Category Archives: Things I Like

Saskatoon is a city, too.

I’m currently in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at the university for a little over a month. As I’m…3000km away from Toronto, things are slightly different here.

– There are a lot of mosquitos…and they come out in the early afternoon. They’re also mutants and leave bigger-than-average marks on you.

– Everything is so dry. The air is dry. The ground is dry. There is dust everywhere. Wearing contact lenses has become a dangerous game.

– Street sweepers do not seem to exist in this magical city. Nor does the notion of “sidewalk repair.”

IMG_2751

“Meh, good enough.”

– The sun rises at about 4:30am. I forget what sleep feels like.

– Lots of bikes here. Great. Lots of bikes on sidewalks and I have only seen one person use a bell. Not so great.

– There are so few bars in this city, everyone knows them all. This is convenient, unless you’re trying to avoid some guy you saw last week and accidentally tell him some vague description of where you’re going.

IMG_2724

Plenty of places to watch the Leafs lose during game 7 when they’re up 4-1 with just minutes to go. Let’s just not talk about that.

– The Ukrainian residence we’re living in has lovely meals that remind me of what my grandmother would have cooked if she wasn’t too emotionally unstable to leave the house and go grocery shopping. The cafeteria ladies will also make you a plate and put your name on it if you plan to miss dinner. Awww.

I really like Saskatoon. It’s beautiful here. I was picturing some flat, GTA-like wasteland (yeah, Ajax/Pickering, looking at you), but there is this picturesque river that runs straight through the city and a quaint downtown area.

IMG_2787

LOOK, NON-DEAD TREES GROWING BY SIDEWALKS. HOW DO THEY DO IT?

IMG_2729

From the first day of an accidental 5am wake-up. That was painful.

IMG_2793

and churches, because pourquoi pas?

 

No one is debating for the millionth time about subways vs. LRTs, and I don’t even know who the mayor is but I’m pretty sure he’s not on crack. (and yes that is a link to the google search because this story gets worse by the hour).

There are also unlimited cookies in the cafeteria for us. CAN’T STOP ME.

What a nice city, and a well-needed break from various frustrating Toronto things.

Advertisements

Tumblr Tuesday – things organized neatly

If you’re like me and prefer everything on the coffee table to be sitting in a certain parallel way, then thingsorganizedneatly.tumblr.com is for you.

No, we are not crazy. No, we’re not “omg soooooo OCD*” We just like things a certain way.

*Aside: This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Do a little bit of research before you joke about OCD.

Look! Look at these pretty things that aren’t touching! (Also, I really want those shoes, any idea where I can get a pair?)

I can’t be the only one who finds look at these photos relaxing, right?

The posts range from things organized solely for the blog to images captured of something spontaneously beautiful and neat.

Ah, sorry. Got lost flipping through the pages of it all.

Well, enjoy! I’m going to go clean up my room a little bit now, I’ve been inspired.

Introducing Tumblr Tuesday

If I’m going to do a weekly Tumblr post, it’s going to be on Tuesdays! Tumblr Tuesday wins the game of the best weekday-related alliteration. This may not be a weekly thing, but hey, who knows?

I will kick this off with a post dedicated to my friend David, who hosts an awesome art/music/general badassadry page at drdavidphd.tumblr.com.

In the fall, he’ll be studying Illustration on the other side of the monster we call the GTA (Greater Toronto Area aka worst commute time in North America. Seriously.)

He’s got a very unique style to his illustrations, which mostly focus on Pokemon and people. (In all honesty, Pokemon are really fun to draw.)

There is some NSFW content concerning some naked ladies, if you need to know.

David is one of the funniest guys I know. Between his extremely talented work, his music posts, and his overall awesomeness, I suggest you check this Tumblr out!

So, what’s a nerd to do over the summer?

I’ll admit it, I’m returning to my old nerd ways. You know, that kid who was always done her work first, or never missed a homework assignment? That was me.

This past year out of school has left me a little bit lost. Sure, I loved when friends would complain about their exams and I didn’t have to worry about studying. But, deep down, I kind of missed going to school and taking notes and the smell of a new batch of school supplies.

Nothing better than some perfectly sharpened pencils, right? Right?!

I’ve always wanted to learn how to code properly. I know basic HTML from when I fiddled around with coding petpages for my neopets account as an 11 year old. Don’t even judge, I won so many beauty contest trophies for my neopets on that site.

That’s right.

Imagine my excitement when I discovered coursera.org. They have free online courses from excellent American universities! What? This has to be a joke, right?

It’s not, and they’ve got a pretty wide selection of courses. No languages, though. My French grammar will have to wait a little while longer.

So far, I’ve finished the first three weeks of the Computer Science 101 course. Every little video I watch I just sit there with a face like “O_O.” All of these things I didn’t know! Codecadamy.com didn’t work for me, since I had a really hard time following along with the written explanations. In contrast, the videos on Coursera are actually recorded little mini-lectures (at least in the case of Computer Science, I think some other courses have 70 or 80 minute lecture videos), with a small video in the corner of the professor speaking. The majority of the screen is a lecture document (notes, really) that the professor teaches which, and you can easily hit a button at the bottom to pause the video and switch to the lecture notes so you can review anything that was skipped over, or try out some code in the case of computer science.

It’s mostly basic coding (not in any particular language, exactly, just getting used to the idea of syntax and variables and whatnot) and technical explanations of hardware, networks, software, etc. There were a lot of  “OOOH, so that’s how it works!” moments.

A self portrait.

If you’re curious, go have a look. You can still get in on the CS 101 course, although on a lot of your exercises will lose marks for being late (which really doesn’t matter if you’re just doing it for fun). It’s really less than an hour of video a week, and a 10 minute exercise for each one.

And then maybe this will start your career and you can eventually code something awesome (like an app!) and rule the world! Or you can just find solace in the fact that you know the jist of what is happening when your computer saves something to your hard drive. Either one.

Saving the world one Instagrammed photo of a squirrel at a time.

An On-Topic Post: My Reading List

Woo, a post that actually relates to the blog!

One of the things I really wanted to do on my year off was finishing a pile of books I had been longing to read. (Isn’t that on everyone’s “to do” list when they have a chunk of free time?) I’ve always wanted to tackle a few classics, since for some reason my high school chose to negate famous authors such as Jane Austen,  Charles Dickens and Mark Twain in the curriculum. I don’t know how I obtained a high school diploma without touching a book by any of these people, but I did. (We did cover a few Shakespeare plays, Lord of the Flies and Frankenstein*, so all hope is not lost on public education in Canada.)

*We spent two weeks in class listening to horrible audio tapes of this book. Just thought you should know.

Note: When I think of “classics,” I’m really just relating it to “well-known books that come up in conversation and everyone should know what they are.” 

Probably the easiest thing I’ve ever googled.

Of course, not all goes to plan. I did finish The Great Gatsby. It was wonderful. I breezed through 1984 and then Animal Farm. I even regretfully finished The English Patient!

Pride and Prejudice didn’t make for very good beach reading, as I was on vacation in PEI at the time, so I switched over to–are you ready?–The Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin. Her more well-known work is Something Borrowed, which I believe has been made into a movie starring Kate Hudson. I feel guilty just typing this.

I'm sorry, Jane Austen.

My next check-out from the library was Great Expectations. I don’t know what it was, I really enjoyed the book but I just didn’t finish it before it had to go back. I tried! I really did! I tried to the tune of nearly $5 in late fees. I did record the page number I was on, so all hope isn’t lost!

At one point I even downloaded a Kindle app onto my iPhone and tried reading the free A Tale of Two Cities on my breaks. That lasted about…15 minutes? You try reading that on an iPhone!

I’m not doing too well at this point, am I?

I keep going to the library with “classics” on my mind, and then I wind up getting side-tracked by the pretty pastel covers on the shelf where they keep all the popular books. Dammit.

Right now I’m reading Eat, Pray, Love, which is a lovely story of a woman’s journey–oh, hell, you’ve all seen the movie. Not a classic. I’ve also got Lisa See’s Peony in Love to read afterward. Also not a classic. (If you are curious about China and have a thing for mid-20th century historical fiction, please get your hands on Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy by See. Those were two stories that stuck with me for a while.)

Other off-track books I’ve finished include The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, My Sister’s Keeper, Water for Elephants, and The Help.

Oh, my god. These are all books recently made into movies. Who am I? I actually didn’t even realize that until I listed them here. This is turning about to be a more self-deprecating post than I thought.

(I suppose I don’t know why there’s a certain…elitism…against people who flock to a certain book when word gets out about a movie being made. It’s a way that the book is thrust into the spotlight, a book that the reader may have never heard of before all the movie-talk.)

If you have a Goodreads account, please do me a favour and make sure I stay on track! I’d like to read Moby Dick and finish Great Expectations before I dive back into the world of pastel covers.

Although, that may have to wait. Looks like I’ve put a hold on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close at the library. It was an accident, I swear!

Tom Hanks is judging me. (Although this is a shot from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, so yeah, lets think about that.)

Oh and please share any of your favourite classic novels! I would like some suggestions, of course.

Sowing Some Seeds

See what I did there? Alliterations are fun.
I finally know how to pronounce “sow,” months after mumbling my way through it at work. Embarrassing.

Anyway, I’ve decided to go the old-fashioned route and start my vegetable plants from seed this year. Why? Because there’s no better way to one-up someone than boasting that the salad they’re enjoying is made from vegetables you lovingly grew from seed. I’m kidding, I don’t care where you get your vegetables. It’s actually really fun (if you’re a shut-in like me) to watch plants grow from tiny little millimetre-wide specks. I also keep killing basil, and at $4 a pop for a full-grown plant it’s rather pricey to replace. This year I bought the seeds, but next year I’ll even one-up myself and use the ones from the vegetables I grow. Better Homes and Gardens ain’t got nothing on me.

This is the spread for the year, although I’m still on the hunt for some good eggplant seeds, and we’ll need to add a small cantaloupe plant. The Zellers down the street is closing and had a huge sale, so I picked up what I could.

20120403-140632.jpg

Okay, this is bad. I kind of got lazy and just threw a bunch of basil and parsley seeds into a big, plastic pot with regular potting soil I reused. To my surprise, this happened. The little guys in the background are parsley, which makes me super happy since apparently they’re a bitch to get to germinate.

20120403-140649.jpg

I bought some proper peat pots for the other seeds, and these cucumbers are growing like mad.

20120403-140713.jpg

Are you familiar with the invase Chinese Lanterns?  They have cool little paper-y orange seed pods. My mom actually swiped a few (that had fallen off the plant!) from a garden on the way to work, and now we have this: (I promise they will stay in a much bigger container outside! No invading!)

20120403-140656.jpg

I think we’re going to need to install bigger windowsills, it’s getting pretty ridiculous in here.

A Photo Supplement: The Triumph

It is a beautiful day today. If you’ve forgotten, I live in Canada and it’s the middle of March. Today the high is 16c (60F or so)! To tide you guys over while I’m out enjoying the weather (okay, while I sit inside by the open window and work on some stuff I’ve been procrastinating on), here are some old photos I promised to post a few weeks ago from the Canadian International Auto Show.

According to the wonderful Wikipedia, Triumph hasn’t released a new car model since 1981. I was understandably confused by this display of old cars at the show, considering I had never even heard of the brand. I’m quite glad I got to see it.

I find cars very hard to photograph, especially when the lighting is dark and I’m using a borrowed camera.

There were plenty of other colours of cars, but apparently we were subconsciously drawn to the red ones. Why not, they’re rather pretty.

If you’ve been as lucky we’ve been, go out and enjoy this lovely weather!