Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sniffle Party, Chia Seed Pudding & State of Design 2018

Weekly Update 2018-09: Sad girl dance parties with Sniffle Party, making the most delicious and easy pudding of my life, and attending a meetup worthy of my Friday night.

Music: Sniffle Party
I am no stranger to sad music, but I especially love melancholic tunes that are also danceable. The combo is somewhat odd and hard to find, but Sniffle Party scratches that itch for me. Self-classified as dreamy future witch pop, Sniffle party is a duo from Wisconsin comprised of Serena Wagner on sad-girl lyrics/vocals and Eric Christenson providing beats/production. It's like feely slow jams with a really good beat. The duo already have a musical project together called Two Castles, but I appreciate the distinction between the two sounds by separating the acts.

And on top of all that, Wagner is a graphic designer as well as musician. I really like their album art. Favourite tracks include Peach Dream and All The Snow Is Gone, but as you see they don't have many songs and they're really all great.

I can't believe these words are coming out of my mouth (keyboard): I attended a design meetup last week that was actually totally worthwhile and enriching for me - and on a Friday evening no less! Read more about it in the Inspiration section below.

Spring has sprung (yes, I'm going to jinx the weather) so I was able to bike to and from work a handful of times last week. I am starting to dream of biking to the beach again...only another month or so until I'll be biking every day again :)

I also took a cue from my wonderful roommate Erika and made myself a chia seed pudding for work today. This is literally one of the easiest, tastiest and healthiest things to make ahead, and it's really flexible to customize to your tastes and what you have in your fridge. Simply combine 2 tablespoons of chia seeds with about a cup of milk (dairy, coconut, nut, whatever), a bit of sweetness like stevia or honey, a drop of vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, and whatever fruit/nuts/seeds you have lying around. Then, let it soak overnight so the milk can make its way into the chia seeds and thicken the pudding. Today's additions were fresh blueberries, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate pieces and dried cranberries.

My pudding went well with wireframes and coffee in my ecentricarts mug.

On top of all that, we also went skating on Monday at Dufferin Grove. Such a lovely place to skate (even though there were a ton of kids and they all had no idea what fear was, for how fast they were shooting past me).

Erika is becoming quite the skate-lady. She just invested in her own new pair of skates.

With the changing weather, skating days are getting sketchy. I had originally hoped to skate on Nathan Phillips Square tomorrow, but the weather may prevent me from doing so. In which case, I'd like to use the evening to do something else outside!

Thursday is the first official EventMobi hangout since I left the company in the summer. While it was definitely my time to leave the company when I did, I still miss my old coworkers dearly and can't wait to hang out with the old crew.

And lastly, I'll be attending drum practice on Sunday for the first time in a long time, to practice leading the beginner band. We have a ton of festivals and shows coming up this summer, which means more opportunities for me to lead the band in bigger public settings. This means I can't mess up!

Random Thought:
One of the things I love most about Spotify is its auto-generated radio stations. Based on an album, artist, or even a single song, you can access Spotify's algorithm that generates songs which are closest to what you've selected. I find it really spot-on 90% of the time, which makes finding new bands really simple. All of that said, the algorithm can often be so good that I fall into a loop of the same 8-10 bands for a few weeks. It can start to feel like a sort of echo-chamber and I begin to feel tired of the genre. Then I have to take a break and that's no fun.

So, how can I use the algorithm to find me more obscure music of varying genre, that I will most probably enjoy? I have found the most success when starting a radio station from albums which contain cross-genre collaborations, such as Daniele Luppi's Milano that I mentioned a few weeks ago. Luppi, an Italian composer, mixes his skills with that of Parquet Courts' groovy alt-rock and The Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O's angelic yet raunchy vocals. The album radio is quite spectacular, crossing genres and really never quite the same every time I go to it. Why not try it out?

I just learned that one cannot link directly to a radio station outside of Spotify - but click the link and you can make your own which is more fun!

Inspiration: State of Design 2018
As mentioned above, I have been to many a design meetup in my time. In my experience in Toronto, I find they're generally more focused on networking than on learning and growth, which is my main goal. Don't get me wrong, it's great to network and connect with other like-minded people in my city, but these events are always after work and I'm often too tired to muster up the social levels to properly meet ten new people in ten minutes. But I always have energy to learn.

And so it was, on a Friday night (the second worst night after Monday for a meetup, IMO) about 300 designers (and a handful of other professions) gathered in the Telus building near Union Station for an evening of design talks, free food and an open bar.

Despite being on a Friday night, I really enjoyed the talks and felt like I really learned something. Between the talk by Dylan Field (cofounder of Figma) on design systems, the case study by Lori Davison and Carlos Moreno on the SickKids VS campaign, and the talk on smart home thermostats by Leanne Paura, I was very impressed with the cross-disciplinary design thinking going on. I may even try out Figma - if I can carve out some time at work.

The meetup was hosted by DesignX, a community of cross-disciplinary designers in Toronto with an active slack group. I have been part of it for some time but don't follow along too closely, so I really enjoy these in-person meetups as a way to meet other like-minded (as well as not so like-minded) people in real life.

Preet (the founder) and all the DesignX volunteers closing the show.

If you're a Toronto designer and you don't know about DesignX, join the slack group.

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