Saturday, November 22, 2008

Data!

Since America is done with their election, there is a data void on the internet. I have no graphs or maps to investigate on a daily basis. My life has been less than complete.

Fortunately, I'm filling the void with Google Trends. Check it out, in the spirit of the holidays:

First interesting point: The Wii (in blue) is clearly winning the next-gen console battle.
Second interesting point: These consoles are of much greater interest when the Christmas season rolls around.


Maybe all the holiday turkey induces the new years fitness craze. Also, turkey is far more popular on the American thanksgiving than at Christmas. That's a little unexpected.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Art Without Photoshop

Crazy, I know. I'm normally a slave to the tablet.

Pat asked me to do a series of decorative paintings for his first grownup apartment, and I couldn't say no since I've missed painting quite a bit. I just put together some in-progress shots from last Saturday's painting party to send to him, and I thought I'd post them here so that everyone can see.









Almost done! I'm going to add the finishing touches on Saturday and then move on to the "winter" themed maple tree.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fall Photos

I'm a very boring person. I spend my days keeping up with the internet, collecting data and fooling around on facebook in the lab, and playing with the electoral calculator on CNN. None of these pursuits are very conducive to blogging.

It's shameful that I don't have a post for October, so I'm doing something about that while I still have the chance. Over thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to take some pretty fall photos though, so here's some eye candy (the one with my hand in it was actually taken by Dave). If you click on them you can see them larger with all the details.





Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Delicious Hamburgers

As some of you may know, I'm something of a burger connoisseur. I make it my mission to find excellent hamburgers, and classify establishments by the quality of their hamburgers. This weekend, Dave and I ventured to create our own burgers, and I have to say it was a wild success. Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb of medium (or regular) ground beef (NOT lean or extra lean, these meats aren't juicy)
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • fresh ground pepper (or crushed peppercorns)
  • salt
  • about 2 tsps of Worcestershire sauce
Directions:
  • Put the meat into a largeish bowl. There should be plenty of extra space in the bowl.
  • Chop the shallot VERY finely
  • If you don't have a garlic press, repeat for the garlic. Otherwise, put the garlic through the press into the bowl with the meat
  • Toss the chopped shallot in too (it might be easier to do this gradually)
  • Fun part: use your hands to knead the shallot and garlic into the meat
  • Season generously with pepper and salt
  • Knead that in too
  • Add Worcestershire sauce
  • Keep kneading until it's all blended
  • Form the meat into tight patties (it's very important that they're not coming apart at the edges)
  • Grill to taste
  • Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why and How I'm Backing Up My Data

I just found a great data backup tool:

http://mozy.com

I've been trying it out for free, and I'm impressed thus far. I think I'm going to spring for the $5 monthly subscription and back up all my files. It will be great not to worry about losing my (now extensive) library of photos.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Things I Learned Today

Today I went on a field trip to the botanical gardens to take pictures of textures. I did get lots of textures, but I also took some fun photos for my own enjoyment and learned many things along the way. For instance:

1) Bonsai are cool. Bonsai in a Chinese courtyard are cooler.

2) I'm going to feel like a tourist when I'm taking photos in a tourist destination whether I'm a local or not.

3) My parents have at least three poisonous plants growing at their home: lily of the valley, rhubarb, and fool's parsley.

4) This is what hemlock looks like. Ladybugs like it.

5) Socrates probably died with stomach pain, convulsions, and increased pulse.

6) Nightshade is really poisonous. However, it's the unripe berries that are the worst for you.

6) This is what a lotus looks like. They're beautiful, and they can grow at enormous sizes.

7) It's possible to grow lotuses in Montreal outdoors.

8) I can indeed get a sunburn on a cloudy day.

9) There are lots of beetles in the world.

10) I weigh 3 250 000 ants.

11) Beer and vanilla lip-gloss tastes gross.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Snack Time!


To make these yummy and healthy snacks you need the following:

- sundried tomatoes
- cucumber
- baguette (healthy version: whole wheat)
- cream cheese (healthy version: low fat)

Slice the sundried tomatoes into little pieces and blend them into cream cheese. Spread the cream cheese on slices of baguette and place a slice of cucumber on top. Delicious!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Road Trip Tunes

Dave and I spent the last week on the road to and in Prince Edward Island. We made an effort to compile a good collection of songs, and then tested them thoroughly over the 20+ hours we spent on the highway. For your use, I present the playlist:

Liz and Dave Approve of Cranking it Up
  1. Going the Distance -- Cake
  2. Short Skirt, Long Jacket -- Cake
  3. Come On Eileen -- Dexy's Midnight Runners
  4. When the World Ends -- Dave Matthews Band
  5. 500 Miles -- The Proclaimers
  6. If I Had a Million Dollars -- Barenaked Ladies
  7. Stand -- R.E.M.
  8. Life is a Highway -- Tom Cochrane
  9. American Pie -- Don McLean
  10. Jack & Diane -- John Cougar Melloncamp
  11. King of Spain -- Moxy Fruvous
  12. Free Fallin' -- Tom Petty
  13. Sweet Emotion -- Aerosmith
  14. I Only Wanna Be With You -- Hootie And the Blowfish
Liz and Dave Approve
  1. T.N.T. -- AC/DC
  2. Smile -- Lily Allen
  3. Into the Great Wide Open -- Tom Petty
  4. Right Here Right Now -- Jesus Jones
  5. The Difference -- The Wallflowers
  6. When the Rainbow Comes -- Shawn Colvin
  7. All You Need is Love -- The Beatles
  8. Sharp Dressed Man -- ZZ Top
  9. La Grange -- ZZ Top
  10. I Go Blind -- Hootie and the Blowfish
  11. Cells -- The Servant
  12. Higher Ground -- Red Hot Chili Peppers
  13. Orange Crush -- R.E.M.
  14. Happiness and Disaster -- Stabilo
  15. New Soul -- Yael Naim
  16. Pianoman -- Billy Joel
  17. We Will Still Need A Song -- Hawksley Workman
  18. Stuck in the Middle With You -- Stealer's Wheel
  19. Runnin' Down A Dream -- Tom Petty
  20. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For -- U2
  21. Roll Me Away -- Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
  22. Magical Mystery Tour -- The Beatles
  23. There She Goes -- Sixpence None The Richer
  24. Learning to Fly -- Tom Petty
  25. Beautiful Day -- U2
  26. I Kissed A Girl -- Katy Perry
  27. Highway to Hell -- AC/DC
  28. When the Night Feels My Song -- Bedouin Soundclash
  29. The Rest of My Life -- Sloan
  30. Summer of 69 -- Brian Adams
  31. Come Together -- Aerosmith
Liz Approved, Dave Tolerates
  1. Jealous of Your Cigarette -- Hawksley Workman
  2. April Fools -- Rufus Wainwright
  3. If You Can Afford Me -- Katy Perry
  4. Make a Memory -- Bon Jovi
  5. Pocketful of Sunshine -- Natasha Beddingfield
  6. Waking Up in Vegas -- Katy Perry
  7. Striptease -- Hawksley Workman
  8. Grace Kelly -- Mika
  9. Brand New Low - Treble Charger
  10. Stop This Train -- John Mayer
  11. Piano Blink -- Hawksley Workman
  12. Easy Tonight -- Five For Fighting
  13. Jessica -- Allman Brothers
  14. I'm A Believer -- Smash Mouth
  15. Semi-Charmed Life -- Third Eye Blind
  16. Have a Nice Day -- Bon Jovi
  17. Teenage Dirtbag -- Wheatus (barely)
  18. Wish I were You -- Patty Smyth
  19. Walking on the Sun -- Smash Mouth
  20. Time -- Hootie and the Blowfish
  21. Only the Young -- Journey
Dave Approved, Liz Tolerates
  1. Mary Jane's Last Dance -- Tom Petty
  2. Here I Go Again On My Own -- White Snake
  3. Rubysoho - Rancid
  4. On My Way -- Rusted Root
  5. You Can Call Me Al - Paul Simon
  6. Blister in the Sun -- Violent Femmes
  7. Lowrider - War
  8. Taking Care of Business -- BTO
  9. Brown Eyed Girl -- Van Morrison
  10. My Best Friend's Girl -- Cars
  11. Papa's Got A Brand New Bag -- James Brown
Dave Approved, Liz Whines
  1. American Music -- Violent Femmes
  2. Gone Daddy Gone -- Violent Femmes
  3. No Sleep Till Brooklyn -- Beastie Boys
  4. Cecilia -- Simon and Garfunkel
  5. Say it Ain't So -- Weezer
  6. Island in the Sun -- Weezer
  7. Magic Carpet Ride - Steppenwolf
  8. Sweet Home Alabama -- Lynyrd Skynyrd
  9. Casey Jones -- Greatful Dead
Liz Approved, Dave Vetos
  1. Any Other Day -- Bon Jovi
  2. Texas Flood -- Stevie Ray Vaughan
  3. Crossroads -- Cream
  4. Glorious Day -- Weezer
  5. Mister Big Time -- Bon Jovi
  6. Remember Me -- Journey
  7. Lost Highway -- Bon Jovi
Duds
  1. Who Says You Can't Go Home -- Bon Jovi
  2. Ordinary -- Stabilo
  3. Behind the Mask -- Anarchy Club
  4. Tush -- ZZ Top (I think we just had too much ZZ Top)
  5. Ask the Lonely -- Journey
  6. Any Way You Want It -- Journey
  7. Summertime -- Bon Jovi
  8. Alone Here -- Hawksley Workman
  9. Revival -- Allman Brothers
  10. Midnight Rider -- Allman Brothers
  11. Ramblin' Man -- Allman Brothers
  12. Don't Believe it All -- Treble Charger
  13. Walk Idiot Walk -- The Hives
  14. Bad Day -- R.E.M.
Much thanks to Courtney, Pat, and Tory for the suggestions!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Nature of Glitter Revealed

Glitter is like a vampire...
Once you invite it into your home, you're at its mercy.

Exhibit A: I bought glitter for a craft party in early December. Now, six months later, my dirt piles from sweeping still sparkle.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Urban Herb Garden


I love cooking with fresh herbs.

Unfortunately, herbs at the grocery store are $1.99 for a handful of leaves that are going to be dead in a couple of days. Since Anna and I don't like paying for food we won't eat, and I don't like basil enough to eat it all week with every meal, we decided that we would try growing some herbs at home to harvest when we want to spice up our meals.

Today, I went to Jean Talon market to pick up the herbs, and then jaunted down to chinatown to buy pretty and cheap containers for them. Now we have chives, basil, and mint planted in lovely china dishes. Not only do they smell fabulous, I am betting that they will taste delicious too.

The potting process itself was pretty painless and occurred in the kitchen sink. As a child of the suburbs, I'm used to gardening on the lawn or deck. In the absence of outdoor space, the kitchen sink works very well. It just feels weird stashing the extra potting soil in the pantry. What do people do without garages and sheds?




Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Literary Snobbery

There's a huge stereotype surrounding the "indie rocker". You know the type:

- knows loads about music
- dabbles in music creation of their own
- must know a band before they're cool
- once a band sells out, they can't be good.

I think I might be the same way about books. I'm happiest reading something when it isn't *too* cool (exception: Harry Potter). I:

- know a fair amount about science fiction/fantasy literature, I've been an avid reader in the past
- I have dabbled in penning (or typing) my own stories.

Here are the kickers, that make me doubt my interests:

- I like being the person to "discover" an author before their book hits the bestseller list at chapters.
- Once a book is too popular, I feel less good about reading it. I read the Davinci Code on the bus once, and felt like I needed to conceal the cover.

I just bought "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" with a birthday gift certificate (yes, my birthday was more than six months ago), and I felt it was a very cool and science-y thing to be reading. It would give me cred.

Upon examining it more closely, I have noticed that it's a 20th anniversary re-print. It's been on the New York Times Bestseller List. Tragedy! I'll have to look elsewhere for my indie cred.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Vocabulary lesson for the day

Discreet vs. Discrete

This is a little trickier than affect/effect because both these words are adjectives.

discreet: circumspect, prudent, trustworthy

discrete: separate and distinct

The difference in the definition of these words generally results in amusing sentences when they're mixed up:

"She was not a very discrete person."
"They claim that any discreet image can be defined by..."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Divine Inspiration

Today I was visited by the gods of procrastination. There can simply be no other explanation as to why I decided to make a quiche this afternoon. That's right -with home made pastry.

The pastry is in the oven right now, we'll see how it turns out.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Observation of the Day: Writing a Paper is like Cardio...

It breaks down into the following stages:

1) Easy stamina: "I can't believe I've gone 5 minutes already, and I'm not even winded!" OR "I can't believe I've written 6 pages already - I've still got so much to say, and I haven't even added the figures!"

2) Fear of what's to come: "I'm at 10 minutes and I'm starting to feel fatigued... it's only getting worse ... I'm going to die here!" OR "I'm only at 11 pages and I'm through half my arguments, but only 1/3 of the way through the minimum page count".

3) Depression: "I can't take one more step - I have to stop before I keel over/sweat publicly, and I still have 7 minutes to go!" OR "I'm never going to finish this! I have nothing else to say, I've added all my figures, and I still have 7 pages to go!"

4) Sheer willpower: "Must..keep... feet...moving" OR "Must... keep... fingers... typing..."

5) Endorphins: "Only 30 seconds to go! I can do this" OR "One page left, and my discussion can fill it!"

6) Satisfaction: "I'm in so much pain, but I'm healthier for it" OR "I am so exhausted, but at least I'm not going to fail out."

Stay tuned for the graph version when I'm not feeling guilty about procrastinating (which can occur at all these stages in the paper timeline). I'm still at step 3, pushing step 4.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The things we do

Latest procrastination tactic:

Organizing my dresser and closet. That's right.

This morning I had loads of laundry on my bed that were waiting to be put away, but I couldn't bear to stuff them into a messy closet or rumpled dresser drawers. Now, my closet is organized with skirts on one side and shirts on the other and each side is an aesthetically pleasing gradient of colour. Underwear: sorted by comfort level. Bras: sorted by colour. Shirts: sorted by sleeve length and material. Papers: woefully incomplete.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I have an adorable cat

And I like to take adorable photos of her.


Caving to Twitter

In an effort to keep my readership up on my daily insights, I have started an account on twitter. There's a new module in the box to the right that displays micro updates from me. So you'll know when I'm on the bus and stuck in traffic. You'll know when I have random insights waiting for the metro. The goal is that when I'm out of ideas for a proper post, I can still make sure that everyone knows I'm still alive.

Feel free to ignore, if you find it's TMI, but I have so much fun stalking other people via twitter, I'm interested to see what it's like on the other side of the fence.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When the extra rent of a nice building is worth it (an illustrated guide)

(1) When a large fissure in your ceiling forms and starts to leak water into the hall.

(2) When enough water drips from said fissure to fill your largest mixing bowl.

(3) When the damage spreads to your roommate's bedroom wall, the bathroom ceiling, and the living room ceiling.

(4) And when a large portion of the wall experiences separation anxiety.

The maintenance people were super-prompt, and have been really polite and great about fixing everything. The upstairs neighbours... not so much.

And (5) They're putting in a gym. That we can use for *free*. Hurray!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sometimes life *is* like Sex and the City

You know the end of the opening sequence to Sex and the City? When Carrie is walking down the street all stylish and then a BUS comes out of NOWHERE and splashes her and her tutu with water?

Picture that, but with icky Montreal slush, a bigger wave of it, and no tutu.

At least my coat is semi-waterproof.

This occurred on my way to go skating at the old Port. It was a fun afternoon, even though I took a spill and landed on my knees. I thought it was fine, it only hurt a little. Then I woke up this morning:Notice how the left knee is visibly larger and purple-er than the right knee. Ouch!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Montreal in the Winter

Here are some city pictures that I took during a brief spell of good weather.

I love my walk home.

This is the balcony for the building where I work. It's symmetrical on the other side. There are picnic tables hidden under all the snow.

The cityscape as viewed from walking down Atwater.

Still Atwater, but in this shot you can see my two favourite Tudor-style buildings.

Is there psychotherapy for cats?

.. or maybe just drugs?

I think Twiggy has gone off the deep end.

She's been running up and down the hallway for the last 20 minutes. She just snuck into my room to spy on me. If I hadn't caught her disappearing black tail and heard the telltale thrumming of tiny paws on hardwood flooring, her stealth probably would have been complete.

Earlier this morning, she scared the pants off me. She snuck into my room while I was dutifully working on my papers (and NOT reading about submitting novels to Harlequin Presents) and I turned around to find her sitting on my rug. Staring at me.

I snapped the following pictures, because even though it was scary and she was covered in dust she looked pretty cute. She actually tolerated the camera in her face for a few minutes before running off. Something is definitely wrong with her.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Reasons that public transit shouldn't run early in the winter

#1: If you miss it (as you are liable to do), you're sitting out in the cold until the next one

#2: If the margin of "it could be early" is more than five minutes before it's supposed to come, you're sitting out in the cold for long enough to get cranky and frostbitten. 

#3: If you happen to be almost early enough, you can't run for it because the sidewalks are covered with ice so even a slow walk is perilous

#4: If the bus in question runs less frequently than every 15 minutes, this escalates from being annoying to being a reason to go home and get back in bed.

If the city wants to encourage more people to take public transit, make it less of a trial. I know they can do it. 

Friday, March 7, 2008

Fashion Memo #1

Dear people of Montreal,

I've noticed an embarrassing trend in the winter months. It's the winter athletics version of walking into work on Monday with bar stamps all over the backs of your hands:

Stylish (or at least warm): Ski jacket

Tacky: Ski jacket + ancient lift pass hanging from pocket

Rule of Thumb: If the ticket is no longer useful, it has to go.

Sincerely,

Liz


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Myths of City Living

Since reading "Bright lights, big ass" I've been thinking a lot about how the glamourous city life is often so so far from reality. And not just because I can't afford a single pair of designer shoes.

This morning, for example. It was excellent until I left the house (early!). I'd done my makeup, flat-ironed my hair, was rocking a super-cute outfit, life was good. I was at the bus stop (early!) and waited around for the bus, until it arrived on time.... but packed. Even though I was one of the first people waiting, I ended up at the back of the line to get on. Everyone boarded, and then I was holding out my pass and the bus driver closed the doors. Seriously. He drove off, leaving me standing there in a snowbank. First of all, I'm not that big. I'm pretty sure I would have fit. Second of all - I was there FIVE MINUTES EARLY. The people who show up late should be the ones who have to stand out in the cold another 15 minutes.

Needing something to life my spirits, I decided to spend my 15 minutes wisely and grab a comfort latte at Starbucks. I was standing waiting for the drink at the bar when I saw the next bus pass by, almost empty, FIVE MINUTES EARLY. I got my drink, resigned to going to the subway station a block south to wait for the next one somewhere warm. Once outside, I noticed the bus that had passed was very delayed at the stop half a block north. There was a giant snow bank between the people area and the road. Little old ladies can be slow climbing snowbanks. I was pretty sure I could make it, so I hustled, sloshing latte all over my gloves as I ran. Then, the second bus within touching distance pulled away from me without letting me board. Time to kill another 15 minutes.

I spent them cold and in the bus shelter.

When I got off the bus (not too crowded, but I'd still had to stand), snow clearance was going on in earnest. My commute ended with me running up a packed snow hill away from a fast approaching snow plow.

Observation #1- I'm never making fun of tractors in rural places again.

Observation #2 - I'd like to see any of the sex and the city girls OR jen lancaster pull that off in cute heels.

Observation #3- When it takes an hour to pull off a 10-15 minute commute, you have a problem.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

An Open Letter to Academics

Dear people of academia,

Writing constitutes a large portion of your jobs, and its important that you be good at it. This consistent mistake, appearing everywhere from NSERC applications to published papers, really makes me ashamed of you.

Note:
AFFECT: verb "... how X affects Y ..."
EFFECT: noun "... the effect of X on Y..."

Thank you,
Liz

An Open Letter to the Cat

Dear Twiggy,

I think it's time we had a talk. You've been acting out a lot in the last few days, and I suspect it may be a cry for attention. If you want attention, you know I'm more than happy to scratch ears and belly when you jump into my lap without clawing me.

Last night, for example, you though it necessary to hunt my rug at 4am. Getting sleep at this time is very important to me, and you should know that I can't sleep through that much noise. It rubs salt in the wound when you mew until I get out of bed and then take my warm spot and fall asleep once I get up, thinking you have to be fed.

What can I do to accommodate your sleeping through the night? You seem to have no problem sleeping 8 consecutive hours at other times of day. We're adults in this household, and being able to sleep through the night is critical.

Best,
Liz

Monday, February 25, 2008

33 things I did before getting to my productive week

1) Went back to sleep

2) Emailed Dave about sore post-workout arms keeping me from being productive

3) Started cleaning my room

4) Finished the last chapter of "bright lights, big ass"

5) Finished cleaning my room

6) Fiddled with itunes

7) Checked my email

8) Checked facebook, started a group

9) Checked my RSS feeds

10) Checked my email

11) Started making a bagel for breakfast

12) Cut up cheese to melt on said bagel (mmmm)

13) Looked at nutritional information on cheese for a 1/4" cube, and then at my 2"x"1/2"x1/2" rectangular prism of cheese and decided a heart attack is worth a melty cheese bagel.

14) Resolved never to look at nutritional information of cheese again.

15) Ate cheesy bagel while on facebook and feed reader

16) Decided to print off weekly calendars

17) Decided to dust cat hair off printer first

18) Dusted printer, radiator, and window sill. They are still covered in cat hair.

19) Created calendars

20) Print function doesn't work

21) Reboot

22) Pet Twiggy, try to keep her claws out of my thigh

23) Print function works - but my printer list is gone

24) Realize that my sexy new operating system (Leopard) won't speak with my un-sexy (but very useful) printer.

25) Do a bit of internet research to make sure that's the case

26) It is the case, as far as I can tell.

27) Check my email

28) Go back to my room to draw up a list of things to do without the assistance of my calendar printout.

29) Join online knitting community "Ravelry"

30) Draw up list of things I should be doing

31) Decide to make tea

32) Think about how many things I've done that haven't been productive

33) Start a blog about it

.... am I ever going to graduate?