Home brew suppliers

Since more and more suppliers are popping up, I figured I’ll start keeping a list for myself.

People I’ve interacted with

  • Black kilt brewing supplies – Fairly small range and a pretty bad website, but these guys were awesome. I bought my first starter kit from them and they were very helpful and knowledgeable.
  • Beerguevara – Awesome service, great range and easy online shopping on their site. There has been problems (An order was delivered without some items), but they always fix any issues promptly.
  • National food products – Good range and prices. No online shopping. Has been highly recommended by other people. Everything I wanted was in stock and  even though they only have a pdf with prices on the website, it was accurate. Will definitely use them again.
  • The Beer Keg – Good prices on some things and Vincent seems knowledgeable. Service is pretty bad though. I’ve never had a response to an email and it usually takes days for a response on Skype. I’ve also had items randomly replaced with something else in an order, and you can’t trust the stock levels on the site.  This seems to be the case for a lot of people over a long period, so I will not be supporting them again.

People I have not tried (yet)

  • Beerlab – Not the best prices, but good range and online shop. I will definitely try these guys at some point.
  • Brew for Africa – They have some interesting equipment at great prices.
  • Brewmart – Big range of equipment at good prices. If you’re looking for something less common, they look like a good option. Lots of useful stuff if you want to build your own equipment.
  • Beerbros – Some interesting options if you are building your own equipment or if you want some high quality imports. Shipping might be a bit prohibitive if you aren’t in Durban.
  • Brew Engineers – Not a big range on their site, but they might be a good option to ask about custom stuff.

2017 Goals

For 2017, my goals will probably be similar to 2016.

For 2016, I didn’t do quite as much traveling as I would have liked, but I did lose 15kg’s of weight and did manage to spend time with my son almost every day. I also managed not to work any overtime for the year. I completely failed at fitness and experiences though.

Once again, my goals are roughly broken up into work related stuff, personal stuff, experiences I’d like to have and things I’d like to do.

Family:

I’d like to spend more time doing meaningful things with my family.

  • Go out and do something with my wife at least once a month. Starting to add things to the calendar.
  • Spend time with my son every day: Spend at least 30 minutes every day doing something of his choosing.
  • Do something with my wife and son at least one weekend a month: Anything from going to the garden centre on a Sunday to weekends away.

Work / Career:

From a work and financial perspective, I’m pretty happy with where I am. Some good decisions, cutting expenses, negotiating a bigger raise and some circumstances outside my control has conspired to make us pretty financially comfortable.

Some goals I am actively working towards:

  • Become better known in the Android community: Present at 2-3 conferences this year (First one has been confirmed already).
  • Setting up a better workspace: I’ve started building my own keyboard, which I’m hoping will make me more comfortable.
  • Contribute to an open source project: I’m looking a a bug to fix for the WordPress mobile app. Will go from there.
  • Start figuring out a way to work remotely: Figure out a way to start towards working remotely at least a few days a week.

Travel:

  • At least 1 international trip this year. We’re planning to go to Australia in April.
  • At least one trip per quarter. The first one will be to the Clarens beer fest at the end of Feb again 🙂

Self improvement:

The two main items I want to focus on is fitness and health.

  • Lose weight: I lost 15 kg in the second half of last year. I’ve been focusing on eating better, and have pretty much stopped eating refined carbs.
  • Exercise more: The first step is to go cycling once a week. No matter where, how long, how fast – To start with, I just need to leave my yard on my bike once a week.
  • Flexibility and strength: I started doing some gymnastic strength training. I need to make sure I do some training every day.
  • Make time for mindfulness and reflection: I’ve started a 5-minute journal. Next step is to start meditating

Experiences:

Experiences I want to still have. Some of these will be alone, some with my family and some with friends. I’m aiming for at least the first four this year.

  • Knife making / Blacksmithing. My wife bought me a voucher! I’m doing this in March
  • Beer brewing. Paid and booked all grain brewing course for next weekend
  • Learn to make Sushi.
  • Archery: Do an intro class and then probably sign up for monthly membership.
  • Rock climbing.
  • Glass blowing: Start with 4-hour taster and take it from there
  • Survival courses: Boswa offers everything from half day intro’s to weekend long extreme survival experiences
  • Scuba diving: Go on at least 1 dive this year – Hopefully in Australia.

Live smarter, not harder

I’ve written about Buffer’s values previously and the fact that I find them pretty inspiring.

One of the values I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is “Live smarter, not harder” and how that applies to me.

According to buffer’s highlights:

  • You value waking up fresh over working that extra hour
  • You always aim to be fully engaged in an activity, or resting
  • You single task your way through the day
  • You are at the top of your game, as you focus on expanding capacity of your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy
  • You choose to be at the single place on Earth where you are the happiest and most productive, and you are not afraid to find out where that is

We are working on the last point (finding out where our happiest and most productive place is), but other than that, I’ve been trying to work on my work / life balance, getting more sleep and being focused on one thing at a time.

My average number of hours asleep has slowly been creeping up from about 6 hours a night to 7 hours a night. I think about 7:30 would be good for me, so some work left there.

I’ve also worked hard to not try to multi-task at work and to be fully engaged in an activity at home. I used to try to do other things while watching TV and as a result never really stopped working. I’ve managed to get this right pretty well.

As I mentioned in my 2016 goals post, I was horrified to find out that last year I worked well over 400 hours of overtime… Apart from one crazy ambitious project where I put in about 120 hours of overtime over a period of 3 months, this snuck up on me.

Luckily, this is pretty simple to fix – Just don’t do it 🙂 While this isn’t always easy, just being aware of my tendency to work lots of overtime hours has made a big difference.

I’ve also been working at being more efficient. Less multi-tasking and a better setup has made a big difference. I focused on cutting out mouse usage as much as possible by figuring out a better IDE setup and I’ve upgraded laptop (another 8GB RAM and an SSD) which have had massive improvements on both my productivity and my RSI.

In a nutshell, while there is definitely a lot more improvement to be made, I’ve made huge strides in working smarter, not harder, and it’s had a definite positive impact in what has been a difficult period.

2016 Goals

I’ve previously written about how much I dislike new years resolutions. This is mainly because people usually make what I refer to as new years wishes: I want to have more money, I want to be more fit, I want to be less fat, etc..

Because these things are usually not specific enough, actionable or measurable, they get abandoned and usually wished for on the next new years day again.

monkey-year_3551486aHaving said that, having goals is a useful, so I figured I’d write down some of mine. Because of the horrific start to the year we’ve had, we decided to go with the Chinese new year, so my 2016 will only start next Monday.

My goals are roughly broken up into work related stuff, personal improvement, experiences I’d like to have and things I’d like to do.

There’s a lot here and some of these are not specific enough, but I’m going to treat this as an initial dump from which I can refine actionable items over the next week or two.

Family:

Spend more time doing meaningful things with my family.

  • Sunday breakfast: Have a skottel breakfast with my family every Sunday.
  • Spend time with Lucas every day: Spend at least 30 minutes every day doing something of his choosing with Lucas.

Work / Career:

From a work and financial perspective, I’m pretty happy with where I am. Some good decisions, cutting expenses, negotiating a bigger raise and some circumstances outside my control has conspired to make us pretty financially comfortable.

My main focus this year will be on figuring out a better work-life balance and addressing my RSI. Both of these were negatively impacted by the amount of overtime I worked… I just did a quick calculation and was astonished to find that I worked around 450 hours overtime (unpaid) last year

Some goals I am actively working towards:

  • Working less overtime: Last year, on average I work more than 8 hours overtime every week. This equates to working about 2 and a half months extra over the year! This is unpaid time that I could have spent with my family. My goal is to work only 40 – 45 hours a week.
  • Setting up a better workspace: I’ve been suffering with RSI for about 5 years now, and in the last year I did not pay enough attention to it. It is perfectly manageable if I pay attention to my setup and posture, take enough breaks and use the right keyboard / mouse.
  • Become better known in the Android community: I plan on doing this by talking at a couple of conferences during the year and blogging at least twice a month. I’m also trying to be more active on social media.

Travel:

  • At least 1 international trip this year. Probably to Australia around mid-year.
  • At least one camping trip per quarter. The first one will be to the Clarens beer fest at the end of the month 🙂

Self improvement:

The two main items I want to focus on is fitness and health.

  • Lose weight: I’m currently nearly 20kg overweight, so I need to lose some of that. I’ve been focusing on eating better, by making small changes. I’ve tried to have less refined carbs (especially bread), but the main thing I’ve done is to make sure that I have a breakfast with some  protein and no refined carbs every week day. Doing this, I’m losing about half a kilo a week.
  • Eat better: I’m trying to eat supper without any refined carbs 6 days a week. This is very much a work in progress…
  • Exercise more: I’ve already upped my average daily step count from about 5000 steps to 8000 steps. The next step is to go cycling once a week. No matter where, how long, how fast – To start with, I just need to leave my yard on my bike once a week.
  • Make time for mindfulness and reflection: I’m trying to be more present and to spend some time reflecting on what’s working and what needs improvement. To this end, the plan is to start a 5-minute journal.

Experiences:

Experiences I want to have this year. Some of these will be alone, some with my family and some with friends.

  • Knife making / Blacksmithing
  • Glass blowing: Start with 4-hour taster and take it from there
  • Survival courses: Boswa offers everything from half day intro’s to weekend long extreme survival experiences
  • Archery: Do an intro class and then probably sign up for monthly membership.
  • Scuba diving: Go on at least 1 dive this year.
  • Learn to play guitar: I’ve enjoyed Rocksmith – Just need to make the time to play more. Maybe try to find 15-30 minutes every second night.

Living the Buffer values – getting started

In my last post I mentioned that I want to start living the buffer values.That’s great, but those are some pretty big ideas, so I need somewhere to start without feeling overwhelmed…My first thought was to start measuring as much as I can (not a problem… I’m quite the data geek in any case) and then to try and find meaning in that data.This will mainly help me with living smarter and self-improvement.

Around the data, I’ve signed up for Exist (which I’m loving) and I’m trying to find a way to track Pomodoros so I can start honing in on more productivity.

I already use a Fitbit to track my activity and sleep.

The other change I’m making is trying to be more mindful and conscious of bad habits. Here I’m thinking this should help me figure out how to be more positive, grateful and to listen more.

To that end, I’m thinking about starting to use something like the 5 minute journal.

I’ve also installed the Buffer values new tab page chrome plugin, so every time I open a new tab I see one of these values and try to take a moment to reflect on it.

I expect this will be a long journey and I’ll be posting more specific things I’m trying.