But existing is basically all I do!
A blog by Chris R. Bulbulian

This is just my throwing my thoughts on paper. Well, more accurately, on the web. It may not always be relevant to you, but it's still interesting. Sometimes. Either way, good luck unscrambling my thoughts.

P.S. Every blog post title is a quote from one of my favourite shows.



SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2016

One of these ferrets was wearing a wire!
My first blog post in almost 3 years. Oops.

I just wanted to remind the few (if any) who see this that password security is important. Use a password manager if you can help it -- I have 108 passwords saved to it, all randomly generated, and none of them duplicated from one site to another. This means not just is it nearly impossible for a computer to brute-force to figure out my password (and impossible for a human to do so by way of guessing), but if that site is compromised it doesn't give the attacker access to any of my other services (since my username or email address is likely the same across the board).

My least secure passwords are like:
sgp7oqP42

...and the most secure ones are along the lines of:
hTzc%jm4vDV@z5HS!uE6GuYA4i51*Yt8

Bottom line: as long as you create a secure "Master Password" and remember it (and as long as that master password is not a password used anywhere else), then you're better off than most.


 

FRIDAY, JANUARY 3, 2014

But if you need proof of my identity I wrote my name on my underwear. Oh wait, these aren't mine...
For the heck of it, here are 15 random factoids about me, just in case you were wondering.

1. I constantly check my pockets (from the outside) to feel for my wallet, keys, and phone. Every few minutes or so, when walking around. My rationale: if I somehow were to lose something, I'd know it fell out nearby.
2. I only type with my 2 index fingers and always have, except I sometimes hit space with my thumbs. Despite this, I type as fast as or faster than most.
3. I don't eat any fish of any kind.
4. I say my favourite colour is red, but I wear more blue.
5. I can only read a novel in a single sitting, with short breaks for eating and such. I treat a book like a movie: something you sit through start to finish. I'd never watch half a movie and then the other half the next day.
6. It wasn't until a few years ago (age 25 or so) that I learned that 7up and Sprite are caffeine-free.
7. My first pair of eyeglasses were ready for pick-up on my 13th birthday. An interesting way to be welcomed to adolescence.
8. I'm left-handed, but the idea of using a mouse on the left side is stupid. Every other left-handed person I know also uses it on the right side.
9. I understand a few common phrases in Arabic, but not because I can actually break them down word by word, but because I've heard them enough for them to be recognizable.
10. If I'm the only one home, I sleep with the bedroom door open. Otherwise, closed.
11. I still wear a watch. I can't stand when people use their phones to check the time.
12. I lost 70 lbs between August 2012 and March 2013.
13. I never learned how to swim.
14. I have a "double" sized bed, the largest that will fit in my bedroom.
15. I have a desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, and e-reader.

Happy New Year.





THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2013

I can't figure out what, if anything, Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net does.
A month or two ago, a former classmate asked me a question on Facebook about Canada's internet service providers. I thought I'd write a blog post explaining things a bit more, as well as giving my opinions of the provider I am with.

To start off: Like most countries, there are two ways to get broadband internet. The first is through the telephone lines (DSL) and the other is through the same coax wiring often used for television (Cable). Canada has very few companies who actually have "wired up" the country for either of these methods. In much of the country, it is Bell that wires up the telephony service, and Rogers the cable service. They actually "laid the pipes", as in, the physical wires running from their servers to their nodes, then to each home.

For many years now, Canada's regulatory agency for telecommunications (the CRTC) has allowed "wholesalers" to exist, in order to promote competition. With only two primary companies in the East (Rogers and Bell) and two out west (Telus and Shaw), the use of wholesalers allows more companies to exist in the playing field, without those smaller entities having to go around adding additional wiring to the whole country. Basically, they are companies who 'piggyback' off Rogers cable lines or Bell's telephone lines, and are only responsible for what is called the "last mile" service -- from the Rogers/Bell "node" to your door. Everything before that is still maintained by Bell or Rogers, as it is their infrastructure. These wholesalers must pay the original company a percentage of their revenue, for permission to use their existing technology.

The companies can provide a better rate because they don't have to handle the maintenance of the entire delivery channel, and so customers who choose to go with a wholesale get a considerable cost saving, but still receive the exact same level of service reliability, because it's still the same physical lines being used. You also don't have to choose which 'type' you want (DSL or Cable) because wholesalers offer both: the same company can have a tier that piggybacks off Bell's phone lines, and another that uses Roger's cable lines.

Beyond flat-out lower prices, the practices of said wholesalers are far more consumer-friendly. One example is the bandwidth caps, a concept that sprung up around 2005 when the amount of data transferred grew exponentially and the big ISPs wanted to find another revenue source. My ISP offers two packages: a 300 GB package and an unlimited package. Compare that to Bell/Rogers, which offer 60 to 100 GB caps (average) across their packages.

Seriously, this should paint a clear picture:
Bell has Fibe 15/10 internet (15 Mbps down, 10 up) for $53.95/month and a 60 GB cap. They  will charge you $2/GB if you go over, to a maximum of $80 in overage fees.
vs.
TekSavvy has the same 15/10 internet (using same DSL lines) for $34.99/month, and a 300 GB cap. They will charge you $0.25/GB if you go over, to a maximum of $25.

Furthermore, wholesalers like the one I use are 100% Canadian owned and operated, unlike Bell, where every tech support agent is frustratingly located in India as a cost-cutting measure. Overall, you're just dealing with a friendlier, more consumer-focused company. And as stated earlier, TekSavvy also offers Unlimited packages if you use a lot of bandwidth, or if you just want piece of mind that you have no risk of going over. Keep in mind: the main carriers completely got rid of 'unlimited' packages many years ago, despite there being no evidence that increased bandwidth usage actually costs them anything extra. It's just like mobile phones: there is no 'extra cost' to the carrier if you use more airtime minutes than you're allotted. It's just built into their projected revenue structure to get X dollars from people going over. Business practices like this need to die.

I think I've covered what a wholesaler is quite well.... that comparison of the raw numbers should speak volumes to the differences. Now that I've done that, I want to talk specifically about TekSavvy. In short: there is a popular reviews website out there where consumers can rate their ISP in various categories, and the aggregate percentages speak volumes. Bell Internet (formerly Bell Sympatico) has an average over the past 6 months of 59% customer satisfaction. Rogers Hi-Speed has a 6-month average of 61% satisfaction. TekSavvy DSL (which I use) has a 6-month average of 88% satisfaction, granting them a "gold level" award, which is their highest accolade. So, in short: Bell has 59%. TekSavvy nearly 90%. Using the same phones lines. Meaning, the only difference is the customer service. The pricing. The options. The support.

Now to get into my opinions/review of TekSavvy:

Initial Installation: A+
My parents were taking their Bell internet (which they had at the time) to their house, and so I was getting TekSavvy in its place. Really, it could not have gone better. They asked when my parents were planning on taking the Bell modem to their place, so they can coordinate when they will activate my connection. It was seamless. The morning it was set to be activated, I unhooked the Bell modem, hooked up the TekSavvy modem, and opened my browser. It asked me some simple questions about settings / username / password (all provided in a TekSavvy email I had received) and I was online within 30 seconds. I was amazed, because Bell had previously screwed me over with installation logistics.

Stability: N/A
I won't delve into this because, as I said, it's the same lines. Whatever stability I had with Bell before, I have the same here. I will however say that the only good thing Bell has going for it is their great service uptime, so I still get that now.

Customer Service: A-
They have been very nice to me every time I called, answering every question I had to the best of their ability. Calling people in Canada always makes me happier. I hate outsourcing and have had some terrible experiences with it. TekSavvy is known for their great customer service, and they don't disappoint. If it's not a pressing question, I can even ask on their Twitter page. Even more impressive: TekSavvy has a 'direct forum' on that broadband ratings website. Meaning, they have a normal forum to ask questions to all users, and a special 'direct' section where only staff of the company can view and answer your questions. It's great. No need to even pick up the phone. I gave it an A- because if there is a problem with the actual line, they can't help except by passing along the info to Bell, because Bell runs the physical lines. It's a bit frustrating when they can't look into the issue themselves, but fortunately this has been very rare.

Value: A
We went with Unlimited because my brother and I are very heavy bandwidth users. I am very glad that TekSavvy offers an unlimited option in a market that otherwise has ridiculously small cap options. The price isn't super cheap, but there's two things to note: we have the absolute fastest DSL package they offer in my area, and we'd be paying almost 3 times more with Bell for the same thing (when factoring in their plan cost + Bell's insane $80 overage fee).

Speed: A
We actually get the proper speed quoted, so even though there is something called "line attenuation" (basically, the speed drops depending on how far you are from the node), TekSavvy sets the speed slightly above what you are supposed to get, so by the time it reaches your modem, you receive exactly what you pay for. Bell and Rogers do NOT do this. Furthermore, keep in mind another key difference: DSL is a dedicated line. Meaning, I am not sharing my connection with my neighbours, like what would occur with cable. Are Cable Internet offerings generally faster? Theoretically, yes. But during peak hours, no way. Cable speeds will fluctuate at all times, while I get 100% of my rated speed every minute of every day.

Other/Misc:
I added this section to add a few special notes

1) When I initially called to set up my account with TekSavvy back in 2010, I was switching my home phone from Bell to TekSavvy as well, and that was also very seamless. There was literally ZERO downtime for both my home phone and internet at any point during the transition.
2) The router they shipped us turned out to be detective (it died like 10 days after we got it) but no problem, they shipped out a new one and it worked for many years until we upgraded again, which required a new special modem.
3) My parents have since switched from Bell to TekSavvy and are incredibly happy with the new service.

Conclusion
I'm overall quite satisfied. After the speed upgrade, it has been blazing fast, stable, and with zero billing issues.

* * *
Okay, that was my review, and my description of a wholesale ISP. I hope this information helps whoever reads it. Basically, if a company like TekSavvy exists in your area (and they most likely do), then you should go with them rather than directly with Bell or Rogers.




THURSDAY, AUGUST 29, 2013

Red room. Red room. Over there.
Two days ago, I played a game called Gone Home. Alright, to call it a "game" may be invalid. It's a very unique sub-genre known as an interactive story. I wasn't sure what to make of it going in -- but I felt like playing something new (rather than the usual random StarCraft II battle) and since it was acclaimed and said to only take 2 hours to complete, I decided to give it a try. Before I get into the details, I'll just say what I need to say: I loved it and already rank it as one of my favourite experiences. Are there games I enjoyed more? Well, some other titles have such incredible gameplay, creative characters, and clever use of battle mechanics that you can't help but love them. But is there a game I felt more moved by? Probably not.

What it's about:
Gone Home involves your character navigating a house through a first person perspective. You are one member in a family of four. The game is set in 1995, and you come home after a year traveling abroad to a large house, one that your family moved into while you were away. You are tasked with going through the house to find out why your mother, father, and sister are noticeably absent -- and an eerie letter from your sister posted on the front door pulls you into the game right away.

My thoughts are below. Spoiler warning: I did my best to keep out most of the important plot details, but even so, you should still play it before reading. It only takes 2 hours. It's not timed. You don't need to have any hand-eye coordination skills from years of gaming. There are no puzzles and you aren't penalized for doing something wrong. You really have no excuse not to play it.

Review
What an intense, visceral experience. It was a gloomy, rainy afternoon when I played it -- since the game takes place during a rainstorm, everything "clicked" so well for me. By playing as Kaitlin Greenbriar, you learn about her family. What you learn about Katie herself is minimal, often through the postcards your character sent during her year abroad. This is inconsequential as it's more about the family you haven't seen for a year. Let me break it down a bit:

1) This game is about the human experience. You learn about this family -- your family -- without them even being there. You read invoices, letters, scribbled notes passed in class, and other little doodads in order to piece together the details of what your family has been up to in your absence. You pick up random items and figure out what they meant to each family member in your home, and why they needed it. You feel the sorrow, frustration, and excitement that lives within every object you hold. What made it so moving was how real it was. It didn't involve game-like twists and turns. It was just a family that has their struggles, with the focus being on your younger sister Samantha. It's all about developing these deep emotional attachments to these family members, which is an incredible feat considering you're alone in the house. By the time the credits rolled, I couldn't believe how rewarded I felt.

2) This game can very much be about nostalgia. The creators set it in 1995 for a reason -- so that you learn about everything through letter mail, postcards, and notes passed in class. This definitely creates a better connection than e-mail and text messages. More over, since I am a child of the 90s, this hit me even more because that was my childhood. I didn't text my classmates with "h r u?" and crap like that. Instead, we did just what Sam did: we passed scribbled notes back and forth. So much of this game symbolizes my childhood, from Super Nintendo cartridges to cassette tapes to VHS movies. I wasn't a 17 year old girl with teen angst, but even still, a lot of this rang true for me. The attention to detail was amazing -- seeing Street Fighter II special moves written down, seeing couch cushion forts and tube TVs, wow, it was so believably rooted in the era... my era!

3) This game is defined by its writing and voice acting. Holy crap, I can't stress how flawless those were. If you found another game in this genre without the same calibre of writing, it would've flopped. The writers gave the perfect dialogue for Sam to recite to her sister through diary entries, and the voice actress who read them did a fantastic job -- she breathed such life into the character, with real raw emotion that didn't seem melodramatic. Even beyond the superb dialogue was all the written text, which comprises about 90% of what you do in the game: read. It's well worth it though. You really get some insight into their lives, and it feels like you were there experiencing each of their emotions. Every little word doesn't feel forced or forged -- you forget you're in a video game and really understand your family.

Gone Home isn't a horror. It has elements that may spook you, such as the roar of thunder on a rainy night, but those are red herrings or just natural fear of the unknown. You find out a bit about the house itself and its odd previous occupant, but that's more to give you contextual insight rather than scare you. You find some secret passageways and flickering lights, but that's due to the age and style of the 100 year old dwelling. Most of all, what made it seem creepy was all the lights turned off. It's amazing how when younger, we're often scared of the dark in our own homes, but as soon as we turn on the lights, this familiar place shows its face, and there's no way we can be scared of it. Traversing the house and turning on lights as you go gives you this sense of release, like you're removing the ghosts from this mansion and realizing it's filled not with literal monsters, but figurative demons that we all possess.

I love how this game doesn't dumb down or pander. It never tells you how to feel. It never throws a trope that makes it feel tacky. It simply presents itself, and it's your choice to read into it as much as you want. You could easily miss many of the story-specific items that trigger plot progression if you aren't paying attention, but those details are the game. You as the player are put in the driver's seat to discover the Greenbriar family to whatever level of detail you deem worthy. It's fascinating how much of everything there is. In only 2 hours, I got sucked into these lives, but never felt like I had to go through typical gaming "hoops" to get there. The only exception was the use of locked doors, but that ended up making sense -- it didn't want you to go to those rooms because there were other story elements yet to be explored. The plot progressed in a linear fashion that is part of the story-telling genre, and I'm glad for that because they executed it flawlessly.

With how intricately every detail was laid out, I wasn't surprised at how much I wanted to explore it all. Picking up a milk carton in the fridge, reviewing every little bulletin posted on a board, every school assignment or crumpled up piece of paper. The developers did such a magnificent job creating this world that feels so natural -- every item was crafted to great detail, even including nutritional information on food items, and actual accurate handwriting to represent how a person of that age and gender would write. Details like this keep you sucked in, rather than pull you back to reality where it feels cheap and formulaic. It's a poignant story detailing three very different lives, each with their own twists. The short length was both a positive and negative -- a positive because it wrapped up what needed to be said without dragging on, but a negative because it left me wanting more from these people.

What seems like a normal American nuclear family soon becomes a group that you come to relate to, feel empathy for, and really, you feel like you know them through the smallest of details. I won't say anything more -- just that I am so glad I took the time to play this, and to search every little thing I could find. I will go through it again, despite knowing how it all plays out. That doesn't matter. There's still so much to understand. A second playthrough will probably have me smiling the whole way, because I will "get" a lot of things that didn't make sense, maybe discover things I missed, and I'll better understand just what makes this story so honest and complex.

Conclusion
Go play Gone Home if you haven't already. If you read this review before playing it, I still don't think it gave much away. That was on purpose. I don't want to ruin it for you, and I'm glad I went in basically blind. All I knew is that it had been released a week prior, it was an "interactive story", and that it took about 2 hours to complete. The rest I discovered on my journey, and it's one I am very happy to have been a part of.





MONDAY, JULY 15, 2013

He might have all the money in the world, but there’s one thing he can’t buy... a dinosaur!
I understand the concept of inflation, but some prices have increased far beyond that rate. When I was in high school, you could get what's called a "classic combo" for $3.99 at KFC -- that is their "standard" chicken burger, fries, and a drink. Now I just got coupons in the mail to reduce the price of it to $6.49 -- as in, even with a coupon, it's 62% more than it was 11 years ago. I think the regular menu price is $6.99 or $7.29 depending on the location you visit. Granted I don't really eat at KFC anymore (see March 9 post), but I'd like to explore this example further.

If we go with the lower menu price, that would mean it has increased from $3.99 to $6.99 in eleven years. That is 75% more than it used to be. Using an inflation calculator, what was $3.99 in 2002 should cost $5.17 now -- meaning inflated by 30%, not 75%. Now this is just one example, but this happens all over. Now, I know it's not that cut and dry -- the price of the physical goods can go up, wages go up, the price of gas/transport is higher, etc -- but inflation is there to adjust for that. It's inexcusable when large corporations like this have almost DOUBLED their menu prices in a decade, when inflation doesn't even account for one third of that. I mention large corporations specifically, because I know smaller individually-owned shops may have to adjust prices when their profits are low or non-existent... but KFC and other similar places are profiting to insane degrees. I was downtown with a friend two weeks ago at Yonge/College. There were about 8 restaurant options in the food court. A combination KFC/Taco Bell consistently had a long line-up of customers waiting, and the other 7 places barely had any business -- basically employees standing around waiting for customers. So yeah, places like KFC aren't struggling.

I know this example could be applied to literally a thousand different things, but the KFC one stuck out because I got a coupon leaflet in the mail, reviewed it, and thought "these prices are shit even WITH these so-called coupons". I know I can be stingy, but it still outrages me. Also, don't you dare think "if you don't like the prices, don't eat there" --- that logic is flawed, because they're still gouging millions of people, and even if I'm not one of them, that doesn't make it right. It's not like salaries have increased accordingly to counter all this stuff.

Anyway, that is my two cents on this topic. I know it's a random blog and isn't updated too often, but whatever. It is what it is.





SATURDAY, JUNE 9, 2013

Mattel and Mars Bar Quick Energy Chocobot Hour!
Everyone has a preference for what they watch on television. I watch a variety of things, but I've always had this strange thing about me: I like the shows I watch to be at least partially relatable.

This may be hard to explain, but what I mean by that is that I like it to take place in settings or circumstances more or less within my comfort zone: in the suburbs or the city, in locales like houses, apartment buildings, office places, and so on. I also like it to take place in the here-and-now. That is my primary criteria.

I don't like things that take place in the past, especially if filmed in the present. It just feels weird. I'm also uncomfortable with some older shows (some, not all) because the scenarios feel too outdated. Like when someone gets trapped on a rooftop because the door shuts closed behind them. It's a weird concept to me because all that would happen these days is pullin' out the cellphone and you're fine. Same with being stuck in an elevator, although sometimes reception in there can still be flaky.

Either way, it makes me feel better knowing that what I watch is in a comfortable setting. I know that's weird, but it's just how I am. That is why I don't like anything to do with space (I've never seen Star Trek, or even Star Wars for that matter) or westerns, or anything that takes place out on a farm or in the wilderness or anything weird and isolated like that. It's just not for me. I'm so rooted in my technology -- I can't survive long without all my gadgetry, and I expect the characters I watch to be about the same. It's not even that they have to constantly be using their technology -- I just feel comfortable knowing they have access to it, just like I do.

Would I ever go camping? Hell no. Not in a million years. I barely like the outdoors, so why would I want those I watch on television to do the same? It just irks me. Rubs me the wrong way, I guess. I'm nearly 30, so I like what I like -- and that is unlikely to change.

There are exceptions, but they're minimal. If the show involves time travel, it has to be dynamic. As in, not a show where the character travels back to 1960 and can't get back -- because then he/she is stuck in an era I'm unfamiliar with, and frankly, I don't want to watch a show where there's no cellphones, no computers, no tablets, no HDTV. It just doesn't work for me. But if the character can travel through time at their own will (like Hiro in the NBC series Heroes) then that works for me, because they can return to an environment that I can relate to.

The next exception is related to what I just said: I like shows involving superhuman abilities (maybe due to wish fulfillment) but they have to take place in realistic everyday settings, such as Heroes and Chuck. It's cool to imagine having epic powers, but not in outer space or something outlandish like that -- but more like, superhuman abilities that I could take advantage of in my everyday life.

Furthermore, a huge part of my interest in relatable situations is geographical. I can't watch ANY shows from the UK. The accents, settings, dialogue, and circumstances are all impossible for me to relate to. It just feels weird to me. Like, extremely weird. It just doesn't work for me in any way. Plus UK shows are filmed differently -- the way the camera is employed is too foreign for my liking, the transitions are odd, and the laugh track (or lack thereof) is too different and therefore off-putting.

Overall, I know this is a weird character trait for me, but that's okay. It's how I am and I'm fine with it. That's why I don't really like sci-fi unless it's seated firmly in reality, that's why I don't like things that are too rural or too different. I grew up in a somewhat rural town, true, but it wasn't like I grew up on a farm -- I grew up in the suburbs, with plenty of access to computers, television, and all forms of technology.




SATURDAY, MARCH 9, 2013

I don't want to look like a weirdo... I'll just go with the muumuu.
How I Got In Shape

If you don't feel like reading a lot: it was an effective combination of diet and exercise. Go figure.

Preface:
I don't think I was THAT large. It was all centered in my belly. It's what is called 'central obesity' -- which happens when you don't eat well and lead a sedentary lifestyle. Essentially, by not moving around, the fat pools in your middle section. An XL shirt and I don't think it was too noticeable. Others disagree and say it was obvious, but still, it needed to go. Especially because of the terrible foot pain I had from the extra weight.

Before:
In early August 2012, I was at a job that I felt crappy being at. When you really feel that bothered by your job and you can afford to quit, then you should.

I took the weekend before quitting to consider what I would do with my downtime, and decided it was time to finally get back in shape. The day I quit, I returned home and headed to the fitness room in my condo.

Having lived in this condo for almost 6 years, it's sort of pathetic that I didn't take advantage of this fitness room, since it's just a few floors below me. Ah well. The past is the past.

The Main Event:

I think bullet points will make my words flow more effectively. Maybe not. Either way...

DIET:
- There were three big changes. Obviously it took MANY changes, but a few stand out

- The first, and perhaps the biggest, was switching about 95% of my beverage intake to water, and drinking lots of it - between my various sized water bottles, I consume at least 3 litres a day
- I thought that change would be the hardest to handle since I have had like 20 years of regular sugar intake through iced tea and cola, but after a few days of adjusting, it was fine
- The other 5% is mostly a cup of coffee, which I have with cream and sugar, every few days. Oh, and the rare can of cola or iced tea. I am also more capable of handling "diet" drinks now (which I used to find vulgar) but still, I mostly stick to water

- The second big change was portion control with better choices. As just one example, anyone who knows me knows I (used to) eat Subway often. I used to eat a footlong sub as a single meal, and not one of the low-calorie subs either
- But now if I order a footlong sub, I eat 6" there, and take the other 6" home to eat as my next meal many hours later -- one meal now becomes two
- For the first few weeks, this didn't feel like enough since my stomach was so accustomed to larger meals. As my stomach shrank and my body got used to the smaller portions, it became fine
- It wasn't just a smaller portion, but a smarter portion. Sticking with my sub example: I chose the healthier options (like turkey or chicken), I rarely added cheese, I asked for extra veggies to fill up on the good stuff, and I only got fat-free sauces. No bacon... no mayo... things like that
- In general, those smarter choices branched out. Less red meat. Very little cheese. Rare (if ever) fried food. More soy protein. More beans. etc etc etc...

- The third change was vastly increasing my intake of fruits and veggies, as well as learning how to prepare a lot of veggies and legumes I never ate much of (if at all).
- Vegetables can be quite filling and are far less calorie-dense than most foods
- I regularly eat apples, bananas, mangoes, grapes, berries, raisins, eggplant, tomato, lettuce, watermelon, cucumber, bell peppers, hot peppers, sweet potato, spinach, and broccoli.
- Oh, and my intake of fibre went way up. A lot of times for breakfast, I would have "100% bran cereal" (which is mostly fibre) sometimes with a bit of fruit sprinkled in.
- Other high-fibre choices I made included garbanzo beans (chickpeas), baked beans, whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, and broccoli

- For the most part, I had sufficient food portions throughout the day, so didn't really feel the need to snack between meals
- If I ever did, the snacks I had between meals were things like fat-free fruit yogurt or plain Cheerios
- I allowed myself sugary or salty snacks from time to time, but in small quantities
- For example, I love "Ringolos" and "Reese's Pieces", but now I buy a small quantity, and I eat just a few now and then. If 500g lasted me a week before, half that now lasts me several weeks.
- I observed nutrition labels closely, mostly keeping an eye on saturated fat content (low), sugar content (low), and fibre content (high)
- Sodium was an important consideration, though not as important. If you exercise often and drink lots of water, you balance out the salt -- just don't do anything stressful
- There are simple smart changes one can make, such as grilling or baking certain foods rather than pan frying, avoid deep fried food, and using herbs/spices, which are fat-free and make some food much more palatable

- One of the best tips out there: keep your body guessing. I'm no health guru, but I did my research. The body gets used to certain routines, be it food routines or diet routines.
- If you constantly switch things up and keep your body guessing, you burn calories more effectively, and everything works a lot better. That is why diet experts suggest a "zig-zag" calorie schedule. If your intake should be 1800 cals a day, then do something like 1790, then 1480, 1960, 1750, 2100, 1590. Still averages out to 1800. But if you do 1800 every day, your weight is almost guaranteed to stay still.
- So because of that, I allowed myself cheat days from time to time, where you consume something slightly worse than the norm. Not like super terrible for you, but, you know, slightly fatty and slightly awesome.
- You're actually supposed to cheat at rare times, for the 'body guessing' reason mentioned above. By cheating now and then, you're throwing it off and it doesn't know what to do, so it just keeps on burning those cals


EXERCISE:

- Originally, I took 5 things with me to the fitness room: keys, cellphone, water bottle, headphones, and my tablet
- At first, I used just the recumbent exercise bike on a daily basis without any real strategy. I just burned calories. Straight to the point.
- The exercise bike has a little flat ledge that is perfect for propping up my tablet. Woo for technology.
- I exercised while watching something on my tablet approx 40 minutes each day + 5 min cool down
- After 2 weeks, I got into a groove and decided that interval-based biking worked best for me -- 1 minute at a high resistance, 1 minute at lower resistance, rinse and repeat
- Periodically, I would mix things up and go for things other than the bike, although that was more when the bike was in use when I got there.
- Around 10 weeks in, I changed up my strategy: instead of 45 min a day on one machine, I switched it up to about 2 or 3 shorter sessions
- The theory being that I'll more effectively utilize the fuel I consume (carbs) when spread out and properly balanced around my meals. Besides, the later parts of a long workout are often inefficient anyway
- Around 9 or 10 weeks in, I slowly moved more towards the treadmill, because I had lost enough weight where brisk walking, jogging, or running didn't put a terrible strain on my feet anymore
- I stopped taking my tablet, since it was impractical to prop on the treadmill. I took my MP3 player in its place
- While I never focused TOO heavily on how many calories it said I was burning, I was pleased to learn how much more effective the treadmill was.
- I also bought some dumbbells and lifted those periodically. When I didn't feel like going down to the fitness room, I still felt productive watching TV while doing some basic strength training
- After a while, I decided to hold off on the strength training until I hit my weight goal. Lose the fat first, then work on the muscles
- While not wearing myself out like some, I still wasn't going at a snail's pace. People who say walking is good exercise are only half right: it's better than nothing, sure, but you'll benefit far more if you break a sweat

TIPS AND TRICKS:

Some tips if you want to attempt:
- I hoped it would go without saying, but just to be clear: don't smoke. It's idiotic, expensive, and ruins virtually any benefits noted in this blog post. If you're a smoker who wants to get in shape, you have to quit first
- Sweet potatoes are ridiculous -- I'm surprised I found a food I like so much that is at or near the top of many 'healthiest foods' lists. They are great when baked on their own (and fine without added butter or salt) but are extra awesome when you slice into wedges/fries, add canola or olive oil with your favourite herbs and spices, and bake. Healthy home-made sweet potato fries? Yes please!
- Despite having the same word in the name, white potatoes are on the opposite end of the scale. They aren't that healthy, are often consumed fried, or mashed with cream and gravy, or baked (good) with sour cream, butter, and/or bacon (bad!)
- Don't force yourself to diet. You have to be willing to do it, not coerced or badgered by others -- it also helps not to have a fixed end date. Just go at whatever pace you can work with, set a target weight, and take as long as needed to reach it
- People always wonder if its dieting or exercise that matter more. While it's true that it is a combination of both, there is one side-note to that: exercise is useless if you eat crappy food.
- Let me just paint a picture. We've all heard someone say something like this: "I'll have this DQ Blizzard but then go for a jog in the evening." Alright, sounds like a nice compromise, right? Let's examine. A medium M&Ms Blizzard (one of their most popular items) has 840 calories, 30g of fat (19g saturated, which is the bad fat), and a whopping 109g of sugar (you're supposed to finish under 36g/day for men, 25g/day for women)
- Most people won't actually go exercise (it was just a way to rationalize the yummy frozen treat), but if you do manage to jog for 60 minutes straight, you'll have only burned about 600 calories. Not only did you not burn off what you ate, but you'll have ingested 4 times more sugar than a daily dose (which converts to glucose, which gets stored as fat). Oh, and your teeth won't be happy either.
- Some people think weight loss is not mathematical, but in truth, part of it is -- you're trying to create a calorie deficit. At the end of the day, its your calories consumed versus your calories expended. Eat less, exercise more. The math checks out.
- Sleep properly. So many reasons why. One, your body's metabolism works faster while you are asleep. Two, it's especially fastest when you're in REM sleep, which you may not enter if you sleep poorly. Three, if you don't sleep enough, your metabolism will be slow all day. You'll be operating at half speed, and won't burn calories quite as effectively. Your metabolism slows down to conserve energy when you're sleep deprived, so if you went for a walk to burn 200 calories, then you may have only burned 90.

Final Thoughts:

I surprised myself at how much I was in control. I never had a craving for sugary or salty snacks, or high fat meals like Wendy's or Taco Bell. I never had the urge to dump the water and pick up one of those tall 700ml cans of Arizona lemon iced tea, which I used to drink every day. In fact, after I got used to the water, Arizona (and similar drinks) felt too sweet to drink.

I attribute a lot of it to not having a job. Without the stresses and schedules of work that so many people face, I could just focus on my goal. It's not recommended for most since money can be challenging, but I had enough savings to get by.

Oh, and as an added bonus for my cheap ass: it saved a lot of money. Instead of $6 for a sub and then more $ spent on dinner later, that $6 became two meals. Also, fruits and veggies can be VERY cheap! Four bananas for under a buck? Definitely! A sweet potato is like 60 cents, and can be a meal on its own.

A can of baked beans can be a very tasty meal, is high in fibre, very low in fat, and high in essential minerals. The generic brand tastes great, and the can is like 70 cents. I split that can into two meals. You really can't beat that!

Not to mention the HUNDREDS of dollars saved per year by not buying iced tea, coke, and other things categorized as "empty calories".

Statistics:
First Day (August 7, 2012): 193 lbs, BMI of 34.7
Goal Day (March 5, 2013): 135 lbs, BMI of 24.3

Weight lost: 58 lbs. Time elapsed: 30 weeks.

Thanks to those who took the time to read. I bid you good health :)





SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2013

Maybe Moe gets a cell phone; Has Bart ever owned a bear?!
When reading some comments online, I thought back about my history with phones and decided to throw it in a blog post.

To date, I've had 4 of them. I treat them incredibly well. I don't drop phones. I don't lose phones. My devices look virtually new, years after they were purchased even though I don't use cases, pouches, or screen protectors. I'm just careful, that's all.

#1: Audiovox CDM9100
Sept 2004 to Sept 2006
Carrier: Solo Mobile (Prepaid)

This thing is classic haha. It was actually a hand-me-down. When I started university, my mother gave me her old phone and I used it prepaid, topping up $10 or $15 when needed. Since she had used it for years, the battery life was quite bad. I did get a replacement battery for it, but it still wasn't a longevity machine, further compounded by me living in a basement apartment. It struggled to find a signal (which really eats at the battery) plus it often dropped from digital to analog (back when analog transmission still existed) and using it via analog required about 3x the juice. Near the end, you basically had to keep it plugged in during a phone call, else lose your charge.

Does this phone still work? Of course. It is CDMA, which is a legacy network but still operational by most carriers, and the phone itself is in great condition.

#2: Motorola RAZR V3
Sept 2006 to July 2009
Carrier: Rogers Wireless

So not just was this the first cellphone that was mine from the start, but it was my first postpaid monthly plan. I'm not one to like the pricing of the main carriers (it can be down-right atrocious -- believe me, I know) but I got an amazing plan through my mother's employer. She had a plan elsewhere, so I utilized her employee plan.

This corporate plan was $15/month, included a decent amount of minutes for my needs (although no free evenings, weekends, etc), included Caller ID and Voicemail (at the time, unheard of to have included), a detailed paper bill (including a full breakdown of every call), no system access fee (again, unheard of at the time), and an overage rate / long distance rate 75% lower than consumer plans. Even in my heaviest months, my bill was like $22 + tax.

As for the phone itself, I should preface by saying that the RAZR V3 is historically a very fragile phone. It was incredibly thin and many complained about the flip hinge. Nevertheless, mine is in immaculate condition. The buttons still work perfectly, the screen is flawless, and the hinge is still sturdy. You'd be hard-pressed to find anything wrong with it, except a battery life that is understandably lousy.

#3: LG Xenon (GR500)
July 2009 to December 2011
Carrier: Rogers Wireless

Using the same corporate plan, I got this -- my first touchscreen phone. It was still a "feature phone" (which means, not a smartphone) but I quite liked it. It had a decent sized touchscreen AND a slide-out physical keyboard. Yet again, it's still in great shape, but sitting in a drawer like the others. Haha.

While I got used to it, I will say one thing: resistive touchscreens are awful compared to the newer and highly refined capacitive touchscreens. In layman terms: the old technology (resistive) has two thin layers of plastic or something. To initiate "touching", you pressed down lightly on the screen itself, causing the front layer of plastic to make contact with the back layer. It worked fine, but it's an archaic concept, and there's no way to do that which you can do with a touchscreen today. These days, they all employ a capacitive touchscreen -- no pressing down required, as it detects touch based on the electrical capacitance of the human body.

#4: Samsung Nexus S
December 2011 to Present
Carrier: WIND Mobile

Since I only leave the city like 1 or 2 days a month to visit my folks, going with a carrier like Wind works for me. 99.9% of the time, I have coverage where I need it, so why not?

The plan is everything I need without any hassles: $40 gives me unlimited everything. Unlimited: calling across Canada and to the USA, texting worldwide, picture messaging, and data including tethering. Caller ID and voicemail as well. It has worked without issue to date.

This is yet another milestone: my first smartphone. It worked great for the first 8 months or so, but as new versions of Android were released and it was upgraded, it has became clear that the hardware is simply not powerful enough to operate it smoothly. Does it work? Of course. It's a usable experience, and I can still accomplish most tasks. However, it doesn't have the processing power or the RAM needed to keep from being bogged down. I may try a factory reset at some point, or rooting it and installing a custom ROM, but for now, I'm just dealing with it.

It's still a great device, built nicely, feels very comfortable, is nice and lightweight, etc -- but Android 4.1 Jellybean really demands a dual core with 1GB+ of RAM to be a pleasant experience, and this thing has neither of those.

Future
As for my next smartphone, that will probably be around the end of 2013. I'd like to stick with a Nexus phone as I love the pure Android experience without carrier or manufacturer intervention or delays. The two Nexus phones that came after mine (Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4) are both very good and I wouldn't have any of the slowdown issues that I have, but I am sure in no time at all, something even more beastly will be along.

I'll probably stick with Android. iOS is nice and stable, but I like the customization and freedom of Android, and while Windows Phone 8 is a nice UI, it doesn't cater to me since I don't use any Windows Live elements anymore. I use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, etc -- so Android fits the bill.





MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2012

All this computer hacking is making me thirsty. I think I'll order a Tab.
I know a fair bit about technology / computing. Most of it was self-taught, in that I did all the research myself. Here are 12 simple tips, which I figure may help someone at some point.

1. Ground yourself

Before working on the innards of a computer, it's important to displace your static charge. Touch an unpainted part of the case, or better yet, keep the power plugged in to the power supply with it switched to the OFF position, and touch that. Since it's plugged into the outlet (which is grounded), you will be discharging yourself. Avoid working on carpets or wearing socks. Also, for larger projects like full computer assembly, use an anti-static mat or anti-static wrist strap.

Why: if not discharged and you touch a component, you're likely to shock it. While getting shocked by a doorknob is no big deal, doing so inside a computer can mean instant death for that component.

2. Do not use unsecured wireless

This apply both at home (keep your home network secure) and also, don't use free wireless at coffee shops or restaurants.

Why: it's unsafe and stupid. Others can gain access to your personal files, your traffic can be intercepted by techsavvy users, and sensitive information could be stolen. Also, unwanted users using your internet could increase your internet bill if you have a limited bandwidth allotment.

3. Use keyboard shortcuts

At some of my previous jobs, I had to take a computer proficiency quiz prior to my job interview, which I passed with flying colours. Then when I was at the job, I saw co-workers who didn't utilize nearly any keyboard shortcuts. It was disconcerting to see how easy it was to pass that entry test.

Why: you can save yourself an incredible amount of time. Switching active windows with Alt + Tab; switching tabs within a window with Ctrl + Tab; cut copy and paste with Ctrl + X, C, or V respectively; page up and page down when scrolling documents or web pages; Ctrl + Z to undo; Ctrl + Y to redo. All in all, you can actually do virtually anything without a mouse.

4. Dust out your desktop

Use a can of compressed air every few months. They are inexpensive ($3) and safe on computers. Always hold the can upright (if tilted, the gases will come out as liquid, which isn't good) and always use short quick sprays. Do not hold the lever down and spray spray spray -- that will cause an endothermic reaction with the tetrafluoroethane, and the can will get extremely cold.

After a few quick sprays, let the can cool down before continuing. Some people have 2 cans, and alternate to allow the other to cool down. Also, when blowing compressed air on fans, hold the fan blades before spraying. Do not spray the blades freely, as this will damage the bearing. The can comes with a thin tube (like WD-40) so when needing to spray up or down, tilt the tube, NOT the can.

In terms of laptops: do not use them on beds or soft surfaces, as this will suffocate the intake vents / fans. Place a hard surface between the soft padding and the notebook. Better yet, invest in a laptop cooling pad, preferably one with a fan.

Why: more than 80% of the time, people replace components because they have died due to overheating. Most such situations are preventable by removing the dust from the components and fans.

5. Utilize sleep mode

In modern computing, there is little need to actually turn the PC completely off when done. Instead, rely on sleep mode, which puts your machine in a very low state session that uses at most 2 or 3 watts of electricity. When you need to use it again, all of your existing work will still be there just as you left it, and it will wake from sleep mode much faster than a cold boot.

Why: it's a waste of time to completely power it off these days. The rare exceptions are in battery-powered devices like laptops. Being in sleep mode too long will drain the battery, since as I said, it is still using a bit of juice. Laptops have a hibernate function, which is similar. Sleep puts everything in RAM and goes low-power. Hibernate puts everything that was in RAM into a special file on the hard drive, and then completely shuts off. Bonus: modern operating systems like Windows 7 or 8 use "Hybrid sleep", which essentially does both. It puts everything you're running both in RAM and in a hibernate file. If your desktop or laptop doesn't lose its juice between uses, it will wake quickly from sleep. If it does (power outage, or battery depleting) fear not -- your session is in that hibernate file, and it will still be capable of resuming.

6. Back up

This really should be at the top of the list, but whatever. Basically, have your important data backed up as needed, preferably in multiple places. Whatever method works for you: burning it to optical discs, having an external hard drive or storage server, or saving to the cloud. Any backup is better than none.

My personal cloud recommendation is Dropbox, which is also recommended by most tech enthusiasts. In short, it makes a folder on your computer that auto-syncs with any other computer you install Dropbox on, as well as also making a copy you can log in and access from dropbox.com -- up to 2 GB free, more if you pay. Keep your important documents there, and be able to access them from everywhere. If you update some important file on your desktop and it's saved to your dropbox folder, that file will be updated on the online copy, as well as on every other machine you have the dropbox client installed, automatically. Here is a link to sign up if you're interested: Dropbox

Why: you don't want to lose your precious data, right? Didn't think so. Cloud storage is especially useful (like Dropbox) because if your local backups fail (disc is broken, USB stick fails to read, or a natural disaster), then your data is safely stored online for you to retrieve.

7. Do not use obvious passwords

This seems like common sense. Your password shouldn't be your pets name or your phone number. In fact, the most secure passwords aren't even real words. If you really want to be secure, use either: (A) a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols or (B) a long passphrase like "kittensaremyfurryfriends"

Why: the obvious reason is that if its easy for people to guess based on knowing you, it's far from secure. The more technical reason is that password cracking does exist. The algorithms used to figure out passwords can take a while. If your password is FIDO, it could be cracked in minutes or hours. If your password is FJ@WO_1121, it could take years. P.S. It's also recommended you change your password every so often. If its secure enough, probably not needed -- but still recommended.

8. Don't fear the wire

If you have a choice and don't mind it, being wired into your network is FAR better than being wireless. It may seem inconvenient, but it's the better choice for dozens of reasons.

Why: it is infinitely more secure, undoubtedly faster, and does not suffer from wireless issues like latency, packet loss, interference due to distance or barriers, or variations in speed. On wireless, the slowest device connected to your router will drag the ENTIRE wireless network down to that speed. But when you're wired in, your speed will not change.

9. Have a desktop? Buy a UPS.

A UPS is an Uninterruptible Power Supply -- a fancy way of saying a battery backup. If the power in your place surges or dips, it won't harm your computer since the battery will correct that and supply a clean and steady stream of juice to your PC. It will also keep your components running in the case of a power cut, giving you time to safely shut down your machine. Modern UPS devices connect to your PC by USB, and it can auto-hibernate your computer 'after X minutes' when the power cuts, so that it will safely power down even if the electricity is lost when you're not at home.

Why: it is bad for your computer to suddenly lose power. Modern hard drives have safeguards that prevent damage to your data in the event of a power outage, but still, it's not flawless and it can damage your components in general. A computer you want to last 7 years could end up lasting 4 if it's regularly impacted by electricity issues.

10. Never let your system drive fill up

Your system drive is the one that has your operating system on it -- for most, that is Windows, and for 99% of Windows users, that is the C drive. One of the most common reasons for a PC slowing down is insufficient space on that drive, as Windows will bog down and not be able to move data around.

Why: consider this simple analogy. If you have a car trunk and need to fit in items that will fill 25% of it, it's fairly easy to put them in, and just as easy to move them around as needed. If you need to fill it 95% full, it will be a major chore to fit everything in, and near impossible to move things around. Your computer needs to move stuff around almost constantly. So in short: do not fill your system drive beyond 75% capacity.

11. Take user reviews with a grain of salt

Looking to buy some tech? Reviews are a great resource, especially in-depth reviews by professionals -- but don't get bogged down by negative customer-written comments.

Why: people are more likely to review a product if something negative happens, as they want to voice their frustration. The average consumer will say "COMPANY XYZ SUCKS!! MY DEVICE DIED AFTER ONE WEEK!" You know what? That happens. Some hardware dies during transit and some was defective before it left the warehouse. But the failure percentage is usually very low overall, in the grand scheme of things. Focus more on the features of the device to determine whether it is right for you, and just hope that you get a properly working unit (unless an alarmingly high number of customer-written reviews mention it being defective). If you get the rare dud, and its from a reputable store/company, they will replace a defective product. The point is: you'll hardly if ever see someone post a review: "COMPANY XYZ IS AMAZING! THE SPEAKERS I BOUGHT PRODUCE SOUND!"  -- and  since you generally won't see enthusiastically positive comments, just be level-headed when analyzing the hatred.

12. Register your products online

Many products can be registered on the manufacturer's website, where in you give them the exact serial number of the device you bought. It often involves creating an account at that company's website (yes, another username/password to remember, sigh) but it can be worth it. Just make note that many products have to be registered within a few days or weeks from purchase.

Why: it may seem like a trivial step for some, but many products have great benefits by doing so, such as extending your warranty an extra year or so, throwing in a mail-in rebate, providing more support (example: some only provide over-the-phone support for registered products), or in some cases, some products limit what is under warranty for unregistered products.





MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2012

And when are we going to get our mountain bikes?!
A lot of companies have Facebook pages. I get it - its a way for them to communicate directly with people who like their brand, mention new promotions, and respond to comments related to the various outlets where their products are sold.

I'll preface what I am about to say by stating a simple truth: people need to vent, and people are far more likely to want to pass along negative comments, rather than positive. I get that too. I have a Psych degree, but even without it, I'd still get that. It's not complicated to comprehend that people need to voice their frustrations when they feel wronged.

However, with that in mind: those Facebook pages are just a bubbling ball of negativity. Whatever employee is tasked with responding to those comments really has their work cut out for them. It's just a wall of insults and arguments, with no end in sight. Every positive or neutral comment is surrounded by 50 posts of pure hatred. It's even more surprising since their words are linked to their real name, which I suppose gives some credibility to their words, but still leads to some very loud voices.

I guess what I'm getting at: the people tasked with overseeing those pages understand their job requirements. They need to work through the negativity, hopefully without a canned response like "thanks! I'll send that comment along!"

But at the same time, I enjoy shining some light on the dreary mess they have to deal with, because I have positive experiences as much as negative. In one such example, the page for my cellular provider is complaint after complaint. Having worked as frontline customer service in that industry before, I know it has a lot of issues. But my experiences have been (fortunately) pleasant with my carrier. I've never had to actually call them, but I'd say that's a good thing. Activation in the store was seamlessly easy, my bills have always been error-free and clear, and my reception has met my expectations.

I posted that on their page (which they replied to and appreciated) and I had to scroll through maybe 80 comments prior to mine before I found one that was also positive. It stated that the store representative answered all of her questions politely and honestly. It's just as much work to post about something negative versus positive, but no one wants to put the time in to thank someone for helping them out. I suppose its just a facet of the human race.





THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2012

With ten thousand dollars, we'd be millionaires!
If someone says I am cheap, I would disagree. More accurately, I am careful with my spending and apply logic to life's costs. I don't pinch pennies, especially considering I go out to eat fairly often. I'm just mindful of how I spend. For example, why spent $9 on a footlong sub when I can get a different footlong sub for $5? They may have different ingredients, but I won't remember the taste the next day, and my body will dispose of it the same whether it contains sliced turkey or sliced ham. Seems like a silly thing to quibble about four dollars, but consider those decisions are made each and every day. It adds up, and with smart decisions, your bank account will thank you.

Also, I avoid dumb decisions. Alcohol at a bar? No thanks. $6 for a shot? The entire bottle probably cost the establishment $50, and they're going to make well over $400 off it. What am I paying that incredible markup for? For the inconvenience of being out of my house surrounded by drunk assholes? Yeah, I will pass. I don't really drink anymore, but the principal applies to many industries: if I can buy the identical item and consume it at home for a fraction of the price, why wouldn't I? Note that I said identical, because that means there are exceptions. One of those is certain food. I can't make a souvlaki wrap as good as a greek restaurant, but I sure as hell can pour liquid into a glass.

So with that said, that takes me into my main point: there are certain things you don't skimp on. Skimp a little, sure (you generally don't need to buy the absolute best) but don't reach for the bottom of the well either.

Technology
This is a broad category, but it's pretty much true across the board. Buy a $500 smartphone, it will probably be amazing. Buy a $250 smartphone, it will still handle most tasks with ease, but maybe without all the bells and whistles. Buy a $60 smartphone, and you're asking for trouble. Friends don't let friends buy cheap technology. The concept of a 'smartphone' is that its more of a computer than a phone at that point. A $60 smartphone is like buying a desktop PC circa 1995: it will run, but it will make you want to smash it with a hammer.

Note there are exceptions in this category, such as digital connectors. Digital is digital. 1s and 0s. The information will look the same with a $15 HDMI cable from a cheap reseller or with a $200 Monster brand cable. You can't make digital look better. It either is or it isn't.

P.S. Never buy anything Monster brand. It's like paying a $300 premium for shoes with a Nike logo, where as the identical shoes without that checkmark are $14.

In short, when it comes to technology, you generally get what you pay for. A dollar store pair of earbuds will produce noises your ears can hear just like DJ-calibre headphones, but will they sound as good? No. Will they last as long? No. Will they die even when you're not using them? Probably.

Clothing
Let me preface this one by clarifying. Don't skimp and buy your underwear from a bargain shop in which a dozen are $2. They won't feel like underwear. They will feel like thin string that gives you constant wedgies.

At the same time, don't be dumb and buy trendy branded clothing. If you buy a Fruit of the Loom flannel shirt, that is perfectly adequate and will run you like $10. That same shirt with some celebrity or fashion designer's name behind it? $180. Seriously, don't be dumb.

Toilet Paper
This one doesn't need explanation. Just don't do it. Spring for the good stuff. You don't want it to feel like you're scraping sandpaper down below. As a tangent, this also applies to kitchen paper. The off-brand stuff is useless.

Garbage Bags
Have you ever used the generic stuff? If filled half as much, it's already about to burst. Its cheap because the material is thin and poorly fabricated. Pass.

Mattresses
You're going to have to sleep on this thing every night for like 10 years. Make sure its comfortable.

Your primary hobby
If your big thing is watching TV, don't buy a $200 large screen LCD TV by "Fujamo Industries". There are generally 4 or 5 manufacturers that make quality televisions. The rest are questionable. Read online reviews comprehensively.

If your big thing is using your computer (like me), sink your money into that. I may not have spent much on upscale restaurants or art galleries or plays, but I've spent over $2000 on my desktop, plus $60/month for internet access that suits my needs. I use it every single day, and its as fast as I want it to be. I get out of it what I put in.

In short: if its the main thing you do, it's probably worth your hard earned dollars.

Alright, so that wraps up this blog post. I didn't create an exhaustive list, but in general: just be smart. Oh, but I thought of one more thing... does your local eatery charge $2.29 for a beverage? Ouch. Most people will pay it. I won't. It's often a fountain drink which doesn't taste as good, costs the restaurant pennies at most (even if they offer unlimited refills, you'll never get your monies worth), and its probably not good for you. Stick with water -- and I don't mean bottled water. That's a scam that could have its own entire blog post. What I meant was, stick with plain water. It's free and you need it to live.





SATURDAY, APRIL 14, 2012

Put it in "H"!
I'm conflicted when it comes to public transportation, which I use on a daily basis. I do not own a car and I have never gone for my drivers license, so it's my only way of getting around.

Pros: I live in Toronto, where you can get from point A to B effectively by public transportation. Will you get there just as fast? No chance. Is it the best? Not by a long shot. The city's subway system is lacking, and the fare prices are higher than many comparable cities in North America. New York City is comparable in price, but their subway system is incredible by comparison. However, I'll let that slide because yearly fare increases are minimal compared to gas price fluctuation.

Despite it being slightly expensive, it's still waaaaay cheaper than owning a car.

Cons: Oh boy, it's a long list.

1. Its takes like 10x longer to get to your destination
2. Some bus drivers decide to put the bus 'out of service' mid-way through the trip, or turn the bus into a "short turn"
3. In Canada, the sidewalks leading to the bus stop can be pain-staking, as they are slippery and dangerous at least 5 months each year -- and in some cases, remains unpaved
4. As a tangent to that, the aisles of the bus become slippery with slush and ice
5. The TTC is highly unreliable in terms of pacing -- sometimes you don't see a bus for 15 minutes, and suddenly, 3 buses all clumped together.
6. Sharing your commute with hundreds of others highly increases your odds of catching a virus
7. The TTC is doing construction on an elevator or walkway like 75% of the year, and that area is out of service -- not for days, but years at a time!
8. Overcrowding is a major issue, and it has only gotten worse. Starting 2012, the TTC increased fares and decreased the amount of buses
9. Inconsiderate passengers who play music loudly without headphones, or some who clearly haven't bathed in days
10. Jerk bus drivers who get off mid-route. Listen, I don't care if you get off to pee. We all gotta pee. But if you come back with coffee or food, you should be fired. You have designated breaks, and that ain't one of em.
11. Stupid passengers who get on the bus and park themselves right by the front door, making it difficult for others to get in and out
12. AM/FM radio signals are very poor due to bus interference, which is obviously not an issue with a car
13. Passengers who open the windows, even on cold days
14. No ability to charge devices like you would with a car
15. It is far less comfortable than a car
16. At least 25% of buses that drive by are "not in service"
17. Carrying stuff is extremely cumbersome and inconvenient -- doing your weekly grocery shopping is a nightmare
18. Service during the late evenings and on the weekend is quite bad. The TTC advertises itself as a great weekend option for family trips, but cuts their service in half.

All in all, I can't decide if all of those cons outweigh the pros, because:

Public Transportation: A Metropass is $126 at most, which provides unlimited travel within the city. That is if you buy it on a monthly basis. It drops to around $112 if you lock-in annually (which I do).
versus...
Car: Let's say $300 per month on car payments (including finance charges), $100 on gas, $120 on insurance, and $80 on misc (maintenance, parking, fines/tickets, stickers and licensing, etc.)

So all in all, you're comparing $126 to about  $600. Some people pay even more -- for example, at my condo, parking is an extra $150 per month (or you can buy the spot permanently for $10,000) and at my last job, parking was $55 a month outdoors, or $85 underground.

So over a year, I save almost $6000 compared to a car owner, and I am not in risk to get in a crash, or accidentally damage someone else's car, or deal with ever-rising gas prices. Not to mention that if there's a month I don't need to use it much, I can forego the Metropass and buy tokens for far less than $126 (and I can sell my existing pass on day one for slightly below face value if I have the yearly lock-in). Meanwhile, a car owner still has to pay for insurance and financing and possibly parking even if they're on vacation and their car is dormant.

Is it worth $6000 for the added convenience? I'd say so, for now.





MONDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2011

Game over! Please insert 40 quarters.
Honestly, I've never considered myself very good at video games, despite having a lot of them. That is why you'll never see me play online. Why? Simply because I don't need a reminder that I suck. I don't have the dedication to figure out exactly how to master every maneuver and trick. I just don't care that much. I play to have fun, and people who become scarily good at a game ruin the fun for me. I'd like to play someone who is good, but not "I've played this game 8 hours a day since it came out years ago" good.

Truth be told, a lot of the games I play are chosen for a reason. They don't challenge in the sense that I feel worried I will fail. I love Zelda and Mario games, and while they pose a challenge, it isn't extreme. For example in Mario: if your hand-eye coordination is pretty good and you understand the fundamentals of Mario's platform jumping capabilities, you can get through it. You will die, sure, but it's unlikely that you'd feel like you couldn't beat the game. Also, those kinds of games are rarely if ever competitive multiplayer, so the only thing I have to go up against is the CPU, which is a fixed and often controllable difficulty level.

Further to my point, I often play games just to have fun, not to really delve deep into the mechanics. Are Starcraft and Starcraft II simplistic? Not at all. The concept of a "real time strategy" game is figuring out the optimal configuration of troops, the proper tactic for each situation, etc. I say that with all seriousness, because there are devotees out there who break down the mathematics of it all. But me? I played an offline vs-CPU match of the original StarCraft at least 1200 times, and I never tried to learn any of that. I just sent a bunch of guys over to the opponents base until they died. I didn't try to bring one of X and one of Y, and I didn't go "oh, they have a bunch of this. I better counter with this." The foundation of the strategy is somewhat clear to me, but I don't find it as fun that way. I just wanna throw what I can at the enemy until I win. Does that mean I avoid all strategy whatsoever? Of course not. But it also means I don't meticulously plan out every move. I just play it how I want, and it works for me.

In terms of keeping my spirits up, I stated that I don't go online and that will likely not change. The only exception is Mario Kart DS, in which I used to play online very regularly. I played through the offline Grand Prix mode on all of the difficulties and was relatively good at it, and I understood the control mechanism very well. Then I went online and was rather good right from the start. If you factor out the cheaters (those who use heavily advantageous cheating devices to win online matches), I played regularly for about 2 years and amassed a record of over 1400 wins and only 90 losses. Keep in mind that every car you finish ahead of is a win, so if I finished 1st of 4 races, I netted 3 wins. There were those who used extremely advanced techniques better than me (known as snakers) and even then I could sometimes beat them, but often I didn't want to, as it ruined the fun.

I only wish Mario Kart DS worked better in a modern era, but it only supports 802.11b with WEP. In layman's terms: you have to slow down your wireless internet to a crawl and disable almost all of its security passwords in order to play it, as the system and game did not support those faster/safer standards.

All in all, I will stick to offline gaming because I know I'm not the best by any stretch. I have friends who could pick up any game and, after figuring out the fundamentals, be good at it in under an hour. I don't have the drive or skills to be that good. It's a simplistic pastime, and I'll keep it that way.





SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2011

Rats. I almost had him eating dog food.
I just made a very tasty salad. In simple terms, it was a chicken caeser salad. I'm still gonna break it down, though.

Lettuce
I got the lettuce from St. Lawrence Market A ridiculously huge (almost comically large) romaine lettuce head for a measly $1.50. It has been used for tons of salads.

Chicken
The heart of the salad was the "chicken flings", another way of saying breaded chicken breast pieces with a flavoured seasoning, in this case, buffalo flings by Pinty's. I baked 4 or 5 of them, and cut each into quarters before throwing them into the bowl. The seasoning on this particular flavour is excellent, and I say that empirically as I have tried the same salad with at least 2 other brands of chicken pieces, with middling results. This one in particular provides a great spice that really raises the salad to a whole other level.

Tomatoes
I cut thick slices from the whole, then cut those into big cubes so that they retain their texture. Some people make the mistake of cutting them too thin, and that causes the tomato's juices to run.

Cucumbers
While I have cut it various ways, this time I did fairly thin slices, then cut those in half.

Croutons
The caesar style croutons are the best. Renee's brand of caesar croutons are my personal favourite, as they taste very fresh and are full of flavour.

Bacon Bits
I've used both simulated and real in the past. The real bacon works well when the salad doesn't contain chicken, as otherwise its just a blur of different meats and you barely taste the bacon, defeating the purpose of using any. The simulated bacon bits give the salad a nice crunch and smooth hickory flavour. Since I used chicken this time, I went for the simulated bacon.

Spices
A bit of oregano and freshly ground black pepper are there to assist with the flavour, but not too much as they can both be overpowering.

Cheese
Parmesan cheese is the most common topping I use. I want to try real non-powdered cheese sometime (like add some finely grated marble cheese) but that may be pretty heavy.

Dressing
I have tried two combinations that both work well:
1) Renee's caeser dressing. I went for the "light" 50% less fat one, but either is fine.
2) About 70% caeser dressing, 30% honey mustard -- they compliment each other nicely.
This time I did the latter of the two, and it tasted great. I have yet to make a salad with 100% honey mustard, but I will soon enough.

Overall, the salad was a success. I am sort of on a diet and salads are supposed to help, but I'm not sure how much I am helping myself by adding all the things I do. The only other vegetable I would consider adding is maybe green peppers (I say that because that would round out the list of veggies I add to Subway sandwiches) but I'm not sure how they would work in that salad.





MONDAY, JULY 11, 2011

...and I'm pretty sure that cheque is ivory.
It's really hot today. From what I gather, it isn't really the heat that makes it so uncomfortable, but more so the humidity. That currently sits at 68%, and with the humidex, it's a whopping 40 degrees.

I'd love to live somewhere where it's fairly neutral as much of the year as possible -- on or around 22° year-round. At the same time it would have to be somewhere developed, as when I am indoors, I need my high-speed internet, decent assortment of TV channels, etc.

I have heard of a few places like that, but many of them are very expensive, likely due to the nice weather which drives up demand and thus drives up prices. Honestly it's not the humidity that bothers me, but it's the cold I want to escape. There is nothing at all good about cold weather. Everyone wears like 5 layers so you don't see the small short-shorts or summer dresses, plus there is snow... ice... slush... frostbite... slipping... numbing of various things... dangerous road conditions... and so on. It's awful, and we have to contend with that at least 6 months out of the year, plus the month before and after it snows are cold, so it's really 8 crappy months.





WEDNESDAY, JULY 6, 2011

You will be assessed the full fine, plus a small LARGE LATENESS PENALTY.
I'm really unsure why courier companies deliver when they do. All of my deliveries arrive around 1:30 in the afternoon. Who the hell is home at that time?! The only benefit is that my days off from work are Wednesday and Thursday, so at least I have a 2 in 5 chance of being here. For those who work the normal Monday to Friday, you're basically screwed.

Even worse is when they do one of two things:

1) They leave a notice saying they tried to deliver it but got no answer -- on a date or time where you were there the entire time. Personally I don't listen to music often (a few hours a month), and I cautiously avoid loud music or loud TV when I am expecting a package. A lot of the delivery people are let into my building by the building concierge, which means they don't call my landline to get buzzed in. Instead, they knock on the door (there's no doorbell -- it's a condo) and my chances of hearing that knock are very slim.

or

2) They don't even attempt a delivery, and the tracking info simply says to pick it up from their depot centre. What kind of a courier is that? That would be like if Canada Post left all of your bills at the Post Office. However this is even worse, because there's only one of those Purolator depot centres for all of eastern Toronto. As I have stated before, I don't have a car or a license. Not just would it take me 3 buses per direction to get to that depot, but a lot of what I order online is very large and/or very heavy. I am not going to lug a huge 15 to 20 pound box on multiple buses, and then over 1 kilometre from the bus stop to my condo.

Also, customers can set up new deliveries and pick-ups on their website, but why can't they arrange delivery appointments for them to bring a package back out? On the few times they let me do that (as opposed to making me go down to that depot), I have to call and wait on hold 16 minutes for something that could be accomplished much faster (and far less costly) over the net.





SATURDAY, JUNE 25, 2011

...and now there's a beach ball on the field, and the ball boys are discussing which one of them's gonna go get it.
I watch pro baseball sometimes during the summer. It's certainly not as energetic as hockey, but it has its entertainment value. I really can't believe it is such a treasured pastime in the States since it is so low key and lacks excitement, but I suppose that is part of the fun. It can be entertaining, sure, but fans who call it "exciting" really need to look up that word.

I find it is nice to have on in the background, but paying attention to it for three straight hours can be difficult. I have a few key reasons why:

1) My main gripe is that it's a sport where only one team can score at a time. Every other sport I enjoy has tons of end-to-end action, and you never know who will score or when. Baseball has its designated halves of the inning for each team -- as such, I often skip the defensive half of the innings. I'd rather see them score. While good pitching and good diving catches are cool, that half of the inning can only involve them being scored against, and that's not cool.

2) The game is very slow. When a pitch is hit into the outfield, it's exciting for a second or two when you don't know if it will be caught, land in a gap, or clear the field. Other than those brief moments, most of it is the pitcher about to throw, a batter fouling off ball after ball, or countless other small plays that aren't exactly edge-of-your-seat action.

3) The sport is way too statistical. It's basically mathematics with balls and gloves. I've never seen a game that is broken down into probability and data management -- so much so that they actually have a proper term for baseball statistics (sabermetrics). There is so much prep work put into every little detail. A hundred different signals from the manager, the base coaches, and the catcher on what pitch to throw... heavy scouting on every little aspect of each hitter and each pitcher, to "learn" how they play the game... and honestly, some of the stats that the commentators state make me think "seriously? they keep track of that?" It's a numbers game, where probability factors in far more than spontaneity.

4) This one may seem odd, but I really don't like the fact that the AL and the NL are different. They are playing the same pro sport in the same organization (Major League Baseball) so they should co-exist in every sense of the word. That means identical rules and regulations in both, and for teams from either side to play each other at any point in time. Instead, they differ in rules, plus they have a short period of "interleague" play about one month per year, and there can be stretches of years or decades where two teams never meet because of how confined that interleague schedule is. For a sport in which each team plays 162 games per season, there is no reason they shouldn't have at least one series against all 29 other teams.





FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2011

Are you sure it was a book? Are you sure it wasn't nothing?
Last year I was contemplating buying an Amazon Kindle. It looked like such a slick little device, and the fact that it's e-ink as opposed to an eye-strain inducing screen made it seem enticing. I don't really read books these days, but I figured if I got it, I might get back into reading.

All in all, I decided not to get one. I heard they were making an ad-supported version at a discounted price. It would display ads in the menus and such, but not while reading. Based on the research I did, I found the discount off the regular version ($25) wasn't enough to warrant the purchase. If you're going to insert a variety of advertisements into a consumer product, the price point better be significantly reduced -- more than 40% off, which means $139 should drop to $80 or so.

I still may get one, but because I am so cheap and I'm not currently an avid reader, I may wait until it hits closer to the price point mentioned above. Maybe they'll make a next-gen version sometime in 2011 or 2012 that will warrant paying around $120, but for now, I will stick to reading sports scores, Facebook status updates, and various forums.





WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22, 2011

To alcohol: the cause of - and solution to - all life's problems!
I bought some booze in March, which is my first time buying alcohol (or really, drinking alcohol) in many years. Most of my close friends stopped drinking for whatever reasons, and since I am a social drinker, I really didn't see a need to drink either. I doubt there's any fun to be had if I got drunk by myself.

The stuff I bought however is not to get drunk. It is simply to have a nice drink now and then, just for a light buzz while relaxing. I primarily buy vodka based drinks, and try to avoid or minimize rum. Some of what I bought has a bit too much rum, but it's still okay if drank on the rocks. It is also nice when I mix the heavy concentration stuff (17% alc/vol or more) with my beverages of choice, like Arizona brand iced tea, or Coke.

I've never really liked beer. There are those out there (notably my pompous idiot of a brother) who claim that I haven't drank the right types of beer and that therefore my opinion is skewed. However, beer is made out of the same key ingredients no matter how you slice it, and it's awful every time. The smell and taste are just disgusting. Even if someone somehow found a beer I don't hate, it still wouldn't change the fact that most beers out there really, really suck.





SATURDAY, JUNE 18, 2011

Blecch! Ew! Sheesh! I'll take a crab juice.
I bought some Mountain Dew the other day, for no reason other than I hadn't had it in a long time. The nostalgia factor was greater than the actual taste, which was good but didn't live up to my memory of it. Overall, it still ranks down there on my list, which is topped by my perennial favourites: iced tea, Coke, and fruit punch.

Nothing I drink is all that healthy, but you only live once so you may as well enjoy it. Water tastes bland and milk is only average. The sugary stuff is where its at, especially Arizona brand lemon iced tea. The tall boy 680ml can is a perfect size for me, plus the 99 cent price is printed right on the side. Some stupid places charge more, and those are places I avoid.

I also like Pepsi, although I prefer Coke. I am not overly picky about the two, but for some reason, I find Pepsi has a bit of a blueberry taste to it. It is likely some random chemical that triggers a memory I have related to blueberries. Funny how things work like that.





FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2011

'To Start Press Any Key'. Where's the "any" key?
I've always found it a little funny that I only type with my two index fingers (although special keys like ctrl, alt, or space are often hit with my thumbs). Most people I know are quite adept at 10 finger typing, but I never taught myself how. I tried a few times to learn the whole 'home row' concept, but after so many years with my two-finger approach, I couldn't really use anything else comfortably.

What is even more peculiar (maybe even impressive?) is the speed at which I can type with only two fingers. I average about 90 WPM and can certainly eclipse 100 WPM if I really get into a groove and know exactly what I want to type. However, that words-per-minute estimate is based off of those idiotic online typing tests, which aren't that accurate because it's much harder to type random dictated words quickly, rather than your own thoughts which are free-flowing, do not require reading beforehand, etc.

When I was younger, I often looked down at the keyboard while performing my 2 finger typing, but for at least the past eight years or so, I am able to accurately type using my method without looking down at the keyboard at all. Now because I don't rely on a home row concept, I usually look down before I start typing to know what key my finger is on. Once I know, it's easy breezy from there.

I actually shock myself when I realize how quickly I am typing with only two fingers. To some it sounds silly to hear that someone types like that, but if you saw me typing, you'd probably be impressed. However, I do tend to type slower if I know someone is watching me.

The basis of my approach is simple, albeit a little scary. Mentally, I have trained myself to know exactly where every key is in respect to the other keys. For example, if not near a keyboard, I could easily "mime" the exact keystrokes needed to write any sentence. I know the exact placement of every key relative to one another, so it's extremely easy.





TUESDAY, JUNE 14, 2011

Television! Teacher, mother, secret lover.
I really love TV. So far, I have seen every episode of the following shows:

Completed Shows
3rd Rock From The Sun | 8 Simple Rules | Arrested Development | Better off Ted |
Boy Meets World | Dead Like Me | Dollhouse | Drawn Together | FlashForward | Frasier |
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air | Friends | Full House | Heroes | Home Improvement |
Joey | John Doe | The King of Queens | Kyle XY | The Legend of Zelda | Life |
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman | Lost | Married with Children | NewsRadio |
Pushing Daisies | Saved By The Bell | Saved By The Bell: The College Years | Seinfeld |
Sex & The City | Smallville | That '70s Show | Twin Peaks | Veronica Mars | Will & Grace |
Wings | (big list!)

Ongoing Shows
30 Rock | The Big Bang Theory | Burn Notice | Chuck | Community | Dexter | Family Guy |
Futurama | How I Met Your Mother | Hung | Modern Family | MythBusters | Psych |
Robot Chicken | The Simpsons | Two and a Half Men

I'm also almost caught up on these shows (some still airing, some ended)
24 (I've seen the first 3 seasons)
Alias (I am mid-way through season 3)
Criminal Minds (I'm half-way through season 5)
CSI / CSI Miami / CSI NY (I'm about one season behind on each)
Eureka (half-way through season 3)
Grey's Anatomy (I watched the first 4 seasons, then sort of stopped. I will eventually continue)
House (I was caught up until the most recent season, where I am about 15 episodes behind)
Numb3rs (on the last season)
The Pretender (I'm at the beginning of the final season)
Without a Trace (half-way through season 4)





SATURDAY, JUNE 11, 2011

Go back to Massachusetts, pinko!
Monday night will be Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. I'm hoping Vancouver wins. I don't much care about the Canucks, but it'd be nice if a Canadian team won. The Leafs are never gonna do it, so you have to pick your battles.

The ownership group of the Leafs is pathetic. They have the richest team in sports, the highest value according to Forbes, and they have sold out every home game for over 60 years. They easily have the highest ticket prices in the league, quadruple what some other markets are charging, but fans don't care. They will pay.

2010/11 average ticket prices were $116 for the Maple Leafs, easily ranking them first. Coming in second, way back at $86, is Montreal. The average for the 24 American markets was $46.10 -- so seriously, Toronto's average is 2.5x more than the American average.... and while prices down there are so dirt cheap, they struggle to put asses in seats (except when the Leafs come to town).

Honestly, I have never even heard of anyone in Toronto acquiring tickets except through some corporate/business means. That is just disgusting. It reminds me of the Superbowl, where more than half of the crowd are celebrities given the seats by their agents/managers for publicity, and who have absolutely no interest in football.





FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 2011

God, Schmod! I want my monkey-man!
I've never been a religious person. I was raised in a home where religion had no impact on our daily lives at all, so I'd say that had something to do with it. My parents consider themselves Christian, I suppose, but the only times I have stepped into a church are for weddings, funerals, baptisms, and so on.

It's not that I am an athiest. I am what they call an apatheist. As it is defined:

"Apatheism is acting with apathy, disregard, or lack of interest towards belief, or lack of belief in a deity. An apatheist is someone who is not interested in accepting or denying any claims that gods exist or do not exist. In other words, an apatheist is someone who considers the question of the existence of gods as neither meaningful nor relevant to his or her life."

That sums it up nicely. It's not that I don't believe. It's that I don't care.

Any way that others choose to align themselves in terms of religion is fine by me, provided their beliefs do not interfere with my way of life. One such example is when I was renting a place, and the landlords forbid us from placing pork products into the oven. Seriously now. Not cool. Pigs are tasty. Those kosher fools are missing out.





THURSDAY, JUNE 9, 2011

You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.
I am one of the laziest people I know. Other than the fact I walk a lot (since I don't own a car), everything I do is to maximize efficiency and minimize effort. It is true that I know lazier people (such as people who don't have jobs, don't go to school, and generally don't do a damn thing) and I am in no way trying to compete with anyone. It is not a competition, but just a choice I make.

I am aware that my lazy lifestyle choices may seem very bland to some. Heck sometimes they are bland to me. However, I'd rather schedule my night around TV shows than go out partying. Social gatherings are a lot of effort, a lot of fake enthusiasm, and a lot of needless spending. I will not pay $5 for a single drink at a bar when I can pay the same amount to buy several two-litre bottles of Iced Tea from a grocery store.

Everyone likes to live differently. Personally I like to relax. People always complain that they don't have enough free time, which I just don't get. If you have kids, fine, I get that. Otherwise, what is your excuse?! From the time I arrive home from work to the time I sleep, all I have is free time. It's great!





WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8, 2011

Don’t kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he’d eat you and everyone you care about!
I love meat. It's so damn good. Cow, chicken, pig, lamb, duck, turkey, or goat. Love it all. Most of my meals involve meat as the focal point. Growing up, my parents built all family dinners around meat.

I made really good chicken breasts the other day. I put three of them in an oven-safe pot, added oil and water, and then a ton of random spices: salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, cardamom, whole pepper corns, garlic powder, cajun spice, and cumin. That's all I can remember. Oh, and I also cut up a single clove of garlic into tiny pieces and added that to the mix. Then I used a brush to cover the chicken in the oily spice mixture, both sides. Then I covered them in the "Honey Garlic Bonanza" flavour of Bullseye BBQ sauce.... 400F for approx 70 minutes until they were super moist, and damn, so tasty. Oh, and I also flipped them every twenty minutes or so, and periodically added more water to avoid them drying out.

Now, I am in no way a cook. This is just random experimentation that turned out pretty well. I did the same thing another time, without the garlic powder, clove of garlic, or cardamom. I also used regular Bullseye instead of the Honey Garlic flavour, and the chicken tasted very bland by comparison. It is all pretty random!





TUESDAY, JUNE 7, 2011

Boy, I tell ya... they only come out at night. Or in this case, uhh, the daytime.
I don't like being outdoors at night. Maybe because it is dark? Maybe it's because darkness is representative of a lot of eerie, creepy things? In my opinion, it's because I feel better in the comforts of my own home, and it is easier to get home when I am already there. I'm sure I am missing out on a lot of stuff this way, but I'm not about to change. I like heating and air conditioning. I like electricity, the internet, and all of those other luxuries that make me feel pampered.

Social psychology teaches us about the various ways we interact with other human beings. If being attacked, the more people that are around, the less likely that someone will help. It is called bystander intervention, or Genovese syndrome. If I stay indoors, doors locked, I no longer have to rely on others to keep me safe in troubling situations.

That was a weird tangent, but I guess it works. I just thought of my Social Psych class. When I learned about the bystander effect, it seemed really messed up... but it also made sense.





MONDAY, JUNE 6, 2011

The kids can call you Hoju!
Throughout the course of my existence, I have been known as Bubba, Docta, Cabba, Cabbo, Stan, Crumb, Killer, and Little Egypt. Whatever works for you. Nicknames are alright. I tend to call my close friends by some sort of nickname. Maybe I have an aversion to real names, or maybe it's a way to keep things casual. I don't know.

The only one that I'll explain now is "Crumb", because it's the only one based on a non-English word. As a child, my mother called me a few different nicknames in Arabic, and I never really knew what they meant in English. When I asked, I was told that one of them roughly translated to "breadcrumb", because they are small, like me.

While it was not something I was called often, that nickname because sort of a professional moniker for me. All of my email addresses, usernames, and various online accounts have incorporated the word "crumb" in some way.

The domain name you're browsing now is a good example. Simply put, I always wondered: if I ever had my own company and could incorporate my 'crumb' nickname in a professional capacity, what would sound good? That is when I thought of crumbworks.





SUNDAY, JUNE 5, 2011

Ooh, they have the Internet on computers now!
I am watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? at this very moment. Most of the TV watching I do is on my computer. I like to multi-task while watching, pausing and switching to another window rather frequently. A 22 minute show (30 minutes minus commercials) could take me over an hour to watch, given all the different things I do. When I was a bit younger, I wondered if that meant I have ADD. Now that I have my university degree, I know I definitely do not meet DSM-IV criteria for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I suppose that's a relief!

Simple tasks such as web browsing and watching TV episodes are the bulk of my computer habits. I have a very powerful computer given how little I use it for. However, I do play games now and then. Plus I spend most of my time on my computer, so it may as well be fast, right? I can be pretty frugal at times, but I put a fair amount of money into this computer. I like it. It likes me too, in that it doesn't crash, freeze, or be uncooperative in any significant way.

In short: television on the computer gives me a lot of freedom. I still subscribe to cable TV, but a lot of that is for watching of sports or other live events.




 

SATURDAY, JUNE 4, 2011

Below-average human being or brilliant beast?
Before I get into a routine of posting my thoughts, I'd like to mention a bit about myself. Some people reading this already know the basics. If you don't, then you must be on the edge of your seat in anticipation.

I was born in September of 1985, so that makes me old enough to know how people survived without cellphones, but young enough to ponder how people survived without electricity. My hair is very dark brown (it looks black), my eyes are brown, I am fairly short at 5'3", and I need to lose some weight.

I was born in Cairo, Egypt and have lived most of my life in Ontario, Canada. I am university educated, left handed, and I don't like cold weather. I don't have a car or even a driver's license. I have no religious or political views, so my blog won't delve too deep into either of those subjects.

It is also worth mentioning that I like to complain a lot. If you are a semi-frequent visitor, you will notice that my blog involves a lot of complaints about that which I cannot change. It is a way to vent.





FRIDAY, JUNE 3, 2011

You can't spell "psychiatrist" without Chris.
I've never had a blog before. The main reason I thought to make one is because I got my domain back last year (it was stuck in purgatory) yet couldn't think of anything to do with it. Now I will simply mention things that seem relevant to me, but may seem irrelevant or meaningless to you. It might be insightful. It could be inspirational. It will most certainly be random. However, it will be a way for me to write down the thoughts that bounce around my head.

I'm not sure what anyone who reads this will make of it. I don't know if it matters. Either way, I bid good luck to whomever decides to read this blog. You're either very smart, very stupid, or somewhere in-between.