The Digital Dozen, fresh for March!

Greetings, and welcome to your mid-week round of links and fun distractions.

Here’s a little frog riding a beetle, because what could be better? “Hey guys, look at me!”

Dogs are awesome – obviously – and this 5 minute video gives a great picture of how awesome they are with smelling. It’s amazing seeing the breakdown of biology of how smelling for dogs work. For instance, I had no idea dogs breathe in through their nostrils, but out through small slits on the sides of their nose! Whaaaa!

These frozen sand sculptures are beautiful! As someone who grew up in Australia the snow+beach thing doesn’t compute, but it makes for an incredible visual. (From here.)

This app, Pivot, looks pretty awesome. An augmented reality sort of thing, where you can be in a place and see the comparison to how it looked through historical photos. So cool! More info is on their Kickstarter.


Local Toronto artist Daniel Rotsztain is visiting every branch of the Toronto Public Library and drawing them – you can see all the sketches here! I think this is my fave so far:

While it’s a bit hyperbolic and silly and US-centric (tis a Buzzfeed production after all), it’s still interesting to see countries compared by their actual sizes and how much different they look when represented not on the Mercator map projection.

Embroidering scenes as she travels, textile artist Teresa Lim creates beautiful keepsakes. I wish I had the skills to try something like this, they’re like little fabric postcards.

I love the patterns created by this artist pouring paint! Super trippy and colourful. I’d love to have something like that hanging in my apartment.

Better Book Store Sections” has me crying with laughter. Especially “meals you intend to make but never will”. Yeah.

I said dogs are awesome up there – I have a specific love for pups, but I think all animals are amazing. Check out this tricksy praying mantis that makes itself look like an orchid! Next level shit.

I want this. I want many of them, so I can put all the things in them all over my apartment and my desk at work!

Okay, more awesome animals. Because it’s amazing how much fun these squirrels are having. I mean, really.

Kohi Aeropress metal fabric filter

I recently received a new Aeropress filter from a Kickstarter project (I think the quickest turnaround on a product I’ve ever backed!) – the Kohi Labs metal fabric filter. I love the Aeropress for brewing at home, and when this project was brought to my attention by coffee fiend Terry Hope Romero I looked into it and was pleased with what I saw!


I’d tried some metal filters previously, but they were all solid and let too many grounds/too much sediment through the brewing; and using paper filters is fine (especially rinsing them pre-brew to remove any possible taste) but I’d like to remove that waste if possible to cut down resources used for home brewing. It’s super fine and nice and flexible like the paper filters. (Thank you to this morning’s cereal and our Acacia Pearl for a cameo in this one).


The filter fits really nicely in the cap of the Aeropress too – I find that wetting it a little helps with the flip of the cap so the filter doesn’t come out and make it fiddly to screw on. Big important thing is to not forget to take the metal filter off before you pop the coffee grounds into your compost/garbage. It comes off easily and there’s only a little residue which rinses off with water and a little gentle rubbing. The pack includes some cleaning solution to use every so often on the filter to keep it in top shape and clear of residue and oils, too! Good thinking, Kohi.


Now, my fave way to brew is inverted, and I suggest you try the same if you have an Aeropress. Many guides suggest approx 14-17g of beans with varying brew times. Take a look at Stumptown’s, Blue Bottle’s and Pilot’s brewing guides. At home we use 30g of freshly ground coffee, fill to the top with 180 degree F water, and brew for 1.5 minutes. Depending on the bean you have, these things will vary. Enjoy my choppy little video and my dumb face’s cameo at the end showing the use of the Kohi & the inverted method! I encourage you to try out the Aeropress for excellent coffee brewed at home (or try it if you’re at a cafe that offers it as a brew method). Coffee!!!!

Jupiter Ascending thoughts

Jupiter Ascending poster

Jupiter Ascending poster

This past weekend I went to see Jupiter Ascending with my friend Fiona. Given its terrible rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the general not-good buzz I’d heard, I went in with pretty low expectations. (You can read a bit more in depth about the plot, etc at the Wikipedia entry for the film, it’s a good overview.)

I’m a fan of genre, and I enjoy good science fiction. One of my favourite shows is Firefly, because it’s all space opera and jazz, and I love the big scale nature of stuff like Star Wars and Star Trek, too. Most of all I love to see original science fiction. Not just another reboot or whatever. Although I love some book-to-film stuff (Snowpiercer for instance), I love seeing new ideas and stories, and that’s what Jupiter Ascending does.

Yeah, it’s cheesy and there’s a lot of face-palming moments, a lot of “oh, she’s falling and screaming AGAIN” and hella scenery chewing from Eddie Redmayne, but it’s so fun and shiny. I was pleasantly surprised. This review on ABC (Australia) kinda nails it: a crazy, fun, infuriating, difficult, fun, bonkers, expensive, fun, ludicrous, romantic, fun flick. It is flawed but is full of fun.

I think what pleased me most, other than it being a fun new sci-fi story and lots of cool looking aliens (dragon dudes!) was the variety in the cast. Women and POC throughout! And even the poster – above – isn’t some kind of ridiculous trope or exploitation! Jupiter’s front-facing and in front of the dude. I love that, y’know? And while it is a tad frustrating Jupiter seems to be super naive/used as a pawn, and needs to be saved loads, she’s at least not the lone female character in an action movie for once, and the film does pass the Bechdel test.

I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere that this would have been a great concept pilot for a TV series, and I have to agree. I was a left a little disappointed in the ending considering the scale of the Universe and the underlying structure of power within. There was a lot of stuff crammed in to really get across the world-building the Wachowskis have done – like the scene of bureaucratic hilarity, and introducing all the factions of power, all of the players, etc.

The movie’s not perfect, I found Jupiter a little problematic, but I really did enjoy it as a popcorn-chowing big shiny fun and at least a little humourous couple of hours. If you can go in managing expectations and would like to be entertained while compartmentalizing what you see as being a little problematic, and have some tolerance for a bit of silly, I’d say check this movie out. I’d be likely to watch it again perhaps when it’s on DVD/BluRay.

Things I Love Thursday

As a lovely coincidence, today is my 13th vegan anniversary! Being vegan is one of the things I love most, and I never look back or question it. By now it’d be kinda weird to be any other way, it feels. For me, for the planet, for the animals, for the delicious food. And yes, for the super powers.

Hat tip to Scott Pilgrim VS the World

I mentioned it earlier in the week, but my love for Sleater-Kinney is all-encompassing right now and especially for this animated Bob’s Burgers video for A New Wave.


Trivia and related things are something I really love, and also museums – recently I got to combine going to a museum and a scavenger hunt, and it was super fun! We did the “Murder at the ROM” scavenger hunt organized by Urban Capers (not associated with the museum). It was great. I knew my way around pretty well which helped, but we ended up tying for 2nd place! Sigh. Here’s a couple of pics I Instagrammed on the day.

Hoping Buddha can inspire team Investigatorsaurus for the #urbancapers scavenger hunt.

A photo posted by Nicole (@iheartmuseums) on


Are there clues here? #urbancapers

A photo posted by Nicole (@iheartmuseums) on



I love becoming more active and being a contributor to the board game community! I’m hoping to keep it up and get to BGGcon to meet some of the folks I am chatting with online a lot too. For now, I’ve been writing a bit for the Daily Worker Placement, and also chiming in for the Spooning Meeples round tables and it’s been good fun.


I don’t love that Parks & Recreation is over, but I did like the way it all wrapped up. A nice send-off. The cast was on Late Night with Seth Meyers which was pretty fun, and they had a little singalong (below) along with some general chats about the finale (here and here).

Digital Dozen! I know you need fun stuff, internet.

I forgot all about DD last week because it was a short week and my brain was confused. Obviously. So here’s fun things for you now, friends.

This installation, New Moon, is a pretty awesome visual concept. [More images at the link and a short video here]

Do you want to know why you sun sneeze, or sleep start? Then watch on, good reader, for these explanations of involuntary bodily reactions!

I bet you’ve never combined the words “science fictions buddhas” in your brain before. Well, here now. There you go. For real I want this little Chewie for my desk.

This artist created the symbols for certain vitamins/minerals out of foods they’re present in. Is it just me, or does Iron look REALLY TASTY? Mmmm.

I want to get a big print of this and hang it in a classy frame. (via)

There’s an amazing fox sanctuary in Japan. So many foxes! I don’t think I could handle the cute. Lookit!!

This treehouse is so nice it’s basically like a little wooden castle in a tree, and I’d totally live in it. It must be nice to build something like this as a whim!

My handwriting’s scratchy at best, so I’m always mindblown to see well done calligraphy, especially when it’s really taken next-level like this!

Artist Denny Dyke makes these intricate sand designs, or what he calls “walkable art”. I don’t think I could bring myself to walk on them and ruin them! But by their location I suppose they’re fleeting anyhow thanks to the tide.

I love photos of abandoned places; I wish I was more of a photo adventurer to get some shots of abandoned places on my own. Until then, I’ll keep appreciating those I come across, like this series of an abandoned, snowy mall.

I love art installations that have a mesmerizing component. This fits the bill perfectly. Hypnotizing, almost..

I think my favourite type of installation, though, is having surreal placements of objects in regular scenes/places. It just tickles my brain so much. So I’m pretty down with these weird bunches of balloons appearing in all sorts of places.

Halifax (and other bits of Nova Scotia) – the places! [photo heavy]

Not long after I got back from our mid-September trip to Halifax I posted a bit about the food/drink we enjoyed, and then promptly lost steam to post about the rest of the trip. So let’s think back to those lovey autumn days, shall we?

Halifax itself

The waterfront boardwalk in Halifax is a wonderful stroll, and I highly recommend if you’re there in nice weather. There’s lots of activity on the water, and plenty of stores, cafes, art etc to see along the way.




Across the water in Dartmouth, there’s also the peace pavilion. An interesting structure, with all sorts of things (rocks, bricks, pottery) on display from cities around the world (like some of the Berlin Wall from Germany).




A little tucked away (luckily we had a friend to drive us and see it) is this memorial to the Halifax Explosion.


I took some time to walk up from the Board Room Game Cafe and see the Halifax Public Gardens one sunny morning, and it was such a relaxing and rejuvenating visit. It’s beautiful and the landscaping makes it very tranquil, despite it being surrounded by main roads.





We also walked a little around Point Pleasant Park in the south end of Halifax, which is a little like Toronto’s High Park. We saw critters like a blue jay and a red squirrel! It was awesome.




Some museumy things

Look, you all know that of course I’ll try and visit museums/historic sites wherever I go. I quite liked the Maritime Museum (the parts on the Halifax Explosion were very moving and interesting, and upstairs they had visible storage!


We also went to Fort George/Citadel Hill with our friends Liz and James! We saw a cannon go off, and lots of gents in uniform, and also Adam signed himself up to serve by drawing Trogdor. Legit.






Other places in Nova Scotia! The South coast.

We drove out along the south coast of Nova Scotia a couple of times to see the landscape, small towns and lighthouses. It’s very pretty out there. We saw Mahone Bay, and Lunenberg. Lovely seaside towns! And we took the scenic coastal route back into Halifax. Can I say how much I love the tailored signs off the main road to towns, too? So cool.








We also visited Peggy’s Cove on a pretty dull grey day with Liz and James, but it was still amazing! Such a gorgeous glacial landscape. Plus, that famous lighthouse.





I encourage folks to head out to Nova Scotia and see Halifax and the surrounds! I would love to see more of the internal Nova Scotian sights too.

Music Monday? Sure!

Next week I’m going to see Sleater-Kinney! They’re one of my all-time favourite bands, and I couldn’t believe my luck that, on top of a new album, there was going to be a tour, and Toronto was included in it (after the first wave of announcements). And PS, there are still tickets! So I’m going to have a little SK lovefest getting prepared for the show next week. Which is on a Monday and I’m sure that as an old lady it’s gonna be tough to make it all night, oof.

The most recent clip, which is a wonderful mashup with the great Bob’s Burgers!

This was one of the first songs that really grabbed my attention, as it was the current album when I started listening to them. So upbeat.

Call the Doctor is (with Dig me Out and the Hot Rock) are the rowdier, riot grrl less polished but still amazing gems. I tend to cherry pick from these albums depending on my mood.

All Hands on the Bad One and One Beat are the two albums I would have to include in a desert island survival pack (I even owned them on CD y’all!). They are amazing as standalone wholes, but I’ve often listened to them both on repeat. Above is one of my faves from AHOTBO (You’re No Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun), but here’s one from One Beat. I saw them for the first time the year One Beat came out in the hot sweaty venue known as the Zoo in Brisbane – I ran into them on the street and had my photo taken with them, even! Who knows where all that is now, probably on a backed up CD somewhere back home.

When the Woods came out, I flipped a little. The production was rich, and the guitars and effects were soul-grabbing. I was really moved by it. I still close my eyes at the start of this song every time and get drawn in by the riff.

When they toured the Woods, I broke my vow to never attend another Big Day Out and hopped a plane to Sydney to see them perform there (which was awesome because I also got to see Iggy & the Stooges and the Beasts of Bourbon!). And as I was already there, I saw them do a club show in Sydney too! It was so great. Here’s a few pics, which I do have:




But then the band went their separate ways. I saw Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss perform with Wild Flag, which was pretty great, and led me to discover how terrific their music was (but then they went their separate ways too). But nothing is ever quite the same as seeing one of your favourite bands, or having a new album drop from them!

SO! No Cities to Love and a tour. So excited. Sub Pop has the album to stream on YouTube, but I am particularly fond of this one. Makes a girl wanna tap her foot, y’know?


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