Wednesday, February 29, 2012

4-letter spelling bee

I have amassed a small collection of games over the last several months. While I picked up a bunch of more nerdy type games, I also picked up some revamped favourites: Monopoly Deal and Scrabble SLAM.

Scrabble SLAM isn't by any means, a game that took a genius to create, nor one to play. It's fast to set up and even faster to get through 1 round. But, player beware! It's certainly a game that can get you really rilled up when you're playing with several others who might be as competitive as you are. It's definitely a game that'll pass the time for any type of player.

I decided to snap a still life of the game board with a low aperture and 1/10 (I think) shutter speed. This was possibly the clearest and sharpest photo I took. I used the prime 50 lens and was standing atop a chair. I really need to consider a tripod...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Momentary Calm

I haven't forgotten! I've just gotten supremely busy. In fact, I'm so busy lately that I'm on a schedule tonight and had to schedule in my shower.

As a result, I've slackened my photo blog portion and haven't been taking enough photos. I saw an article about still life photos which caught my eye. I figure that try my hand at that this week and aim to snap 1 photo every day to post. Should be interesting. Intentional still life isn't something I've ever done before but I"m sure this will prove to be challenging :)

This photo was snapped in a dim setting where I had to put the shutter speed at 1/4sec and the aperture at f10... and even at 10, I don't have enough field of depth. Without a proper tripod, it is tricky to increase the aperture...

Now... if only I could find time (and people) to play these games with...

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Day at the Beach

Some of the best weekends are spent just watching television (if you can't tell by now, I love tv). While I caught up on more current tv, I also spend a lot of time with an old friend, Xena. It's been many years since I've spent a Saturday afternoon watching the series again. It's really refreshing to see the same things again, only differently.

Anyways, the past week's been pretty grey and boring. Nothing going on and nothing to inspire me to write.

Nothing is open today and I was doubly disappointed when T&T was closed but I decided to head out to visit the robot in disguise! If you've ever been out to Cherry Beach, there's an industrial type shed with large windows facing east and at sunset, you can sometimes see this monstrous looking machine sitting quietly in the dim light. It must have been let out for the day so, I managed to snap some photos this afternoon out at Cherry Beach instead...

There's something intriguing about the little hut...

There were a lot of trees lining the park.

Nobody swimming yet! Though I did see a guy on a small sail-type boat.

Standing at the shoreline playing with a nice low aperture.

That's it for now. Hopefully with the weather lightening up a bit, I'll be able to get out some more and take more photos around the city.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rich Girl Problems

Mondays are almost always a little more than just manic. I had the opportunity to test my patience and tolerance this morning after I was already running really tight with time and waited around (it's punishment for smashing the alarm so many times) for another 20 minutes of delays to clear up and the train to have enough room for me to get on without breathing the next person's armpit for a 10-15 minute ride south.

Kind of makes me wish I had just stayed at home.

While the weekend was filled with the death of Whitney Houston and the Grammys, I didn't have time to get too involved with all that jazz. Instead of the Grammy Awards, I was getting caught up again with the Walking Dead; this is the second season of the comic inspired zombie apocolypse drama series.

The Walking Dead has won awards (and been nominated) for various categories--one of them being the best drama on tv. As I mentioned, the series itself is not new; it's based on a comic book that was written in 2003.

I got into this series at the insistence of others... Usually, I find zombie themed movies or shows, too hopeless feeling inducing to watch. I mean the entire world is dead and it's very likely that there are only pockets of living humans left. What are you supposed to do? Everything you have ever known, is gone and whatever you have probably been working towards in your life, is now null and void. Actually, most stories that have to do with a type of apocolypse are intriguing. It really gets you to think about how humans innately are and forces you rethink your own life... what would you do if you were one of those few humans left? You're trying to survive everyday, in very challenging circumstances and maintain some of your humanity.

One of my coworkers told me, "I like you because you still do the right thing, even when nobody's looking". I think of Rick Grimes. While it's flattering that others deem me to be morally intact, I wonder what I would do if I was faced with the same questions that Rick faces throughout the series? He's their leader now... and doing the best that he can do, to keep them together and get them through to the next day; and if there's one thing that's struck is, that most people are self-serving sheep who don't actually have any morals.

While most people do the right/best thing these days (and that's easy when food, shelter and safety are not a primary concern), the real test comes when faced with all the tough choices or even worse, no choice. Sounds a little hopeless but early humans were prey to larger carnivores and had to survive on much less.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Parking lot mayhem

Ah. It's finally winter! I woke up to white on the rooftops, ground and cars. It's nice to have old man winter return. It's also Saturday morning and for once, it's quiet and I don't have plans. So I've decided to do something useful. Right after I snapped a photo of the snow that's still sitting around.
Prime 50 lens with low aperture and fast shutter speed (~1/1000).

I used to go with my mom for grocery shopping. It's just something I did when I was younger. I still do sometimes but I think as I've gotten older, it's become more and more a test of patience.

People get their license to drive on the road. They have to pass a test--several, in fact. And you'd think that's good enough. Afterall, driving is a privilege, not a right. Though, you'd think with the state of the public transit in this city, it should be.

Well, I strongly think (and would advocate) that they need a licensing system for buggy parking, driving and having children. Oh wait, the last one was just an outloud thought. Nix that thought (for now...).

It's as if without lines, rules outlined and directional arrows painted on the floors, people get creative; it's particularly frustrating at Costco. I don't know if it's because it's giant everything--including lanes and carts but I'll turn a corner and then get jammed because 5 people have decided to stop their cart in the middle of the lane and then disappear somewhere to get something. It makes me want to scream and cry, all at the same time. I usually don't have it in me, to push the carts aside so I have to turn around. And the worst is when the person standing with their cart gives you cut eye for making eye contact to ask to be excused as you try to squeeze by. As if it's a big effort to move to the side of the lane instead of standing in the middle of it. Really, people?

When you leave the comfort of your home, you have to interact with other people--at least while living in the city. So, why not make everyone's experience pleasant and be considerate of others by being aware of what you're doing?

I don't think any of this is a stretch of the imagination or even of one's physical capabilities. If someone like me can do this, so can everyone else.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I've gotten some more VD

As predicted, it's VD day! I couldn't resist. And just in time for the other VD--Valentine's Day! Love is in the air tonight.

Last week's cliff hanger left us all wondering what would happen now that Esther has returned. We last saw Klaus shaking in his booties expecting his mother to kill him; but she forgave him.

I got the same kind of blank stare when I first watched it too!

This week continues on the storyline of Esther. Unfortunately, the closest we get to getting some Tyler injected into the show is his voice when he calls Caroline to console her on her father's death and tells her that he is fixing himself so that he could be with her. And (just in time for Valentine's Day!) he told her he loves her. *swoon*

When the series started out, Tyler was portrayed as the football jock who's a big bully and isn't that nice to anyone. But, with a face (and body) like that, who could resist for long? My apologies ladies for not posting a suitable photo for y'all to drool over. I'm trying to be proper, afterall! But, because I'm a sucker for a boy in glases, this one appealed the most.

Tyler is one of Klaus' hybrids (werewolf-vampire). But now he's got this sire bond that keeps him compelled to do whatever Klaus wants, even after he denies Klaus outright. Caroline's dad said that he would forbid Tyler to be with Caroline unless he resolves the "problem".

The primary love triangle--Elena, Damon and Stefan... blahblah. This episode had a real weak progression with that. Stefan keeps saying he doesn't feel or care. Damon on the other hand cares TOO much and is now becoming really controlling. I tire of both the Salvatore brothers.

Back to the Original Family!


Esther holds a huge evening ball (the ones you get all dolled up for and wear ball gowns. Not those skanky short dresses) in celebration of reuniting her family. I wonder when I can hold a ball....?

Right, back to the point. Esther invites Elena personally. Rebekah invites Matt. Klaus invites Caroline, complete with a beautiful evening gown. Caroline totally blows off Klaus--as she should! She's spoken for, afterall. But Klaus is taken with her and when she shows up in the dress (her excuse was she didn't have anything else to wear--but really, what can compare to that stunning dress?), he is instantly taken with her. *dreamy swoon*

He tries to relate to her and shows his interest in art, paintings and sketches. He's quite the artist! And as an old school gentleman (and with Joseph Morgan--the actor--being from Britain), he's got that old world charm about him; so much so that it's... hypnotizing. After Caroline puts him in his place (and I'm glad she does) by telling him that he just tries to buy/force people and never actually makes a connection, she leaves. When she returns home, there is a gift box on her bed. She's annoyed because she thinks it's another trinket but when she opens it in frustration, she unrolls a sketch that Klaus made of her and her favourite animal.

I know, this is a romance novel written all over it.

Anyways, rewind a bit and return to the ball. Elena goes to speak with Esther and discovers that Esther has been stuck on the "other side" for a millennium and has returned to.... kill her children.

Another totally unexpected, right! I thought she was turned into a vampire or something and Klaus kept that from everyone or that maybe she was going to do something more drastic. But now what? Isn't killing Klaus exactly what they all wanted, to begin with?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hey grandma, what's in that cup?

I just had this conversation with one of the guys in the office...

Me: [waiting for microwave]...
PB: [spies the jar I've brought with me to the kitchen; squints] Is... that Ovaltine??
Me: Yea. I've got almond milk heating up.
PB: Oh man. Only my grandma drinks that stuff.
Me: It's good for you.
PB: Oh yea... That's what my grandma used to tell me.
Me: [a little annoyed] Well, it's my afternoon snack.
PB: Yea, my grandma has an afternoon snack too.

Ahh... yea. I need to mention this guy has 2 kids...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I've a penchant for sweaters.

This conversation actually happened between me and my friend NR:
Me: ... ok so is this outfit ok?
NR: what are you wearing??? Is that... a SWEATER!?
Me: yea. What's wrong with a sweater?
NR: we're going to a club, not to visit your grandma.
Me: but it's cold out...

I have more sweaters than I have blouses/shirts for. No joke. Everytime I go shopping, I am inclined to the button down cardigan (see grandpa sweater). My favourite happens to be of the argyle pattern. I only bought my first argyle sweater in the last year or so. Well that's not true.. but my favourite sweaters are from Brooks Brothers. I love that they're not skin tight and I don't have to look like a sausage encased in wool.

The dry cleaners shrunk my favourite grey and blue argyle cardigan... the DRY CLEANERS!!! Isn't taking clothing to them to clean, to avoid having things shrunk or misshape??? Heck, I pay them for that! I was furious the morning I slipped the sweater on and it felt like I was wearing a cropped top with tube sock sleeves. I'd march right back in there but it's been several months since I picked it up from them... :(

Anyways, Brooks Brothers is having a 60% off sale so I bought a sweater to replace the shrunken one (even though it can't compare... and now I have to work up the nerve to donate that shrunken sweater)

I took this photo with an aperture of 1.8 and a shutter speed of 1/125 (?). Shiny coppery buttons!

K now... to wait for that cashmere one to go to 80% sale... :D

Right, the name "Argyle Rapier"... I was thinking about an appropriate Game of Thrones name. If I was a mercenary or knight or assassin, what would I be known as? What sort of name would have criminals and those undeserving of life, to shake, at the very sound of my name! I would strike fear in those about to die and tell them that they will die at the hands of The Argyle Rapier! *slash*slash*thrust*thrust*

Monday, February 6, 2012

What's wrong with Simple?

Hello everyone! It's the start of a new week and I spent the weekend watching figure skating programs and several movies that were playing on the WNetwork. Some of the fondest memories I have of when I was a kid were of me and my brother sitting in front of the television watching figure skating (yes, he watched) on the weekend afternoons or getting ready to catch the Disney movie on Sunday night, following the newest escapade of Sarah Stanley and her east coast cousins.

I usually don’t like doing nothing because I always have something to do (or due)! And the worst stomach sinking feeling is twiddling your thumbs until you realize you forgot something due Monday.

I decided it would be one of those weekends where I was going to forget about the rest of the adult world and do whatever I felt. I also caught the Digital Film Fest’s showing of Back to the Future. Talk about a blast to the past.

I wonder why that is… why people… all people--seem to sit back and remember a time when things were carefree, blissful and fun; and recall times they were a kid. While reminiscing generally makes me happy, it often ends with me feeling a little sad. Sad because it makes me wonder… does that mean that our lives are now so complicated and stressful that we aren’t having fun anymore?

This thought actually brings me to parallel life to: Road to Avonlea. The plot starts out with a young city girl, accustomed to fine city living in Montreal, who moves to the simple country life of Avonlea. Whenever I think about the series' progression, I think about how the characters and their adventures shadowed the lives of their growing (as in aging) audience. It was like growing up with the kids of Avonlea and getting in the same types of trouble and encountering the same issues that each of us grew up with. Ah, simpler times.

I compare this to similar shows of late, that follow the growing pains of kids and I think of Glee. When I watch Glee, I know that I impose some of my adult perceptions on the characters but, man, if that is how life has become, I'm really worried about the kids of this day and age.

Now, kids grow up with Hanna Montana hanging off a pole or other shows where the parents are complete twits and the kids run the stage!

Sometimes... just sometimes simple and (maybe) traditional is better.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I vant to suck your blood!

It is a cold, dark winter evening. The week has come to a close and the people of the city scurry from the clutches of their week-long captors who keep them in a perpetual state of stress and work. Many, congregate together in clandestine meetings with their fellow captives in support of one another and to contrive their plots to arise above their captors. Embraced by the libations served to them, they lose track of the hour...

I love gothic novels. The first one that really intrigued me was Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. But, that's a contemporary piece compared to the classic of Dracula, by Bram Stoker. I've yet to read Dracula (mostly because I have a fondness of social science as well) but I've seen the classic portrayed on the silver screen (1931, 1992 and even the 2000 version) and last night, I saw it through a production by the Brant Theatre Workshops.

The play was yet another adaptation of the original but with an interesting twist: the sets would remain stationary but the audience would not.

The play took place at Casa Loma and used various rooms throughout the mansion as settings for each scene. It is such an innovative concept! It really made the play more accessible--as if you were there watching the events unfold. But it isn't something for one who lacks imagination.

I haven't been to Casa Loma since I was a kid and the only thing I remember well is the library. I've forgotten how prominent and impressive the building was. This area is above the main entrance...

I used my prime 50 lens to take all the shots...

Some were taken with the manual setting and others with the aperture priority.

Lighting is an interesting (and challenging) thing to play with, at this location and time.

I also like to play with the field of depth with my lens since I can get an aperture as low as 1.8 (it's not the lowest available on the market but it's the lowest I've got).

This is the actor who portrayed Professor van Helsing.

All in all, I would say a really great play to experience. This is a community theatre group, I believe, but the innovation and creativity is genuinely superb.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Did you catch VD last night? I did

Did I get your attention? I've been waiting to use that line the moment I realized that the acronym for Vampire Diaries also implies venerial disease--depending on how you say it. Though really, anytime you use those two letters subsequently in the same breath, your listener will probably think you got yourself some herpes.

So... Vampire Diaries. What is someone as intelligent, worldly and inquisitive like me (yea yea, keep your mouth shut!), doing by getting caught up in a teeny bopper vampire-werewolf fad? Well, lemme start by introducing you to the Salvatore brothers: Stefan and Damon...

Yes ladies, it’s not you—it just got hot in here. These two brothers are nothing like “Edward” or “Jacob” of Twilight. Though I have to admit that Stefan’s hair-do is reminiscent of your contemporary “vampire hair”. But that's ok! Why? Because this show just keeps getting more and more… beautiful! As if the regular cast wasn’t already some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever laid my eyes on; the lovely Nina Dobrev is a Canadian who played Mia on Degrassi (the newer series).

Anyways, as fun and fascinating as all this is, let’s get to the real ‘meat’ of what transpired last night… in this story, vampires are not demons. The concept of nature and balance of good, evil and supernatural is one that is woven throughout the series. Witches are stewards of this natural balance and vampires happen to be an unplanned freak accident and werewolves are natural creatures.

The Original Family who became vampires were human. They were early settlers to Mystic Falls (where the series takes place) who were looking for a new life. After a tragic death of one of the young children, their father insisted on protecting his family and asked his wife (a powerful witch) to achieve this invincible immortality. She changed them into vampires with super human powers and immortality. But she herself was not permitted to change because she is a witch. Note that Originals can't be killed in the same conventional ways as regular run-of-the-mill vampires.

The primary protagonist for the season, Niklaus Mikaelsen is the most feared and respected Original and it was he who set the myth of the vampire-werewolf curse in motion. To maintain nature's balance, the witches suppressed his werewolf side but he wanted to release that so that he could become the ultimate hybrid.

Well, he’s managed to achieve this and has created a super species. There’s a catch, he needs the blood of the Petrova Doppelganger (Nina Dobrev’s character, Elena) to complete the transformation of each of his hybrids. At some point, early in the story, he somehow murdered his mother and his siblings never forgive him for this act.

That is… until last night.


His siblings are awoken from their centuries of slumber, and confront him to make him pay for what he did to their mother… the door opens and they hear footsteps. They turn around and see their mother walk in, without having aged a day from her death. Though Niklaus fears that his mother is there to kill him (because he is “an abomination of nature”), she says she forgives him and she wants them to be a family again.

I know, right? Too much to take in. Now you’re thinking what I am… what’s going to happen?! And what about all the other story lines (which I didn’t mention)??? Stay tuned for what happens next week! If it’s as juicy as this was, expect me to post again ;)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Architechture for a Masked Vigilante

I was out shovelling the snow last night. We got a substantial amount of snow and I even considered bringing out my snow boots (which are lost, btw). I was excited to have the opportunity to snap a few photos of the accumulated snow the following day only to be disappointed with the spring weather!

That's right folks, I'm annoyed that it isn't feeling like winter--complete with snow. What gives?

But, there is never a lost opportunity. I snapped some photos of Commerce Court North after work. I wrote about CCN last week (?) sometime. I took a snap shot of the commemorative Heritage Toronto plaque and you'll see some more history available:

The observation gallery is closed right now, if I'm not mistaken, so I wouldn't have the chance to head out that way. But if you're Maggie Q, you might get the chance to zip-line from the roof while filming Nikita (by far the best series I'm following--I live vicariously).

So, I went to the main entrance to find those squirrels...

The aperture is like 1.8 or 2.0 here. You can see the rooster and the corn and the beehive as well as the fleur de lys... all intentionally chosen symbols for hard work, agriculture, collective work, our french brothers and sisters etc...

This image is just looking up at the ship... which i believe is to represent merchants.

Then I find it... the squirrel. Thrift and savings!

Nothing is complete without our beloved beaver.

I have to admit, my photos just don't do justice for the beauty of this building. I noticed that even the exterior window frames have that detail of the carved friezes and pillars.

The interior is always the cherry on top. Just look at the ceiling. Some people think it's old and antiquated but I always feel like I'm Bruce Wayne heading up to the top floor of Wayne Enterprises.