Archive | March 2015

Things I love Thursday – the ‘things I miss Thursday’ edition

See as I’ve been traveling/living abroad since 2007, there’s a few things I miss not just about home, but also my first ‘home away from home’, London. Getting a bit nostalgic today for things & places that I can’t have with me here in Toronto.

Beaches. Not that there’s no beaches in the UK or here in Canada. But I miss those beautiful sandy Pacific beaches! This is Avalon Beach in North Sydney, where I spent many summers as a kid. Things only get better as you go north up the coast into Northern NSW and Queensland, too!

I miss the stuff I packed up & left in boxes with my mum. Books, records and comics. And awesome art like this gorgeous museum sketch by artist Phil Jimenez.

There’s tasty things I miss. I seriously was so in love with these tofu bites, it’s like they were laced with something addictive. Last time I was in London I ate a whole package riding transit back to my friend’s place.

And wonderful Australian vegan treats like these cruelty-free versions of Tim Tams and Mint Slices! omg.

And never mind all of the sweet, tart, amazing ciders that I used to have access to living in England. And drinking my fair share at the Green Man pub in Central London!

But I don’t have to be far away from some things I love to miss them. While I still bake for fun and treats, I do sometimes miss the fun of making delicious vegan (and some gluten free) treats like I used to at a certain board game cafe. I was proud of my work, even when I was undervalued for my contributions. Like, c’mon. Check out these donuts, man!!

Links for everyone! Digital Dozen time.

Digital dozen – 12 ways to distract yourself with shiny internet things this hump day.

I think if I were to get married, this would be 100% the wedding ring I want. Yep. Adulting!! (via)

Though I’m not a fan of their coffee (it’s my last resort when there’s nothing else coffee..) I do love this Tumblr of Starbucks sleeves sketched on to transform them into awesome portraits.

This design is fantastic!! My keyring’s pretty slim these days but if I had more, I’d be into this.

These tiny creations are so delicate and wonderful. I don’t think I could ever have the patience for them.

I’m constantly amazed at how creative people can be when given a restricted set of materials to use to create something. Design Within Reach have a ‘champagne chair’ contest each year, and these are this year’s winners. Super!

Air safety is no joke.. but these are pretty funny, c’mon.

Pixar artists turns R-rated movies into kid’s book illustrations. GOLDEN.

While we’re in the Disney realm.. here’s some lovely Baymax cosplaying as other Disney characters. The best.

Rain-activated sidewalk art! Of course someone in Seattle made this.

New wave rock stars as Marvel heroes was built for my brain.

This artist is carving a wooden spoon a day, and sharing on Instagram. They’re so wildly diverse and interesting!

Old to new – discarded books carved into art.

Things I Love Thursday – Jake Watching Us Game edition

Hello! Here’s an excuse to share cute pictures of Jake putting up with the gaming we do. Poor tortured soul.

Then there was that one time he just gave up and slept on the shelf.

But sometimes he comes to conventions with us!

This week’s ‘digital dozen’ linkfest!

I’m going to lead today with something to bring your spirits up and make you smile – a Husky showing her pups how to play. Blissful!

I want this bed. No explanation necessary.

Gemma Correll’s ‘Modern Curses‘ really cut to the bone! Oh man..

Little skeletons, shadows barely seen, installed in the streets of Mexico. I love the diorama feel of these.

What you need is to watch this video of an adorable baby wombat getting belly rubs. It’s a few years old now, but it’s too cute to pass up – and you can read more about it here!

This installation provides some pretty awesome photo ops from all angles.

Incredibly tiny & detailed images.. ‘Postcards for Ants‘. I’d send them all.

More bookstore pranking from Obvious Plant! So much fun.

I love the surprises that animals can give us. I know crows are pretty smart, but seeing them play like this is an amazing thing!

Good art gets better with remixes; mixed media interactions in galleries needs to happen MORE!

Level up your table tennis game with ping pong in the round. This one’s for you, Eric.

The psychology of colour is so interesting! I know it’s been a marketing tool forever, but it’s also interesting when you’re looking at it in terms of interior design. Makes me wish all our apartment walls weren’t white.

You are not better than anyone: the board game edition.

Video gaming’s had a lot of shit-flinging over the last year or so with G*merG*te stepping up to not only tell people they don’t belong in the industry/hobby, but also a whole lot of other just generally terrible, life-threatening things. Luckily, we haven’t reached such levels of awful in the tabletop gaming hobby – most likely because the numbers are smaller, and it’s not as mainstream a hobby.

Not to be down on the folks I share a hobby with at all – there’s fantastic, wonderful people there! But some attitudes and commentary of late – some specific, some just popping up vaguely here and there – have me thinking about how exclusivity, feelings of seniority and also sexism can play a part in pushing people away. I’m lucky to know some awesome folks who speak out about stuff like this and I am lucky to call them friends, and share the hobby with them.

As in life, remember in your hobby: you are not better than anyone. You are on the same level as people, and you should treat them accordingly. So, here’s some thoughts..

No matter how long you’ve been in the hobby, you have no more right to it than someone that started into it this past weekend.

Just because someone doesn’t like the same kinds of games as you doesn’t make them inferior to the hobby.

It’s hard to believe this needs to be said, but women are gamers too. With a variety of interests as far as theme and game-play go, and you should never assume any differently.

Related, don’t speak in terms of “I got beaten by a girl!” whether that’s a 7 year old girl, or a 50 year old woman. Just.. don’t.

Oh right, and also don’t go asking for recommendations for your significant in other in terms of “they’re my wife lol” – speak about that person in terms of their interest in gaming, their non-gaming hobbies, and the games they may have tried/liked already and you will not only get a better round of recommendations but you’re also not distilling your partner down to their relationship to you only.

When you wonder why there’s not enough women in the hobby, or taking the leap to design games – don’t put the onus on them to do it. Make the industry and hobby welcoming, encourage without belittling, and it’ll be good for all.

If you’re an industry-type, don’t let it go to your head. I feel like this hobby lends itself to a wonderful co-mingling of both, especially when it comes to playtesting and support. Don’t push people away because they’re “not at your level”.

Size doesn’t matter. So what if you’ve got 500 board games, and someone else only has 5? You shouldn’t believe that makes you a higher level gamer. Life circumstances are often behind the ability – or lack thereof – to build a collection, and nobody should be judged for that.

Opinions – and a variety of them – should be encouraged and welcomed in the hobby! Don’t shut someone down just because they have their own opinions that may differ from yours. Discuss it like adults, please! Or step away if you’ve nothing constructive to say.

Don’t diss out gateway games like Settlers of Catan, or Splendor (for example) for the sake of it just to sound superior! Just because you don’t play it or you might hate it doesn’t devalue the game as something that can introduce a person to tabletop gaming. And if you don’t like gateway games like that, find something else you think might work. Even something like For Sale, or Ghost Blitz, for example, can be an irresistible introduction to games.

Kickstarter: if people don’t want to, or can’t, back Kickstarter projects, so be it.

Never assume you are better than anyone. Be excited, be enthusiastic, and enjoy gaming. That excitement and enthusiasm will be welcoming and encouraging, and can only make the hobby better.

Goodbye to Sir Terry

Yesterday, there was some very sad news – Sir Terry Pratchett passed away – and it really hit me much harder than I thought it would. I haven’t by any means read all of the Discworld books (but the Death ones are my faves), nor any of his solo work outside that Universe, but he did co-write my favourite book ever, Good Omens, with Neil Gaiman.

The above is the title page of my copy of Good Omens (my cover is this one). I had it signed by Neil when I attended the Continuum convention in Melbourne in 2003 (oh man.. that’s forever ago) – I babbled at him about how it was my favourite book, and he signed it (top) leaving space for Terry, should I ever get him to also sign it. (I think this is one of the regular ways they’d sign it even if it wasn’t at the same event!).

Then a few years later, Terry was in Australia and doing a signing in Brisbane (where I lived) at the Pulp Fiction bookstore. I worked just across the river at the time, so had planned on taking a long lunch to go. I was hit that morning with one of the worst bouts of hayfever I’d had in ages (I distinctly remember how awful I felt) – I ended up leaving work sick, but couldn’t face not meeting Terry. So I went and waited in line, snuffling and sniffling and generally feeling miserable. I waited for ages. But then there was Terry, so lovely and friendly, taking the time to have a quick chat with everyone who was getting a book signed.

This book is one of my treasures! I wish that I had it with me now instead of having left it packed up at home. I will be getting it onto my ereader soon for a re-read, as well as filling some of the gaps in my Discworld reading that have taken me too long to get to. Sir Terry has really left a large void in the literary world. He had such a unique tone and humour, yet was so insightful even with a series of silly, fun books like Discworld. There’s nobody like him and we’ll miss him forever. I’m so glad he left us behind so many things to love.

Who needs fun stuff to look at? You won’t believe what happens next. (ie. This week’s digital dozen post!)

I am so tickled by this series of “how dogs see the world”. In particular:

Let’s all move here. That’s all I have to say about that.

There’s been a lot of strides in robotics in my lifetime.. but I think this one freaks me out just a little bit. I suppose I should just welcome our new robot bird overlords and be done with it. It’s so reeealll looking, the way it flaps.

I already dig the blog Things Organized Neatly, and this project kinda aligns with that particular aesthetic satisfaction. Mm, matching things.

Are all cats this sentimental? It’s so sweet. HUGZ.

There’s nothing like a sweet illustration from a photo – and these ones of kids are particularly adorable.

Creative and interactive uses for technology amaze me every day, and this augmented reality sandbox that shows how topography works – real time – is incredible! It would be amazing to see stuff like this in use in museums.

When I was living in London/travelling Europe, I used to love spotting the little mosaic space invaders around cities. You can see a few pics of the ones I found here (along with my love for other random Space Invader paraphernalia). This shit’s gotten pretty next level though, with an invader mosaic on the damn ISS. How cooooool.

These body painting illusions FLIP ME OUT. Can’t handle it. Wow.

Mold is so gross, but fascinating. Following that, enjoy this timelapse of it growing in a petri dish! I fear to watch, yet I cannot turn away.

You’ve probably seen random photos of urban decay & the like pop up in my links roundups before – I dig it. I saw this linked on Boing Boing and it looks maddening and beautiful and messy and fascinating. More previews of the book’s contents are here.

I think this doghouse is way too fancy for Jake’s tastes (although if there’s automatic food dispensing he’s gonna be all over it) and he doesn’t really like watching TV or anything like that. But the treadmill and water therapy thing seems cool. And the abundance of napping places. But it’s all kinda silly, considering it was a publicity stunt. Hella cute dog though!

Fenix for Twitter – for Android! (A review/rave?)

EDIT April 2016: Unfortunately, this app is no longer being supported and has been removed from the Google Play store (source). I’m pretty bummed!

 

I’ve always been a little unsatisfied with the straight-up Twitter app for Android. It’s just little things that add up – promoted Tweets in my timeline, having to click through to see Instagram pics, only having the standard retweet function & no quoting, etc.. I switched to using Tweedle for a while, which was acceptable in fixing most of my issues. But it wasn’t quite doing the job. I had to click through for images, they didn’t appear in the timeline; there wasn’t any ‘notifications’ section for favs/follows/retweets, just a mentions tab; and the way it handled catching up on older tweets was frustrating (too much scrolling, trying to find my place, etc). Plus it just looked a little clunky.

I can’t remember why, but I recently started poking around again, Googling for decent Twitter for Android clients. Some more recent forum posts/tech blog roundups included Fenix, which is one I hadn’t seen mentioned the last time I did a search for a decent alternative to the default app. I was a little hesitant to dive in & pay $5ish for an app I hadn’t tried, but I’d read great things, features looked worthwhile, and the reviews on the Google Play store were pretty positive.

Fenix is terrific, and for someone who uses a Twitter client frequently it’s worth every cent. It’s absolutely better than the default app as well as any alternative app for Android that I’ve tried. Just off the top of my head, here’s some of the things that are making me super glad I am using it now:

  • Images in timeline, including Instagram and also support for GIFs now!
  • Ability to mute hashtags, users, etc.
  • The look is super clean and it’s an easy interface – I really like the way if you click a Tweet, it pops out to the side (and you can scroll up to see a conversation) while still keeping your timeline visible to the left.
  • There’s an ‘activity’ tab which shows you follows/faves/retweets, and a separate mentions tab, which I think makes keeping track of all notifications so much easier.
  • I’ve set it to refresh always while I’m on Wifi, but it also stays put at the last place I was in my timeline so I can scroll up through all the stuff I’ve missed. There’s also a little number at the top to show how many tweets are waiting to be read, and I can just tap that to scroll straight to the top without worrying about reading anything if I want!
  • There’s a simple press-and-hold to bring up options for each tweet (fav, retweet etc)
  • There’s a quote function as well as a regular retweet function!
  • You can swipe between the columns and everything flows and looks so nice and smooth. What I like also is the nice way it looks if you view someone’s profile – there’s a header & their icon while you’re at the top, and as you scroll down their profile their header/icon shrinks to be a little bar at the top. It’s not necessary but it looks sweeeeeet.
  • Easy access to lists and saved searches is great, and it may end up encouraging me to use those functions far more.
  • Customizing is made easy – you can pick and choose the screens/tabs you want, the notifications you want, etc.
  • Oh, and if you’re into stuff like having multiple tweet drafts, multiple accounts, that’s there too.
  • Best of all, no promoted tweets. Aaah.

I am so into it! I encourage you to check it out if you’re on Android and a frequent Tweeter!

International Women’s Day 2015

Today’s International Women’s Day. I’d like to say a few things that I hope any/all of you can take forward and think about every day.

Listen to women. When they’re speaking from their experiences, do not belittle them or second-guess them.

Don’t use gendered insults. This use of words like “bitchy” “girly” etc has a pejorative tone that automatically places women as lesser, and it also adds to the issue of toxic masculinity.

Feminism is not about hating men. It’s about bringing equality to genders and sexes, making sure nobody has to be lesser ever again. Feminism should always include trans women, women of colour, marginalized women. I believe that those struggling groups should be given the stage in talking about feminism and their experiences.

If you are in a male-dominated industry, make it a friendly space for women to take part. Don’t assume we need your help, just make space for us.

And don’t assume that if your industry or hobby is male-dominated that we don’t want to take part. We’re struggling against structures that are so ingrained that women are putting themselves in danger to try and change them.

Rape culture and gendered violence is real, and is not getting better. Don’t pretend that it isn’t, or try to explain it away. Try to make it so it’s not a thing ever again.

There are women all over the world who don’t have a choice for their reproductive rights, or to have safe working environments, or who are being held in detention centres with their children being treated like animals for seeking refuge. (I’m looking at you, Australia).

Women are diverse, and their struggles are real. International Women’s Day celebrates the diversity and the wonder of what women can be after having been downtrodden for centuries. Let’s try to lift all women up and listen to them, support them, bring equality to their situations lives.

everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything – Douglas Coupland exhibits Toronto

Toronto’s currently hosting Douglas Coupland‘s exhibition, shown already to great response in Vancouver, at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)* and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA). From the exhibition website: Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything includes over 100 works. The exhibition is divided into six themes, four of which are on display at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), and two at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA).

Everything about the work on display at both venues is so wonderfully vibrant, engaging and visually rich! That is something I just can’t get over, and I’m reminded by browsing the photos I took. Coupland’s quirky way of interacting with and understanding the world is really at the forefront of all of the pieces, and there’s quite a bit of variety. Here’s a few general shots (you can see all my #couplandTO exhibition photos here):

General shot of the main entrance space

“The World”

Japanese cleaning products

Although there’s much more, I think my favourite pieces at the ROM are the couple following. The slogans are so eye-catching and equal parts ridiculous and insightful. “I miss my pre-internet brain” for sure. And the largest installation piece (at a guess) is the Brain. It’s a carefully constructed mass of objects that Coupland’s been collecting over the years. As the concept and action of collecting is fascinating to me, as well as the idea of ephemera and object history, this is delightful!

Slogans for the 21st Century

The Brain

Over at MOCCA there’s a little more of a Canadiana feel to the pieces on display. What I especially loved was the idea of representation of regional ‘personalities’ with all the cabinets, the idea of suburbia/conformity vs future structures/collaboration, and also the mixing of introduced cultures into Canadian society. And as I absolutely love the Group of 7 art styles, I was really interested in Coupland’s take on that toward the end of the exhibit, especially Harris’ pieces. A truly eclectic gathering of art and objects that all works incredibly well together, and as a companion to the exhibition at the ROM.

Cabinet

Canadiana

Lego towers – built collaboratively with Coupland and the public in Vancouver

Coupland does Harris

I highly recommend checking out both of the exhibitions, because they truly complement each other. The ROM piece runs until April 26th, and the MOCCA piece until April 19th. Enjoy!

* Full disclosure: I work at the ROM but I am in no way associated with the exhibition beyond that, and I would’ve come to see it anyhow because I’m a super nerd.