Monday, December 20, 2010

Moving to a nudist colony where there are no assignments to grade

When I started undergrad I'd do two loads of laundry every two weeks: lights and darks, with towels and sheets added wherever there was room. This was pretty much my whole wardrobe.

Now, with a little creativity, I can get by without doing laundry for almost a month. When the time comes (as it did this evening) it means SO MUCH LAUNDRY. Considering I am only one person, who is generally not sweaty and gross, and generally does not spill food on herself... it's a lot of laundry.

At the moment, I'm running a light and dark load of "hang to dry", then it's a light and dark load of things that are dryer friendly. Tomorrow morning will be sheets. Thursday was towels. This is ridiculous.

At the moment, I'm also supposed to be finishing grading assignments for that class I TA that was done a month ago, but I just wrote an exam this evening! That's supposed to be a free pass to do nothing for the rest of the night. Incidentally, it was also probably my best exam ever, in part due to the fact that I studied for it to procrastinate on grading.

You'll notice that this post does not contain a photo of my dirty laundry. I'll accept "thank you"s in the comments.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Red-Green 3D glasses are festive, right?

I'm currently in the depths of revising for an exam, trying to get some grading done, and dreaming about baking cookies shaped like Christmas trees instead of doing any of this nonsense. Today's revision project is a chapter on 3D vision - like Avatar or the red-green glasses that used to come in cereal boxes and were way cheaper than going to see Avatar.

My textbook came with red-green glasses, which is awesome.
It was more expensive than seeing Avatar, though.
One of the things I learned along with how 3D vision works, is how to make pictures that look 3D. And so, I present to the world my very-own home-made 3D work of art. red-green glasses required.

And people still think a PhD in Psychology is impractical.
So how does viewing that picture with 3D glasses make your brain think there's a hole in your monitor? And why doesn't it work if you have lazy eye?

Fact #1: Unless you have lazy eye, by virtue of having two eyes, your brain always gets two very slightly different pictures of whatever it is you're looking at. One from your left eye, and one from your right eye. If you do have lazy eye, your brain ignores one of these pictures in favour of the other one.

Fact #2: There is a systematic relationship between the differences in the two pictures and how far (in depth) something is from the thing you're looking at. 

Here's what's really cool - the brain can exploit these relationships at high speeds to give us this extremely vivid perception of depth. Usually, we don't think photos are 'missing' anything, but the difference between a perceived depth and a projection of a 3D scene on to a flat surface is really amazing once you see a 3D photo. 

There are a ton of beautiful stereo-photos of old japan, taken by Japanese photographer Enami, collected on Flickr by Okinawa Soba
From Okinawa Soba's set
If you make them into animated images, the depth appears.

I used photoshop to make this one
Again, from Okinawa Soba

into a 3D image that works with red-green glasses: 

Fun! Unfortunately, I don't think photoshopping 3D images is going to come up on the exam.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mon (Notre) Beau Sapin!

On Saturday Tory and I went to the Atwater market and procured a beautiful five-foot fir tree because we were both in need of some Christmas spirt to see us through December.

We brought it home on the bus, which was not as difficult as it sounds.

This afternoon we dusted off the decorations and decked the tree out in blue, silver, gold, and not-quite-enough aubergine.

A beautiful (lonely) not-bright-violet ornament.

Apparently aubergine is out and the purple of the year is violet which will not do. It turned out well, anyway.

A full view of the tree.

A bit of a snowflake theme emerged, which
we picked up in the ribbon we got for a garland.

I love these disco-ball ornaments we got at dollarama. They add just
enough of a playful bling.

Not bad for a dollar store star.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cute things!

Tiny cupcakes are cute 

Cookies shaped like onesies are cute

Macarons are cute - especially in little
paper cups

Tutu-inspired skirts for little girls at Baby Gap made me
want to be six again they're SO CUTE.

And I didn't manage to take a photo of the gift I brought with me to the baby shower (a hand-knit touque, and Gap-knit mittens) as I was finishing the pom-pom for the touque on the way to the shower, but I assure you it was adorable.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

This Week's Obsession: Christmas Cards

I know I'm pretty much a grownup, because for the last few years I've been getting Christmas cards in the mail from old friends. I love getting cards, but I have yet to send cards because once I start I'm committed and people might notice when I stop. I would like to start sending cards this year, as long as I'm careful not to overextend myself and draw up a list of 50 potential recipients in a fit of holiday enthusiasm.

The logical thing to do would be to go to any one of the 100 000 000 000 gift shops in Montreal and buy a little pack of 10-15 cards, but obviously I haven't done that or else this would not have been a week-long (and counting...) obsession. I can't pass up the opportunity to design my own cards, and with all the wonderful custom printing options around these days, it's easy to do so - but alarmingly expensive. $1.99-$2.99 for a card + envelope, before shipping.

Another problem is that these photo cards are clearly meant to have sweet family photos or baby pictures in them:

It just looks weird to have photos of yourself (and cat):

So maybe I'll send out Christmas cards this year, if I ever decide what to send.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spinach Penne with Ricotta

This is mostly for you, Anna.

For mom and dad: admire the "Food" setting on my new camera.

Prep time: 0 minutes
Cook time: 11 minutes
Deliciousness to time ratio: ridiculously high

Official Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1 lb (450 g) spinach penne
  • 1-1/2 lb (700 g) baby spinach, washed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • Kosher salt + freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (preferably light)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Liz Ingredients (modified for 1)
  • A few handfuls of pine nuts (enough to garnish generously + snack later
  • A little less than one serving of penne (I used whole wheat)
  • 3-5 handfuls of baby spinach (pre washed in a tub, hello)
  • About 1/2 a cup of ricotta cheese (light cheese is not worth it, this is a substitute for a cream sauce so just figure it's healthier than a cup of whipping cream and butter)
  • Grated parmesan cheese to garnish (put down the parmesan powder, and get a decent block of parmesan. It lasts forever and it's a healthy snack)

  1. Put some water on to boil for the penne
  2. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees
  3. Do some dishes or surf the internet or something
  4. When the water is boiling, add pasta
  5. Put the pine nuts on a baking sheet (I used a 9" round cake pan, extra high rims minimize chances of spilling) and put the baking sheet in the oven
  6. Stir pasta occasionally
  7. Toss pine nuts occasionally
  8. After about 8 minutes, remove the pine nuts from the oven. (If they look burnt or smell bad, take them out earlier next time.) 
  9. When pasta is almost done, start adding handfuls of spinach to wilt (If you use white pasta, it might cook faster than the pine nuts)
  10. Stir it around until nice and wilty, then drain
  11. Put the pasta and spinach back in the pot and add ricotta
  12. And oil, if you're listening to the original instructions
  13. Season with salt and pepper (a lot)
  14. Transfer to plate, garnish with pine nuts and parmesan
  15. Serve and enjoy immediately
  16. If you eat slowly while blogging, it will cool and be less delicious.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Pink Shoe Saga

I bought a fabulous pair of shoes at Guess to wear for a wedding this past weekend.

Shiny, pink, platform, heel -
what more can a former 90s tween ask for?

And classy with a modest skirt.

I think I will be remembered as the girl who danced for hours in ridiculous heels - if only they knew what a whiner I am, they might have believed me when I said the shoes were actually comfy.

The photographers thought the shoes were awesome, and took a few photos before we went to take the pre-wedding photos of the groomsmen. In a field.

Narrow heels + damp grass = disaster.
Not pictured: muddy tights from taking a spill after getting stuck.

So at that point, I gave up on the shoes, but not on observing the photography.

It was cold, but I was more concerned about what needing
a tetanus shot would do to the schedule.

The fact that I (of the constantly ice cold feet) did not mind wandering around almost barefoot for 20 minutes is especially incredible considering that by evening the view outside was like this:

So I stayed inside and danced.

This week, I have promised my feet I will be wearing sneakers. Unless I need snow boots.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Whiteboarded: Lizzie's Masterclass in Phase Scrambling

I love explaining things on white boards.

The incredulous animal has become a staple of the whiteboard discussions. I like this board because it complicated and sciencey.

Bonus: Type the following commands into Matlab for lots of laughs.

> why


> load handel
> sound(y, Fs)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Things I am doing that are not grading assignments

  1. Hitting refresh on facebook
  2. Looking up all the Glee cast members' twitter feeds
  3. Looking up Jodie Sweetin on Wikipedia (she just had a baby, guys!)
  4. Thinking about making dinner
  5. Discussing the characteristics of a good spatula with Tory
  6. Looking up cute cookie designs
  7. Checking out texts from last night, which resulted in me finding the most incredible 404 page ever. I took a screenshot for posterity:
Smartphones! Horrifically drunk and useless! Signalling that the site is down!
The site where you can read texts people send when they're drunk and useless!
Obviously, procrastinating does not lower my standards for amusement in the slightest.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me

It's so pretty and red, and will geotag my photos so I don't have to add all the pins in iPhoto's Places after the fact. No, I am not at all neurotic about organizing my photos. I ordered it this evening, hopefully it will arrive before I head to Ottawa for a wedding on the weekend!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Random Photo of the Day

Part of the show involved invading the audience's personal space.

This is from last February's Nuite Blanche, at a random experimental dance performance. It was free, and very unusual.

Dave updated my iPhoto to the latest version last night, inspiring me to go through and tag/place more of my photos. I'd forgotten about this until I came across an "unnamed event".

Sunday, October 17, 2010

This Week's Obsession: Starcraft 2

For the past few years, the video games I love, like the TV shows I watch, have been whittled away to a few core favourites. For video games, that meant little puzzle games on the iPhone and the Sims for long train rides (or lazy Saturday mornings). 

Dave, a fan of the original Starcraft ten years ago, bought the long-awaited new version over the summer to check it out. I played the original Starcraft too, and never really liked it because I was more interested in playing the real-time strategy genre like I'd play Sim City (look at how I've arranged my structures! I have this main road, and then the courtyard here for my armies to gather!). Pro tip: you don't win often when you play RTS as if you're playing Sim City. In Sim City you have no challengers (but a "protect the civilians" aspect would be an interesting twist to Starcraft). 

Starcraft 2 (top) compared to Sim City 2000 (bottom).
Perhaps it should have been obvious that the gameplay dynamics
would be different. 

I played Starcraft 2 when I spent a week at Dave's over the summer and decided to buy my own copy shortly thereafter. We've been playing online together quite a bit since then, but I haven't gotten much better. Being bad at something, in my opinion, is more a reflection of whether or not you're practicing correctly than of any innate talent and somewhere along the line I decided I wanted to be passably good at Starcraft. Good enough to not be ashamed to play with random partners over the internet - a major component of the game (playing against the computer is notoriously boring after a few rounds). I just wasn't too sure how I should work to improve.

Jason, Dave and I played a 3v3 against the computer over thanksgiving weekend, and the two of them started talking about something called "Funday Monday" - some famous webcaster guy gives the community of Starcraft 2 players an arbitrary rule, and they submit games showing the hilarious results of following this rule (example: in a 3v3 or 4v4, your team must all announce the single attack unit you will be building to your opponents and teammates).

There is a world out there that I did not even know existed. 

My first observation: the internet and social media change network gaming SO MUCH. Young(er) Liz sucked at Starcraft and was using a crappy strategy and didn't know where to turn. Old(er) Liz can watch example games at high levels with commentary, have access to thousands of opinions on what is a good way/bad way to approach specific tactical problems at various levels of gameplay, and get a sense of what indicates that you're messing up (I like having lots of unspent money in the game, it makes me feel fiscally responsible, but apparently it also means that my army is weaker than it should be...). 

Also, this guy is really funny, and a very good "e-sports caster".

While this week has also been a week of midterm writing, grading, webCT-minding, sadly, it's been Banshee rushes that haunt my dreams.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More Adventures in Cake Decorating

What can you pull together with 2 bottles of food colouring, a cup each of shortening and butter, and 8 cups of icing sugar?

Last night Tory and I hosted a number of her friends for "A Very British Birthday" celebration in honour of her 25th. I volunteered to make the cake, happy for an excuse to bake something that I wouldn't have to eat all by myself. I am beyond pleased with how it turned out, especially considering that I didn't once feel like I hated the project and it was doomed to fail. I also didn't kill my wrists piping all the little starbursts on to the cake.

Lessons learned:

1) Use a ziploc bag instead of a white pastry bag for piping. That way you don't have to wash anything thoroughly coated with food colouring.

2) Err on the side of over-greasing the cake pan to avoid turning only the top half of the cake out on a cooling rack.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Business Cards, Montreal

Often, when I'm running around accommodating fabulous lifestyle, I pick up business cards from the places I visit. I'm not sure why. I tend to remember the places that I like and look up phone numbers online if I need to make reservations, so I've never actually used one of the cards as a reference. I just can't throw them out, even though they're adding to a pretty serious clutter situation - they're glossy and designed with care, and it is nice to have something physical to take back from an experience.

Chez Ennio is hands-down my favourite restaurant in Montreal. I've been there so many times over the past three years, and the whole experience is like nothing else - I don't have wonderful Italian grandparents to cook me fabulous food. Ennio gave me this card when I showed up with a party of five on a busy Thursday night, and I managed to put my foot in my mouth by trying to explain that it wasn't usually too busy during the week. 

 L'Enchanteur is a lovely pub and restaurant up near the Jean Talon market. I went for brunch, which was very good, and not too expensive, but also not worth the hike. They serve their water in old wine bottles, which is very rustic chic of them. It was an excellent place to chat with friends for an hour or two.
Los Tios is on Crescent street, and is notable for its teensy tiny patio, awesome lunch menu, and delicious sangria. It's perfect for soft shell tacos and sangria on a hot summer day. Even though the terrace is tiny, it doesn't get as busy as the huge patios around it so I've never had trouble getting a seat outside in a small party.
Machiavelli is very conveniently right across the street from the Charlevoix metro station and next to a SAQ. The patio is in the back and has a lovely backyard feel. The food isn't cheap, but it's not terribly expensive either, and the kitchen only runs a few specials each night so what they serve is good. There are some basic pasta and meat staples for the picky eater, too. BYO wine makes it a very affordable nice dinner out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

That comic I always forget that I love

Hark, A Vagrant (drawn by Canadian Kate Beaton) is a wonderful comic. She draws on history, literature, and popular culture like no one else. I went back today after a long break and found this gem:

For some reason the idea of a battalion of hipsters is TOTALLY hilarious. (In a previous comic, the Napoleon and Centurian hats are deemed "ironic").

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Back many, many months ago I bought this dress for an early September wedding:

"Bouquet Toss" in "Reception Hall" from Mod Cloth

I figured I would find a good deal on a cute pair of flats in the meantime. I browsed shoes all summer finding flats that were ok, but not quite right. Now, the wedding is in two weeks and I needed to get myself some shoes, or I knew I would end up over-paying for something serviceable but underwhelming at the last minute. Today, Tory and I went on a Winners and Eaton Centre expedition, and our efforts were not in vain. I came home with these:

SCURTI from Aldo Shoes

They are perfect with the dress, a wonderful super-soft velvet, and the rhinestones! Exactly the luxurious look I knew I wanted but couldn't find for less than $500.  

A successful Sunday!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The temptation....

I'm just about to head to the train station after spending a week with Dave and chatting with his parents about their upcoming European cruise. Reminiscing about amazing food, more than anything. Then Dave sends me an email with this little gem:

Yes, that is $395 for a week of the most amazing food I've had in my entire life. We might have gone on to price flights to Ft. Lauderdale and found them very reasonable. Not saying we're going, but if we did would any friends/family be interested in coming too? 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Making fun of magazines

Ever notice how the shots in catalogs and magazines seem to reflect some sort of parallel universe where everything is like normal, but just a little too perfect, a little too contrived? The authors of Catalog Living and Unhappy Hipsters give voices and stories to the people in magazine-world, satirizing decorating and architecture magazines respectively. Lovely dark, subtle humor to be had.

Here are some of my favourites:

From Catalog Living, a continuing story about Gary and Elaine:

From Unhappy Hipsters, a series of vignettes:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The difference a bit of cropping makes!

Here's a pretty mediocre shot from the Rockies trip Dave and I took in June:

While it isn't spectacular, I found myself coming back to it for the sense of scale. We didn't take very many photos with people and landscapes together. After a bit of cropping, the sense of scale is maintained, but the composition is tidier and more powerful:


List of things I can commit to, in order of the length of time I can stay committed:
  1. My favourite article of clothing (white skirt: five years and counting)
  2. My cell phone plan (it's you and me for the next 2.66 years, Telus)
  3. The layout of my bedroom (two years ... maybe)
  4. The design of my blog (four months? did I make it that long?)
Really, the old moody photograph in the background and dark design didn't suit me. I'm not a gunmetal grey kind of girl, even if the accent colour was my favourite shade of lime.
  1. My favourite colour (about 30 seconds)  
So here's a new design, that I think suits me a little better. For the next few months, anyway.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

2010: Cake Odyssey

Over the Civic Holiday long weekend in Ontario, Mom and I started and completed my harebrained scheme to enter the Threadcakes cake decorating contest. The first step was to make the raw materials we would need to create and decorate a cake:

At this point, because I was a lazy photographer, we are missing photos of the following:
1) The pyrex measuring cup overflowing with melted marshmallows
2) The massive amount of icing sugar that was subsequently kneaded into the mass of melted marshmallow.

Coming soon:
- replacing the sweet chocolate cake with a pound cake
- assembling gumpaste figures
- assembling the cake
- final reveal and taste-test

Monday, July 19, 2010


My favourite kind of photos to take are the ones of the little things. I've been putting together an iPhoto album of the pictures Dave and I took in the Rockies, and the detail shots are the ones that make the multi-photo layouts work.

Detail shots from a birthday picnic in the park:

Details from out west: