is resolved. In the interim, Cravings products can be found at many other locations including Almost Perfect stores( in Toronto, Oshawa, Ajax, Peterborough. Steven’s Creek Country Market in North Gower can order them for Ottawa area residents, and they are available at Somerville Frozen Foods in Brockville. We apologize to all you faithful customers for this inconvenience and especially to those who may have to travel some distance to buy the products for a while. Once the delivery issue is resolved, if Metro bakery staff continue to tell you the product will not be available at all it is because the store is not ordering it, and they should be, so you may need to demand it.

Weight Goals

Well, it’s working again; I lost 2 pounds this week.

As I continue to struggle to take off the pounds, people I know are all telling me that I look great, and many of them think that if I lose any more weight I’ll be too skinny. I’m certainly happy; My size is back down to where it used to be years ago (and none of my current clothes fit me anymore :-).

My original goal was 50 pounds, but I’m starting to question that. I don’t want to be one of those people who is constantly obsessing over every pound, which cuts both ways. On the one hand, if I don’t take off enough weight now, I won’t have any margin for error. On the other hand, if I set my weight goal too low, I won’t be happy with the amount of food I can eat to maintain that weight.

I’m not averse to losing more weight, and if I’m going to I should do it now, all at once, while I’m still in the mindset. So it’s time to take a different tack; now that I’ve lost 30 pounds and (more importantly) been eating healthy for 6 months, how’s my health? I’ve booked an appointment with my doctor, and he _loves_ running tests, so I should have a better place from which to make decisions in a couple of weeks.

posted at 2:28 pm on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 in Personal | Comments Off on Weight Goals

Cheese or Peanut Butter?

I tripped over an interesting rant, written by John Lichfield and quoted by Kasia. In a nut-shell, he observes that:

The US has produced more than 50 kinds of peanut butter. They all taste the same but they have radically different labels. France has somehow managed to create 176 (or 258 or 1,000) different kinds of cheese, all of which are subtly different from one another.

If we are being offered a choice between a cheese-eating civilisation and a peanut-butter-eating civilisation, I am with the cheese-eaters. Post-September 11, US politics — and even US journalism — seems to be going the way of peanut butter. There is room for endless freedom of choice between labels. The contents of the ideas are not allowed to vary.

Go read Kasia’s excerpt, or the original column

posted at 8:39 pm on Monday, February 24, 2003 in Politics | Comments Off on Cheese or Peanut Butter?

another get_weather_ca update

It turns out that as part of the “website revamp”:, there’s now a text weather page, as well as the fancy one with tables and graphics. Actually, I tripped over it by accident; on the weekend the graphics page was redirecting to the text-only page for some reason. When the graphics page returned, I noticed the “graphics off” link that gives the text page :-)

Anyway, on the weekend I wrote a parser for the text-only page. It seems to be working OK, so I cleaned it up a bit and am posting it here (and to the mailing list). As an added bonus, forecasts are back (yay!).

You can download:

* “patch against misterhouse 2.78”:
* “weather_ca.tar.gz”:
* “”:

posted at 2:46 pm on Monday, February 24, 2003 in Programming | Comments Off on another get_weather_ca update

My D&D statistics

Str: 7
Int: 11
Wis: 14
Dex: 13
Con: 8
Chr: 13

Go “try the quiz”: for yourself. Via “PAM”:

posted at 11:16 am on Monday, February 24, 2003 in Gaming | Comments (1)

Proving Once Again That It’s All Porn and Money

Well, porn anyway!

According to my “site statistics”:, the two most popular pages on this site are:

* “Trends in Playboy Models”:
* “Female Nudity”:

(The second one is a distant second; I mention it because it supports my conclusion.)

It turns out that, thanks to the black magic of “PageRank”:, the first one is number 2 on a search for “playboy models”: right now (seven of the top 10 are links to the same news story).

I wonder how long it will take this entry to generate traffic! <grin>

posted at 7:02 pm on Thursday, February 20, 2003 in Random Thoughts | Comments Off on Proving Once Again That It’s All Porn and Money

get_weather_ca update

Our friends at “”: have moved their scripts around, and changed the web page formats. I’ve partially updated my screen scraper for “Misterhouse”:, although I’ve had to disable the forecast portion until I get more time.

You can download:

* a “patch against misterhouse 2.78”:
* “weather_ca.tar.gz”:
* “”:

posted at 4:21 pm on Thursday, February 20, 2003 in Programming | Comments Off on get_weather_ca update


If you read nothing else today, read this essay: “Eject! Eject! Eject!: COURAGE”:

Nothing I can say about it will do it justice. Trust me, it’s worth 20 minutes of your time.

(Thanks to Karen Murphy for the link.)

posted at 11:48 am on Thursday, February 20, 2003 in Current Events | Comments Off on Courage

What’s a Calculator?

There was a question in Ronnie’s homework today. “Look at the numerals on a digital clock. What can you use to check your adding that has the same kind of numbers?” The answer is supposed to be “a calculator”, however, Ronnie has almost never used a calculator. In fact, I couldn’t even find one to show him.


My house is the same; what’s a calculator? I’ve got two old HP scientific calculators in a box somewhere, but I doubt they still have batteries. On the other hand, I’ve got more than one software calculator on each computer, two palm pilots, and two cell phones; why would I *need* a single-purpose calculator?

I remember my very first calculator. It was huge. I won it in a machine at the CNE in Toronto, in the late 1970s. It had an LED display and four functions (I don’t even think it had a ‘memory’). How far we’ve come…

posted at 9:18 am on Thursday, February 20, 2003 in Humour | Comments Off on What’s a Calculator?

Weightloss: time for a spot check

My weight has been the same three weigh-ins in a row now. I can tell you exactly why, though.

* Firstly, I’ve been a relative couch-potato for the last two weeks. The winter cold is finally getting to me; I don’t _want_ to walk home from the subway, or walk to the GO Train in the morning. I could take long walks (in the underground) at lunch instead, but I haven’t wanted to do _that_ either. So, mini-resolution number 1: get back to walking to/from the train, or go for walks at lunches. Catch up on laundry and housework; that’ll get my activity level up again. To measure this, I’m going to record my pedometer readings again.

* Secondly, I’ve been unable to say no to potato chips, and (more damaging) to birthday cake. This week I’m over my points total by 17, and that’s entirely due to two pieces of birthday cake and a small mound of chips, all on the weekend. Thankfully, the bag of chips is now _gone_ from my house :-). So, mini-resolution number 2: strict adherence to points limits, and no more birthday cake. (I’m not going to give up the chips, but I’m going to try to go back to getting my weekly fix on curling nights, when I have the extra points available).

On the plus side, I’ve been paying more attention to nutritional balance. I’ve been making sure I get my milk and veggie servings every day, and I’ve been paying more attention to balancing protein and carbohydrates. I tend to maintain a balance over time, while having some high-carb days and some high protein days, so I suppose that’s good.

Yesterday, somone looked at me like I was _insane_ when I told her I was on a weight loss program; I suppose that’s a good sign too (that I don’t _look_ pregnant anymore :-).

Anyway, “stay tuned”: for the results :)

posted at 1:34 pm on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 in Personal | Comments Off on Weightloss: time for a spot check

New Solar Power for Buildings

From a New Scientist article:

bq. Buildings of the future could be “clothed” in a flexible, power-generating material that looks like denim. The Canadian company developing the material says it can be draped over just about any shape – greatly expanding the number of places where solar power can be generated.

Cool; another Canadian company working on alternative power systems. This particular material has about the same efficieny as regular solar panels. However, it apparently looks something like denim, which makes for _interesting_ building designs…

posted at 1:36 pm on Sunday, February 16, 2003 in Science and Technology | Comments Off on New Solar Power for Buildings

MovableType 2.6

Well, everyone else is doing it….

“MovableType 2.6”: has been released. The upgrade was quite painless; the only major thing I’ve done so far is to update my comments form a little bit, and install “Brad Choate’s(Brad Choate)”: new “MT-Textile(MT-Textile)”: plugin. (This entry is formatted using it :-).

Major features of interest to me:

* the new formatting plugins, and the fix to the “Convert Line Breaks” HTML formatter that allows blockquotes. These two were my biggest issues with MT. The Textile formatter will make it easier to format entries in “Adanflaen Nights(Adanflaen Nights)”: , and the HTML exclusions fix means I’ll almost never have to unset “Convert Line Breaks” in my weblog.
* The Sanitize plugin (only because I’m slightly paranoid).
* bug fixes (which are always good).

The other new stuff I can take or leave; they’re not relevant to any of my blogs. Still, nice to have a new release, and even better to have well-supported software like this!

posted at 1:01 pm on Friday, February 14, 2003 in Site News | Comments (1)

Feast to Famine

I haven’t tripped over many interesting things in BlogSpace lately (everybody’s arguing about the Power Law stuff instead). My thoughts are mundane, like deciding what I’m going to have for lunch, or when I am going to have time to go sample those Reid’s Dairy one-point cheescakes :-).

Seems like a couple of months ago I had too many things to blog about, and now I’ve got too few. Ah well; it’s winter, and time for sitting by the fire[place] with a good book. Come spring the world will quicken again, and by August I’ll be rambling about anything just for an excuse to stay in the air conditioning.

Speaking of which, I just gotta love a climate with a 50°C seasonal temperature swing. Last summer the A/C couldn’t keep up with the 39°C afternoons, and yesterday my son’s ski trip was cancelled because it was -11°C (with a 45-65 km/h wind.!). The new high-efficiency furnace ran for 13 hours yesterday; good thing we replaced the old one in December!

Anyway, I’m off to play with Wiki technolgy some more; I might convert Adanflaen Nights over, and/or use 0xDECAFBAD‘s Wiki + MovableType combination. A Wiki makes more sense for static reference content like the game information pages, while a weblog makes more sense for the campaign notes stuff. Hmm…

posted at 4:49 pm on Thursday, February 13, 2003 in Random Thoughts, Site News | Comments Off on Feast to Famine

Elves and Pirates

Imagine a world where elves weren’t a vanishing race whose glories were well behind them. Imagine that the lands of men are growing stronger. Since a battle between fleets would be suicide, mankind must resort to piracy…

Quick halfling sailors climb through the riggings of human and elvish ships alike, cutting the seas in great sailing ships armed with dwarven cannon. It’s rumored that some gnomish inventors are fast at work at an engine powered by steam that could revolutionize sea travel. Muskets sound and steel clashes in the final years before the long-promised upheaval, the war of mastery between man and elf, finally begins.

The Elvish Main Sounds like a fabulous environment to play in; I can’t wait to hear more :-)

posted at 10:30 am on Tuesday, February 11, 2003 in Gaming | Comments (1)

The Megalomaniac’s Desktop

In the people with too much time on their hands department, we present formandcontent: worldview desktop v0.9, a dual-display desktop crammed full of various automatically updating information feeds (webcams, stock tickers, satellite weather views, etc. etc. etc.).

posted at 1:52 pm on Monday, February 10, 2003 in Odd | Comments Off on The Megalomaniac’s Desktop

Not Reading

James complains that he isn’t reading:

My time has been wasted sitting in front of the tube, or typing on the PowerBook, not with a book propped before my face. This is not good.

I know the feeling. I find that over the years I’ve been reading less and less. I used to be able to demolish at least three books a week; I’m now lucky if I get through one in two weeks. (The book list in the links bar goes back about 6 months right now).

Some reasons are obvious: I now have two kids; My train ride to work is shorter than it used to be, and I now get a car ride to work about half the time; I work through lunch more often; the books I read are 2-3 times longer than they used to be.

But some of it is that I spend way more time watching TV, or parked in front of the computer (or both) than I used to. I’ve been trying to get my TV watching down, but people keep making good TV shows for me to watch :-) And then there’s this whole weblog thing to keep up with…

Ah well; I still get some reading done; I just have to be a little more selective than I used to.

posted at 1:44 pm on Sunday, February 09, 2003 in Personal | Comments Off on Not Reading

She can read!

Charlotte (the four year old) sounded out “Canada” on a map all by herself at story time today!

She’s the kind of smart that’s going to be capital-T trouble in a few years.

I’m so proud. :-)

posted at 9:15 pm on Thursday, February 06, 2003 in Personal | Comments Off on She can read!


TrackBacks are comments. They are comments left on someone else’s site rather than your own, but they are comments nonetheless. Movable Type makes a distinction between entry comments and TrackBacks that seems artificial, and it made more sense to me to have TrackBack ping data appear within the comments portion of a Movable Type site.

I agree, and so I’ve installed the Simple Comments plugin in MovableType, and updated my templates.

While I was at it, I also swiped the format for the comment form from OxDECAFBAD, because it’s smaller and neater (even though I normally dislike using tables for layout).

posted at 3:26 pm on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 in Site News | Comments (2)

A Weight Milestone

I am officially no longer “overweight”! My BMI has dropped below 25 as of today’s weigh-in.

Wee ha! And now, to celebrate: stuffed mushrooms, caesar salad, a large steak, baked potato with all the trimmings, and (of course) cherry cheesecake for dessert. To say nothing of the bottle of wine.

Wow, there’s a fantasy image! That’d certainly push me back over. All things considered, I don’t really want it, either. Well, excepting the cheescake.

Wow, I’m strange.

posted at 9:54 pm on Tuesday, February 04, 2003 in Personal | Comments (3)

Hitting the stress wall

Mark has hit the wall.

Mark’s posting inspired me to scribble down some random thoughts, which eventually turned into this rant.None of this is directed at him specifically; he’s a pretty smart guy :-). In fact, he’s unplugging for a few days, an excellent idea…

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen burnout over the years, among family, friends, and others. I’ve hit that wall myself, a time or two, and I know a few people flirting with the edge. These days, my answer is along these lines:

Stop complaining about how you don’t have a life. You “live” a life, you don’t “have” a life. If you really want to live a more balanced life, start looking at the choices you are making. You are not in prison.

– workplace writer Barbara Moses

Now that quote is worded harshly, but the idea is sound. If you let them, other people will absorb all of your time and energy. This is true of employers, family, friends, organisations you volunteer for, and so on. We each have to decide, for ourselves, the things that we believe are worthwhile expenditures of energy. Where do you draw the line?

Obviously, having a job is key; without a job, it can be challenging to eat and stay warm. And it’s important to do one’s job well! But that is no reason to let an employer (or client) bully you into burn-out. In this economy, some employers think that they can get more out of their employees because they cannot escape. I’ve heard about companies that routinely expect 10 hours (or more) per week of overtime. Spread across four employees, that is an entire extra person that company should hire! That kind of nonsense is why the economy is recovering even though unemployment rates remain constant. (Thankfully I don’t work for one of those employers.)

Somewhere in there we have to make time for our families, to see friends, for our health (physical fitness is the leading cause of longevity :-) and yes, even personal time for reading, meditation, or whatever else keeps us sane. Good employers realize that healthy, sane employees are more productive. But it’s hard to avoid spreading oneself too thinly, with all of the demands on our time. Multi-tasking and “efficiency” can only go so far; they merely postpone the inevitable.

I have worked crazy hours in the past to meet deadlines. Sometimes they were my deadlines, and sometimes they were other people’s. But there were fewer demands on my time back then, and so overtime was managable. I have a family now, my priorities have changed, and I think I’ve mananged to find a balance between work demands and the rest of my life. Thanks in part to a commuter train schedule, I work normal hours most days. With some exceptions, I’ve found that clients that demand a solution “right now!” will accept one, two, or several days provided that their expectations are managed appropriately. (In fact, we’ve found it’s better to deliver a tested solution in two days, than it is to deliver a “quick-fix” in one day.)

It certainly helps that my team and I have developed a good development discipline over the years (and across multiple employers). Management requests features, and (sometimes) a specific ship date. We estimate the work involved, then combine that with the programmers available and develop a schedule and an actual ship date. (It’s up to us to make quality estimates, since we suffer if they’re wrong). If management wants to move the deadline, they have two options; hire more staff, or drop features. We’ve trained them to understand this. :-) We still work late when the unexpected comes up, or when an estimate is a little bit off, but generally speaking, we all get to go home at night and avoid burn-out.

I too have a laptop and a wireless network. I still spend too much time in front of my computer, but now it’s personal play time. I maintain my servers, catch up on e-mail, look up the name of the actress on the TV show I’m watching, and so on. I can work from home if I need to, and I often do if the weather is bad (or I’ve slept in and missed the train :-). But normally I don’t check my office e-mail from home, and I don’t have a compiler (or the project source code) on my laptop so I can’t be tempted to “fix one more bug”.

This weekend I took my son to hockey, went to the Science Centre with family, had friends over for dinner, did some housework (but not enough), took both kids skating, and helped another friend move furniture. I was tired Sunday night, but in a good way. That’s how I avoid burnout…

posted at 6:30 pm on Monday, February 03, 2003 in Random Thoughts | Comments Off on Hitting the stress wall