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The Anti-facebook?

There is a new social media platform called WT Social, which wants to take on Facebook and Twitter. It has a similar newsfeed to Facebook and topics are organized by sub-wikis. It’s founded by Jimmy Wales, a co-founder of Wikipedia. The promise not to sell your information and they organize content based on recency rather than engagement.

Wales thinks the platform can be funded by donations instead of advertising. He believes advertising has led to low quality content on Facebook and Twitter.

When you seek out WT Social and try to sign up, you’re put on a waiting list. You can jump the queue by inviting people (when someone accepts your invitation, you’re on board) or by donating. They’re gathering users fast – they have over 160,000 since October, but they have a long way to go – Facebook has 2.45 billion users.

I’ve signed up for other platforms that have come along in the past, such as Ello and MeWe, but I didn’t stick with either of them. I think they simply didn’t have a critical mass of users and I lost interest. I don’t like Facebook allowing false political advertising though, I don’t like all the outrageous memes, the ads and I don’t want my data sold every which way.

Will this new platform succeed? I don’t know, but I’ve signed up and I’ve begun to make some posts, join some sub-wikis, and I also created an Old Time Music sub-wiki.

One thing that is unique about WT Social is that anyone can edit posts. It should be interesting to see how that plays out. Are you happy with Facebook? Are you willing to test the waters of change with this new social platform?

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Larch vs Tamarack

For the longest time, I though larch and tamarack trees were the same. I’ve learned that they share a genus but are different species.

Larix laricina – the tamarack

Larch = Larix occidentalis
Tamarack = Larix laricina

An easy way to tell which is which is to look at the cones. Larch cones are far and away bigger than tamarack cones.

Larch and tamarack cones
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3 Berries

There are still quite a few berries around. Here are 3 we came across on today’s nature walk with naturalist Miles Hearn, at Ashbridges Bay on the east side Toronto.

Sea Buckthorn

These beautiful orange berries are Sea Buckthorn. They are edible and some people use them in baking or for jams. I tried one today. It was tart but not unpleasant. I’ve never seen anybody picking these – they are not uncommon in our parks.

Highbush Cranberry

There are also lots of Highbush Cranberry bushes around. I read that there are multiple species of Highbush Cranberry – one of them produces palatable berries. These are part of the Viburnum family and are not related to true cranberries.

Common Buckthorn

Some berries can be inedible or poisonous so make sure of your identification before eating anything you pick. One kind of berry to avoid is the Common Buckthorn. It is not for nothing it is called Rhamnus cathartica,
as it will provide a cathartic experience if you eat the berries.

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Tearing off the Back of the House

Tearing off the Back of the House is the latest episode of The Agency Podcast. You can hear it on our (newly revamped) Podbean page or find us at iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Tune-in.

This episode includes a discussion with Toronto artist Jacob Yerex about his illustration work on the Squeeze Box Man graphic novel, which (shameless self-promotion alert) is written by me. Jacob and I are in the editing stages on our 3rd volume of this comic – it will go to the printer in the next couple weeks.

When I began researching how to go about making a podcast, videos I read about the importance of the right studio set-up, the perfect microphone and so on. We’ll get to that. Meanwhile, we’ve recorded in a chicken coop, a funky tearoom with a secret door, and a Thai restaurant. Today we added a new twist with a construction crew tearing off the back of Candy and Stagg’s apartment while we happily jabbered away.

I hope you enjoy this episode.

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Making mosaics with some new elderly friends

Last week we started working with some seniors at a local long term care centre to make butterfly mosaics. We returned this afternoon and the group finished two butterflies.

at work

Don’t they look great? Everyone had a fun time, us included, working on this project.

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Birds out back

I’ve been seeing house finches at the backyard feeders recently. Along with the blue jays, which come by from time to time, they add a shot of colour to the usual suspects at the feeders.

These shots were all taken from inside our house, from a window that overlooks the apple tree and the feeders.

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I’m back at home after a short but productive trip to Chicago on Agency Podcast business. We took full advantage of being in the same city and not only recorded our regular weekly podcast, but also produced a bonus episode, recorded in two parts.

We recorded the first part in Candy & Stagg’s living room after watching Bong Joon Ho’s 2014 film, Snowpiercer. Bong Joon Ho’s current flick, Parasite, is clearly a gateway drug – we wasted no time in finding another of his movies.

Part 2 was recorded over a tasty Thai dinner, with guests Old Time musician Steve Rosen and Chicago artist Anthony Stagg. Supper conversations are always fun and I think you will enjoy this one. We called the bonus episode: All Aboard.

I came back to Toronto with a limited quantity of fashion-forward The Agency camo trucker caps. The best way to get your hands on one of these beauties is to email The Agency, include your mailing address, and ‘splain why you need Agency SWAG. Impress us with your email pitch and we’ll send you a cap (while supplies last).