July 23, 2010

Fun fact: many Torontonians don’t get their drivers’ licenses until adulthood. It’s a pretty transit-friendly city, and as a Toronto teen, you just don’t *need* to drive, the way one might in a more suburban or rural area. I grew up feeling very comfortable on public transit, and living very close to the subway, and very good at mooching rides, so I just never bothered to get my license.

Eventually it occurred to me that not being able to drive kind of sucks, so I started taking lessons. It turns out that learning as an adult is tricky. Where teens are blithe and reckless, adults are sweaty and neurotic, and trying to teach me to parallel park was a little like trying to teach a squirrel how to move a refrigerator, or trying to teach a hypochondriac how to identify poison berries in the woods by their bitter aftertaste, or trying to teach a blogger how to come up with a metaphor that makes even a tiny bit of sense.

Never mind all that. I finally found Ali, a calm teacher whose melodious and lightly-accented voice patiently eased words of driving wisdom into my thick skull, the result being that I passed my roadtest on the first try this afternoon.

I am the proud owner of a valid driver’s license, you guys! Time to throw out all my shoes because obviously I’m never walking anywhere again. NOW GET OUTTA MY WAY VRRROOOOOM NEEEEEEER BEEPBEEP!

PS, Jokes, guys! I am actually a very catful, I mean careful, driver. I like to sit reeeallly close to the wheel and lean right into the windshield and beep my horn a lot and swear. Like a tiny old lady with neurological problems.
Look for me, coming soon to a street near you at 50 km/h!
Or just listen, you’ll probably hear me yelling GAS! BRAKE! GAS! BRAKE! VROOOOOOOOOOOM


How to open a wine bottle with a shoe

July 13, 2010

wine bottle cork corkscrew open shoe easy

Just put the bottle into the heel of your shoe, hold it so the bottom is parallel to the wall, and give it a few firm taps against a hard wall. Here’s a demo video; it’s in French but the visuals makes sense.

Do you know the lengths I’ve gone to to find a corkscrew? Trying to befriend snotty neighbours, wandering into Greek restaurants at 1AM, poking around with knives… and all this time I was standing on the answer. I can’t wait to try this. If I show up with a giant purple splotch on my pants you’ll know it was a fail.
Via MeFi.

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).

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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.