25 August 2015


It's become an exercise in how much I can push contrast and still make the scene seem believable. Might've gone over the line this time.

24 August 2015


Since I had such a miraculous experience with the heavily roasted oolong on Saturaday, I decided to brew it's sibling, the lightly roasted oolong, on Sunday.

Sidenote: X10 >> phone camera at close range. Plus RAW makes post processing a breeze.

It tasted like it always did. Well the scent of the lid was more of a sweet floral, but that's more likely due to the placebo effect. Nonetheless a pleasant session.

That was the last bit of the tea. I've also settled into a routine that allows me to consume a great quantity of tea during the work week, which is puerh in the morning & evening at home, then green at work.
Aka haul time! Perfect timing since Beautiful Taiwanese Tea is having an August tea sale hehe.

23 August 2015

Deadeye Dick & Bluebeard

I did manage to finish the other two Vonnegut novels.

If Hocus Pocus has the most clever ending, Deadeye Dick has the most clever beginning. A very fair warning that I certainly never got:
To the as-yet-unborn, to all innocent wisps of undifferentiated nothingness: Watch out for life. 
I suppose the consolation for death is that despite how little control you may have over dying, it certainly is more than what you had for your birth. 

The next quotation relates to what I've been thinking inertia in the non-physics sense. I was thinking of how much luck is involved in the starting of relationships, all it takes is some off-hand comment from a friend and the rest I attribute to confirmation bias, aka inertia.
I wonder if it mattered much that it was I who. Was in the cage in the basement of the old courthouse so long ago. A curiously carved bone or stick, or a dried mud doll with straw hair would have served as well as I did, there on the bench, as long as the community believed, as Midland City believed of me, that it was a package of evil magic.
Everybody could feel safe for a while. Bad luck was caged. There was bad luck, cringing on the bench in there.
See for yourself.
 The final quotation ties nicely into Bluebeard:
I identified a basic mistake my parents had about about life: They thought that it would be very wrong if anybody ever laughed at them. 
Joker's famous quotation "why so serious?" is a good summary of the message I got from Bluebeard. Vonnegut says the following in the author's notes:
May I say, too, that much of what I put in this book was inspired by the protesters prices paid for works of art during the past century. Tremendous concentrations of paper wealth have made it possible for a few persons or institutions to endow certain sorts of human playfulness with inappropriate and hence distressing seriousness. I think not only of the mud pies of art, but of children's games as well - running, jumping, catching, throwing.
Or dancing.
Or singing songs.

Other truths:
She had figured out that the most pervasive American disease was loneliness, and that even people at the top often suffered from it, and that they could be surprisingly responsive to attractive strangers who were friendly.

"That's the secret of how to enjoy writing and how to make yourself meet high standards," said Mrs. Berman. "You don't write for the whole world, and you don't write for ten people, or two. You wrote for just one person."

A moderately gifted person who would have been a community treasure a thousand years ago has to give up, has to go into some other line of work, since modern communicates put him or her into daily competition with nothing but worlds champions.

But he lacked the guts or the wisdom, or maybe just the talent, to indicate somehow that time was liquid, that one moment was no more important than any other, and that all moments quickly run away.

I had made her so unhappy that she had developed a sense of humour.
and the best imagery I've read yet:
Back to the past I go again, with the present nipping at my ankles like a rabid fox terrier

22 August 2015


A brief interlude of the Vonnegut weekend for some tea, because I somehow brewed every steep of this so consistently sweet that it makes me excited about good tasting food again.

Background: a couple days before I went to NYC last year, good tasting food just stopping being exciting. While I can still judge that something taste good, it didn't evoke a...more primal emotional response? I'm really at a loss of how to describe the sensation. A reaction that should've been "OMG this is so delicious" has subdued to "mm taste good".

Anyways, so I was brewing some heavily roasted dongding as before. Except instead of the usual floral wet leaf smell, fruity taste progressing into something vegetal, it went something like the essence of a pear to thick, raw sugar to sugarcane.
Gotta be divine intervention.

So I felt compelled to document the process, excuse the not too great photos.

Sidenote: I firmly believe that multiple gaiwan is the best starting tea gear. They can easily function as a pitcher & cups.


Oh I also felt a similar excitement when eating kimchi fried rice last night (the key is to season the meat before cooking, and generous amounts of kimchi), but I just thought it was the continuation of the really good day I was having.
Wait, I lied, I also swooned over this radish soup.

Regardless, the point is that tasty food makes me happy again, hurray!

21 August 2015

Hocus Pocus

The first of three Vonnegut books that I've borrowed and renewed. My goal is to finish the other two over this weekend, one day per isn't too difficult.

Hocus Pocus is the most...unsugarcoated? undisguised? critique I've read from Vonnegut yet. All his novels warn against mankind's hubris, but usually he layers some whimsy on top of the warning. This book is just blunt.
Ah that's the word I was looking for: blunt. As in:
Just because you can read, write and do a little math, doesn't mean that you're entitled to conquer the universe.
This is the concluding sentence of the novel. The whole conclusion is the most clever.

My usual selection of quotations:
How is this for a definition of high art: "making the most of the raw materials of futility"?

The two prime movers in the Universe are Time and Luck.

Most of the company's employees were content to do what they were told and incurious as to how it was, exactly, that they had worked the miracles that somehow arrived all packed and labeled and addressed on the loading docks.
I am reminded now of dead American soldiers, teenagers mostly, all packaged and labeled and addressed on loading docks in Vietnam. How many people knew or cared how these curious artifacts were actually manufactured?

Oddly enough, the actors always turned out to be a lot more believable on the little screen than we were. Real people or in real trouble don't come across, somehow.

20 August 2015


Why We Travel by Pico Iyer
because I will never be as eloquent as him, here are some quotations. I tried hard to not just copy and paste the entire article.

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. [...] to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed.

[We travel] to be compelled to work desperately for a moment at no matter what

I travel in large part in search of hardship — both my own, which I want to feel, and others’, which I need to see. Travel in that sense guides us toward a better balance of wisdom and compassion — of seeing the world clearly, and yet feeling it truly. For seeing without feeling can obviously be uncaring; while feeling without seeing can be blind.

[T]he first great joy of traveling is simply the luxury of leaving all my beliefs and certainties at home

[P]erhaps the real distinction [of tourists and travelers] lies between those who leave their assumptions at home, and those who don’t.

Travel is the best way we have of rescuing the humanity of places, and saving them from abstraction and ideology. And in the process, we also get saved from abstraction ourselves.

For in traveling to a truly foreign place, we inevitably travel to moods and states of mind and hidden inward passages that we’d otherwise seldom have cause to visit.

[A]ll good trips are, like love, about being carried out of yourself and deposited in the midst of terror and wonder.

[T]ravel is, in a sense, about the conspiracy of perception and imagination

16 August 2015


I finally have all the children!!
Nah and Kjelle are better than I thought, it was definitely worth the time to get them counter. Time to reclass them a couple times, finishing the game is farther than I thought.

14 August 2015

read my unreliable memory

Minmi and Nunjabes are so good ;_;

12 August 2015

can I tell you why

A couple of weeks later, I suddenly really like the series finale ED. It does fit the show if you don't think of it as strictly a romantic love song.

In other news, 2 full days of field work is so tiring.

10 August 2015


The best translation from sky to pixel yet.
Of course then I post-processed it to what I thought looked the best.

09 August 2015

High Museum of Art

I really enjoy going to art museums despite how little I understand its contents. It always brings up a whole mix of emotions.

A couple of my favourite items:
Veiled Rebekah 

I stared at this for a good five minutes, first in shock that the veil is actually carved from the marble and not a textile that's draped over. I've seen a fair share of classical sculptures with beautiful renderings of fabric, but this takes the crown.

 English porcelain

 Coke-cola bottles

The design brief for this involved the bottle being recognizable by touch and even when shattered.

Recycled Coke bottle bowls

08 August 2015


Oolong again after 2 weekends of green tea, it's good to be back.
Heavy roasted organic dong ding from Eco-Cha, it definitely taste nuttier. 

05 August 2015

skincare routine: summer

Time again for an updated routine, fueled by the move down South and lots of hauling.

Top products are from Jolse, bottom is from RRS. Not shown are my Taobao haul (mostly restocking basics) and the copious amounts of samples that both shops sent. I'm actually not keen on receiving tons of samples, since 95% of the time they're for products I'm not interested in. Same reason why I don't buy subcription boxes.

Thanks to /r/asianbeauty, my purchases are more informed by active ingredients than pretty packages and anecdotal reviews. The next step would be to learn more about formulations, which I plan on doing through some DIY once I get back to Toronto and can mooch off my mom's lab environment (because I can't be bothered to sanitize my table). For now, here's a feature of Scinic Honey AIO's amazing ingredients list, and CosRx's application instructions:
(click to zoom, do it because the ingredients are actually that amazing)

Onto my summer routine, which features many familiar faces as winter:
Hada Labo forever.
The routine has 3 general phases: cleanse, actives, and treat/hydrate.

Cleanse (opps photo shows them in wrong order):
  • Nursery Yuzu Cleansing Gel: remove makeup / sunscreen. At first I was skeptical of the gel texture, but now I appreciate it because it makes washing at the sink so much easier. Also very effective at removing makeup, so no complaints. It's hard to source this outside of Asia, so I'll be switching back to an oil cleanser after it's done.
  • Hada Labo Foaming Cleanser: low pH, self foaming pump, refillable. I see no reason to switch to anything fancy since it stays in contact with your face for such little time. 
  • CosRx 2% BHA: haven't been using this long enough to see visible results, but I feel that it is helping reduce the SFs on my nose in conjunction with the clay masks. 
  • Mizon 8% AHA: second bottle, enough said.
  • Melano CC: switched from OST20 because I wasn't a fan of how sticky it felt, but I'm not a huge fan of this texture either. It feels like a dry oil. Still on the look out for a good Vit C sigh.
Treat / Hydrate:
Most of the new additions will be in this phase, such as the fermented goodness (CosRx Galactomyces) and honey products (Scinic, Tosowoong)
  • CosRx A-Sol: 95% propolis plus other goodies such as tea tree extract, aka miracle worker. It's absolutely fantastic at calming down acne that's yet to surface / come to a head. I want to buy 3 bottles of backups immediately. 
  • Hada Labo shirogyun lotion: good ol' staple.
  • Benton Snail Bee essence: another good ol' staple that played a big part in fading my PIH. Switching this out for CosRx snail essence next, but there's nothing wrong with it at all. Will repurchase.
  • Hada Labo shirogyun milk: yeah HL forever. Actually switching this for Mizon's snail repair gel because I'd like a lighter texture last step because Atlanta humidity kills. But I've got refills of this ready to go. 
That's it...for now. Routine is definitely going to expand once I manage to test out the new products.


Since I've got to be more presentable for work than school, here's my makeup routine that I'm sacrificing 15 mins of sleep everyday for:

Quick thoughts:
  • Innisfree no-sebum powder is great at oil control.
  • Not completely sold on cushions only because it's a pain to clean the puffs every week. 
  • Aritaum honey melting tint is amazingly long lasting.

02 August 2015

my dreams becoming distant apparitions

It really is frustrating when the anime's OP and ED sequence are so beautiful but the resolution just isn't good enough to make into wallpapers.
It was also hard picking one line of lyric for the title since they're all so poetic.

Couple more thoughts on the show:
  • Fuu/Mugen/Jin is so much more well done than Lisa/Nine/Twelve. 
  • It is true that Bebop is "what if you can't escape your past" and Champloo is "what if you can"
  • Lukewarm is mot accurate word I can think of to describe the ending. While I do like the choice of final opponents for Mugen and Jin, since they close up the circle of their past, Fuu's confrontation (if it even qualifies as that) with the sunflower samurai is a little anti-climatic. Maybe that was the point. Objectively I don't think it was a bad ending, but I like my stories realistic throughout and dramatic in the end.

01 August 2015

Samurai Champloo

image via.

I was short on HD space so I finally finished watching Samurai Champloo in efforts to free up 13gb.

In short it is a believable successor to Bebop, but doesn't match it's greatness.
Favourite things:
  • Soundtrack: #1 goes to the ending track (Shiki no Uta) because it really sets the melancholy mood that matches quite a few episodes perfectly. Ep 11 also has beautiful tracks.
  • Fuu episode: probably the one with shinosuke (ep 7, A Risky Raquet) but my favourite moment is when she plays as the dice roller at the end of ep 4 Hellhounds for Hire (pt 2).
  • Mugen episode: ep 10 Lethal Lunacy, but also his moments with Sara in ep 20-21 Elegy for Entrapment
  • Jin episode: hands down ep 11 Gamblers and Gallantry because Jin in love is even more swoon worthy. I like to think that he went back to find Shino to console myself for the trio parting ways in the end. Although I was totally prepared for both Jin and Mugen to die. 
  • Quotation: In order for you to accept yourself as you are and live with your soul at peace, you must simply teach yourself to let it be, only then will you discover freedom (ep 12 The Disordered Diaries)