Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Weaves, Hand Reminders & Trash Pandas

Weekly Update 2017-17: Another confirmation that Weaves is an amazing band, the newest advancements in writing on your hand, and trash panda (a.k.a. raccoon) terrariums.

Music: Weaves
I remember one of the first bands I happened to catch at WayHome's first year was Weaves. They were a party and a half, considering it was something around 3:00PM on the first day of music. There weren't many people watching them at the stage, but the people who were there were really, really into it.

Fast forward to the Toronto Reference Library, Jewel of Bloor as it were, and Weaves was playing a show on the main floor stage in 2016. This band is a wonder. Not only was their Lee's Palace set amazing, but I also got an awesome selfie with lead singer Jasmyn Burke. She's a jewel herself, to say the least. Check out one of my favourite songs:

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Last week I biked around quite a bit, 44.4 kilometres according to Runkeeper. I've also been forcing myself to bike in tight spaces and make tight turns though it scares the living shit out of me. It's one thing to be able to bike in a wide open space, but quite another to fit between a right-turning car and a curb at Bay and Bloor (secret: they don't leave enough space). I'm also 100% confident in standing while riding and riding one-handed (no-handed, here I come). It's amazing to think I've only been biking around for about a year now. It's such a big part of my life and I miss it dearly in the winter months. Maybe I'll bike around further into winter this year.

I biked to High Park to see the Cherry Blossoms. Here's a cute pic of myself and my friend Dmitry.

I also took in a lot of culture attending an Earth Day clothing swap, the yearly grad show of my university program, touring the office of Monnet Design, and taking in the lovely installations at the Gladstone Grow Op art exhibition. In addition, I attended a campfire storytelling event on Tuesday, and attended two concerts (Friday - Wolf Parade and Saturday - Weaves) at which I was lucky enough to chat with the lead singers of both bands. How can I be so lucky?!

I also need to give a shout out to the fact that I finally bunz traded for a good vacuum! It's bittersweet because I don't know what to do with my grandmother's old vaccum that's basically gone kaput. It all seems somewhat coincidental because this week is the anniversary of her death (yes, we commemorate that in Judaism). Perhaps I can find someone to pass it along to as part of her commemoration.

Thank goodness my FriendCanoe partner is on a trip to Japan right now, because I had no time to work on any of that last week. I'd like to get a little bit of it done for when he gets back, but I'll also be planning my birthday bonfire for this weekend so I'm going to keep it light.

Random Thought: Hand Reminders
I was people-watching on streetcar as I often do, when I noticed a girl had written what I presume is a reminder for herself on her hand. I remember that I used to do that in high school. Especially for forgetful people, the best method to remember something is to keep it close at hand, literally. That said, I imagine pen ink is at least a little bit toxic and can't be good for your health. So how about this: a pen made of biodegradable and safe-to-consume ink, made especially for writing on your skin. You can make a list of things to do and lick each item off as you complete the task. I should take this on Dragon's Den.

Inspiration: Stamen & Pistil Botanicals
I am quite obsessed with plants lately. Between doing major bunz trades for plants, the onset of spring itself and Cherry Blossoms at High Park, it's no wonder I've got greenery on the brain.

I came across an awesome little company based in Toronto that creates lovely plant arrangements, including realistic-looking terrariums with trash pandas in them. So cute!

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I guess what I really want is to live outdoors like a nomad, but if I can't do that, I'll settle for turning my apartment into a jungle instead.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Chastity, Clothing Swaps & Enamel Pins

Weekly Update 2017-16: A little hard rock from Whitby's Chastity, swapping items around Toronto instead of buying them, and the allure of enamel pins.

Music: Chastity
Granted the honour of opening for Wolf Parade on Friday (can't believe I get to see this band again!) is an indie rock band out of Whitby called Chastity. I sorely hope I found the correct band on Spotify as they don't have a lot of info on the internet. But anyway if this is the right band, I'd say indie rock is a bit soft of a description. I can see people moshing HARD to this music which makes me worry about wanting to stand at the front. We'll see what goes down. It's certainly full of energy. Listen below:

I survived the Easter Parade! I totally understand how many of the parades my drumming band has played haven't been quite the best fit for our performing style, but this was insane. We basically spent half the time running and playing with one hand while holding our drums in the other hand as we tried to catch up to the float in front of us. Honestly this parade could have gone at half the pace and been a good speed for us. Lots of bruises and scrapes on my hand. but I'm otherwise okay and happy to have been part of the parade. It was really fun to perform outside again!

FriendCanoe congregated for a meeting last week, where we made some good progress regarding the meaning of old friendships and the value they still carry. This app is going from technical to extremely sentimental pretty quickly!

I also attended my first trope class on Thursday, as I am learning to chant the torah instead of reading it monotone like a chump. The lessons run weekly, and since the weather is nicer, I don't mind taking trips up to North York as much as I did in the winter.

[email protected] is now fully functioning from my other email address, which is awesome. I could only manage to make it work on desktop for now, but I'm working on the iPhone part (which is less important anyway). This all makes me wonder why I put so much importance on looking at email from my phone. It might be time to move that icon off the dock of my Home Screen.

Finally and most importantly, I got the permit for my bonfire happening in a couple of weekends. This event always marks the seasons for me, which I'm happy to celebrate with my friends. Next up is patio day-drinking and lying on the hills in Christie Pits watching movies in the park.

This week is pretty packed for me, but I'd like to work on FriendCanoe. There are some simple UI changes we've made, and I want to iron that out.

Almost as a reward for agreeing to take on an extra project at work, I have been granted access to the full suite of Creative Cloud for a month. This is an excellent opportunity to finally finish the WayHome video I created last year.

I've also noticed a bunch of clothing swaps happening this weekend around Toronto (must be the season of Spring Cleaning) so I'll be attending (at least) one to get rid of the piling corner of Bunz crap in my apartment (and whatever's leftover at my parents' house too). It feels AWESOME to get rid of stuff you don't need.

Random Thought: Clothing Swaps
It's no secret to my readers that I am obsessed with Bunz. With the advent of all these clothing swap parties cropping up all over the city like the Annex, Parkdale, and Evergreen Brickworks, I wonder if they're taking a page out of the Bunz book or if these sorts of events have always been around. Regardless, I think it's all great. I feel like movements like this always start from the bottom up: when consumers make decisions with their wallets NOT to buy new things but to trade for them instead, the world gets a little better. It's like ripples in a pond, hopefully reaching outward to big box stores and the like, reducing waste and production of items no one asked for and no one needs.

Inspiration: Enamel Pins
God damn, I love enamel pins. Ever since I was little, looking at my dad's button collection on the walls, I was always enamoured with the tiny little enamel-filled metal pins that just had a handmade quality with which regular circular buttons just cannot compete.

Ever since I found out about Pintrill, a pin lifestyle brand based on Brooklyn, I realized there are other people out there like me as well. Since then, I've been following them and keeping up with my pin trends.

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Yes, that's a ChocoTaco pin.

I also had the opportunity to source, design and create some enamel pins during my short stint as a design intern at the ROM a couple of years ago.

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My pins (not pictured above - those were inspiration) became the 5, 10, 20, and 25 year commemoration pins for years of volunteer service with the museum. Yet another reason to love pins.

Fast forward to my birthday last year. After finding a friend to confide my enamel pin dreams to, the beautiful Tess Reid bought me some lovely pins to start my collection.

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And now, a year later, I am happy to say that most of my belongings have pins attached to them.

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Did you know that enamel pins can also be used as zipper pulls? Probably obvious in hindsight but still a great idea.

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I found this one face-down on the southbound platform of the Bloor-Yonge Subway. I have lost pins before, as I am no stranger to the fact that they are as flimsy as they are beautiful and their backings are usually really loose. I had lost a pin just before finding this one, so I feel like the whole city is involved in an involuntary swap meet all the time, constantly in a cycle of losing and finding enamel pins on the ground. On the plus side, they're shiny (and usually fall sharp-point-up) so they're easy to spot (with your eyes or your ouchy feet).

Monday, April 10, 2017

Moss of Aura, Shirt Buttons &

Weekly Update 2017-15: Moss of Aura (Future Islands side project), button position deciding the gender of a shirt, and an addicting new phone game.

Music: Moss of Aura
After purchasing tickets to Buffalo's Kerfuffle Festival (featuring Future Islands), I've been noticing traces of Future Islands everywhere. First, vocalist Sam Herring was featured on one of my favourite BadBadNotGood tracks, and now I realize that a great indie one-piece I've been getting into is the brainchild of another member of Future Islands, Gerrit Welmers. The music reminds me of Discovery's LP, also an offshoot of a great indie dance band (Vampire Weekend). It's got great synth beats and just makes me happy. Listen:

Somehow, after four months of toil, I got my custom email address back up and working. And just in time, because the Analog Contact show was this past weekend. My business cards were up on the wall for everyone to see and collect at an art gallery in Parkdale. It was quite a nice thing to see.

I've also started planning my trip to Portland/Vancouver, most likely for June. I follow a really cool art gallery in Portland called Nucleus, and on a whim sent them a message asking for some cool design-related things to do in Portland. A nice lady named Stella responded and is currently compiling some stuff for me! So excited.

Passover begins tonight at sundown, though my family cheated a little and had our Seder last night instead (don't tell Moses). This year a couple of cool things happened: I gifted my sister with the special Passover Haggadah I had secretly bought for her on Amazon about six months ago, and added a few footnotes to our usual scripture. I spoke about the addition of the orange to the seder plate, which signifies inclusion and acceptance of all kinds of people. Since Passover (and really all holidays) act as an excuse to bring friends and family together to share and celebrate together, it seemed fitting. Further, we also discussed our feelings about eating kitniyot (foods which are closely-related to Passover-prohibited foods but are technically not forbidden). Considering my family are not big into the whole song and dance of the holiday, I think we made good progress.

This week, I'd like to figure out how to send email as [email protected] from my Gmail. I had it set up before, but the whole domain/hosting switch kerfuffle messed it all up.

I'll be working on the FriendCanoe branding for my meeting tomorrow with Sasha.
I'll also be continually reminding myself not to eat bread, which is a task in and of itself.

Random Thought:
I was buttoning up a shirt I had just traded for on Bunz when I stopped and wondered if it was a ladies' or men's shirt. I then remembered that women's shirts have the buttons on the left side and men's have them on the right. I wondered if there was any reason for this, other than the obvious issue of getting the proper-cut shirt. Since doing up your own buttons (by looking down) is actually reversed from doing up the buttons on someone else's shirt, I had a really weird thought that perhaps this would draw a similarity between a person buttoning up their own shirt and buttoning up someone's shirt of the opposite sex. In the case of the most common couple (a man and a woman - at least in this stage in society), for one person to button up their own shirt and that of their spouse, the reverse design means that the buttons would run the same way and the person wouldn't have to learn a new muscle memory. Yep, that was pretty weird. You can read a more factual approach to this mystery here.

I was standing on a crowded subway - sadly no elbow room to play any iPhone games. But luckily, standing over sitting riders allows me a good vantage to see what they're doing on their phones (hey, it's the price of getting a seat, ok), and I happened to see a very addicting-looking game called

You're basically a snake leaving a trail like the classic game, but you're competing against other people who can kill you! It's very addictive.

The onboarding (four simple panels) is pretty good, though I feel that the game is so simple that you don't need to read through a bunch of static screens. But to each his own.

It's been a while since I have found a truly addicting phone game (been playing Solitaire for quite some time now), but this one may make the cut.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Joel Plaskett, Passover & Manhattan Sundays

Weekly Update 2017-14: Canadiana strummings of Joel Plaskett, deeper thoughts on Passover, and a look into early Sunday mornings on the streets of Manhattan.

Music: Joel Plaskett
First mentioned way back in the beginning of my blogging days, Joel Plaskett has been a staple of Canadian music in my parents' home. Since I first heard his song featured in a Zellers commercial (RIP), my whole family has been obsessed with his music. Hailing from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Plaskett is near and dear to me because he plays in an eclectic array of genres, from blues and folk to hard rock, country, and pop. But at the same time, you can hear the Maritimes ooze out of the speakers with his songs, and I love him for that. It's just so, quintessentially Canadian. Check out one of my favourite songs off his album Three.

You can see Joel play Massey Hall on Saturday with his dad Bill. What a great family affair (for him and for my family).

This week was ripe with accomplishments - the best of which being that I got my bike tuned up at a good bike shop (unlike last year), complete with new rubber handbar grips that are a delight to squeeze. On top of that, the mechanic at the shop named my bike the “bumblebee” because it's black and yellow. What a lovely idea! After I retrieved my bike, I managed to bike from Ossington station all the way to my friends' house near Jane station. If you thought the hills at Lansdowne and Keele stations were bad, you haven't even SEEN the hills around High Park. I though my legs might fall off. This weekend provided me with 16.2km of biking, and I also biked to and from work yesterday (even though it was raining).

I also finished my Passover questions, which I'll be discussing at my Passover seder this year. Why not use the holiday to delve deeper into some issues and interesting thoughts with family? More on that later in this post.

Finally my work's dodgeball team was given a timeslot for a game early enough that I could play, which I did. I realized I am really good at dodging, but terrible at catching.

I also managed to find five friends to join my Spotify family, which means we will all pay $3 per month for Spotify. Peanuts!

This week, I'd like to read up on the actual story of Passover, especially since I'd like to start a good discussion around the holiday next weekend.
I also got my coworkers to critique my blog visual comps, so I'll be making a few changes to those.

Random Thought:
With all this studying of Passover, I have begun to realize that while holidays represent stories of the past that we can learn from, they are just as focused on the present and future. They give us a lens and a setting with which to analyze our current ways, and decide if they should change. It also provides us with the ability to do this with our family (both by blood and by friendship). Of course, there is so much more that others may place on the holidays, but to me, simply using it as a time to bring family together and reflect on our lives seems like a great way to be.

Inspiration: Richard Renaldi's Manhattan Sundays
Imagine the party-filled streets of Manhattan on a Saturday night. People are out in their fanciest, furriest, most sequinned clothing, laughing and having a good time. Fast forward to the quieter hours of just before sunrise on Sunday morning. Those same people who went out and had a good time are not making their slower, less energetic journeys home. They may seem a bit dishevelled or worse for wear, but they had a great time.

Richard Renaldi's Manhattan Sundays are a photographic diary from 2010 to the present, chronicling those wondrous hours in the wee part of Sunday morning.

These snapshots reveal so much about the people who live in the bustling city. It's almost like Humans of New York but with a darker edge. Check out more here.