Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bikin' Around

I was finishing up a run yesterday evening when I noticed a man cycling down the street with an LED light system inside the casing of his bike helmet. What a cool idea! I was starting to formulate how I could make it myself when I came across an article on the lovely AdaFruit – a website that helps me with my Arduino projects from time to time (and is responsible for the code for the RGB LED light I made). I wonder if I could make it myself? I already have some of the parts (I think).

I also wanted to brush up on some facts/rules/laws/tips about biking in the city, since I'm the newest of newbies at it. As I mentioned yesterday, I went for my first bike ride on Sunday to get a feel for it. But I feel like practicing and picking it up from observation may not be the safest route, so I found a really cool Toronto Cyclist Handbook on Cycle TO's website. It's amazing. It's designed so nicely and has such excellent information. It's seriously a joy to read and I am learning so much. And just look at this double-page spread on parts of a bike. I'm dying.

As per the two lines in the bottom right corner (click to enlarge), I am confused as to why women would want a bicycle repair course just for us. I'm cool with a co-ed class..? It's not like it's an exercise class or something, in which I suppose some females might feel self-conscious about their bodies, but this is just learning how to repair a bike. I hate to wonder if the idea is a little sexist, assuming that the author believes that women feel bike repair is a men's job and would be ashamed for men to see that they can complete a task without men.

Maybe I'm making a leap here. But I find it curious.

But again, in the most positive sense, all of the other information is so interesting, factual and well laid-out. Check out this page:

The handbook was designed by Simon Farla, who does a lot of volunteer work for the Toronto Cyclist, and even designed (and then later received) their Volunteer Awards. Pretty nice!

And lastly, I must report that I am the luckiest girl in the world because the cycle pot is being stirred in my neighborhood! The city is seriously considering installing bike lanes on both sides of Bloor street between Shaw and Avenue roads. Considering I live at Bloor and Shaw, that's pretty darn lucky. I would be so happy if this became a thing because it would connect my route directly from home to work in one neat, straight line, not to mention remove all the parked cars from the road so I can see the beautiful landscape that Toronto's Marquee Street (quoting Mike Layton) has to offer. Such a life to lead.

Read this article for more information.

P.s. I must admit that I have not yet cycled my inaugural bike ride to work, because I am waiting for it to not rain during the morning commute. Tomorrow may be that day!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Shit Robot, Two-Tone Fabric & Bikes

Weekly Update 2016-17: The electronic space invasion of Shit Robot, the intricacies and general mindf**k of two-tone fabrics, and all about bikes! 

Music: Shit Robot
What a terribly awesome name. Out of Ireland and onto DFA Records (which explains the collabs with Nancy Whang of The Juan Maclean and Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip), Marcus Lambkin brings us the sounds of outer space that could easily become the soundtrack for a fresh remake of the remake of Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Or maybe just a really good video game. If you want to zone out to some nice electronic beats, look no further.

I successfully took my first bike ride (all 4.3km of it) to drop off some library books, check out a Bunz yard sale, and scope some of my route to work. I wanted to bike to work today, but it was unseasonably cold and rainy. Soon.

I have also completed two more runs, the first of which made a really good time and the second of which scored me two plastic patio chairs off of someone's curb for the weird table that has appeared in the parking lot behind my apartment. I'm not the kind to ask questions.

A photo posted by Chloe Silver (@chloesil) on

I also scored a sweet permit for my bonfire on Friday, so everything is legal schmegal. Have I mentioned how much I love Christie Pits? It's like owning a huge backyard that you always have friends visiting in.

I have begun writing up my experiences in China, which I'll eventually post with some pictures. Haven't gotten around to sorting the pictures, but I will.

The task of sorting all 2000+ China pictures is somewhat daunting, so I may leave it for the weekend. I am also going to attend the Brazilian drumming troupe's practice this Wednesday to get some extra practice in, and bike to work one day this week. Just gotta wait for good weather.

Random Thought
I have always had trouble with the idea that there are colours that our eyes cannot perceive. Apparently they're somewhere on the spectrum past magenta, and it drives me crazy. How can we understand something visual that we can't see? For this reason I've always been jealous of people who have that lucky fourth yellow cone in their eyes that widens the visual colour spectrum that they can see.

I was thinking about this the other day (as I do from time to time) and I think I've found a way to grasp it.

There are certain fabrics that look two-tone depending how the light shines on them. They've been made even more popular lately with the advent of internet memes (which colour is the dress?).

I feel that these fabrics are actually produced in a colour our eye cannot grasp, and so they appear to be two-tone. Kind of like how low-resolution monitors cannot properly display gradients, so we see banding. Personally, I don't care if this sentiment is accurate, because it helps me to sleep at night. Now whatever you do, don't bring two-tone fabric into my home. I would never do that to you.

Inspiration: MUTI
I fell in love with this gif by the talented Studio Muti, found on Dribbble (of course). I know they've already appeared on my blog (here) but they do such good work. I couldn't resist.

Apparently last Tuesday (my birthday!) was Bicycle Day. I celebrated without even knowing – I brought my bike downtown and had it tuned up at my local bike shop. As I gain confidence in my riding skills on busy city streets, I will imagine that I am letting rainbows fly from my back tire as I leave pedestrians and defensive drivers in the dust. The day will soon come.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Madeon, Wake Up Calls & IconSpeak

Weekly Update 2016-16: Getting ready for the festival season this year, waking up blearily to wake up calls in China, and communicating through the global language of icons (exactly what Mandarin/Cantonese letterforms are based upon).

Music: Madeon
I am getting VERY ramped up for this summer festival season. Specifically, I can't wait to experience Bestival for myself this year. Since I'll only be attending on the Saturday, I want to make the most of it and get some of the music under my belt. Madeon, aka Hugo Pierre Leclercq is a French electronic music producer and will soon be gracing Toronto with his presence. He has a Classixx feel, with some delightfully airy tunes and bright, happy beats. Take a listen below:

I'm back from China! I really thought I would be able to write a blog post last week, and how foolish I was. Jetlagged and seeing around 6-7 sights per day, every day, the trip was completely nonstop. And on top of all that, the great Chinese firewall certainly didn't help my case. Overall, I had a wonderful trip, and took over 2000 pictures on my DSLR camera. I am very happy I brought it with me.

To my delight, my standing desk finally arrived at work and I'll be using it to further improve my posture. My goal is to use it all day, but I can already see that the hour after lunch begs for a nice sit-down. Hey, seven hours out of eight isn't bad!

I am trying to take it as easily as I can, but the jetlag is leaving me pretty sleepless late into the night back at home in Canada, so I've taken up running again. Not that I didn't need to start that up again, anyway. It's been five months and I'd like to get back into shape now! I've also bought an unhealthy amount of green vegetables and will be declining all of the sweet pastries that always seem to be hanging around at work.

I'd like to play some drums this week to get back into the swing of things. I've missed two Brazilian drumming classes and definitely need to practice for this Sunday.

I also played in the inaugural game of my company's new dodgeball team. Hey, I also designed the logo!

And finally, I'll be cleaning out and organizing my China photos on the weekend. Lord knows if I don't do it now, I'll never do it!

Random Thought:
Because my China trip was in a tour group, we were subject to wake-up calls every morning to get us out of bed. I started out setting my own alarm but since they were waking me up anyway, I eventually gave in and started listening to how each call was different from hotel to hotel. One thing that occurred to me was, especially at the beginning of the trip when I was waking up in an intensely disoriented state, was that the wake-up calls were terribly designed. The first thing I want to know when I am being woken up, no matter the situation, is the time of day. Is it time to wake up? Do I have more time to sleep? Did I sleep in? And yet, none of the wake-up calls at any of the hotels provided the time. And what's more, none of the hotels had alarm clocks! So I was forced to reach blearily for my phone for the time. Which was plugged into the North American socket on the other side of the hotel room. You see my point.

Inspiration: The IconSpeak Traveler Shirt
Especially after having traveled to a remote part of the world where not only does no one speak English, but the hand gestures were also extremely different (more on that in a later post), this shirt would have been an excellent thing to have.

No matter what need you may have as a traveler, you're covered with a comprehensive set of icons to which you can simply point, and have some local person take pity on you to help you find your way. This would have been really helpful for me in China.

Although, it would be really interesting to take this one step further, and create a specific version for specific countries. For example, most tourists in China want to experience common attractions, such as the Shanghai Pearl Tower or the Beijing Olympic park. Or even just a good noodle or dumpling shop! Those would transfer well into icon format, and would leave little ambiguity to be interpreted in terms of communication.

But still, any form of design that assists the traveler in easing their way around this big world of ours, is a win in my books.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Stratford Ct., Streetcars & Studio Super

Weekly Update 2016-15: Grooving to spacey dreamy trance music, riding streetcars, and the pixelated world of Studio Super.

Music: Stratford Ct.
I usually talk about specific bands in this wee little music section of mine, but this week, I wanted to do something a little different. As you may know, I've been using SoundCloud like a religion to find new music around the world. One of the ways I do that is by following Record Labels and music bloggers who curate the music so I don't have to.

Stratford Ct. is one of those awesome accounts I follow who always has something fresh for me to sink my ears into. Their newest ten-track compilation uncovers some new space/dream/trancey electronic dance music that I am really digging. And our friend HOME (aka Randy Goffe) is also featured! Take a listen to a couple tracks below:

This week, I went for one run (I was going to run yesterday but snow happened for some reason), actually studied the things we have learned so far in my Brazilian drumming class (about 35 rhythms so far, each with their own hand signals?!), and went on a photo walk around the Bloor-Lansdowne area, which I have been very interested in while walking around this hood in which I live. Here's a particularly popular photo I took during the walk:

A photo posted by Chloe Silver (@chloesil) on

I also made a homemade theremin with my arduino parts! It was surprisingly easy.

What you're seeing above is a photoresistor (a light sensor) attached to a speaker. When the sensor senses a lot of light, the speaker emits a higher pitched sound. Inversely, if the sensor is in shadow, the speaker will emit a lower pitched sound. Just like a theremin! Kinda!

And if that wasn't enough, I also attended an unofficial Bunz clothing swap on Friday. I got rid of some unwanted clothes, and unfortunately came back home with the same amount of clothing I left with. But I got some really nice pieces, including a merino wool black running shirt that will keep me warm in this dumb weather.

This week will be light on the goals. I am going on my trip on Saturday, so not much time to do more than get my life into working order.

There is another spelling bae at the Ossington tomorrow, which I plan to attend as long as I don't get snowed in (which would be a bummer). I am also attending some sort of charity event for my friend on Wednesday. Literally don't know more than that.

I'd also like to get some stuff onto my iPad, which I will be taking on the trip instead of lugging around my heavy MacBook, and clean off some SD cards because I have decided to take my very expensive but hardly used Nikon DSLR camera on the trip. If not now, then when?! I can't keep living in fear of it breaking or being stolen, so here we go.

iPad list:
  • podcast about the great wall
  • house of cards season 3
  • some music
  • some comics
Random Thought:
Because I am going away to China for ten days this month, I decided it wasn't worth it to buy a Metropass for April. I am pretty sad about it since I have basically had my powers taken away, but it has made me realize some things. 

First of all, while I walk in the city A LOT, I haven't been quite as active since I started using the TTC so heavily. And even though the Bloor line requires four sets of stairs for every use, I am sure that biking and walking will do me some good and help me shed this winter fat I have accrued (on purpose, for added warmth of course).

The second thing is that I have a newfound appreciation for streetcars. During the day at least, they are very frequent, and provide (almost) the speed of the subway with the added convenience of hop-on-hop-off without having to descend into the annals of the subway system. And oh boy are they a smooth ride. I find them easily as smooth as the subway, but with the added enjoyment of the scenery outside. Truly a magnificent beast.

Inspiration: Studio Super
Found within the talented mind of a man named Andy Gregg lies Studio Super. I don't know what kind of hazey acid dreams this guy has been concocting but I love them. It's all my favourite things about old school pixel art with a new-school vibe. Plus he does other stuff, too. Just check it out below.

See more on Dribbble.