Vincent Cheung

Vincent Cheung's Blog

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

vince's crafty craft blog

My apartment with newly hung art.
Bonus points if you can tell me what time I took the photo.


The Cliff Etreat by Monet


David by Michelangelo



Finally got around to doing something with the art prints that I had. Framing the prints make them look so much nicer and they serve as nice decoration for the apartment.

The Monet print was a piece of cake as by luck, the included matte for the print fit perfectly into the 11x14 frame. The David print was a bit tougher though as it didn't come with a matte and the included one in the frame didn't fit. I took the cardboard backing from the Monet print (since it fit the frame and was white and had decent thickness) and cut out a matte for the David print using my swiss army knife for lack of a better tool. It looks decent and I was quite pleased given what I had to work with. It would have been nicer had I been at home and had access to my sister's craft stuff b/c she has a paper cutting thing where I could properly cut a bevelled matte.

I want to get a few more art prints now, probably another Monet and then non-impressionist ones to mix it up. I prefer paintings, though I might consider a photographed landscape for diversity. I'll probably stick to small prints, as large replica prints of paintings just look fake, though when I move into a more permanent place, I'd like to get some large canvas art for decoration.

A part of our heritage

Canadians are proud of our country. We are proud of our accomplishments and contributions to the world. We will take great pride in any small feat. Perhaps it's a bit of an inferiority complex as well. We are not however, blindly patriotic, and will freely denounce our own country, but we still take pride in our country. We laugh at our pathetic military, but we never forget that in our only war with the US (the war of 1812), we kicked their ass and burnt down the White House!

In an another example, I laugh hysterically at the joke below and often make fun of Winnipeg, but will proudly tell you that famous Winnipeggers include Terry Fox, Cindy Klassen, The Guess Who, Neil Young, Chantal Kreviazuk, Fred Penner, Anna Paquin, and Winnie-the-Pooh.

I heard this on the radio the other day (comparing American and Canadian versions of things):

American version: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Canadian version: What happens in Winnipeg... let me say it again. What happens in Winnipeg?



I found these Canadian Heritage videos online (click on the categories on the left). They are short videos that were (are?) played during commercial breaks depicting an important moment in Canada's history. They used to be on all the time and got drilled into our minds as kids. They're fun to watch (having not seen them for years, but still remember them) and they do give me a sense of pride, so I guess the videos did accomplish what they were supposed to do.

These are the videos I remember the most:
  • Superman
    • "No one's going to read a comic strip about a strong man in tights"

  • Laura Secord
    • Warning the Canadian and British forces of the American attack

  • Nellie McClung
    • "Nice women don't want the vote"

  • Underground Railroad
    • "Paul ain't gonna make it!"

  • Orphans
    • "We have to keep our Irish name!"

  • Les Voltigeurs de Qu├ębec
    • O Canada!

  • Sir Sandford Fleming
    • My ECE department is named after him, the inventor of time zones

  • John McCrae
    • In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
      That mark our place; and in the sky
      The larks, still bravely singing, fly
      Scarce heard amid the guns below.
      We are the Dead.
      Short days ago
      We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
      Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
      In Flanders fields.
      Take up our quarrel with the foe
      To you from failing hands we throw
      The torch, be yours to hold it high
      If ye break faith with us who die.

      We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
      In Flanders fields.

  • Basketball
    • "It sure slows things down having to climb up here every time"

  • Winnie
    • Why Winnie, sir?
      For my hometown, Winnipeg



Log Driver's Waltz


For he goes birling down a-down the white water
That's where the log driver learns to step lightly
It's birling down, a-down white water
A log driver's waltz pleases girls completely.

Everyone that grew up in Canada in the 80's will remember that video above. For some reason, it was on TV all the time. They aired it in seemingly every commercial break. The tune is pretty catchy and the cartoon is pretty funny. Whatever message they were trying to send got ingrained into my subconsciousness after watching it like a billion times. I'm not the only one either. Everyone I show this to remembers the video to the point of remembering most of the words.

It was one of the "Canada Vignettes" produced by the National Film Board of Canada to portray a cultural depiction of Canada. Personally, I think it was funded by the log driver's association to convince girls to marry log drivers and for boys to become log drivers b/c they are the only people that can please a girl completely. Another memorable vignette was one showing faces morphing into other faces, showing the cultural and ethnic diversity of Canada. All the vignettes used to be online, but they have since been taken down. I figure the videos should be free b/c Canada should want people to watch them.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Addicted to the blender

For the past 2 weeks, I have been completely addicted to my blender. I have used it every day. Many times, 2 or 3 times a day. I have gone through over 7 litres of orange juice and 5 kg of fruit. I love making fruit smoothies. It's a slurpee made from fruit. 100% pure fruit, healthy, and amazingly delicious! I don't have to go to Bubble Tease, No Name Cafe, or Jamba Juice anymore!!!

Here's how I make mine. It takes less than 5 min. and they're amazing!

The set-up.
Blender, banana, frozen fruit, ice, orange juice,
and my oversized mug (~750 mL)



Step 1: Banana
It adds a nice flavour and it's healthy!



Step 2: Frozen fruit
Frozen fruit gives the smoothie a nice icy texture. A variety of frozen fruit are usually available in grocery stores. Use whatever you want. Experiment. Use fresh fruit if you don't have frozen fruit.



Step 3: Ice
Makes it a bit more icy. This step is optional. I've been doing this recently to reduce the amount of frozen fruit needed as I'm running low.



Step 4: Juice
I use orange juice. You can substitute for apple, pineapple, mango, cranberry, or whatever your heart desires. I use enough to mostly cover the ingredients. The juice is needed to make it drink-like and also so that it can blend properly.



Step 5: Pulse
There are a lot of solids in the mixture. The pulse (P on the dial) spins the blades quickly for a short period of time to pulverize the solids and then allow them to settle back down onto the blade so that the blades don't run dry. I pulse for maybe a half dozen times until most of the big chunks have been broken down.



Step 6: Blend
I blend for about 10-15 seconds on the highest setting. The mixture should be sloshing around quite freely. If it gets stuck and the blades seem to be spinning without blending anything and the contents aren't moving around well, it's b/c there's an air bubble and you need more liquid.



The (blurry) result
I make the perfect amount every time :)



Yummy!
It disappears very fast.


When I ran out frozen fruit, I used fresh fruit. When I ran out of fresh fruit, I started making Kool-Aid slushees (Ice Blue Kool-Aid + ice). Fortunately when the Kool-Aid ran out, I had gotten more frozen fruit and orange juice :)


On Elsa's suggestion, I tried making a red bean drink with the blender. Ordinarily, you have to boil the red beans for like 2-3 hours (maybe more) until they become soft, so it's not something you can just do on a whim (like if you want red bean at midnight).

The idea here is to grind up the red beans so they cook faster. I blended the beans with a bit of water and it was kinda weird. Beans were just flying everywhere inside the jar. Then I boiled it in a pot for maybe 10-15 min. and added sugar. Added ice to cool it down (not supposed to put boiling water in the blender, at least my instruction manual said so) and re-blended to make an icy (I prefer red bean cold).

About to blend


It was kinda frothy after blending and not so icy as most of the ice melted


It was decent, not amazing. I prefer red beans in their whole form as opposed to their blended form. Plus, I think I over cooked the red beans a bit, so it was kinda mushy. My next experiment is to make a pot of red bean and blending just the liquid + ice and then adding the beans to the mix. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Heroes (aka damn you Rob and Mike)



The first time I heard about Heroes was when Rob commented about it. Then, last night, Mike also suggested it. With two credible recommendations, I decided to give it a shot. Damn you guys for getting me addicted!!! Less than 24 hours later, I had all 5 episodes that have aired so far downloaded and watched. The show is amazing.

It's about people that are discovering that they have super human powers. Odd that they are all discovering it simultaneously, but maybe something is triggering it. Then there's the whole evolutionary research take on things and the saving the world part as well. It's definitely caught my interest and it's shot up to one of my most anticipated shows now.

It fills a void left by Dark Angel and Birds of Prey. The whole sci-fi-action-drama-superhero niche. No, Smallville doesn't really fit the bill as it's gone downhill. The show kinda has that X-Men feel because of the whole mutant take on things and the fact that there are so many people with super powers and the whole cybernet thing in trying to find them all, but I'm not a huge X-Men fan. The characters in Heroes seem a bit more "real". The powers that they have are also not the typical ones that are portrayed. None of them have my superpower.

This is a funny quote from the last episode:

Niki (to the cops):  He's one of my customers. I run a website.
Niki (to Ando):  How did you find me?
Ando:  Whois database. You need unlist, maybe.

Well, I found it funny, but maybe b/c I'm into spying online and I have done this. Not the running of a porn website or trying to stalk a cyber porn star, but doing a whois on a website to see what info I can get on the owner, eg. the evil Vincent Cheung who is a minister in Boston, phone number 617-...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My California Summer in a Nut Shell

My summer in California in 73 photos


I've had this post sitting as a draft for a couple months now and I finally got around to posting it. Better late than never!

The collage at the top of this post pretty much summarizes my whole summer. I love how every photo has its own story behind it. Most of these photos were not taken by me. I stole them from many people. Thank you to all the photographers from the summer: Michele, Adam, Janna, Brian, Mike, Mark, Amy, Jenny, Elaine, Liz, Leandro, Jill, Florence, Mimi, Jamie, and The enforcer.

Here are some memorable quotes from the summer:
  • Jon:  This is crap!  *Throws brocollini on the ground*

  • Mark:  I was so bad that I couldn't submit any more of them to it.

  • Vince:  If it's any comfort to you, I have no idea where we are.

  • Jon:  The girls in the clubs here are all so slutty.

  • Adam:  I don't think she's old enough to buy you a drink.

  • Michele:  Mee-keh-lee
    Us:  Michelle?

  • Vince:  We're going *in* the parade.

  • Various:  Are you cumming?

  • Adam:  No, I'm at the gay pride parade (to his mom on the phone)

  • Vince:  I love you Adam.

  • Mike:  I beat Vince at gay chicken!!!

  • Adam:  This close *makes small gap between his thumb and forefinger* (beating Mike at gay chicken)

  • Adam:  Vince, I am never playing gay chicken with you.

  • Adam:  My friend said she went to the gay pride parade (in Montreal), and I had to do it.  (Ask whether she was *in* the parade or just sitting on the sidelines taking pictures)

    Mike:  You mean penetrate?

  • Natalia:  You take your shirt off, and I'll take off mine.
    Adam:  Fuck ya!

  • Vince:  I don't think we're supposed to be here (first said when playing in Sergey and Larry's barricaded private area and then again while eating lunch on Sergey and Larry's private balcony)

  • Vince:  I don't think you're supposed to do that.

  • Michele:  Your balls will go up to here *points to neck* (about going into the water)

  • Adam:  I want a vibrator with a phone attached to it (leading to the vibrator cellphone).

  • Sean:  I have a small penis

  • Mike:  Why take 2 400's, when I can take 1 800?
    Me:  Because 1-800 is toll-free

  • Vince:  Let's sort the balls!
    Mark:  I donno... Shit, this is fun!

  • Vince:  If you saw him/her on the street, you wouldn't think twice

  • Natalia:  Just get married, have kids, and die already (on me being old)

  • Adam:  Damn it!!!  (after Adam and I ordered the same thing at a restaurant for the nth time)

  • Everybody:  What?  You have a girl friend???  (to Mark 1 week before he's about to leave and his gf is coming into town)

  • Jenny:  GPosh!

  • Leandro:  We're going to fuck a duck!

  • Sean:  Vince is 100% muscle.

  • Sarah:  Cute lawyer, surfer dude / surgeon, 40-year-old pretending to be 20-something, and ninja parties.

  • Mark:  One quarter of Americans are cannibals, no actually cannibals.

  • Mark:  Google Orbital Death Ray

  • Mark:  9 cameras can see me right now

  • Mike:  Turkey flipping

  • Mark:  Turkey ramp

  • Mark:  The Asian squat

  • Mark:  Hornets from hell

  • Adam:  Personalized!

  • Mike:  So what you're saying is...

  • Mike:  That's a rookie mistake.

  • Michele:  L-1-VD

I remembered about this post b/c Michele was visiting his fiance, Jenny, back down in the Bay Area. A surprising number of interns have gotten full-time offers: Michele, Mike, Brian, Leandro, Liz, Parisa, and Peter.


Here are all my unlisted Picasa web albums from the summer (some are particularly incriminating for both myself and others). You will need to decrypt the text using the "Friend" key (if you're my friend, I'll give it to you).

Monday, October 23, 2006

Grey's Anatomy


This is the post where I talk about a TV show that I started watching and finally caught up to the most recent episode. After about 2 weeks and 41 1-hour episodes later, I am caught up with the latest episode in the 3rd season of Grey's Anatomy.

Jamie likes to think that she got me to watch this show, but it was really a build up from multiple sources (sisters, other friends), and really, she was just the last straw (esp. with her whole season premiere costume party). I already had season 1 on my computer and watched the pilot long ago, but wasn't hooked. The timing was right b/c I needed to do some procrastinating and so I thought I'd give it another shot.

The show is entertaining enough. It's about a couple of surgical interns at a hospital. It's a drama about their relationships and how they grow both personally and professionally during their internships. It's like a more serious version of Scrubs. The show has some funny quotes.


Meredith: Spontaneous orgasms, really?
Christina: Any chance they are contagious?
Meredith: Spontaneous orgasms, that would solve *so* many problems.

Christina: McSexy?
Meredith: No.
Izzie: McYummy?
Meredith & Christina: No.
Meredith: McSteamy.
Christina: Ah, there it is.
Izzie: Yup...
George: I'm choking back some McVomit.

Meredith: Denial, it's not just a river in Egypt.

Alex: Syph-boy. It's got a nice ring to it. Kind of like Super-boy, only diseased.

Burke: When we're on duty, I can't be your boyfriend.
Cristina: So, when we're on duty, I can have sex with someone else?

Alex: Izzie, I kissed you, with tongue, and I plan to do it again and again - get used to it. End of discussion.
Izzie: Ok.

Alex: Why are you helping me?
Izzie: 'Cause it's what Jesus would freaking do!


The whole hospital premise turns me off. I don't like all those CSI (complete shit implied) shows either. Too doom and gloom. Everyone on Grey's Anatomy requires serious surgery, most of which are because of brain tumors. Oh, you have a cough, that's because there's a tumor pushing up against the part of your brain that regulates the function of your esophagus. All the talk of peoples' problems just makes me paranoid.

The other thing about the show is that while the characters are pretty interesting and the dialog is good, the actors/actresses are not very captivating. Meredith is annoying. Derek Sheppard is not very smooth (he's a bad version of Dr. Jack Shephard, from Lost). George, Izzie, and Alex are kinda annoying as well. I like Burke, Miranda, and Christina though.

The show is entertaining enough and this 3rd season is pretty good. I was suffering a bit of withdrawal after watching so many episodes and suddenly finding myself without anything to watch, so I caught up on Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Smallville. I didn't need to catch up on How I Met Your Mother b/c that's probably my most anticipated show and I watch it as soon as possible after it airs (I download everything). I also watched the last few episodes of Will & Grace's last season and rewatched Aladdin and the Lion King. Most of that was watched today :s

So, this is the part of the post where I'd post a picture of a particularly alluring female character from the show, but alas, none exists, which is probably the biggest fault of the show. Just none of the female characters really do it for me. Katherine Heigl would be the closest, but she peaked in 1994 with "My Father the Hero". No, I will not post a picture of McDreamy or McSteamy.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Joined the U of T Ski and Snowboard Club again

I caved. I joined the U of T Ski and Snowboard Club again (maybe the link will help them in the search rankings). $300 for a season pass and 8 bus rides up to the mountain. Bus leaves every Friday morning at 8 starting in January, and gets back at 6 pm. Way better than last year when we left at like 1 pm and came back at 11 pm, b/c it means that we get to do day skiing/snowboarding (while all the runs are open) and we get back in time for any Friday night activities (or sit at home alone on a Friday night).

Nick, the pres saw me leave the AC right after I signed up and he was really happy that I did. Not sure why. That might be a bad sign in that maybe not enough people have signed up. Or maybe he just wanted some free advertisement on my blog.

I really want to go snowboarding now.

(Yes, I know it's 3:31 am, and I'm going to bed. I'm done blogging... for now :))

Effectively using Gmail

What I'm saying here isn't new, but it will be to most of my readers. I've been wanting to post about this for a while to educate you guys b/c it's painful to see your inboxes (when I hack into your Gmail accounts to read your e-mail), but I've been too lazy. Here's what I'm talking about:
  • Labels

  • Archiving

  • Filters to automatically label your e-mails

  • Dot and plus addressing (eg. fakeaddress@gmail.com, fake.address@gmail.com, fa.kea.ddr.ess@gmail.com, and fakeaddress+shop@gmail.com are all the same)


I've seen how you use Gmail, and you're not using it properly. Gmail is pretty slick and if you set a few settings, you can make it even better.

Ok, so e-mail threading is amazing, as is spam filtering. Gtalk integration is cool and seeing peoples' pictures when you hover over their name in e-mails is nice as well.

Labels

Most people however, don't make use of labels enough. Organizing e-mail is a pain, but you can make your life much easier if you use filters. Here's the Gmail tutorial on labels and filters, if you don't know what I'm talking about.

Labels are useful in certain instances. E-mail is one of them. For example, I get an e-mail from a friend in Winnipeg containing a picture of us at a party. I would logically put it in a folder called "Winnipeg", but I would also want to put it in a folder called "Pictures" for quick reference. But, with folders I can't put it in both, so I have to choose one or the other. With labels, I can label it as both "Winnipeg" and "Pictures"! Another example, I can an e-mail from my family containing a picture of my cats from a recent trip that is funny, so I can label it as "Family", "Trip", "Pictures", and "Funny". Organizing things this way makes it much easier to find things later.

Archiving

So now you have all these e-mails in your inbox nicely labelled. Now what? You "archive" them. Huh? Archive. What this means is that it disappears from your inbox, but it's not deleted. It's still in "All Mail", and you can still search for it. Best of all, it's labelled, so you can just click the label on the left and see the e-mail there. What I do is that once I'm done with that e-mail and I no longer need to respond to it, but want to keep it for reference, I archive it. No need to delete. You never know what you may need in the future, eg. to settle bets. Archiving clears your inbox while keeping your e-mails.

Filters

Ok, so maybe I've convinced you about labels and you'd like to have your e-mail all nicely organized and sorted, but there's no way in hell that you're gonna manually label each e-mail. I feel your pain and you would be dumb to do that.

So, use filters. Filters are rules that you set-up that will do things with e-mails as they arrive in your inbox. For example, if I get an e-mail from someone from my family, it is automatically labelled as "Family". If I get an e-mail from someone from Winnipeg, it is labelled as "Winnipeg"; from Toronto, "Toronto"; from my research group, "PSI" (my research group's abbreviation), etc. If the e-mail contains a picture, it is labelled as "Picture". If the e-mail contains the word volleyball or vball, it is labelled as "Volleyball". E-mails from banks are labelled with "Bank". E-mails from online shopping purchases are labelled as "Shop".

Most of my e-mail has at least 1 label automatically put on it when it arrives. So, my e-mail is basically automatically organized for me. It's amazing. Finding e-mails is really easy. If you don't know how to set-up a filter, check this out.

The simple filters are easy, but it's really the more advanced ones that make the difference for me. Note the use of "|" means "or" (you can also use the word "OR"). The dot and plus addressing is mentioned in the next section.
  • Pictures
    • Has the words: .jpg
      Has attachment: *check*

  • Volleyball
    • Subject: volleyball | vball | gsu

  • Family
    • From: Cheung | Mom's maiden name | Other family names -Vincent -Sonia (exclude my name and friends with the same last name using the minus sign)

  • Family
    • To: Cheung | Mom's maiden name | Other family names -Vincent -Sonia (exclude my name and friends with the same last name using the minus sign)

  • Winnipeg
    • Has the words: RobEmail@gmail.com | JillAddress@hotmail.com | Nusraat@mailblocks.com | Chris@mts.net | Rob2@soontobetoronto.com | Bb@shampoo.net | Justin@me.ca | etc.

  • Toronto
    • Has the words: @utoronto.ca | Sarah@SarahA.ca | Kevin@winnipegtoronto.ca | Mimi@korea.kr | Jamie@GreysAnatomyLover.com | John@mac.com | Josh@ecf.com | Tony@666.com | etc.

  • Bay Area
    • Has the words: Janna@windsor.ca | Michele@boston.us | Adam@montreal.ca | Brian@northcarolina.us | Mike@switzerland.ch | Mark@annarbor.us | Ducky@vancouver.ca | Liz@pittsburgh.us | Heidi@vancouver.ca | Natalia@mountainview.us | Jenny@sanjose.us | Amy@paloalto.us | @google.com | etc.

  • PSI
    • Has the words: @psi.toronto.edu | @psi.utoronto.ca | mailinglist@comm.toronto.edu | mailinglist@cs.utoronto.ca | etc.

  • Blog
    • To: myemail+blog@gmail.com

  • Bank
    • To: "myemail+bank@gmail.com" | my.email@gmail.com (need the quotes or Gmail thinks the "+" means "and")

  • Shop
    • To: "myemail+shop@gmail.com" | m.yemail@gmail.com

  • MailingList
    • To: "myemail+list@gmail.com" | mye.mail@gmail.com
      *Skip inbox*

  • PotentialSpam
    • To: "myemail+spam@gmail.com" | myemai.l@gmail.com
      *Skip inbox*

The biggest pain is the ones listing all the e-mail addresses. I did it by typing the names into a new e-mail so I could get the addresses in one place, but I still needed to delete a lot of extra text and format it right (find and replace in notepad or some text editor is handy here). It takes a bit to set-up, but for me it has really been worth it. Half hour of tinkering has saved me hours of organizing e-mails and frustration over finding stuff.

Once you set-up your new filter, you can have it applied to all existing e-mails as well, which is a convenient way to label all your existing, unlabelled e-mails.

Dot and plus addressing

What's with the dots and plus signs in the e-mail addresses in the filters?

Dots don't matter. Gmail doesn't recognize dots, so you can put them anywhere you want and it still goes to your inbox.

myname@gmail.com is my "official" e-mail address, but e-mails sent to any of these e-mail addresses also go to my inbox:
  • my.name@gmail.com

  • m.yname@gmail.com

  • myn.ame@gmail.com

  • m.y.n.a.m.e@gmail.com

  • myname+shop@gmail.com

  • myname+bank@gmail.com

  • myname+mailinglist@gmail.com

  • myname+porn@gmail.com

  • my.n.a.me+anythingyouwant@gmail.com

So, why would anyone want to do this? Simple, for filtering to automatically sort e-mails.

I tell the bank to send me e-mails to myname+bank@gmail.com and set-up a filter to label e-mails sent to this address as "bank". Shopping sites get myname+shop@gmail.com, mailing lists get myname+list@gmail.com, etc. I have Blogger send me a notification every time a comment is made on my blog to myemail+blog@gmail.com, and it is automatically labelled as "blog". That last one combined with archiving, is the best thing ever. Otherwise, I would have a billion short e-mails about blog comments (esp. with the alarm clocks post) in my inbox mixed-in with my real e-mail, but now, I get the notification, I read it, and then I archive it. No need to label it because it was automatically labelled for me!

The problem is that some sites don't accept "+" in e-mail addresses, so I use dots. So depending on where the dot is, I can sort based on that, b/c no one is going to send me e-mail at m.yname@gmail.com, but that's what I give to say, banks, and then I give shopping sites myn.ame@gmail.com.

Further, if you give a spammy site myname+spam@gmail.com and you start getting mail at that address, then you can just set up a filter to automatically delete all mail sent to that address.

Call to action

Go. Organize your e-mails. Clean up your inbox. Make me proud.

You can do similar things with other e-mail clients (filters to sort e-mail, e-mail aliases, etc.). I know I used to use "-" addressing with Mailblocks, which was way better than "+", b/c pretty much all websites accept "-" in e-mail addresses. I use Gmail as an example here b/c that's what I use.

Putting more trust into Gmail

I've been having problems with my school e-mail. It's periodically not letting me get new mail. It's a bit of a problem with Thunderbird and my school server. I used to use Outlook Express, but it didn't do IMAP well, so I switched to Thunderbird, which also lets me check my Hotmail (not that I use that anymore). Anyways. Thunderbird is being dumb now. It tells me I have new mail when I don't. It's also causing some locking problems on my school's server causing me to not get my mail, which was very stressful the deadline of the MSR Fellowship when I was waiting for reference letters through e-mail. This might have been caused from me running Thunderbird on my school desktop, home desktop, and my laptop at the same time. Further, I've been getting a lot of spam (like maybe 10-15 a day, mostly to mailing lists to groups to which I belong; this isn't a lot of spam, but before the summer, I got ZERO), and Thunderbird's not doing a good job of detecting spam. So, I set-up e-mail forwarding on the unix e-mail server to forward mail to my gmail (by creating a ".forward" file on the e-mail server with my gmail address in it). There are some advantages and disadvantages for this:

Advantages:
  1. Reliability
    • School e-mail server is flaky sometimes, the worst example was a little more than a year ago when we went a few days without e-mail service. Gmail has been very reliable for me, though some people (*cough* S) have reported having problems, at least before.

  2. Spam filtering
    • Gmail's spam filtering is quite good

  3. Consolidation of e-mail
    • Everything's in one place and I only need to check one place for all my mail now.

  4. Still appear as if I'm sending from my school's address
    • The "From" address in my e-mails can still be from my school address by setting it up in the settings. I like this because I want to maintain the separability between school and personal. Plus, it's more professional to send e-mail from my school account than Gmail.

  5. Ubiquitous access
    • I can get access to my mail from anywhere. I had the squirrel mail crap for web access of my school e-mail, and that's pretty flaky and doesn't really work for me. Alternatively, ssh is not convenient when I'm on a stranger's computer.

  6. Threading
    • I love Gmail's e-mail threading (putting replies to e-mails in the same place as the original e-mail). It makes it much easier to track conversations and e-mails. You go to one place to see everything that was said about one topic rather than having to go through 20 different e-mails spread across 10 different people and over the course of a week (some people delete the quoted text). Plus you can tag the whole bundle once as opposed to having to move each message as they come into a folder. Thunderbird's message threading doesn't work as well.

  7. Integration with Google Calendar
    • I can create events in Gmail, which will add events to my calendar and Gmail will parse the e-mail to figure out when the event, eg. meeting or talk, will be and where it is.

  8. Searching
    • Easier and faster to search in Gmail. Plus I can use desktop search.

  9. Starred e-mails
    • Starring e-mails is better than leaving e-mails "unread" to highlight them.

  10. Saved drafts
    • I can start an e-mail and finish it in a different location.

  11. Accurate and instant new mail notifications
    • Gmail notifications from the GTalk client and the OS X Gmail notifier work well and I don't have to have it poll the e-mail server every 5 or 10 min. When I get new mail, I know right away.

  12. System admins can stop bitching to me about the size of my inbox
    • I have more than enough space on Gmail, as I'm only using 13% of my space (374 MB), though I get a lot of attachments to my school account, so my free space will be reducing at a much faster pace now. Hopefully I'm not here much longer though :p


Disadvantages:
  1. Consolidation of e-mail
    • Everything's in one place and I don't have that separation between personal and school. I have labels set-up, but then my labels get all junked up. Right now I'm using "PSI", "PSI-Talk", "PSI-Vision", "PSI-CompBio", etc., which is kinda messy. I need tag bundles, like in delicious.

  2. E-mails in multiple places
    • Some e-mails are on the server, accessible through Thunderbird, and all new e-mails are in Gmail. I didn't import all my old mail, so if I need old mail, I have to switch back and forth. Finding e-mails isn't too much of a problem thanks to desktop search though.

  3. Putting all my eggs in one basket
    • Kinda stuck with Gmail now. It would be difficult to just get my school e-mail off of Gmail to back-up for offline access, eg. in case Gmail goes the way of Mailblocks. I can use POP to get it all, but only in one place and it's just a mess then (no labels).

  4. Attachments
    • Being able to send using my school's smtp server has advantages when sending attachments b/c I think it has a higher limit than Gmail, though I shouldn't be sending attachments that large through e-mail anyways. For filtering reasons this may be important as well.

  5. Ads
    • I don't see them, but they are there.


So, in general things are better with this switch, but not perfect. The big problem is separation. Labels help, but my mail is still all mixed together, so school is a constant presence now (bad). I think there's a Firefox plug-in to color code tags, which could help. I guess I could have my mail sent to a different Gmail account, but it'd be inconvenient to have to check two places as I can't be logged into both simultaneously unless I use two different browsers (though I'm guessing there's a Firefox plugin for that).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Now that that's done, I can actually do work

Went to bed at 1 am, woke up at 4 am. Today was crazy stressful. Deadline for the MSR Fellowship was today and I had to have the grad office submit it on my behalf online. I don't trust the staff in the grad office b/c they typically take 2 hour lunch breaks and leave school early. That may sound like a grad student, but grad students will work at any hour if a deadline is pending; grad office staff do not.

So, 1:00 pm rolls around, and I have finally finished my thesis proposal for the application. Problem is that I was still missing my two most important reference letters. The one from my academic father, and the one from my academic uncle in Seattle who nominated me for the fellowship. Having to call Seattle several times to pester for my letter and hunting down my prof at school for my other letter with the clock ticking was not fun. By some miracle, everything came together in time and I got my application successfully submitted.

I was pretty tired after this and took a nap at 5 pm. Knowing that I have been somehow turning off my alarm clock and falling back asleep without knowing it, I set the alarm on my cell phone as well. It was imperative that I wake up before 9 b/c I had a coed volleyball intramurals game. Good thing I set the back-up alarm. Game was a bust though as the other team defaulted.

With all this crap out of the way, I can actually do some work now! I'm actually looking forward to just being able to sit down and do work. Yes, I (generally) enjoy what I do. If I didn't, then I wouldn't be doing what I do, or if I was, I wouldn't be happy or sane.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Happy (Real) Blogoversary!

Ok, I'm doing structured procrastination. I'm procrastinating writing.... by writing :). But this is fun and less pressured. And hell, I don't really care what you think about what I say or how my writing sounds b/c you're not making a 1 second decision as to whether or not I should get a scholarship for the rest of the duration of my phd studies. On the other hand, you very well could be if you're holding my application and googled my name. Well, honestly, I've blogged so much, what's the probability that you actually got to this post? I'm sure there's tons of other incriminating stuff on my blog. Quoting from my favourite comic: FUCK. THAT. SHIT.

Anyways, the real reason for this post, is to celebrate the "true" anniversary of my blog! Back in April, I celebrated a fake birthday for my blog. It's fake, b/c I didn't really blog for 2 years. I really started blogging 1 year ago (ok, 1 year and 1 day ago b/c I was too busy procrastinating my work yesterday and couldn't justify blogging when I had writing to do).

Blogging is viral. Once you start reading friends' blogs, it makes you want to blog (I blame Sarah, Rob, and Nusraat). When I started, I had low expectations that it'd last. I have previously kept a journal, but I stopped b/c I would like go on vacation, miss a week or two of writing, and then I wouldn't want to write in the journal unless I wrote about everything that happened in the vacation, but I'd never get around to that, so then I just stopped. That almost happened over the Christmas break, when I went down to LA and Mexico. I kept saying that I was gonna blog about it, but I was too lazy, so I didn't. It was really because of my readers that I had to continue blogging despite missing some stuff. It's a good motivating force to have people breathe down your back and pestering you about blogging when you haven't for a few days.

I'm quite surprised that not only have I been blogging for a year, but I have been blogging a lot. I blog constantly. In the past year, I blogged 367 times!!! Yes, that's really an average of 1 post / day. And it's not like I posted a billion times in one month and then didn't for a month. The longest period I went without blogging was I think 11 days, and that was b/c I was on vacation. Other than that, the biggest gap was probably less than a week. I feel that I have an obligation not only to myself to blog, but also to my readers. But don't get me wrong, I enjoy it, unlike other kinds of writing.

Ok, so why do I blog? I think I've talked about this several times, but I'm writing it down here anyways. It's good to reflect after blogging for a year.
  1. I blog for myself.
    • It serves as a record of what I've done in my life. It's something that I can look back upon later (a week, a month, a year, 10 years, 25 years, etc.) and remember what I went through or look up something I did or figure out when I did something. To tell you the truth, I have already looked back at my blog for this purpose.

    • It's therapeutic. Sometimes I just need an outlet to rant.

  2. Connect with friends.
    • I lived in Winnipeg for 18 years (Thompson for 4). I've been here in Toronto for 3. I've gone to Seattle and San Francisco for internships and literally met people from around the world. This blog serves as a conduit for me to communicate with my friends in a broadcast manner without the need to repeat myself.

  3. Establish an online presence
    • It was an unintentional consequence, but my blog helped me secure my place as Amy's roommate in her condo in California because it served as a sort of background check / character reference for Amy and her co-workers. I also post a link to my blog on social networks. I figure, I have nothing to hide.

  4. Dispense useful knowledge
    • Sometimes I like to write about things that randoms can find useful as well. The main motivating factor is to record it for myself and also be something that I can refer my friends to, rather than repeating myself over and over, but it has the added benefit of gaining some traffic for my blog and attention for what I'm writing about.
    • Examples include several of the top posts listed below.
    • Shut-up Sarah.

But really, it's mainly #1 and 2.


I don't blog to:
  1. Make money

  2. Brag (some random commented saying this. I couldn't find the comment just now, but my reply was that I don't brag on my blog b/c my blog is for me, I leave the bragging to my school website)

  3. Serve as an outlet for you to procrastinate

  4. Get attention (ok, well, I'm not complaining, but it's not really why I blog)

  5. Ruin peoples' reputations. Ok, maybe I do do this :). Sorry Mike!


Here are the most viewed posts over the past year. Most of them are boring and not reflective of my typical post, but I'm too lazy to make any other list of posts.
  1. Alarm clocks are bad. How to wake up and feel better.

  2. Encrypted blog posts

  3. Why anyone cared about my blog and how my post got famous

  4. Escaped, but without my dignity

  5. Ultimate Skirt Pictures

  6. Dollarama

  7. OMG, STOP PEEING IN MY ROOM!!!

  8. How I Met Your Mother

  9. Orange Juice Fermenting

  10. Recent Comments in Blogger

  11. More Blog Eye Candy

  12. RSS is key – c’mon, everyone’s doing it, why aren't you?

  13. Blogger comment feed and comment posting improvement

  14. The greatest video of all time

  15. Korean food, oh how I've missed you!

  16. Converting Java to C#

  17. All girls slumber party

  18. RIP Mailblocks

  19. Off-site and Gay Pictures

  20. Not your typical board games


The majority of the traffic to my blog (~100 - 200 unique visitors / day) come from search engines. I get some weird searches. Here are some of the most popular search terms (from people using Google, Yahoo, MSN search, Google image search, Google blog search, etc.) that get (or have gotten) to my blog:
  1. waking up

  2. vincent cheung

  3. dollarama

  4. how to wake up in the morning

  5. alarm clocks

  6. nusraat

  7. all girl slumber party

  8. peeing

  9. skirt pics

  10. google benefits

  11. gayglers

  12. natalie dee

  13. fob hairstyles

  14. gay pictures

  15. fermented orange juice

  16. jumping higher

  17. u of t ski and snowboard club


Here's a map of the top 500 places my visitors came from in the past year. The size of the orange dots are proportional to the number of page loads from that location. For those with poor geography, the two massive dots are Winnipeg and Toronto, with Winnipeg slightly edging out Toronto. Can you find yourself?



Here are the top 20 places my visitors came from in the past year (20 biggest dots from the picture above). The numbers in brackets are the number of visits from the place, whatever that means (it's not always easy to determine when to count a visit as a visit if a person comes back, like when does one visit end and the next one start). Caveats: this does not include people that read my blog from feed readers and larger cities are sometimes broken down into suburbs.
  1. Winnipeg (2,614)

  2. Toronto (2,234) <-- bigger than Winnipeg when you add in the suburbs, but don't tell Winnipeg

  3. Los Angeles (446) <-- no idea who these are

  4. London (413) <-- nosy Brits

  5. Singapore (386) <-- randoms

  6. Mountain View, California (345) <-- Google interns

  7. Springvale South, Australia (314) <-- stalker

  8. New York (307) <-- random, especially "team"

  9. Vancouver(303) <-- I know a few

  10. Madrid (300) <-- I'm popular in Spain

  11. Montreal (282) <-- can't all be Adam

  12. York Mills (250) <-- part of Toronto

  13. Calgary (235) <-- I know 1 or 2 there, but I don't think they read

  14. Seattle (231) <-- maybe from my internship

  15. Chicago (226) <-- might know

  16. Houston (221) <-- ?

  17. San Francisco (214) <-- more Googlers?

  18. Ottawa(210) <-- might know some

  19. Downsview (199) <-- part of Toronto

  20. Portland (191) <-- ?


I'm gonna keep blogging. Let's see how long this lasts. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New writing strategy

I like blogging. Blogging requires writing. The words just flow. I voluntarily do this.

Academic writing, I hate. I procrastinate it. I get writer's block. Words do not flow. It's like trying to force Niagara Falls through a straw held up by a cow trying to balance on an exercise ball.

Some people say that they start a blog to improve their writing skills. I don't think that's working for me (not that that was a reason for me to start blogging). Sure, I'm writing more, but this is just conversational writing and I already e-mail and IM quite a bit using similar writing, tone, grammar structure, etc., and none of it is really translating to my academic writing.

The problem I think is that when trying to write a paper, thesis proposal, scholarship application, or some important document, I focus too much on the words and not enough on just getting the facts, ideas, and concepts across. I need to do the "quick and dirty" draft and just get the ideas on the page and leave the fancy terminology, equations, and figures for when I edit it, because it's easier to edit than it is to create.

So, here's what I'm thinking. If I can put myself into the mindset of blogging while doing "real" writing, then hopefully I can just spit the words out. I think that if I'm writing in this little text box without spelling and grammar underlining and tricking myself into thinking that I'm blogging, I can overcome the obstacles that prevent me from just writing.


Here's my simple two-step plan:

Step 1: Create a new blog
Step 2: When writing boring stuff, "blog" it instead of writing it


I'm not sure if this is going to work b/c I won't have the readership that I do for this blog, which pressures me to write, but it's all in my mind. Just gotta put myself in the right mindset and hopefully putting myself in a blogging environment will help.

Blog post #400: Recent things I <3 and </3

Unlike my other claims of blog milestones, this one is accurate this time. The reason I prematurely announced say, my 300th blog post was b/c Blogger counts drafts as part of your post count. Funny, that last milestone also corresponded to the completion of a paper :p

Here are some recent things that I <3 and </3, not telling you which ones are which:
  • Soft deadlines

  • Hoping that it was a soft deadline

  • Missing beach volleyball b/c I didn't finish my paper in time

  • Not blogging b/c I was busy/procrastinating

  • Finished the revisions for my paper

  • More non-research work due this week

  • Finding motivation from within

  • Volleyball 5 times last week

  • Men's intramurals and GSU volleyball teams are better than I expected

  • No coed volleyball intramurals on Thanksgiving

  • My new blender

    (PC blender for $40, a spontaneous purchase, but one that I've been wanting to make for a while)

  • Bringing an empty backpack and duffle bag to Loblaws

  • 3.78 L jug of Tropicana orange juice and 2.5 kg of frozen mixed fruit

  • Fruit smoothies in literally < 3 min.

  • 2-3 fruit smoothies a day

  • Homemade gingerbread cookies that Elsa and I made

  • Crossing things off my todo list

  • Grey's Anatomy

  • Jamie Ly for being the last straw in getting me to watch GA

  • How I Met Your Mother

  • Learning love as a second language

  • Being trapped in a loop, living each day as a slight variation of the last

  • New season of Battlestar Galactica

  • Massive turkeys in the grocery store

  • Ham for Thanksgiving b/c the turkeys were too big

  • Thanksgiving by myself

  • Cooking tasty food to procrastinate

  • LinkedIn

  • Ghost from the past

  • Annoying people

  • People that think they know everything

  • Leaky volleyball

  • Losing leaky volleyball into the bleachers

  • Losing my TCard (U of T student card)

  • Realizing where my TCard is

  • Realizing that I didn't return the borrowed volleyball and can't get my TCard back

  • North Korea's nuclear bomb test

  • Artist of Nuit Blanche's Ballroom Dancing exhibit commenting on my blog

  • Sexual consent forms

  • Blogging

  • Being single

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Congratulations Sony and Andru!!!


These two don't take normal pictures, at least not at the same time


Congratulations you two!!! Everyone knew it was gonna happen, it was really just a matter of when. I'm so happy for you guys!

Andru organized a large gathering of his and Sony's mutual friends for dinner tonight at Marche (now called Richtree market). Didn't say what it was, but that it was a surprise for Sony. The addendum to the evite noted that it was not for her birthday (which is soon). I figured, it was then, either for a job or they were engaged, but she already had a job...

I have to hand it to Andru, he pulled the whole thing off pretty well.

Sony had no idea Andru had planned a big gathering of their friends for dinner. There were 30+ of us. It was crazy. She was really surprised that everyone was there. I guess Andru was quite confident that she'd say "yes" :)

Sony told the story to me and her other ex-roommates at the dinner first. Earlier that day, they went hiking and at a stop by a cliff with a great view, Andru starts reciting a poem - one that Carrie from Sex and the City read at Charlotte's wedding and Sony had liked, transcribed it, and sent it to Andru like 2 years ago. By the end of the poem, he was down on one knee and Sony was bawling. Sony told the story well and was so genuine with her emotions. She was so happy! My eyes were watery by the end of her story. Everyone's eyes were watery. Fortunately, Joyce drew the attention away from the rest of us as she was absolutely bawling.

I didn't know many people there. I knew like her ex-roommates, which was a bit awkward as they are also my ex's ex-roommates, and I hadn't spoken to any of them since we broke up. I knew like one guy from volleyball and then just recognized a few others.

Throughout the night, we were like making a scrap book for them. We were each writing cards and then they were put into a photo album with a bunch of pictures. This was organized by the pharmacy people. Some how Sony and Andru didn't figure out what was going on :p

Fun part of the night was when my ex arrived (she came late and missed the dinner as she had other dinner plans). We haven't spoken for like 10 months. Can you say awkward? It gets better. Since I was sitting with the ex-roommates (they actually came and sat with me b/c they didn't know many of the pharmacy friends either), my ex comes and sits at our table after one of the girls leaves. So, she's sitting diagonally across from me at the table. Fun times. She just pretended that I didn't exist and didn't acknowledge my existence. She talked with her ex-roommates completely facing them, with her back towards me. It was pretty weird, especially when Sony sat down across from me, and beside her and we were all talking. Took me back like a year and a half to when we last did that. Mimi's favourite quality of my ex was out in full form.

We had some champagne (well, technically "sparkling wine" as it didn't come from Champagne, France). Funny thing was that one of the bottles was from Domaine Chandon, which I went to when I was in California :). It happens so often now that I have been to the winery of wines that I see on a restaurant wine list or am actually drinking :)

Me, Natalia, and Natalia's purse


Oh, and if you're keeping track, this is the 4th engagement announcement on my blog this year...

Still waiting for the day where I blog about mine. Or perhaps when I propose on my blog :p

Friday, October 06, 2006

New Blog Feature: The Wall

I have added a "Wall" to the sidebar of my blog.

It's a text box where you can write whatever you please. It's similar to Facebook's original wall. Anyone can change it and you can do whatever you want to it.

The only thing is that I don't have any way to keep a record of it, like Facebook had, where it tracked the changes each user made. I have no idea who wrote what, who changed what, or who deleted what.

Not sure what's going to happen with it, but I expect a chaotic mess. It's something for you readers to play with and entertain yourself with.

Go ahead, give it a try. Leave your mark and vandalize my blog!

Passing of an academic grandfather

One of my academic grandfathers passed away recently. Howard Card lost his battle with cancer. He supervised my academic father, Brendan Frey, for his Master's at the University of Manitoba.

Ordinarily, academic grandfathers are pretty distant from you, as they shouldn't be at the same institution, and you may never have the chance to meet them, but in this case, I was quite familiar with him, as he taught me Electronics in undergrad. Even back then he was winding down and reducing his activity at the university as he was battling cancer. I don't know if I ever told him that I was doing grad school with Brendan.

Funny, I also know another one of my academic grandfathers, Geoff Hinton, who was Brendan's PhD advisor when he was at the University of Toronto, and he is still in the machine learning group here, the meetings of which I ordinarily attend. Plus, I took his neural networks grad course.

Actually, I know yet another academic grandfather, Thomas Huang, who supervised Brendan during his post-doc at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I met him at CVPR 2005 (conference on computer vision and pattern recognition) in San Diego. Coincidently enough, he was on the committee that awarded me my best paper award.

I joke that my whole grad school experience is a family affair, as I was taken care of by my academic uncle, Nebojsa Jojic, for my internship at Microsoft Research, and then another academic uncle, Ashutosh Garg, who took care of me when I did my internship at Google, where I also worked with yet another academic uncle, Nemanja Petrovic.

Talk about incest!

I don't know any academic relatives on the Kinsner side of my family.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Kicked out of my bedroom before 9 am!

Tony's knocking on my door before 9 am and won't stop. I'm like DOUBLE-YOU TEE EFF???... The super intendant and his minion are in our apartment to fix the water damage in my bedroom and the bathroom.

They always do this to me!!! I'm like half naked and it's before my alarm clock is set to go off (fortunately, not much earlier this time). There should be rules against coming into my apartment before like 10 am. Preferably noon just in case.

I didn't know they were coming today, b/c I put in that work order a couple weeks ago.

So, it's before 9 and I'm out of bed moving stuff around in my room so they can get access to where they need to go.

They only scraped out the peeling paint and plaster and put in poly filler. They had to let it dry and are coming back tomorrow, presumedly early in the morning, to paint it. Fun thing for me is that they took my blinds down to fix the water damage (ceiling by the window), so I get to wake up with the sun tomorrow...

Anyways, if I sleep now, I can get 6 hours in before they come knocking.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The start of volleyball leagues

Today was the start of coed volleyball intramurals. Both Skule (engineering) teams are in the same pool this year and pretty much all the good teams are in our pool. My team is really solid this year. I have been reunited with Rob (engineering Rob, not but that engineering Rob or that other semi-engineering Rob, it's the Toronto engineering Rob), Kevin (not that engineering Kevin, another one), and Robyn (Kevin's sister). We picked up Afjal, Siobhan, Chelsea, and Sarah (it's a different engineering Sarah).

We played our mortal enemies, Law, but they have a shitty team this year and we won in 2. Not sure how they got like 21 points in both games, but I never felt like we were in jeopardy of losing. I was impressed with our team. We played smart and gelled quite well considering that it was the first time playing as a team.

Highlights of the night included Siobhan pounding a hit off a guy's head who was trying to block her, my two consecutive roofs on guys (I almost had a hat trick), and every one of Afjal's hits.

Both Skule teams won their games! Against our traditional foes, Law and Phys Ed! Now that's how you start the season!

As per our ritual, we hit the Firkin for some beers after the game, though it was a pretty bad showing from my team, actually, it was just me and 5 from the other Skule team. My team complained of "tests" and "exams", those words are no longer in my vocabulary. It's actually kinda funny who's playing on the team this year. Out of the 16 people playing for Skule (supposedly undergrad engineering), 5 are grad students :p (me, Nastassja, Kevin, Ron, and Bu).

Men's intramurals and GSU league also start this week. Wwwhhhheeeee....

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Nuit Blanche

"How to respond in an emergency"
"Cops" dancing on the street


Position Yourself in a Network of Possibilities"
Light up dance floor with Steve doing the robot


"Ballroom Dancing"
Thousands of rubber balls, 10-year-old DJs


Rubber balls everywhere! I think I'm about to get hit...


"Fog in Toronto #71624" - University of Toronto, Philosopher's Walk


Knitted Cupcakes (for Sarah)


More Pictures


So I have realized that I don't really understand contemporary art.

I woke up at 4 pm today after going to bed at 8 am. I was still pretty awake and up for breakfast after the sun began to rise, but Tina and Rob were pretty done :p. I had prepared for the night by staying up until like 5 am and sleeping until 2 pm the night before.

So, the evening started with me meeting up with Rostecki, who was visiting Toronto from Winnipeg for his last time as he's moving here in a month, near Yorkville around 10:30 pm, though that didn't turn out as easy as it should have been b/c the info booth wasn't where I thought it was supposed to be (it was on Cumberland instead of Bloor).

We then tracked down Jamie Ly (she needs page rank, and you can read Jamie Ly's post) by the "Garden of Light" (plastic water lillies that lit up when in the water, but not when they were out of the water, which we figured out to be b/c there were two electrodes at the bottom, which needed a conductor, like your finger, or the water). Turns out that she was part of a mob, an art mob if you will. They already had a group of 14 (16 with us), with no one person knowing more than like 5 people. I only knew Jamie and Rob, and knew of Richard. There wasn't much direction in the mob and were at the mercy of any one with a desire to see a particular exhibit. It was a blast with the wide diversity of people in the group.

I soon develop a reputation of being a source of unreliable information as Tahir tells me over the phone that there is a giant teddy bear on Baldwin, but it's just neon red signs of words from Elvis Presley's songs, such as "Let me be your teddy bear" in restaurant windows. I did run into Tahir on Baldwin b/c he heard people cursing my name for lying to them :p

One of the best exhibits were the dancing cops on the street. A car would just pull up at a street corner, roll down the windows, and blast music. Cops would approach the car in what looks like a take down, but then embrace each other and begin to dance. People start surrounding them blocking off traffic, people in passing buses plaster themselves against the window to see what's going on. And as quickly as it begins, it ends, and the cops walk off to some random location for another performance. I was fortunate to catch them twice.

We visited the Village Idiot Pub for a quick drink. Someone ordered 5 beers, and with 16 people we had to struggle to finish them! It was insane.

We saw a number of "projection" exhibits, which basically consists of a video projector and some random video sequence (blurry bugs, an ultra slowed down 3 Stooges video, sheep, random rectangles, shadows, water, a video of people puking white stuff and poking puking people, a video that gets you motion sick, and a crazy guy wanting to burn down Paris so his dad couldn't take him to get his hair cut). I didn't understand most of these, though I didn't really have the patience to watch much of them.

The light up dance floor was pretty cool. It was right by the corner of Queen and University. Part of the whole Nuit Blanche thing was to break down the barriers between art and public space, so it was cool to see a dance floor with people dancing outside in just a random corner in downtown.

Tina finally met up with us at this point, which was just after midnight. Rob remarked that it was weird b/c his last girlfriend was also Asian and named Tina.

There was a lot of talking with random strangers that night. Rob picked up 3 girls that he was playing dominos with (I was playing a giant game of twister). He got them to join our mob (~19 at that point). At the dance floor, we were talking about the ballroom and how long the line was and two people told us that it was only a 15 min. wait, so we went back.

The ballroom was amazing!!! Thousands of rubber balls in a gymnasium with 10-year-old DJs. If you stood in the main area, you just got constantly pelted with balls. It was great, though I'm sure that I'm going to develop some sort of eye disease since I got hit in the face so often and the balls were kinda nasty as you could feel grit on the balls when you picked them up. So much fun!

Funny part was when Rob was telling me how great it was to just pelt completely random strangers with balls and some girls just walking in were like shocked at his statement, but I told them that they'd understand once they got into the mayhem.

Walking over to the last zone in Queen St. West was a bit of a hike. Right when we got there (2-something), our group got severed in half as a bunch just jumped on a bus apparently wanting to go to the Drake Hotel and the other half didn't know what to do b/c some people didn't want to go and the girl that Rob had been flirting with for the past half an hour turned out to be 18! (Drinking age in Ontario is 19)

With our group now of just 5 people (Jamie and Richard, the Jeffs, and a few others left before we left for Queen St. W), we continued on. The two people in our group that I didn't know left when we were waiting to go into "Night Swim", supposedly a bath house, but really it was just a swimming pool and people swimming, and hardly worth the half hour wait. Monia's departure was a bit odd, as she said something about Rob being rude to her (which he was confused about) and didn't want to walk with him, which we thought she was joking, but she just took off, and her 18 year old roommate soon followed b/c Monia apparently didn't have the key to their place. So, with the clock somewhere between 2 and 3, it was just me, Rostecki, and Tina.

"Freeze" was pretty cool (ooh, brutal joke). It was a large ice sculpture of slabs of ice with letters cut out from each slab, that read "STONECHILD". It was in a car wash.

The point at which I really began to doubt the whole contemporary art thing was when I was listening to an artist talking about one of his works about the seductive nature of the States for artists in Canada and John A. Macdonald was portrayed and was said to have a lot of wax in his ears so that he didn't hear the seduction and wasn't lured down. I then go and see the piece and it's like a cutout of a skyscraper scene, with 3 naked girls cutout and pasted on top with balloon text above them and then a cutout of John A. Macdonald. I forget what they were saying, but I was like, "double-you tee eff???" and walked off.

We ran into the other half of the group (I think degraded to about 5) around 4 walking the other direction. We then stopped off at the Beaver Cafe for a small bite to eat. We then wanted to go back to Yorkville to check out some things there that we missed. Waiting at the Toronto Performance Transit System stop. Two girls were also waiting, and we found out that they wanted to go back to Yorkville too and also check out the fog at Philosopher's Walk, so we split a cab.

At Philosopher's Walk, they had installed a bunch of fog machines, which was pretty cool, but muddy.

The sites in Yorkville weren't that impressive, though the Dr. Mario exhibit (that's what I like to call it) was fun. It was around 6ish and it was pretty dead (Queen Street was pretty lively when we left at 5ish. I think the typical thing to do was progress from Yorkville, down University, and then across Queen). We went to this "Bedtime Tales: Fables and Fantasies" thing where someone was just reading and the entire audience was just passed out on the floor. It was pretty funny.

After visiting all 3 zones, seeing most of the exhibits, walking a hell of a lot (which is something I've been doing a lot lately, with the whole walking from the Distillery District to Korean town two weeks ago), and with the sun about to rise, we called it a night and headed home.

I Survived Nuit Blanche

It's 7 am, and I just got back from Nuit Blanche, "a free all-night contemporary art thing" from 7:01 pm - sunrise, though I only started around 10 pm.

I walked a lot, saw stuff that was supposedly art, and talked to a lot of randoms. Full post to follow whenever I get up.
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