TIME Religion

This Guy Gave Up Food for Lent and Is Surviving On Beer Instead

Beer glasses
Getty Images

Though he's supplementing with water and juice so he doesn't get TOO inebriated

There are all sorts of things you could give up for Lent: selfies, trolling on Tinder, binge-watching mind-numbing Bravo shows, carbs, etc. But one guy decided to go back to basics by simply giving up food — and surviving on beer instead.

For the past 19 days, Toronto resident Chris Schryer has consumed beer for every meal — and plans to do so until Lent ends on April 17. His friend penned a column about the experience for QMI News Agency, explaining that Schryer “has given up solid food for Lent in emulation of the monastic order who created Dopplebock in Bavaria in the 17th century.”

Don’t worry, though: Schryer is also drinking water, juice and tea during his fast to keep hydrated and avoid, you know, getting wasted. He’s just getting his nutrients from beer — which he made at a Toronto brewery. He used oats to provide nutrition through their proteins and unfermentable sugars, though he initially considered using seaweed.

Schryer has also been writing about his beer diet on his blog, where he addresses topics like alcoholism and his deeper reasons behind his fast.

TIME Travel

The Poor Writer’s Life, Now With Free Travel … and Free Houses

Colorado Scenics
Robert Alexander—Getty Images

Yes, free travel and free housing are possible for writers thanks to with two new residency programs. This isn’t a open-ended free-for-all, however: Note that the free travel comes via Amtrak, and the free houses being given away are in Detroit.

A couple dozen writers’ dreams may come true, courtesy of … Amtrak? America’s national rail service recently introduced the #AmtrakResidency program, in which up to 24 writers will be granted a free round trip on one of Amtrak’s long-distance routes. “Each resident will be given a private sleeper car, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration,” the application form explains. In exchange for a rail journey valued at up to $900, the writer is expected to, well, write while on board, in long form (blog posts, poetry, maybe a few chapters in a novel) and short form (Twitter) alike. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis through the end of March.

As a post on The Wire summed up in late February, the writer-in-residency idea is one that popped up and evolved over the course of several months. In an interview in December, the author Alexander Chee mentioned his love of writing on trains, and that he wished “Amtrak had residencies for writers.” The comment kicked off tons of discussion—and similar yearnings—by writers on Twitter, and eventually Amtrak reached out to one of these writers, Jessica Gross, to see if she’d be interested in a train writer-in-residency test run. Of course, she was “on board,” and the results can be seen partially in a piece published by The Paris Review, in which Gross ruminates on (of course) train travel, among other things. A brief excerpt:

Train time is found time. My main job is to be transported; any reading or writing is extracurricular. The looming pressure of expectation dissolves. And the movement of a train conjures the ultimate sense of protection—being a baby, rocked in a bassinet.

(MORE: College Offers to Pay Students to Take a Year Off)

Apparently the test run was considered a success, because Amtrak opened the residency program up to the masses last week. Understandably, Chee, the program’s unintentional visionary, was overjoyed. “It’s one thing to dream about these things. It’s another thing to try to create them,” Chee said in an NPR interview. “And usually when people try to create residencies for artists and writers, you have to go through so much red tape.”

Amtrak haters, on the other hand, are using the residency program as an excuse for criticizing the rail operation, which has a very long history of losing money. In a letter sent to Amtrak’s president (and the media), U.S. Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Tom Coburn (R-OK), wrote of the residency program, “Given Amtrak’s prodigious annual taxpayer subsidies, this plan raises multiple red flags.”

In Detroit, meanwhile, a program offers writers a lot more than just a train trip. Various artist colonies welcome writers-in-residences to free lodging for a year or some other specified period of time. But the non-profit Write a House project stands out because if a participating writer fulfills the program’s requirements—including living in a rehabbed Detroit home and writing about the experience for two years—the house is his or hers to keep. Three houses are up for grabs, and project organizers are in the process of raising money and renovating them.

“People who move here will have to be prepared for some boarded-up houses on their blocks,” Sarah Cox, co-founder of Write a House, explained to the New Yorker. “But you’ll get the opportunity to be part of a community, own a house, and see real change happening.”

Applications will start being accepted this spring.

(MORE: Airline Travelers, Your Future Will Look a Lot Like … Cleveland)

Other kinds of artists aren’t entirely left out of such freebie-barter arrangements. As frommers.com pointed out recently while highlighting Amtrak’s new residency program, Canada’s Via Rail service grants free food and long-haul trips to singers and musicians in exchange for performances in the economy-class lounge car.

“It’s such a charming place to play music, and it’s a captive audience to say the least,” one musician said to the Globe and Mail of his experience playing on the train. “There’s not that much space for an audience, in the tens of people for sure. So it is really intimate.”

TIME technology

The Heat at This Bus Stop Will Only Work If You Hold Hands With a Stranger

The shelter requires a human touch activate its heaters

Need a new reason to love your body, no matter what? Here’s one: It makes an excellent extension cord. Comprised of more than 50% water by weight, it conducts electricity really well. In most real-world situations, that would be totally useless — and potentially deadly, should you get struck by lightening — but now you can use your innate ability to activate battery-powered heaters in an outdoor bus shelter in Montreal.

Here’s how it works: When two or more people step into the shelter, hold hands and press the palm of their free hand against sensors on the walls, an electrical circuit is completed and four ceiling vents release hot air into the glass-enclosed space. According to Canada Nightlife, which first reported on the Duracell-sponsored novelty last December, the heat continues for a few minutes even after you stop holding a stranger’s hand, giving you ample time to whip out the hand sanitizer and go back to playing Flappy Bird until the next bus arrives.

Watch the newly-released video above to see the heaters in action.

TIME Internet

Rob Ford Apparently Doesn’t Understand How Daylight Saving Time Works

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Press Conference
Carlos Osorio—Getty Images

The embattled crack-smoking mayor of Toronto gave his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers the wrong clock-setting advice ahead of this weekend's Daylight Savings Time switchover

And in today’s edition of fun Rob Ford news: the scandal-plagued, gaffe-prone Toronto mayor incorrectly advised his 133,000 Twitter followers to turn their clocks back for Daylight Saving Time, instead of forward.

The now-deleted tweet read, “Daylight Saving Time starts this evening, turn your clocks back and change batteries in smoke alarms.” It was up for about 30 minutes, which was plenty of time for snarky backlash and screenshots of the error.

Soon, a new tweet went up with the correct information:

Seriously, why has no one taught Rob Ford that old saying, “spring forward, fall back?”

To be fair, Daylight Saving Time is pretty baffling. Plus, given Ford’s track record (see: lying about smoking crack and then later admitting it), this slip-up seems pretty tame.

TIME Canada

Condom Piercing Conviction Upheld by Canada’s High Court

Condoms
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The nation’s top court ruled that Craig Hutchinson deprived his girlfriend of the ability to consent to sex by sabotaging the condom.

The Canadian Supreme Court upheld the sexual assault conviction of a man who pierced holes in condoms he used during sex with his girlfriend.

The nation’s top court unanimously rejected Craig Jaret Hutchinson’s appeal, ruling that he deprived his girlfriend of the ability to consent to sex by surreptitiously sabotaging the condom.

His girlfriend, whose identity is protected by publication laws, became pregnant as a result of the sabotage. After Hutchinson only then told her, in text messages, what he had done, she called the police and had an abortion.

“A person consents to how she will be touched, and she is entitled to decide what sexual activity she agrees to engage in for whatever reason she wishes,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Justice Thomas Cromwell wrote on behalf of the court.

[CBC]

TIME viral

Winning at Bieber Pong Is All That Matters

USA! USA!

In the walk-up to the Feb. 21 USA vs. Canada men’s hockey game at the Sochi Winter Olympics, a “Loser Keeps Bieber” billboard went viral in Chicago, raising the stakes and getting fans at home pumped for the match.

Now, SF Weekly points out that you can keep the faux wager alive online via BieberPong.com, a website with a Justin Bieber-themed version of Pong, the old arcade video game.

Choose whether you’re playing for Team USA or Team Canada. The pop star’s disembodied, sunglasses-wearing head is hit back and forth by paddles in the pattern of the two countries’ flags. So if you have ever felt like Bieber could use a good smack on the head while reading stories about the pop star lunging at photographers or urinating in a mop bucket while cursing out a former president — now you can (virtually speaking).

Think you’ll never win? Never say never.

bieber-pong
TIME olympics

Must-See Photos from Sochi Olympics: Day 18

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TIME Music

Here’s Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Dropping Some Sick Beats

The polemical politician took a crack at DJ-ing

If the whole politics thing doesn’t end up working out, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford — you know, the guy who admitted smoking crack — might just have a future as a hip-hop producer.

At a South by Southwest fundraiser for Toronto artists this weekend, Ford played DJ and laid down some sick beats before a very enthusiastic audience. A good DJ knows how to get a crowd pumped up, and Ford seems to know how to do that better than anyone. So, if his attempt at re-election doesn’t pan out, it’s nice to know he’s got a solid fallback.

TIME Food and Beverage Industry

Custom-Order ‘Mix-In’ Ice Cream Chains Realize They’re a Rip-off

Executives in charge of two sister ice cream chains did a funny thing: They did some price comparisons in the field, talked to consumers, and concluded their “value proposition was out of whack.”

That’s according to Allison Lauenstein, vice president of ice cream brands at the Global Franchise Group, which franchises Marble Slab Creamery and Maggie Moo’s. Like competitor Cold Stone Creamery, Marble Slab and Maggie Moo’s have traditionally charged based on the size of the customer’s ice cream order. But that base price is one that customers almost never paid, because what makes these places special is the “mix-ins”: a wide variety of candies, cookies, and other ingredients that are mashed up into the ice cream on the spot, typically on a “marble slab” or “cold stone.”

The business model has called for each mix-in to cost extra, and the result is often that a cup of ice cream that customers might expect to cost $3 or $4 winds up being $6 or $7 because they went overboard on extras. The result is also that the word “overpriced” tends to pop up regularly in user review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. Oh, and under very rare circumstances, an order can cost $29 because somebody just had to see what happens when you mix in every mix-in that can be mixed in.

Now, however, in the case of Maggie Moo’s and Marble Slab, reports Nation’s Restaurant News, this pricing scheme is disappearing. Instead of charging per mix-in, the sister chains are offering flat pricing between $2.99 and $5.99 based on size, and unlimited mix-ins are included. After testing the new pricing concept at 15 units, the two chains quietly introduced the changes in January, and they’re expected to start promoting it in March.

(MORE: The Surprising Best Thing About Google Fiber Coming to Your Town)

Lauenstein explained to NRN that the change had been in the works for quite some time, and that it was motivated by declining sales and customer satisfaction. “We started to do some pricing research a little over a year ago, and what we found was that our prices were extremely high compared to our competitors for comparable products,” she said. The consensus among consumers, according to Lauenstein, was that the “value proposition was out of whack” for the treats offered at Maggie Moo’s and Marble Slab Creamery.

In other custom-order mix-in ice cream news, Canadian coffee-and-donuts specialist Tim Hortons just announced that it is ending a five-year relationship with Cold Stone Creamery that saw the ice cream brand sharing space inside the coffee shops. Soon, there will be no sign of Cold Stone inside Tim Hortons locations in Canada. Tim Hortons CEO chief executive Marc Caira explained why the decision was made in a recent conference call with investors. The performance of co-branded units “has been below our expectations,” he said, noting that “the fit was not ideal with our strategy of price, value and speed.”

TIME China

The Top Countries Rich Chinese Choose for Emigration. (Canada May Be Off the List)

Canadian flags
Getty Images

Ottawa may have terminated a deal that essentially allowed foreign millionaires to resettle in Canada, but there are many other options for wealthy Chinese

Wealthy Chinese looking for an escape route from their native land — and there are hundreds of thousands in this class — received bad news last week: the Canadian government decided to terminate a deal that essentially allowed foreign millionaires to loan 800,000 Canadian dollars (or a little less than $730,000) to the Canadian state for five years in exchange for permanent residency. Ottawa’s cancellation of the immigrant-investor program means that 65,000 pending applications will be left unprocessed. The majority of these unprocessed visa appeals are from mainland Chinese.

So what’s a poor rich Chinese to do now? The China Daily, the government’s English-language mouthpiece, described Canada’s cancelation as “unfair” in a Feb. 17 headline. But immigration agencies in Beijing, with their plush offices in the central business district, are hawking plenty of alternatives.

One option lies just south of the Canadian border. Chinese who invest as little as $500,000 and employ 10 people in a rural or struggling part of the U.S. can secure EB-5 investor visa, which can lead to green cards. Two major emigration consultancies in Beijing, Globe Visa and Cansine Immigration, are recommending the U.S. now that Canada’s immigrant-investor option has shuttered.

(MORE: Found: Offshore Wealth Stashed by Families of China’s Leaders)

Then there are the financial laggards of the E.U. that are so desperate for a bailout that they are basically selling residency to cash-endowed Chinese for as little as $100,000. Count nations like Latvia, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus in this distressed category. With less cash than it takes to buy a tiny apartment in the outskirts of Beijing, Chinese investors can acquire residency in one European locale, as well as eventual freedom to roam most of the E.U. without a visa.

Even pricier destinations hold allure. A Cansine representative noted that Britain is proving fashionable this year, especially as nations like Australia tighten immigration restrictions. Applicants for British permanent residency must invest £1 million ($1.7 million), 80% of which in treasury bonds and the remainder in either real estate or in a local savings account, according to Cansine. The catch? Program participants must spend at least half the year in Britain; Latvia, by contrast, requires just one day a year in the country to maintain residency. “Britain is very popular among our clients,” says Cansine’s Liu Jianping, “because the process is easy and it takes only a short time to get approval from the British government.”

(MORE: Trouble Down South: Why Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese Aren’t Getting Along)

There are also the teeny countries that may be hoping to profit from their very nationhood: St. Kitts and Nevis, Vanuatu, Antigua and Barbuda — all are targeting Chinese investors. Finally, don’t forget Canada either. In its latest budget report, Canada’s Ministry of Finance noted: “There is also little evidence that immigrant investors as a class are maintaining ties to Canada or making a positive economic contribution to the country.” Instead, a new scheme may well require would-be immigrants to fully invest in Canada, as opposed to simply providing a zero-interest loan for five years, as the previous program mandated. “We can still help Chinese get to Canada,” says Qu Bo, from the aptly named Go-to-Canada immigration agency in Beijing, which is offering lectures on the new Canadian policy this weekend.

Still, any emigration involves risks. Among them are shady brokers who operate with little legal oversight. Last year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission busted an EB-5 scheme for investment in a Chicago convention center that the government agency says tried to defraud more than $156 million in investments and fees from 250 people, many of whom were Chinese. Luckily, the investment money had been preserved in escrow. But $11 million in fees vanished — along with scores of Chinese hopes for resettling in America.

— With reporting by Gu Yongqiang / Beijing

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