Canadian Looting Fail

June 29, 2010

This happened during the Toronto G20 so-called “riots” this past weekend. Pretty sure it’s at Yonge & College, right in the centre of downtown Toronto. The only way this could be better is if the thief said “Sorry” after being wrestled to the curb.

Although, frankly, given the hellswamp that is Bell Canada customer service (I was on the phone with them for FIVE HOURS last week), I kind of wish it was a better company who was getting their little products returned by gentle Toronto vigilante wrestlers.

Thanks to Rebecca for Facebooking this.

Daniel Pink: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

June 27, 2010

rewards daniel pink motivation incentive

Here’s a great 10 minute presentation about motivation and incentive. Turns out that for higher-level cognitive work, financial rewards are actually a disincentive to do good work; Pink discusses other incentives that work better. Great topic + engaging artwork = solid video.

Thanks to Reub for the tip.

Productivity: Minuteur

June 16, 2010

Click the image to see more photography by Ella_Marie

My favourite strategy for tackling pretty much anything is to set a timer for 12 minutes, then race it. This is a great trick, because:

1. Even if you’re a bedbound sloth, you can probably motivate yourself to do 12 minutes of something.

2. Starting work is the hard part; once you get into something, you’ll often work longer without even noticing the time pass. Before you know it, you’ll be all done making that beautiful macrame rainbow dress you’ve always wanted, and you can head off to Burning Man knowing you look exactly like a shy librarian who’s trying drugs for the first time.

That night, Olivia twirled and twirled and twirled and twirled and twirled. When morning dawned, the dress was gone, her hair had spontaneously formed dreadlocks, she had become a vegan, and nine months later, her son Starbeam-Phoenix-Feminina was born.

3. If you tend to get distracted (like I do! By super-interesting, important things, like this little bear that could not stop sneezing!), then the timer is a good reminder that OH YEAH BACK TO WORK even though somewhere on the internet probably there are other adorable things with allergies!

4. You can limit how long you spend on things you don’t really want to be doing. Sometimes I have to call people who talk a lot. I like to set a 4-minute timer so I can keep the whole call under 5 minutes. Not that I do that to anyone who reads this blog.

5. Most things take less time than you think. This morning I tidied up my whole apartment in 12 minutes, and the place was a total wreck when I started. It looked like hours of work but the timer proved, as usual, that it was easier than I’d expected. Now it only looks like a partial wreck; thanks, timer!

6. Once you start to figure out how long things take, you’re more likely to do them without quite so much fussing next time. I hated vaccuuming my apartment until I realized it takes me 6 minutes. Now I do it all the time, much to the delight of my neighbours (Hi, Nicolas! VRRROOOOOMMMM)

Minuteur. The only reason I get anything done, ever.

Usually I use a little digital egg timer stopwatch thing for all my timer-racing needs, but I don’t always want to bring it with me. So I downloaded this great free app called Minuteur (if you like it, you might wanna shoot the developer a few bones). It’s a little virtual desktop timer that’s really easy to set; it makes a gentle ticking noise that you can silence if it drives you bonkers, and when the time’s up it alarms and jumps to the front of your desktop and blinks at you. Bam. Easy as… eggs.

Thanks to Reuben for the tip (that link goes to an article he wrote that has some other good productivity advice buried in it).

Welcome, newcomers, to my bloog. The funniest / most-read posts are listed here.

Bacon Fruit Cups

May 20, 2010


Wait, you made little cups out of bacon and then filled them with basil, aioli, avocado, mango chunks, and caramelized onion confit? And then you dusted them with homemade bacon powder? Where do I line up to join your church?

I do not really like making high-prep recipes, but srsly? Can you imagine?
I think I’d fill these with roasted pineapple or mango chunks + gooey charred mini marshmallows on baby lettuce leaves and call it a day.

Via Instructables.

Oh and what’s that? You want to see my recipe for Candied Bacon again? Okay here.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk on Creativity

May 17, 2010

Lovely TED Talk about creativity by Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s a wonderful speaker, and this talk makes everything feel better. One friend who listened to it said it sounded like she was advocating religion, but I don’t see it that way; I think it also ties into Gladwell’s Outliers 10,000 hours thing.

Basically both of them are saying, if you put the pen on the paper and just keep going; the genius will probably show up eventually.

20 minutes; no need to watch, you can just listen. Here.
Thanks to Hill for the tip.

Washroom signs by Sergio Bergocce

May 5, 2010

Clever men’s and ladies’ washroom graphics designed by Sergio Bergocce:

Love these. Via Google Reader suggestions (holy goldmine of interesting links based on other items in my reader! Thanks to Google, and I guess also my own impeccable taste in Internet?)

Scott Pilgrim Traaaailer

March 25, 2010

Online here!

Awake endotracheal intubation

March 24, 2010

Dr. Michael Bailin performs an awake entodracheal self-intubation (ie, puts a tube into his throat through which a machine will be able to keep breathing for him if he stops).

I’ve had a scope down my throat once (not this deep) to check for vocal nodes, because I performed the voice of a talking televised hamster for a few years and the character’s high-pitched scratchiness eventually took its toll. It was a somewhat unnerving, uncomfortable procedure which I certainly didn’t handle with quite as much rodeo glamour as this guy. I’ve also been intubated for surgery, and woke up with a barking, busted voice, like this guy’s at the end of this video. I think that’s my favourite part, actually, when he goes back to teaching and sounds like a giant teenaged boy. Fun.
Thanks to Greg for the tip.

A question about learning.

March 22, 2010

When you were a kid, what was that thing that took you extra-long to learn? For me, it was telling time. For some of my friends, it was reading. I am very curious to know about that thing. Why didn’t you understand it? What was it that you were doing wrong? What was the one simple “key” that an adult could have given you to unlock the mystery?

Until I was 10, I had no idea how a watch represented time. I saw numbers and understood that they referred to the time of day. I did not understand why there were two different hands pointing to those numbers. If someone had said to me, “The little hand points at the hour number. The long hand is not pointing at any numbers- it’s marking off fractions!”, then I would have understood. Although I was also confused about the fact that there were so many ways to say the time (15 minutes = quarter past, etc). I guess I needed to start with 60=hour, 30=half, 15=quarter… I don’t remember anyone ever explaining that to me. I do remember sitting there in a fog and staring at the two hands and mentally adding together or multiplying the numbers each hand pointed to, trying in vain to get numbers as big as 15, 30, 45. So confusing. I was always a pretty good student, but while my peers learned to tell time in first grade, I was clueless until about fifth grade. I like to think this is the reason I’m usually late.

A friend who’s been diagnosed as dyslexic told me that she learned to read by memorizing the overall shapes of words. So to her, the word yellow was coded basically by its silhouette, as “dangly-normal-tall-tall-normal”. She didn’t really look at the individual letters, but rather at their relative heights. Obviously this is not helpful when you’re later presented with Yellow or YELLOW. She memorized the overall shape-variations of a zillion words instead of learning to look at words as being made of individual letters, inefficient system that leaves you lost when you encounter a new word, which will of course snowball into anxiety for a child who’s learning to read so much slower than her peers.

Another friend said she thought that the important parts of letters were the negative space inside of them, not the line itself. So to her, a capital B was two stacked semi-circles, not a straight line and two curved lines. When she wrote, she would carefully draw the negative space instead of the line, which means her printing didn’t translate naturally into handwriting. This also made word recognition tough for her when she encountered new fonts and handwriting.

I think these little learning quirks are really interesting. I bet they’d be worthwhile considerations for teachers, too- I always think it’s important to learn not only that I’m doing something wrong, but why it made sense to think that wrong thing, and how the wrong-yet-intuitive answer relates to the real answer. Do you remember the things you took forever to understand? What was the key that led to your AHA! moment?

GoogleMail Group Chat FTW

March 8, 2010

You guys, I don’t want to blow your minds or anything, but now you can have group chats on Gmail.

We used our collective chatting ability to solve important problems, like where to eat dinner tonight.


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