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I have a huge pile of drafting to hand in by Friday noon, and it'd be nice to have company during some of it.  I also might be looking for essay topic ideas. So somebody please come visit...I should get home around 4pm or so.


Sep. 20th, 2008 11:45 am
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Go see the supercool light art thing in the back room at Candela.  It sends the light from red and green lasers through a set of rotating prisms and crushed dichroic filter crystals to make a constantly changing play of light over the wall. I think it's called Psiklone.  Whatever its name and spelling, this thing is hypnotic and nightclubs should be begging the artist for it.

And yes, do look at the rest of the exhibit while you're there.  My other favourite piece is Cairn Cunnane's iron and glass creation which looks a bit like a city crossed with a floor lamp.

Candela is at:

Cube Gallery
7 Hamilton Ave. N (near the Parkdale Market and Tunney's Pasture station)
Saturday and Sunday only, 10am - 5pm.
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Or at least I can be.  I have some refugee research to do to, and a huge pile of reading.  So if you want to come by, call and let me know so I can arrange homework appropriately.
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EDITED: I messed up which day of the week it was when I first wrote this. So I updated the entry. 

Tonight and tomorrow night (Wed and Thur) I am once again chained to the drafting board til the wee hours of the morning, so come by and console me in my misery.  I also need to do some research on transitional housing for refugees, which is not as company-friendly, but I mean to put a nice big dent in the drafting first. After all, if I haven't done the research by studio time tomorrow, the prof will likely let me go do some in the CAD lab, but drafting is due Friday morning, no exemptions.

Friday evening I hope to take off and go enjoy open mike night at the Umi Cafe. 
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I'm trying to revive an old Victorian custom: the At Home. Basically, when I have an evening full of drafting or other less thinking-full homework where I would like to have company to chat with, I'll try to let people know, and hopefully some of you will swing by and see me. If you can, please call first, just in case we have to run out for an errand or get lazy and go for pho instead of cooking dinner.

Tonight is the first At Home.  I have a site plan and stuff to do, and would like not to be bored silly the entire time. I also might end up installing a printer if I get done fast enough. I am home as of now, and would love to see people while I'm metaphorically chained to the drafting board.
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Yes, I actually did a meme.

Your result for The Commonly Confused Words Test...

English Genius

You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 93% Advanced, and 87% Expert!
You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!

For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog:

Take The Commonly Confused Words Test at HelloQuizzy

I quibble with the answer key for:

30. The salad is tasty__ however, the soup tastes even __________.
a. : / best
b. : / better
c. ; / best
d. ; / better
The correct answer is ; / better.

With the "however" in there as a conjunction, what we really need here is a comma, not a semicolon. "The salad is tasty; the soup is even better" would be a better use of the semicolon.

After checking the answer key, I got two questions half-wrong according to it, out of 40, including the quibble above.
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Since I have been finishing the client booklet for the loft, I've been making digital sample boards. Since my page background is dark, it looks much better if I remove the plain background from behind the product images -- except for the usually-white halo left behind, and the commands under Layer > Matting don't always work so well.

I have figured out a trick to lessen the manual labour in removing the background.
  1. Just in case, duplicate the layer your product is on.
  2. Make a new layer and fill it with a colour approximating your page background, using the Paint Bucket.
  3. Switch back to your duplicated layer.
  4. Select the background, probably via the Magic Wand, such that your selection is mostly correct.
  5. Now hit Q to go into Quick Mask mode, and use the Brush and Eraser tools to touch up the selection. This is way easier than repeated magic-wanding.
  6. Now that the selection is touched up, fuzz its edge with Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur at approximately 1px. This will reduce the opacity of, and thereby soften the edge of the resulting product shot-on-transparent-background, which looks way better than the hard edge, because you can never get the edge perfect.
  7. Delete the background. You might have to inverse the selection first.
  8. Touch up as necessary with soft Eraser or commands from Layer > Matting.
  9. Delete unnecessary layers, e.g. your original layer and your dark test background.
  10. Save as something with transparency support, probably PNG format.
There are also some useful tutorials at
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I have been doubly graced by the mailman, since today my new health card arrived. So, come school, I can pick up my student loans! Previously, I did not have enough ID for them to believe in me.

Oh, and people might be more willing to let me on planes.

(OSAP this year is giving me so much money that the likely long-term total scares me. I plan to stick it all in a savings account and dole it out slowly in the hopes of not using it all.)
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Our assessment letters finally came in, and our past two years of tax refunds are nice and fat, thanks to layoff followed by education credits. Soon, soon I will have a shiny new screaming fast laptop with extra toys in my hot little hands, and then it will be goodbye to my 2001-vintage desktop that died mid-final-project three hours before deadline!

*cackling with glee*

On a more sane note, I'm not going to run out and buy my laptop right away. I want and can afford a Mac, and Apple has *something* up its sleeve right now that's going to hit before the end of September. Nobody outside Apple knows what it is, but odds are high that it's some kind of laptop refresh. So I shall wait impatiently for another few weeks in case they announce the new iWant while the back-to-school promotion is running.

Hurry up and announce, Apple! I want my shiny thing!
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First, for the writers, there is this not-safe-for-work link.

Second, I found a prophetic Onion article, "Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over'" You should read it. And then I found the annotated version, which links to all the stuff that Bush actually did. Approximately 3 of 38 prophecies did not come true, and that's if you're being a little generous. I just hope the US can do better next time...
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So, I survived first year in Interior Design. My grades are intimidating -- twelve A+s out of twenty-one courses, and almost straight As overall.  (I cannot bond with my classmates over bitch sessions about art history being too hard after acing all three courses of it.)  That probably explains why I haven't written here for ages. ;-)  I need to go through the stuff I made and do a lot of scanning and photographing for my portfolio...when I eventually get that done I need to make all of it into a website for myself at which point I can show it all off.

One interesting thing in life is that I got to go visit Brian out in BC for a week just after school finished.  After approximately eight months straight of daily deadlines and late penalties, it was really, really nice to not have a schedule for a week, except for catching the planes.  Mostly I just relaxed or wandered around with my camera, or followed Brian to places he wanted to show me. Accordingly I have a ton of pictures that I haven't actually done anything with yet except for delete the really fuzzy ones.  I have realized that I am not a normal vacation photographer.  Other people take pictures of people.  I tend to take pictures of scenery -- plants, animals, buildings, things like that.  Now that it is too late, I wish I had taken some of people.  Oh well.  I did not tell the parents that I went, since I didn't feel like going through the inquisition over why and how I could afford it and so on...

Aside from that, Jason's computer died but was resurrected.  As far as I can tell, it wanted to be dusted.  Mine, however, has died, been resurrected, and died again.  I'm not sure what I'll do about it yet, since I can manage with Jason's for now, and if I can find a VGA cable, I do have a spare.  Speaking of which, anyone got a spare VGA cable, the kind that connects the screen to the computer, and usually has blue ends?  Near summer's end, however, I get to buy a laptop. Finally. I really do need one, partly because it's mandatory year after next, but also because I am forever having trouble getting the time and resources I need in the school computer labs, and it is not efficient to risk 15% off an assignment because you cannot get a computer to print it from that has the software and fonts. On top of that, my poor machine is approximately six years old, and it shows.  It shows very badly indeed when I need to run AutoCAD and Photoshop at the same time, which is fairly often. So I think I have more than enough reason to buy a shiny new thing, and I would very much like a Macbook Pro -- I am sick of Microsoft and don't want to deal with Windows more than necessary for AutoCAD. There is a happy education discount, and I would really like, after nearly missing the deadline on my final project in my most important class because of my computer died 3 hours before it was due and the school computers don't have InDesign CS2 and I had to have my prof pull strings to do disaster recovery, to have a computer that just works.  This is a very important thing for me now.  For the same sorts of reasons, I will also be buying a scanner.  I can no longer afford not to own one. 

Oh -- and I need to do my taxes and apply for next year's student loans and find a summer job.  If anyone can help with the finding a summer job, I'd be very grateful.  Gratitude could include homemade cookies, computer help, website help, etc.  Not only do I need the money, I need to be somewhere air-conditioned during the day when the weather is 40C sort of horrible.

And finally, I joined two varieties of Borg -- LinkedIn and Facebook.  I am a little confused by how to connect to people on LinkedIn. Facebook is considerably better at making sure you find at least some people you already know.  I'm not sure how much attention I'm going to pay to them, but I do at least have a (rather empty) profile now.
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Whee! It was my birthday yesterday, so we had a party this last weekend. I got given shiny loot, including a necklace, CDs, perfume, and books. Shiniest of all, Jason gave me an iPod nano! :D

This has led to some discoveries.

1. I have got to replace my headphones. All three pairs I own make my ears hurt after half an hour or so. This means that I need a pair of more traditional headphones that have overall good sound and good bass, ideally are sealed to reduce background noise, and that pack down small. I had been planning to get a pair of these but they're coming out with a new model, so I'll just have to wait and find out if they're just as good or if I need to find another candidate.

2. Now I know why iPods are so popular. Mine just plain feels slick, expensive, and perfectly thought out. It's small and light, but not too light, because it's cased in solid metal, except for the screen. Build quality feels lovely and solid, and every material has its own caressable texture. The controls are responsive but rarely go off when you put it in your pocket without locking it, and it has multiple levels of sleep, from "backlight off" to "hit a button to wake it". It has dozens of ways to slice and dice your music collection, only one of which requires you to make playlists. It has intelligent shuffle: it remembers what came before (and after), doesn't play the same thing again very soon, and not only can it shuffle songs, it can shuffle albums, like a cd changer. You can whirl down a thousand-song list in seconds, but slow down anytime you want a closer look. It comes in a gorgeous little acrylic box instead of a nasty plastic clamshell, even though it's only their second cheapest model. It makes good use of the initial charge time right after you unpack it, to update firmware, select music, and synchronize. It tells you when it's doing something in language that is both clear and polite, not inscrutable or patronizing, like most gadgetry! In sum, it was made for people who love beautiful things, and "working properly" is included as a type of beauty, because thus far every nook and cranny of the thing, both software and hardware, has been lavished with care.
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Algonquin is selling off drafting tables at $15. Unless the heavens hate me, I will be buying one. It will need a ride home. Does anyone with a car want to volunteer to help? Most of these tables can be disassembled with some tools (they come flat-packed from the makers, you see), and the top is less than 4 feet x 3 feet x 2 inches.

The reason that I'm planning to buy one is that my drafting table has gone over to the Dark Side and cannot be bribed back for less than $50. The cover has ripples that ruin its precision (min. $40), the parallel rule is missing minor parts (unknown cost) and does not reliably stay parallel, and the top wobbles a little while drawing (may not be fixable). None of this matters for low-precision art and crafts work, but it does matter if I wish to make working drawings and perspective grids that line up eproperly.

Help? (I'm more than happy to count it as a birthday present if you wanted to get me one but ran out of ideas!)
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For those who do holiday/birthday presents, and need inspiration, here is this year's list. I will probably update once the new semester starts and I have the material lists.
Read more... )
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I'm still alive...just tired. It's semester end this Friday (compressed semesters) and there's still 2 final projects, 3 final exams, 1 assignment, 6 classes, and some miscellanea that will not get done and I no longer care about.

So if you're waiting for me to answer you about something, I will, just not until Saturday. :)

Then, my "week off" will actually be spent pushing frantically to get everything done I've neglected since late August. However, I would *love* to see people, especially if they will come keep me company while I do the woodworking, decluttering, or cleaning. Helping not required but much appreciated. Make me sit down and rest occasionally, too.

I have no friends at school yet, and only see Jason most days, so I get awfully lonely. Come see me!

Meanwhile, the glue is probably dry now, so I have to get back to work on the agglomeration.
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Nifty article about a man, a Hummer, and a jet engine. Go read it.

Motorhead Messiah
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We have had a major decision dropped in our lap. George is buying a house near Bayshore (in a good neighbourhood, not a scary one) and has offered to share it with us for roughly the same as we're paying now for our apartment. (Potentially a little higher/different due to utility costs.) He's only taking possession in January, so we wouldn't have to decide right away, but still...ack! What should we do?

Comment, please. We need to figure out what to do.

Read more... )
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My potential new employer asked me to suggest my own salary, so I have been doing a little research this morning. It'd be administrative assistant work -- nothing terribly hard, but you do need half a brain and some judgement.

  • The median salary for an administrative assistant in Ottawa is $39,884 a year = $19/h. (Low but not lowest pay is $35,533 = $17/h.)

  • A badly-paid file clerk earns $25,118 a year = $12/h.

  • The median salary in Ottawa for jobs requiring less than 1 year of experience is $40,000.

I am therefore going to suggest $15/h and hope that he thinks I am worth it. The research certainly was, because I had guessed at $10/h...

I conclude from the list above that virtually everyone I know is being hideously underpaid, or is burning through money a lot faster than I imagined, or both.

I know that you are all smarter and more capable than your average admin assistant. All of you can and should be doing much more interesting, valuable, and lucrative work. So how can we get us some of that?
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You know those chocolate, gingerbread, rose-cherry, or _______ cookies I make? This is the recipe I use for them. I haven't actually tested all the flavourings let alone the combinations, but they're all things that are likely to work, or have been used in other recipes in the past.

Sorry Kit, this is not the addictive chocolate chip cookies recipe, but they're very similar, and this one is more reliable and versatile. To simulate the chocolate chip cookies, try these flavourings: vanilla, corn syrup or honey, and chocolate chips.

Core Ingredients


  • 1/2 c. Crisco shortening
  • 2/3 c. white sugar
  • 1 egg


  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. oatmeal
  • 1/4 tsp. salt


  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening and sugar. This works best with a large tough fork. Then cream in the egg and wet flavourings.
  2. Combine in another container (e.g. 2 cup measure): flour, oatmeal, salt, and dry flavourings. Stir.
  3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients, then stir in the sprinkles. Adjust the batter consistency with flour, oil, or syrup if necessary.
  4. Shape the batter into 40 cookies and lay them out on 2 standard cookie sheets in 4x5 grids. You should be able to do this with your hands. Rolling the cookie into a ball and squooshing it gently between your palms is a quick way to make them look nice.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 7 minutes. (That's in my oven; you may need to adjust this.)
  6. After taking them out of the oven, let the cookies solidify a minute or two on the baking sheet before you lift them onto a cooling rack.
  7. Devour fresh cookies immediately.



2 tbsp. of syrup:

  • corn syrup (neutral flavour)
  • fancy molasses (goes well with spices, rum, and coffee)
  • honey
  • rose petal jam (to die for when used with chopped cherries)
  • orange marmalade (should be smashing with spices, but I expect the flavour will be delicate at best.)
  • maple syrup (only gave a delicate flavour)

1 tsp. flavour extract

  • vanilla (good with chopped fruit and chocolate things)
  • rum (should be smashing with spices)
  • dissolved instant coffee (try dissolving it in hot syrup. will go well with molasses, chocolate, and maybe spices)
  • mint (great with chocolate)
  • maple (only gave a delicate flavour)
  • orange (should be smashing with spices, but I expect the flavour will be delicate at best.)



  • 1/4 c. baking cocoa (balance with extra wet ingredients -- syrup, oil, or shortening.)

Gingerbread spices:

  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom

Chai spices:

  • everything from gingerbread
  • 1/4 tsp. finely ground pepper


A handful or so of:

  • chocolate chips
  • white chocolate chips
  • chopped dried apricots
  • chopped dried cherries
  • dried currants
  • chopped dried cranberries
  • chopped candied ginger
  • orange zest
  • candied peel

Dip shaped cookies in:

  • coloured sugar
  • demerara or turbinado sugar
  • baking cocoa
  • icing sugar
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