Archive | January 2014

Guess what time it is? TILT time!

Toronto has no shortage of delicious vegan eateries. And although there’s awesome bakeries, they’re not super near me. I can get baked goods, but there’s no dedicated bakery. That’s about to change. I am going to BLOODY LOVE having a vegan bakery in walking distance! (Although I am moving this year most likely, so it may not be long term, I’m gonna make the most of it now). Can’t wait to stuff my face at the APieCalypse opening this weekend.

I’ve probably mentioned how great the Toronto Public Library is and how I love the stuff they do and how well they serve Toronto. They’re stepping up their game, and I love that they’re doing something this innovative! Digital Innovation Hubs, where you can get your modern nerd on. They have a 3D printer!!! Oh gosh. I’m thinking of taking the 3D printer certification just so I can wander in and use the 3D printer to my heart’s content.

Although I can find Buzzfeed and other listicle sites dull & kinda reaching for it most of the time, I quite enjoyed their list of celebrities you just know you’d be BFFs with. I’ve wanted to be BFFs with Simon Pegg since forever. BFFs with smooching. I’d be cool with anyone here really. Lucy Liu seems surprisingly rad, perhaps I should get around to watching Elementary!

I love creative folks who channel their awesome skills into making wonderful things. Like this ‘Friendzoner’ comic. So spot on. Just the best. I want to print this out and give it to every teenager.

Last of all, let’s bookend with some more food love. I love the crispy tofu cubes at Fresh. I could eat just a whole goddamned bowl of them. I want to right now. Oh man.

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Fresh's crispy tofu cubes taste like magic. #heaven #vegan

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Games & memory – my experience with Hanabi.

I’ve been doing some catching up on podcasts today as I work, and was listening to episode #339 of the Dice Tower, a board gaming podcast. About 55 minutes in, there’s a segment with regular contributor & game designer Geoff Engelstein – he talks about memory and games. Specifically about people taking notes where remembering things can either help you quite a bit with, or is essential to gameplay. He discussed the idea of fairness with note-taking for people to help their memory – is it fair that someone keeps track of how many resources are being taken by other players (for example), or that someone could take notes in a game of Memory?

It’s kind of a slippery slope if you think of it that way. I personally haven’t ever seen anyone note-taking like this before. Geoff comes to the conclusion that if a game includes a notepad – like Clue, for example – you should be encouraged to take notes, but if it doesn’t then just stick with playing the game as the designer intended. This hit me kinda personally, for one particular reason – let me explain why.

Hanabi cards

The game of Hanabi (last year’s German game of the year, I’ve spoken about it before) is a cooperative card game that relies on the clue-giving and memory skills of its players. When other players give you clues regarding what the cards are in front of you, you’ve got to remember that to be able to play or discard them appropriately without having ever seen what they actually are. With some great clue-giving this can not be so bad. But here’s where it is tough for me – I could be given a particularly fantastic clue and by the time it comes around to being my turn, I will forget the details of it, or which card it was referring to. This will essentially help me lose the game for everyone or at least cripple our chances of winning quite severely.

My short term memory usually isn’t quite so terrible – I can remember conversations, plans made, etc. with a high success rate. Even when playing some kind of Memory game I can visualize better what I’ve seen because the structure of cards stays the same – and I’ve actually seen the faces of the cards I’ve flipped over. In Hanabi, as you play cards out of your hand, they’re replaced by new ones – and there can often be a bit of rearranging or grouping of cards for memory’s sake that can change throughout the game also.  You never see the front of the cards until you play them – I think that, combined with the shifting nature of the cards – makes it hard for my visual-groping brain to lock down and remember stuff about my cards while I’m playing.

So, when I play Hanabi, I take notes. I am usually playing with people I know, and explain to them why I’m doing it and it hasn’t been an issue so far. I do remember someone saying once “Why bother playing at all if you’re going to play that way?” My answer is: well, I won’t (or really, can’t) play it if I don’t; if I play without note taking I’m miserable and ruin the game with mis-plays and mis-discards. So, if I never want to play Hanabi again then that’s that. But I really love the game and I can’t recall a time where my note taking has been an issue re: fairness or anything like that for the game. If it weren’t a cooperative game, then it might be different. If we were all taking notes, it might be different. But this means that with my weird brain function & this particular game, I can still play & enjoy the clue-giving & deduction/excitement aspects of the game without failing my fellow players at the same time.

I think I’m still with Geoff on his general conclusion that keeping notes in a game to track what resources people are taking, etc, is taking it too far. But I think I’m justified in my choice for Hanabi. And all this thinking has me hankering to sit down with some fellow fireworks artists to see what kinda show we can put on soon..

What are your thoughts on games, memory & keeping notes?

Back around again to Things I Love Thursday

Alright, Thursday. You’ve come around again, haven’t you? January’s been a bit of a blur for me so far, and my internetting hasn’t brought me much time for blogging. But I’m clinging on!

TILT giving me a reason to keep coming back. Seriously, it’s a great and positive thing already, and realising it’s time to throw another TILT post together brings me back here. Now I just gotta get on the other stuff. (I refuse to entertain the notion of giving my links round-up up entirely, maybe I need to rethink the timing/frequency?)

Finding $2.25 in a dryer in the laundry room. Seriously, it was like a tiny fleck of gold in the mud. I used it to buy myself a (admittedly not great drip) coffee because I’m dead-tired today from having a sickly dog last night. Poor wee dude.

Realizing I have delicious cookies leftover from a meeting yesterday to have with my coffee! COOKIES.

Having a surrogate roomie for a bit! We’ve got a friend couchsurfing with us before he moves into his new pad, which means another built-in board/video game friend in the house! Yesss.

Knowing some pretty rad people. Wonderful feminists, animal lovers & rescuers, considerate folks willing to engage in great discussion about topics close to my heart. It’s great. I like being reminded there are folks like that in my slice of the world.

Writing/receiving letters. This has been wonderful of late! I am trying to get myself to send out something every 2 -3 weeks to someone. And as always, the receiving stuff is grand.

Having enough leftovers from last night’s mega salad to snack on a scaled-back version for lunch today. It’s just the greens & chick peas & dressing, but damn it’s good. (I have most of the rest of the veg as crudite snacks instead.)


What is making your Thursday rad, folks?

An open letter to Caitlin Moran

Because all bigotry is bad, and you can’t just handwave it if you’re a feminist.

It’s time to get back to Things I Love Thursday

The start of the year has been tough to keep up with as far as regular blogging – work ramping back up, I got a stupid cold, weekends have been ultra busy etc. So let’s ease back into this nice positive TILT to get me back on the recurring bandwagon!

Green Smoothies! Oh my gosh. I’ve been taking part in the 30 day green smoothie challenge, and it’s been delicious and fantastic! There have only been a couple I haven’t enjoyed, and it’s been a terrific way to get a variety of fruits in my diet in addition to the big pile of spinach or kale that goes in, too. I love it when I get to add stuff like almond butter or cacao powder, too! Mmmm. Even if you don’t want to sign up for the challenge, take a look at the recipes they’re posting all month on Instagram (and the huge repository on their site too, for that matter).

Isa Does It! This is the latest book from vegan wizard Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and I love it! We’ve made a handful of stuff so far, that has been easy & tasty. I think that although there’s some great books out there for vegan food sometimes it’s just too much to bother with following a recipe and I’ll just throw something together. This book means I can try new stuff, and have it be pretty easy to be using recipes on a weekly basis. Yum.

Getting organised/having a clearout! It’s usually the turnover of a year or a season that kicks me in the butt to get myself motivated to clear out, purge & organise. (The enthusiastic filling of my ‘to read’ lists are indicative of that). I’ve been wanting to have a good tidy for a while, and the mojo finally kicked in. Putting stuff aside to donate/swap, ditching crap, and trying to make sense of what’s left. It feels great! And then it motivated me to get other tasks done that had been lingering, and start on some new stuff like embroidery, letter writing & the like. Good feels for the start of the year.

London! Possibly because I am reading China Miéville’s Kraken right now (set in a version of London that’s fantastical but still London), or that it’s the 255th Anniversary of the British Museum, but I have been having lots of moments of fondness for my past temporary home recently. I miss the transit system, the winding streets and alleys, the sprawl, the stores, the history that’s always right there, the museums, the friends, the Thames.. Even though I’ve been gone for almost 5 years, the sense of my London memories are still so strong, thanks to the couple of flying visits I’ve been able to make.  Remembering wandering by the Temple of Mithras, walking up Monument, sitting in the front of the DLR, peering out the tube window between Tottenham Court Road & Holborn to see the old abandoned platforms, the pubs I used to frequent, walking around Greenwich/Isle of Dogs and under the Thames in the tunnel.. It’s so vivid still! It makes an impression on you, it does.

When did “asylum seeker” and “refugee” become synonymous with “bad people”?

When something big pops up in the news back home in Australia, I often wake up to a wave of postings on social media from my friends due to the time difference. This morning there was a lot of stuff popping up – especially friends retweeting other news/opinion – about the news of the Australian Navy shooting on a boat of asylum seekers from Indonesia to turn them back. This shocks me to my core, and I just want to get some thoughts out about it.

25 people on that boat (dangerous and unseaworthy) were fleeing for their lives to seek asylum, and the Navy fired shots on them. They were driven back from Australian waters by this, and their boat subsequently washed up on the shores of Java, where local villagers helped to rescue them from the water.  To have such fear to drive you onto a boat carrying more than double the people it should to hopefully reach a safe place, and have that happen? People fleeing violence only to face violence? I’m so ashamed of the actions of the government and the armed forces that lead to such a thing.

More broadly speaking, it shows a worrying trend – especially thanks to government (and sometimes media) spin that these people are bad. They are coming to us with ill-will, to take advantage of us. It takes people who are seeking asylum, who are refugees, and makes them into bad guys, queue jumpers. I understand why borders are protected, I do – it’s legitimate. But I also feel there should be a responsibility as a nation to help people in need as best we can, not shoot at them or put them in what are essentially prisoner camps in remote places, and treat them like garbage. There can be exceptions to the border protection if we care enough about human rights to make it that way.

I have never ever feared for my life because of persecution, I have never been such a victim of violence that the only way out is to flee my home. But I understand the concepts fully, and I feel like the Australian Government could do something to actually help, rather than what they are and have been doing. Of course this is a huge thing and decisions can’t be made overnight, but I’m ashamed that the situation is like this right now. I’m not sure that either major party cares to do anything about it, which is the worst thing. Australia as a lucky country is a fine concept, but to those who really need it, it’s not available.

This refugee mythbusting video from GetUp is what I’d like to end with. I am in no place to be a crusader on this issue, but I feel strongly that many people are being misled on the nature of what these people are going through and what they need. I hope that changes.

Reading reinvigoration 2014!

I used to read so much when I was a kid. Voraciously. As I’ve gotten older, hit university, full time work and the life of an internet junkie, I feel like I’ve read less. During Uni I didn’t feel I had time for leisure reading. I read a bit more when I had a commute, or was at the gym more, but it’s been a while since that’s been the case. When I’m at home now I feel like I don’t use my leisure time for reading, but for doing stuff (video gaming, RSS feed reading, general internetting, board gaming, cooking etc). Last year I read maybe half a dozen books all up, which is just rubbish. I read the first three books in the Game of Thrones series and I remembered what it was like to make time for reading, but that got interrupted.

After a few friends had recently mentioned Goodreads, I decided to check it out. I feel like having lists to check off motivates me, and helps remind me that there are specific books I’ve made note of to read. (A lot of the time I’m overwhelmed by choice and not knowing what I even want to read, so I avoid deciding at all.) I have a healthy ‘to read’ shelf on Goodreads now, have a few books on the go at the moment (a couple of cookbooks, and a couple of non-fiction pieces).  I’m looking forward to making my way through a list of stuff I have had recommended to me, or just remember seeing and thinking “Ooh, I’d like to read that!” and almost immediately forgot that. I set a pretty low target for reading, because I figure it’ll give me a couple of weeks per book and I won’t get to November and freak out, having 50 books still ahead of me 🙂 It also helps having a tablet for e-book reading/borrowing (Toronto Public Library has a great range of e-books available!).

Give me some suggestions for reading, if you’d like! You can get a decent idea of my tastes by looking at my rated/read titles on Goodreads. In general I like spec-fic, tech sci-fi or cyberpunk, fantasy, YA fiction,  biography and sciencey things. Throw at me and we’ll see! If I can set aside just half an hour each day for a little reading, I feel like I’ll be happier overall. I’m looking forward to it.

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Nicole has
read 0 books toward her goal of 26 books.