Apr 10, 2014

Thrills and Chills

Despite being immune to such influences in my tween, teen, and young adult years, last night I realized that I’ve spent more time in a state of “scared by creepiness” these last 12 months than I have for the entire rest of my life. Is this something that happens as we get older? Are children simply immune to creepiness? I swear to god that “Elephants On Parade” sequence in Dumbo was plain old fun when I was a kid, instead of the disturbing creepfest I interpreted it as when I finally saw it again in my early twenties.

When I’m talking about the scare factor of creepiness, I’m talking about the sense of unease we get from things that are abnormal, off kilter, but in a seemingly understated/innocuous manner. It’s the sense of not knowing more, of only having a glimpse of the story. It’s finding a human-shaped burn mark on a wall. It’s the sound of a crying child when there is no child to be seen. It’s inanimate objects slowly following your movement through an empty room. Seemingly innocuous, and no harm done, but maybe... what if...

It’s the not knowing that creates creepiness.

But there’s actually a fine line between creepiness and wonderment. No one freaks out when Lucy finds the random lamppost in Narnia, that’s because the book is written with a sense of childlike curiosity. Tone and mood are huge influencers on whether something is plain odd or forebodingly odd.

The one thing that creeped me out as a child and that continues to creep me out to this day: the moon. I mean the full moon, especially when it’s low on the horizon and looks larger than usual. I have no idea why the low-hanging full moon creeps me out so much, it just does. SHUDDER!

Apr 1, 2014

Vegetarian Deliciousness On the Fly

So I just pulled this recipe out of my ass when I realized I had tomatoes and mushrooms in my fridge that were about to lose their prime freshness:

  • Fry tsp minced garlic and green onions in canola oil at medium heat, cook until garlic is golden
  • Add one chopped tomato and 1 tsp chopped fresh basil, continue cooking until tomatoes break down
  • Add one package sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
  • Add 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • Add 1 tsp veggie stock powder with 750 ml water
  • Simmer on low heat until mushrooms are tender (8-10 minutes)
  • Add 1 tsp cornstarch (mixed with tiny bit of cold water)
  • Add al dente pasta (I used about 3 cups uncooked aka quite a lot)
  • Toss with a sprinkle of dried oregano
  • NOM WHILE HOT!

Flavourful as fuck with a lot less salt/sugar than bottled pasta sauce. I already love mushrooms as is, but I wish someone had told me earlier that fresh basil is basically HERBED MAGIC. :D

Mar 21, 2014

Mo’ Money Mo’ Security

Since the new year rolled around and I’ve accepted that the State of Engagement requires copious budgetary planning, I’ve been on an aggressive saving plan. Any and all money leftover at the end of the month goes directly into my savings account and I’ve been doing well so far. I think in both January and February I saved an extra $700, in addition to the $500 and $100 automatic monthly deposits into my RRSP and TFSA.

Then March rolled around and I got bit by the “you deserve it” bug. See, because I’m so frugal and save so much money, I know I’ve got extra disposable income. And the tighter I hold my own reigns, the more I want to buy the stuff on my ongoing Wish List. This month’s obsession: new perfume. But because I’m frugal by nature, I didn’t just stroll into Sephora and buy it. Nope, went to a local flea market, trawled the various perfumery stalls until I found the cheapest one, paid cash.

New perfume aside, there’s been other items on the Wish List. I set up an appointment for a Swedish massage, because I work in front of a computer all week long. But again, did it frugal style: Groupon deal! I bought a purse (the $22 one as opposed to the flashier $59 one). Both my watches were languishing with dead batteries, so I had to get those fixed. And I’ve been pretty social this month as well, dropping money on dinners out and tickets to various events.

Needless to say, I was sort of “spending scared” for most of the month. I’ve got the additional cost of paying property taxes for March through to May, so I wouldn’t have as much money as the previous months. But it looks like if I stay the course and only spend on necessities, I’ll be okay.

But because life never goes as planned, this weekend I’m going wedding dress shopping with my sister. Then the weekend after that I’m on a jeans shopping mission with my BFF. But knowing that money is tight will be great incentive for continuing to reign myself in.

Mar 17, 2014

Behold The Glory Of All Creation!

As someone on Twitter said, if you’re not watching #Cosmos you owe me a 72 page essay outlining why not. ;)

For those not in the know, “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” is a science documentary series being shown on Fox TV, produced by Seth McFarlane, hosted by the phenomenal Neil deGrasse Tyson, inspired by the original series from Carl Sagan. The interesting thing about the show is that it’s not trying to be ground breaking or revolutionary. Instead, NdT just points out the facts with the tenacity of an astrophysicist who’s had quite enough of America’s anti-science fundie creationist bullshit.

I saw the first episode during a rerun on Saturday; even though I had previously heard the episode incited controversy through its narrative of the church vs. free-thinker, I wasn’t prepared for how all-out the show actually went! They really painted religious figureheads as the enemies of progress, all the while emphasizing that science is not in competition with faith or god, but really an extension of it.

Last night’s second episode also wasn’t afraid to throw some punches, especially regarding evolution. NdT was basically like: “listen, evolution is a fact, deal with it”. More than anything, this show is a political statement, a measured response to disinformation and distrust. But even as NdT recalls the religious opposition to Darwin or alludes to a man-made ongoing mass extinction, he also shows how marvelous science can be. My favourite moments:

- Did you know that on Saturn’s moon Titan, there is a large water mass named the Kraken Sea? KRAKEN, seriously.

- NdT looking straight into the screen, subtly inviting children watching the show to be the individual who finally unravels the origin of life on earth.

Can’t wait for next week! Wish I could mainline it like House of Cards. ;)

Mar 8, 2014

I Can't Do Anything Halfway

One of the sorta-resolutions I wanted to make in the new year was "less internet, more reading". My hope was that by swapping one for the other, I wouldn't end up with so much wasted time on my hands. No more getting sucked into another YouTube or Wikipedia black hole and suddenly realizing it's an hour past my bedtime and there are still dishes in the sink and I haven't brushed my teeth or done the laundry or taken out the trash. Reading, clearly, is far superior to dicking around on the internet (or watching TV for that matter, but I'm increasingly not a TV person anymore... how this has happened, I don't even know.)

Unfortunately, if I was looking to not get "sucked in" to something, perhaps I shouldn't have picked reading as an alternative option. Because give me a good book and it's the same story all over again, except this time I'm curled up on the couch when I realize it's an hour past my bedtime and there are still dishes in the sink and I haven't brushed my teeth or done the laundry or taken out the trash. *facepalm*

Need to find another another alternative, most likely some kind of crafting (crochet, scrapbooking, embroidery, etc.). Right after I finish this book of course.

Feb 1, 2014

Recipe: Ham Fried Rice

I recently made ham fried rice for the first time and it turned out really well, but my creation was inspired by a number of different recipes I found on the internet. So I thought it would be best to make a post with my exact ingredients and steps, so that I can refer to it again for future posterity!

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups cold cooked rice
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cups chopped green beans
  • 3 stalks spring onion, chopped
  • 1 cup diced cooked ham
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oil for frying (canola or vegetable)
  • dash of sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Heat a small skillet with a little bit of oil, then crack the eggs into the pan. Cook the eggs as though making scrambled eggs, removed from heat and set aside when the eggs have just set.
  2. In a larger skillet, heat some oil and add the garlic, cook until just browned.
  3. Add the green beans, cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the diced ham, cook for another 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add the spring onion and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add in the rice, egg, oyster sauce, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly until the rice is evenly coated.
  7. Finish with a hint of sesame oil, mix evenly.

YUMMMMMM!

Jan 20, 2014

10 Things I've Learned After Being Engaged For Exactly A Month

1. Companies see me as a walking dollar sign and will try to sell me all kinds of bridal-related crap.
2. The Knot has some great advice but is biased towards traditional Christian weddings.
3. More people need to save themselves drama/money and elope.
4. I don’t even like cake!
5. Remember those Amar Chita Kata stories where kings would meet the daughters of sages in the forest and they’d fall in love with each other and secretly get married by just exchanging garlands? Yeah, throw a couple witnesses and that’s the kind of wedding for me. ;)
6. There are couples who only have their parents meet each other after the engagement is announced, and I call these people UTTERLY MAD.
7. Surefire way to destroy my sanity: wedding inspiration on Pinterest.
8. I need to spend more time at Offbeat Bride and not Pinterest/The Knot.
9. I need to start my own wedding blog for the penny-pinching, feminist, first-generation Indian, interfaith wedding crowd.
10. Weddings are a boondoggle, what matters is the marriage and partnership that comes after!

Jan 9, 2014

YouTube Delivers Again!

I have a lovely little EDM discovery for everyone today. I was on YouTube one day and decided to trawl the Ministry of Sound channel for new dance tunes. I saw a recommendation from an artist named Porter Robinson, who I already knew of via a collaboration he did with Matt Zo (also an amazing song/video). Clicked on the video and oh my god. Sweet song of course, but the video is so touching and moving I maaaaay have shed a tear or two in the process.

Watch for yourself and be the judge!


My interpretation: this woman is running away from her problems (symbolized by the otherwolves) and finds refuge in an alternate reality, full of beautiful landscapes and a silent but supportive companion. She enjoys the sights, recuperates, stops running for a while and recharges. But she cannot escape her problems forever. Eventually they find her and push her silent friend off a cliff, but in its last moments the creature sends her back in time to the moment before she leapt away from her problems. Fully restored by peace and respite, she now has the strength to tackle her problems head on, and chases the otherwolves away, saving the creature and her own destiny at the same time.

Let me float back to the place you found me
I’ll be okay

Jan 2, 2014

Ring It In

I like taking stock of the year as it comes to a close and I have to say that I’m in a much better place now than I was a year ago. At the end of 2012, things were just plain old good. On the other hand I’ve been dealt a very fine hand for the end of 2013. First off I negotiated myself a bigger raise for 2014, secondly I got news that my condo’s maintenance fees are not going up for the next year, and finally my partner surprised me with an engagement ring just before Christmas! Needless to say 2014 is looking up, but no doubt it will have its own set of challenges like:
  • Getting started with wedding planning. No date has been set and we haven’t finalized a budget, but within days of the announcement I was bombarded with information and requests and calls for compromise. For a woman who never really thought much about weddings, it’s all a bit overwhelming.
  • Related: saving up for the wedding. I already have a ton of money saved up and I don’t want to spend a ton on it either. But it would be nice to not have to dip into my savings and just use some money gathered in the upcoming year instead. Just call me the Budget-Conscious Indian Bride!
  • Unfortunate side effect of wedding planning: worrying about your appearance. I’d like to shrink my gut down a couple inches if possible, but more than anything just get back in shape and be more physically active for my own health’s sake. Also, thanks to coffee and tea every day for the past 3 years I think I need to get those teeth whitening strips. :P
  • Before fiancé popped the question, my big plan for 2014 was to get my professional certification, which involves a lengthy application process, in-person interview, and a difficult examination. Not sure how I’m going to fit this into my plans now, but it needs to be done! My manager and the company CEO are eager for me to have that certification under my belt. Maybe I can actually use it as an excuse to put off wedding planning? ;)

Dec 27, 2013

Ring In The New Year With A Little Recap

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: mashup release time! There are three artists who do year-end mashups that I look forward to, and now that they’ve all released their goods and I've had time to let the songs and videos sink in, it's time to rank them!

3. DJ Earworm United State of Pop

• Without a doubt the most well-known of the year-end mashup DJs, and I enjoy that Earworm attempts to rework the lyrics into a completely new song, and the video into something brand new. Since he’s from the UK, sometimes I don’t know all of the songs he uses, but nonetheless his skill in changing tempos at the drop of a hat is always impressive. Unfortunately I found this year's creation a little boring.

2. Mashup Germany Top of the Pops 2013

• Despite the random German songs that inevitably get thrown into these mashups, I still really enjoy how they are crafted year after year, well meshed and without excessive complication. Honestly, the random German songs are refreshing! This is a very nice mix, very nice video, my only complaint is that I haaaaate "Hey Brother" by Avicii and it's the main track in this mashup.

3. Pop Danthology 2013

• Daniel Kim is Canadian so he usually picks songs that are specifically popular in my part of the world, which I deeply appreciate. He’s dropped some killer combos in this mix, I particularly like the music for Gaga’s “Applause” mixed with the vocals for Zedd’s “Clarity”. Also, he mashed the vocals for Selena Gomez’s “Come And Get It” with the Harlem Shake, amazing. My favourite this year, the video just blows me away with its accuracy and effectiveness. However, I'm sad to say that this is actually the worst of his mashups, but that's no fault of Daniel's, it's just that music this year sucked. :P

Dec 10, 2013

Review – Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Full disclosure: I only read the first Hunger games book and the first third of Catching Fire (it was a pdf copy and I just couldn’t continue). But I’ve read the synopsis on Wikipedia so I know the major deaths/outcomes and conclusion. I am NOT ready for that terrible terrible death that happens in Mockingjay. D:

Katniss was always cool, we all know that, but this was the movie that made me really adore her. Katniss is everything teenaged me would have wanted to be, and everything that adult me realizes I could never be. She is a rule breaker, the girl who doesn’t smile when you ask her to unless it serves her purpose, confused and bold, impassioned behind a mask of ice. But beyond all that, she is powerful and competent and a threat. Her actions, no matter how insignificant, can topple an empire. She is the unwilling metaphor who did not wish for the future she was given, but love and family thrust her down a path she could have never predicted.

The only times I ever teared up in the movie were the parts with Cinna and Effie. Oh my gosh Cinna, Kravitz is like a beacon of pure sanity in these movies, there is nothing I do not like about him. I love that he used fashion to stick it to the empire, even though it cost him in the end. But I get the feeling he knew what he was doing when he took that chance with Katniss’ dress. And Effie, oh my gosh Effie, I totally bawled every time she was like “we’re a TEAM and I will bedeck the TEAM so help me god”, like, bless your heart my dear, you love your bb victors so damn much and she was SO NOT COOL with the Quarterquell.

When I first started getting into the Hunger Games series, I was massively on Team Gale because I wanted Katniss to be with someone she had already felt longterm friendship/affection for, not someone the system had coerced her into pretending to love. But then I read what happened in Mockingjay and, well, as my Chinese coworker said, “he went all communist by the end, ugh.” But Peeta definitely is growing on me, especially once I read all the articles about how the Peeta/Katniss relationship is basically gender-flipped tropes. Peeta is compassionate and emotional and bakes bread and Katniss has to save his ass all the time? Beautiful. I am NOT ready to watch what happens to him in Mockingjay.

But I found it interesting that compared to the books, they definitely tweaked how Katniss felt about both Peeta and Gale. In the books she’s very “how the hell should I know what love is?” but in the movies she’s more like “you’re both lovely but now is not the time dammit!”

I do wonder though, what the heck the rest of the world is thinking while shit goes down in Panem. Like, I guess Panem gave the United Nations the middle finger or something? And, like, China and Indian are just watching from afar and shaking their heads while curing cancer and sending space missions to Mars? And do Canadians download illegal bootlegs of the Hunger Games and watch it going “wtf eh?” NEW HEADCANNON.

But seriously though am I the only one weirded out by the lack of Asian people in the Hunger Games movies? It’s not the best series diversity-wise. Hell, they even upped the ante with a “token black district”. :P

Dec 6, 2013

Nestlé: Crappy Chocolate, Even Crappier Globalized Marketing

Source:
At the World Water Forum in 2000, Nestlé led the way in fighting against defining access to water a universal right. Nestlé and other big corporations won out, and government officials around the globe officially downgraded water’s classification to a "need" instead.

WHAT THE HELL. I knew Nestlé was full of shenanigans when I heard they aggressively market baby formula to poor women in lesser developed countries when it’s not really effective nutrition(here’s a good article that gets into that particular issue), but this is just ridic. People can survive 1-3 weeks on starvation but only ~3 days with dehydration! People have a RIGHT to water.

Dec 2, 2013

Pre-Hogwarts Premonition!

When I was a teenager, I somehow acquired a CD with a Tchaikovsky compilation on it: Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty. Let me tell you, if that CD had been a record I would have wore the grooves out, haha. I liked listening to music for an hour or so before bed and that CD was one of my favourites, especially the Nutcracker songs, I basically memorized every song. One night, I listened to the full Nutcracker Suite and drifted off to sleep right after, and had a dream that my high school decided to organize a ball during Christmas, and all the girls dressed up in huge Victorian hoop dresses with lots of ribbons and tulle and satin. Mine was a pale blue, like Cinderella’s gown in the Disney movie. I remember in the dream we had to dance to Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” and I was freaked because I didn’t actually know how to waltz but managed to get through it anyway.

I just remembered this dream today and thought: “Wait... isn’t that basically the Yule Ball from the Harry Potter books?!” I DREAMED IT FIRST! :P

Nov 21, 2013

BBM for iPhone Is Terrible: Reasons Why

  1. When someone sends a message, I get duplicate notifications in the lock screen.
  2. Every time I enter a chat, the screen automatically defaults to show the keyboard, leaving me barely any room to actually read the conversation above.
  3. You can’t add photos within the flow of conversation in a group chat, it has to go in a separate area.

I know it’s only 3 reasons, but that’s 3 reasons more than WhatsApp. Screw this inferior product! The iOS version needs some serious work to win my love.

Nov 13, 2013

Review – Thor 2: The Dark World (Spoilers!)

When I came in to work this morning, I announced that I had seen Thor 2 the day before. Immediately, the coworkers around me mentioned that they loved the Thor series because LOKI and omg isn’t Loki awesome? I, on the other hand, have never much fallen into the fangirl/fanboy spell Loki seems to cast upon its watchers. I watch Thor for THOR and his bulging biceps and chistled jaw.

But Thor 2? Well, okay, I see it now. Loki is kind of amazing in this movie.

I truly enjoyed this movie, it was the perfect blend of action, mythology, comedy, and tragedy all rolled into one. Some random thoughts I’d like to share:

  1. I’ve often said that I’m sick of movies with massive casual first world genocide while the hero and villain battle it out (see: Star Trek, Superman, etc.) and thankfully Thor didn’t fall into this trap with destroying thousands of innocent Londoners. The trade-off, I suppose, is that a shitload of Asgardians died, bringing me to point two...
  2. OMFG killing Frigga, I... ugh. She was so badass fighting Malekith and then they fridged her to increase Loki’s manpain? Wah. Also, I know too much of actual Norse mythology not to be irritated by it, she’s one of the most important Norse gods! That being said, the funeral scene was one of the prettiest scenes ever (and gave me mad Game of Thrones feels, haha). Speaking of manpain...
  3. Yeah, I totally fell for Loki’s manpain. I know, I know, it was all a massive gambit in the end. But dude, he really did love Frigga. When Thor made him drop his illusion in the dungeon and he was all broken and in despair... so woobie omg. And when he tells Thor he didn’t sacrifice his life for him, you know every step he has taken was not all for his long con, he wanted vengeance for his mother as well.
  4. Can we talk about Jane for a bit? Actually, can we talk about Aether Jane for a bit? I honestly thought that they were foreshadowing that she was going to go evil, with the black eyeballs and the electric blue irises and visions of destruction she was having. Now THAT would have rocked my world a little bit. It’s the only real disappointment I have, but nothing a little fanfic won’t fix. ;)
  5. It was nice to see Selvig and Darcy again. Selvig was especially hilarious with his aversion to pants. BRO, I know that feel. Also kinda hilarious-awesome was Loki pretending to be Captain America. “Let’s have a discussion about truth and justice!” LOL.
  6. Since I am a massive appreciator of Thor, I would like to squee about him a bit. OMG SQUEE! Hooray for his shirtless scene! And he’s just so straight-forward and earnest and adorable. I laughed so hard when he had to take the Tube back to Greenwich and the woman was all “oops the subway shifted and I had to fall against your rugged manly chest, sorry!” I’d do the same thing haha.
  7. I loved that most of the movie took place in Asgard, and I was quite impressed how they managed to make Asgard both timelessly ancient but technologically powerful as well. It’s like... by virtue of being part of the Marvel universe, they need to tread that science fiction line despite the fact that we’re dealing with ancient gods here.
  8. I just KNEW this whole mythology is building up to the Infinity Gauntlet. All this talk about stones and we’ve already seen Thanos, eeeee can’t wait! On the other hand, all this Guardians of the Galaxy business looks terrible. As the guy sitting next to me in the theatre said, “I don’t want to watch a movie with a talking raccoon in it.” FOR REAL BRO.
  9. I dunno guys, for some reason I got major OT3 feels when it was just Thor and Loki taking Jane to Malekith. Like, I would be completely satisfied with a movie just was just the three of them slogging through some godforsaken land while Loki snarks and Thor beats things up and Jane figures shit out. LOL sounds like one of those last Harry Potter movies.
  10. Overall impression: solid movie with action, humour, and just enough complexity to make you salivate for a sequel!
Rating: 8.5/10

Nov 11, 2013

Six Reasons Why Living On Your Own Sucks

1. You can only ever carry two arms worth of groceries at a time.

2. No one to help zip you up in the back.

3. It's just you versus the spiders/wasps/centipedes/etc.

4. Can't get a second opinion on whether your outfit clashes or not.

5. "God I'm so sick I can barely move. Too bad that chicken soup won't make itself."

6. Minimum motivation to unf**k your habitat. Why clean when no one’s there to see it but you?

Nov 6, 2013

Sci-Fi Movie Plot, Patent Pending

I do all of my best thinking right before I fall asleep. Last night, my train of thought was this:

One day, instead of smartphones we will all have chips embedded in the base of our necks that will connect us to the internet and allow us to control our homes and computers with our brains. But we’ll still be subject to privacy issues, but instead of Google using your words and image to sell products, they will use your thoughts and dreams to fund new movies and books, and you won’t be able to do a thing when they profit from your creativity because you waived all rights away when you agreed to their cumbersome Terms and Conditions.

Oct 30, 2013

Email Blunders

I see it time and time again; someone says something offensive, insulting, racist, sexist, etc. in an email that somehow gets sent beyond its intended recipient. And inevitably, the author of this terrible email admits they goofed... by being careless with email.

NOPE YOU GOOFED WHEN YOU BECAME A DOUCHE.

Seriously, I hate hate haaaaaate it when bad behaviour is exposed through email and the message is basically “your mistake was exposing your true colours”. Not that the fact of the matter is YOUR TRUE COLOURS ARE THE COLOURS OF CAT PUKE AND BABY POO.

Make people accountable not only for their actions, but for their beliefs as well.

Oct 24, 2013

Treat Yo’self

This Friday I have a vacation day and I decided that since my budget isn’t looking too bad, I’d treat myself to a trip to... the 2013 Fall Creativ festival!



I just know I’m going to end up running around like a kid in a candy store. There’s gonna be yarn, sewing machines, rubber stamps, cardstock, buttons and doodads and notions, even Wow Wow Nails, the exclusive Toronto dealer for Konad nail art stamping plates, is going to be there!

My poor wallet, LOL. But it’s okay, my budget is rock solid for this month. Hell, I’ll probably still have enough money at the end of October to buy the paperback version of A Dance With Dragons. Winter is COMING y’all. ;D