31 December 2016

hamster wheel

It's been a while haha.

30 December 2016

Pad Thai

Reporting back on the Pad Thai capstone: satisfactory results. Now I feel validated to complain about shitty restaurant / take-out pad thai.

I followed SheSimmers' recipe fairly closely with the following modifications:
  • Used soy sauce instead of fish sauce in the sauce (oh my thats a lot of sauce in one sentence). Mostly because I didn't want to buy another bottle of fish sauce for Ajax when I had a lot leftover back downtown. For future iterations, I'll use a 1:1 ratio of soy to fish sauce. 
  • Used brown sugar instead of palm sugar, and Chinese rock sugar instead of brown sugar in the sauce. Not a good idea since it took forever to melt the rock sugar. For future iterations, I'll probably keep the brown sugar sub but use honey or whatever unrefined sugar I pick up at Bulk Barn for the rest of the sweetener. 
  • Didn't use shrimp, so I was mostly left on my own to figure out the timing of how long to cook the noodles for. My impression from reading her recipe is that there's real danger of overcooking the noodles, which did not turn out to be the case (perhaps I bought a different kind of rice noodles?). In fact I had the opposite problem of the noodles taking a long time to cook through. I needed to add extra water at the end and steam the noodles for a bit with the lid on to soften the noodles to al-dente. 
  • Used more chives and also cooked it and the bean sprouts since I don't like raw veggies too much. Sticking with this method for future iterations. 
  • Used onions instead of shallot, because too much trouble to stock another allium. 
  • Cut the salted preserved radish into strips instead of a fine dice since it's easier to pick up along with the noodles. 
  • I like a ton of chopped peanuts (and the juice of an entire quarter of lime cause sour = my preferred dominate flavour in pad thai) as garnish. Bonus for using spicy peanuts. 

Here's a handy pictorial guide of my version:

The black numbers are the cooking order. Let me be proud of my mise, it makes cooking so much easier when you can just grab containers and dump its entire content in. Kenji is always right in you can never have too many metal bowls.

29 December 2016

photo workflow

This is an attempt at establishing a SoP for managing my travel photos, which is embarrassingly scattered over a whole bunch of sources:

  • Facebook - food, people, and select scenery, aka things other people are interested in
  • Blog - food and my pick of scenery, or things I have words to match to
  • Random folders scattered on my desktop - "working" files, current workflow is a subfolder for full size jpg back-up (after a round of initial picking from camera), any raws that I've edited, edited and resized for web jpgs, any print files. Works fine since I can dump the entire folders into my external HD afterwards. 
  • Photos app - anything I share with family and all scenery photos
  • External HD - archive
To further increase the length of this list, I'm adding a tumblr where every edited jpg goes (basically collecting fb and blog photos in once place) and also Google Photos that back ups every jpg although not at full size. 

Now for the mammoth task of going through all the aforementioned sources and populating the tumblr...

I must be crazy for going through Gritaly photos, but this is the first photo that I liked as a photo:
There's been a print of this on my wall ever since

Also editing these old photos made me realize how much difference a simple s-curve can make to a cloudy day photo.

27 December 2016

baking cheats

I recall an episode on the ATK podcast when the conversation turned to that a lot of people feel cooking is a creative expression, or more accurately, a daily task that they have complete control over and thus can be creative. Unfortunately I don't fall into that camp, rather I feel that I'll never learn the rules well enough to start breaking them.

Especially baking substitutions.
In an attempt to learn the rulers better, here's a summary of various articles by Stella at Serious Eats.

Citrus Syrup
Used up rinds + 50% sugar by weight = syrup, yay.

Toasted Sugar
Caramelization = thermal decomposition of sugar, occurs independently of melting.
Bake sugar in oven @ 300F, stirring every 30min. Can bake for 1-5 hours.

Brown vs White Sugar
Granulated sugar (white): 99% sucrose / neutral
Brown Sugar (light): 95% sucrose + molasses / acidic

In recipe with:
  • baking soda
    • white sugar doesn't react - dense, chewy
    • brown sugar reacts to produce CO2 - puffy, cakey
  • creaming with butter
    • brown sugar - compacts and traps steam - spreads less, more moist
    • white sugar: aerates dough - puffy
  • melted butter
    • brown sugar: speeds up gluten development - thick, chewy
    • white sugar: interferes with gluten development - more spread, tender, crisp

Effects of Egg on Cookies
  • Egg whites entrap more air while contributing more water, encouraging steam and gluten formation: perfect conditions for lean cookies that are thick and puffy. Cakey. 
  • Yolks cut the water and throw in fat, hindering both gluten development and aeration, producing cookies that are dense, tender, and rich. Fudge.
  • Generally speaking, when recipes call for melted butter or whipped eggs, yolks produce fudgier cookies, while whites make them cakes. 
  • When recipes call for butter creamed until light and fluffy, the reverse is true: Yolks tend toward cakey cookies, while whites make them fudgey.

Baking Power
Baking powder: ( alkali + acid ) + acid; first step reacts in presence of moisture to "seed" CO2, second acid is heat activated to provide most of lift while baking to counteract tendency of moist dough to collapse.

Baking Soda
In cookie dough, acid comes from dry ingredients (cocoa or brown sugar), thus no reaction occurs until butter is melted while baking - can keep dough in fridge for extended time unlike cake batter where acidic ingredients are usually liquid (buttermilk, yogurt, coffee).

High pH:

  • slows protein coagulation - uniform thickness
  • weakens gluten - tender
  • speeds up mallard reaction - browns more

Creaming Butter & Sugar
Less dense!!

  • Slower conduction - less spread
  • Less air pockets for baking soda / baking powder to work with
Use butter at ~60F, cut into smaller pieces & check temperature. Add cold eggs.

per pound

A donut looking bundt cake is as festive as this winter holiday will get for me. No complaints about a delicious cake. Also no complaints about sleeping double digit hours everyday, mm.

24 December 2016


Still recovering my energy so any deep reflections about the year will have to wait.

But meanwhile I'm making a list of things I want to make for the year ahead:
  • Breads, all sorts of breads: my trusty no-effort no-knead foccacia (that once ballooned into a pita), Irish soda bread, and a cheater's sourdough. I'll get to brad about one more use of my dutch oven. Also skillet pizza, because I've screwed up the seasoning in my skillet.
  • Cookies, because too many late-night cravings for these: honey walnut, brownies (soft plz), chocolate chip cookies 1 (my super cake-y one), 2 (Kenji cannot be wrong), and 3 (Deb also cannot be wrong).
  • Cakes, need some staple recipes: yogurt cake, and fruit cake
  • Veggies + indian spices: I've never been a big fan of chinese stir fried veggies, aka either with garlic or with peppercorn. Maybe this for spring, and this with roast meat, or whenever I haul myself to Bulk Barn for spices. Also chickpeas.
  • Capstone projects: pad thai for the winter break, salted caramel cheesecake brownies for once undergrad is done.

If I've learned anything from first semester, it's that cooking, tea and hot showers are the most effective ways to stay sane. 

20 December 2016


On the opposite end of my usual shoe obsessions:

hnnnggg ;_; (mostly at the heel design)

17 December 2016

nine bends

Another semester done, yay.

Rui was not one bit surprised by me celebrating with tea, cooking, and catching up with the internet (aka drooling over yet another teapot).

15 December 2016


exam music part 2

one more final to write!

13 December 2016


I'm procrastinating but hey at least it's related to ocean (waves and currents!)

Murakami quotation, where he's quoting Joseph Conrad I believe. 

09 December 2016


Ahh finals time is great, time to marathon manga & time to cook *u*

zucchini frittata, with my usual no-knead bread that somehow ballooned into a pita

08 December 2016


Exam music part 1:

But also two interludes between all the electronic music:

Just not very compatible with tuning out to study to :(

07 December 2016

white chocolate

3 months and 2 accidental matching outfits:

06 December 2016


Half way through this view.

05 December 2016


Food things from begone days:

  A day when I craved fancy breakfast. Tahini plus sugar on toast is fantastic.

The first bowl of ramen after coming back from Japan. It was not a good idea to order the same style as my last bowl in Japan, no comparison. Extra menma is always good though. Also, I can again say I've gone to every ramen restaurant within my vicinity.

The best iteration of 宫保鸡丁so far. 

Appropriate tea for the weather

04 December 2016



So the previous string of 张学友 songs is all because a couple lines from this song was stuck in my head and I tried in vain to find the corresponding song. Deluded myself into thinking that one of the first two songs that I posted was it. But alas today I finally did find it, through dumb luck really. There ought to be a shrine of dumb luck that I can go pray at.

你瘦了憔悴得让我好心疼   有时候爱情比时间还残忍
把人变得盲目而奋不顾身   忘了爱要两个同样用心的人

你醉了脆弱得藏不住泪痕   我知道绝望比冬天还寒冷
你恨自己是个怕孤独的人   偏偏又爱上自由自私的灵魂

你带着它唯一写过的情书   想证明当初爱得并不糊涂
他曾为了你的逃离颓废痛苦   也为了破镜重圆抱着你哭

哦 可惜爱不是几滴眼泪几封情书 哦---   这样的话或许有点残酷
等待着别人给幸福的人   往往过的都不怎么幸福
哦 可惜爱不是忍着眼泪留着情书 哦---   伤口清醒要比昏迷痛楚
禁闭着双眼又拖着错误   真爱来临时 你要怎么留得住

 The lyrics remind me of this song.

29 November 2016

28 November 2016


By now it's evident that Jeff was successful in getting me into electronic music.

Song of the weekend:

This song also proved him right in that there is a huuuuuuge quality difference between Apple speaker/earbuds and proper headphones.

26 November 2016


Winter cooking is now in full swing with the commencement of soup making:
(orange soup with warm lighting is damn difficult to get white balance right)

Though I'm always greedy and stuff it with enough vegetables that its more appropriate to call it a stew.


Aside from a hot shower, cooking is my most cathartic activity.


Of course the day after I make a big YS order, I drink another sample that I love. Patience is something I haven't managed to develop.

2014 Autumn Man Zhuan:

I should use this cup more often.

It's been a long time since I took a tea photo, maintaining sanity really has not been going well.

25 November 2016


I confirm that all this is a field of bubbles.


Goes well with:

22 November 2016

then you'll understand

This song is more relevant to yesterday's content.

In other news, found out that one more friend is applying to the UK, to Oxford no less. Yay comrade! Though it seems that UCL is the most popular option. Also rewriting my personal statement...so difficult talking about yourself.At least I'm under the character limit this time.

21 November 2016

speak, and may the world come undone

I'm not sure how well sanity is being maintained, but at least I sent off my thesis draft.

This is the song that carried me through this weekend:

Not entirely happy with it since one component of my results make zero sense. Sigh modelling problems, hard to tell if you're wrong or the model is wrong...though in this case it should be that the model is wrong. But alas I get to use software license expiry as an excuse, even though it's a very weak excuse. I don't have much willpower left to resist laziness, and this amount will need to be used for rewriting my Gates scholarship application and then finals studying.

Speaking of finals, it is entirely possible to lose my 4.0 over recon. But what's more alarming is that this fact provides exceedingly little motivation to study. Perhaps it's good that I don't care as much? Sunken cost yo...

(don't think I've ranted this much about school since...first year? highschool?)

Two related anxiety:
  1. There is constant questioning about whether I'm making the right decision / picking the right priorities. Is this background anxiety that I should just ignore or legit gut check?
  2. Was I actually content during PEY? It's unnerving to think that a very low-key lifestyle is satisfactory when I've always thought otherwise. Not to mention how to distinguish that from being lazy, especially since the prevalent social pressure says so. But if I agree that economic growth = way to a better society is not an axiom, why do I have trouble accepting the individual equivalent belief?

20 November 2016


Is this the light at the end of the tunnel that's up ahead? Aka I'm finished(ish) my thesis draft!!
...but only ish since I can't come up with a satisfactory explanation for why my discomfort hours are so.

Anyways, this weekend has been a lot of firsts:
  • First snow
  • First YNCN townhall of this year
  • First pot of roast meat

It turned out really well, especially it was my first time trying to cook it in the oven instead of on the stovetop. My new parameters are to bring it to a boil on stove, and then 2 hours in a 375˚F oven. Another change this time was browning the meat in giant slices and then cutting it to optimize the flavour from browned bits but also prevent too much surface area from drying out. Thank you Serious Eats for all the knowledge, can't wait for Kenji's vegetarian cookbook to come out. 

17 November 2016


Okay I admit forth year is overwhelming, though variations of that sentence are littered throughout the blog. Though maybe this evening isn't the most suitable time to complain yet again since clearly I have enough time to type up a post, aka I'm taking it easy right now. As much as I'd like to always push myself and see where my boundaries now lay, I don't (or as I'd like to think, no longer) have the will power to do so. Did PEY really make me that complacent?

At least the sentiment is shared by my classmates. Had the chance to talk to a couple of people I rarely catch up with, and was lucky that one of them said exactly "forth year is more overwhelming than I thought".

*shurg* back to typing away nonstop on thesis tomorrow.

14 November 2016


We're on a 张学友 streak. If I was born in my parent's generation, I'd love him as much as I love 周杰伦. Though I find 张学友's music more direct since his lyrics are more literal.

不问你为何流眼泪 不在乎你心里还有谁
请让我给妳安慰 不管结局是喜是悲
走过千山万水 在我心里你永远是那么美

既然爱了就不后悔 再多的苦我也愿意背
我的爱如潮水 爱如潮水将我向妳推
紧紧跟随 爱如潮水它将妳我包围


if I may indulge in believing in 缘分, then let me chuckle at this song having tidal waves in its title. 

13 November 2016


I'm not sure whether it was this song or the song from yesterday that was stuck in my head a while ago.

想和你再去吹吹风 虽然你是不同时空
还是可以迎着风 随你说说心里的梦

感情浮浮沉沉 世事颠颠倒倒
一颗心阴阴冷冷 感动愈来愈少
繁华色彩光影 谁不为它迷倒
笑眼内观看自己 感觉有些寂寥

想起你爱恨早已不再萦绕 那情份还有些味道
喜怒哀乐依然围绕 能分享的人哪里去寻找

很想和你再去吹吹风 去吹吹风
想和你再去吹吹风 虽然你是不同时空
还是可以迎着风 随意说说心里的梦 的梦 吹吹风

12 November 2016


It's such a contrast listening to 张学友 after consistently listening to electronic music for the recent couple of weeks. Will always have a spot in my heart for my cheesy mandopop :D

At this point, I'm posting lyrics purely to practice reading Chinese

你知道吗 爱你并不容易 还需要很多勇气
是天意吧 好多话说不出去 就是怕你负担不起
你相信吗 这一生遇见你 是上辈子我欠你的
是天意吧 让我爱上你 才又让你 离我而去

也许轮回里 早已注定 今生就该我还给你
一颗心在风雨里 飘来飘去 都是为你
一路上有你 苦一点也愿意 就算是为了分离与我相遇
一路上有你 痛一点也愿意 就算这辈子注定要和你分离
一路上有你 苦一点也愿意 就算是为了分离与我相遇
一路上有你 痛一点也愿意 就算只能在梦里拥抱你

11 November 2016

the hell am i doing here

More electronic music to write assignments to

10 November 2016

mustard leaf

I'll just have to accept that there's no rice noodle place, at least in downtown, that will match the expectation that was set by China.

This place is alright:

In terms of ranking, I still prefer One Hour's 小锅米线 the best, but this place can be second.

09 November 2016


I need to find a poem about November like I did for August, actually I want to be reading more poems in general. Found an anthology of Canadian poetry at home but didn't manage to read past the introduction.

edit: found one via Ivy's tumblr:
It was November – the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines.

08 November 2016


Although I haven't been posting any tea stuff, I'm working very hard to go through my first order from Yunnan Sourcing in anticipation of making a big Black Friday haul. Accordingly, the 建水 pot that I bought in 丽江 is getting regular use. I've never drank so many young puer so frequently, and can definitely feel the lightheaded-ness when I have no food in my stomach.

So far I'm loving the 2012 Wu Liang (to the point of considering buying a whole tong despite not having figured out proper storage) and the 2013 Autumn Mu Shu (so super creamy).

07 November 2016

every second of some motion

Okay I admit that good earphones make a difference.

Maintaining sanity tactic #2: damn good music

05 November 2016

our mouth only lying

Maintaining sanity tactic #1: nostalgic food and views.


Also some time off to laugh like kids with old and new friends in the ball pit at the Ikea exhibit:

04 November 2016


The goal is to maintain sanity until the end of the school term.

31 October 2016

attached torsional members

Somethings never change :'D
I can most likely find a photo just like this for every year that this blog has been alive.

This count as something scary, so happy halloween.

28 October 2016


Been enjoying a weekly lunch with mom, we're eating our way down Bay St. (previously: Bombay Street Food ft. amazing chaat, and Nandos ft. amazing milk tarts).

This week is at Tosto's, which is solid for pasta and pizza (interesting crust, it's flakey-ish).


Further proof that I am alive and decently well (because yay done my simulations for thesis!), went to AGO with girl friends:
Happy to see structural wood.

25 October 2016


A sense of place:

In other news, booked my tickets to the annual reading week trip to New York. Much excite, currently feeling an intense need to get away.

24 October 2016


Kicking off the autumn / winter season with some hotpot in the dutch oven :D

21 October 2016


Stress eating, or rather stress craving for bbq, is so real.

At Memphis BBQ, which made me super nostalgic about Fat Matt's since the atmosphere was so similar (minus the live music at night...and Atlanta's almost perpetual patio weather). Awesome pulled pork and fries.

At Cherry St BBQ, which I was hyping up for myself since...I was in China? It was good, but definitely prefer the sides to the meat, though that's not saying that I didn't devour the meat regardless :)

In other news, Rui and I have good food :)
High school us would definitely be proud of us now.

08 October 2016


In case anyone is wondering why it's been so silent, this is the reason:

of December. So I'll be devoting my life (well, sparing some time for a certain boy too) to them until then. The silver lining to filling out graduate school applications is that it does force a critical look at what exactly my career aspirations are. Thesis is also the best teacher of time and project management. Bonus point for learning how to use this awesome citation manager.

Example: was staying at the lab working on both of the above items till about midnight yesterday. But then went to the late night location of Burger Priest for something to contain my sanity.

Yep, still the best burger ever, even if the bun isn't grilled with butter anymore.

29 September 2016


Rui and I have at the very least fulfilled most of our highschool dreams. Aka having some nice cheese board just because, in a cozy apartment of our own.

27 September 2016


It's like I've just realized that the air around me has been water the whole time.


Slow mornings are for crafting emotions into cryptic words and making a graphic to match. The inspiration is a different song, but I'm suddenly reminded of "Life is like a boat", it's been many years since I've listened to it. Kinda surprised that I didn't make the connection to it from that Murakami quotation.

Once I have a permanent home, I'll have two large paintings on a wall, both of the sea, but one with a boat and one with a person floating. There was an artist with fantastic paintings of waves in Krog, I regret not taking a business card.

24 September 2016


Now I don't even realize that I haven't gone on my normal internet rounds for a day, what is life?

But at least I've found another source of chaat so all is well. Bombay Street Food is super delicious.

22 September 2016


Rui introduced me to this amazing bahn mi that's only $2.50. Time to start thinking of all costs in terms of bahn mi.

21 September 2016

tell me

If I had to pick a day when all my free time evapourates into thesis time, it would be this Monday. So this blog will probably be quite for a while, which I'd like to blame on thesis, but the truth is that the beginning of forth year brings a lot of change.

Here's a song instead:

14 September 2016


Some snaps of the copious amount of eating out that I've done since moving back to civilization.

 Bareburger, the salad is better. Though the onion rings are great.

 Platito, fulfilled my bucket list of ordering all of (a section) of their menu. 5/6 was fantastic. Then some ice cream overload hehe.

ND Sushi is always solid.

12 September 2016

everything's all right

Listening to the lyrics, this is the perfect song to start forth year with haha.

If The Perks of Being a Wallflower perfectly described the awkwardness and restlessness of first year, then Before Sunrise is perfectly describing the even greater restlessness of forth year.

11 September 2016


Leggo forth year.

07 September 2016

Before Sunrise

Timing really is everything, and today was the perfect timing to finally watch Before Sunrise...which Rui recommended like years ago?

So much feels at this line:
I believe if there's any kind of God it wouldn't be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there's any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something. I know, it's almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt. 

and really liked these couple of lines of the poem:
You have no idea where I came from
We have no idea where we're going
Lodged in life
Like branches in a river
Flowing downstream
Caught in the current
I carry you
You'll carry me
That's how it could be
Don't you know me?
Don't you know me by now? 

The opening and closing scenes are perfect, the ending song was perfect, but let's save that for another day when I'm buried in schoolwork. Meanwhile, I'm listening to it on repeat and desperately trying to imprint how I'm currently feeling to the song so I can hopefully recall it later with enough vividness.

02 September 2016


Is this real life?!

Just 13 hours of classes in the fall (compared to like 31hrs previous semesters), which really means plenty of time for me to get cozy with thesis and grad school app.

In other news boxes are packed and will soon be in civilization again. Think I'm ready for forth year?

31 August 2016


I've been slowly but surely posting photos (a larger set than what's up on fb) of my Asia trip. So far Japan's complete:
All trip posts will be pre-dated so my archives don't look so sparse haha.

Also wrote an analog travelogue, which is why those posts have exceedingly little words. Instead, have a video about traditional Japanese homes:

29 August 2016

Autumn/Winter '16

I've never been this happy for autumn and winter to come, although I won't be surprised if I'm cursing the wind a few months down the line.

This will also be a short post because I want to challenge myself to buy nothing* in the categories of clothing and cosmetics so I can splurge on this baby when I head to nyc:

C&J Holly, aka the boot of my dreams.
Correction, the perfect jodhpur is still Zonkey's, but the logistics of obtaining one is exponentially more difficult.

So, with the exception of one planned cosmetics haul that is the asterisk above, I endeavor to not spend any money on clothing or cosmetics until February. It really shouldn't be that difficult since I bought a ton of stuff while I was in Asia (I literally have my suitcase full of cosmetics ahahaa...ha)

As for tea...black friday sales will definitely see a big YS haul, and perhaps chawangshop and bitter leaf.


As for updates on S/S:
  • linen tapered trousers: did not find, but did find a pair of tapered black 100% wool trousers from JNBY (which is my fav Chinese brand now). I consider this a success, such a a success that I'm kicking myself for not buying a second back-up pair.
  • lightweight (cotton linen blend perhaps?) cream cardigan: done, via Uniqlo in Osaka. Light grey though, but that's splitting hairs.
  • khaki shorts: bought an abundance of skirts instead, still have a pair of grey shorts to carry out all shorts duties.
  • teal high-low skirt: see abundance of skirt above, iirc I've bought an olive paperbag waist skirt, grey lace pencil skirt, red maxi silk skirt (swwwwoooonnnn and the actual replacement for this teal skirt), and a black "embroidered" pencil skirt.

28 August 2016

Notes from the Underground

Prepare yet again for a mammoth wall of quotation.

At the moment I've finished 3/4 of Dostoevsky's novels, with The Possessed left to go. It might be premature to make some general remarks, but I'll go ahead and say the following two points anyways:
  1. All of his works is so consistently...framed? No clue whether this term is correct. For example, while all of Vonnegut's and Murakami's books very obviously have the same signature, Dostoevsky's books seem to be the same idea told in very similar, yet still distinct, ways. It's like you're eating different slices of the same pizza. Hopefully this made some sense, and I'll point out a few instances in the quotations below where the same ideas as TBK are brought up.
  2. He writes so well about the ugly sides of human. 

Notes from the Underground is structured sort of in reverse, the first part explores the narrator's state of mind, then the second part recounts the events that took place which invoked that state of mind.

I recently discovered that kindle saves a text file with all of your highlights, so no more haphazardly typing quotations in my phone and awkward autocorrect mistakes.

Without further ado, and minimal commentary:
what was the chief point about my spite? Why, the whole point, the real sting of it lay in the fact that continually, even in the moment of the acutest spleen, I was inwardly conscious with shame that I was not only not a spiteful but not even an embittered man, that I was simply scaring sparrows at random and amusing myself by it.

I got to the point of feeling a sort of secret abnormal, despicable enjoyment in returning home to my corner on some disgusting Petersburg night, acutely conscious that that day I had committed a loathsome action again, that what was done could never be undone, and secretly, inwardly gnawing, gnawing at myself for it, tearing and consuming myself till at last the bitterness turned into a sort of shameful accursed sweetness, and at last--into positive real enjoyment!

The context of this next block is that he is talking about how revenge is carried out. It was difficult to condense a couple pages down:
For a time there is nothing else but that feeling [of revenge] left in their whole being. Such a [direct persons or men of action] simply dashes straight for his object [...] and nothing but a wall will stop him. [...] (For them a wall is not an evasion, as for us people who think and consequently do nothing; it is not an excuse for turning aside, an excuse for which we are always very glad, though we scarcely believe in it ourselves, as a rule.) [...] Well, such a direct person I regard as the real normal man, [...] he is stupid. I am not disputing that, perhaps a normal man should be stupid. [...] The antithesis of the normal man, that is, the man of acute consciousness, who has come, of course, not out of the lap of nature but out of a retort, this retort-made man is sometimes so nonplussed in the presence of his antithesis that with all his exaggerated consciousness he genuinely thinks of himself as a mouse and not a man. And the worst of it is, he himself, his very own self, looks on himself as a mouse; no one asks him to do so; and that is an important point.
Now let us look at this mouse in action. Let us suppose, for instance, that it feels insulted, too (and it almost always does feel insulted), and wants to revenge itself, too. There may even be a greater accumulation of spite in it than in L'HOMME DE LA NATURE ET DE LA VERITE. The base and nasty desire to vent that spite on its assailant rankles perhaps even more nastily in it than in L'HOMME DE LA NATURE ET DE LA VERITE. For through his innate stupidity the latter looks upon his revenge as justice pure and simple; while in consequence of his acute consciousness the mouse does not believe in the justice of it. To come at last to the deed itself, to the very act of revenge. Apart from the one fundamental nastiness the luckless mouse succeeds in creating around it so many other nastinesses in the form of doubts and questions, adds to the one question so many unsettled questions that there inevitably works up around it a sort of fatal brew, a stinking mess, made up of its doubts, emotions, and of the contempt spat upon it by the direct men of action who stand solemnly about it as judges and arbitrators, laughing at it till their healthy sides ache. Of course the only thing left for it is to dismiss all that with a wave of its paw, and, with a smile of assumed contempt in which it does not even itself believe, creep ignominiously into its mouse-hole. There in its nasty, stinking, underground home our insulted, crushed and ridiculed mouse promptly becomes absorbed in cold, malignant and, above all, everlasting spite.
For forty years together it will remember its injury down to the smallest, most ignominious details, and every time will add, of itself, details still more ignominious, spitefully teasing and tormenting itself with its own imagination. It will itself be ashamed of its imaginings, but yet it will recall it all, it will go over and over every detail, it will invent unheard of things against itself, pretending that those things might happen, and will forgive nothing. Maybe it will begin to revenge itself, too, but, as it were, piecemeal, in trivial ways, from behind the stove, incognito, without believing either in its own right to vengeance, or in the success of its revenge, knowing that from all its efforts at revenge it will suffer a hundred times more than he on whom it revenges itself,

The stone wall in the quotation below refers to "the laws of nature, the deductions of natural sciences, mathematics":
Oh, absurdity of absurdities! How much better it is to understand it all, to recognise it all, all the impossibilities and the stone wall; not to be reconciled to one of those impossibilities and stone walls if it disgusts you to be reconciled to it; by the way of the most inevitable, logical combinations to reach the most revolting conclusions on the everlasting theme, that even for the stone wall you are yourself somehow to blame, though again it is as clear as day you are not to blame in the least, and therefore grinding your teeth in silent impotence to sink into luxurious inertia, brooding on the fact that there is no one even for you to feel vindictive against, that you have not, and perhaps never will have, an object for your spite, that it is a sleight of hand, a bit of juggling, a card-sharper's trick, that it is simply a mess, no knowing what and no knowing who, but in spite of all these uncertainties and jugglings, still there is an ache in you, and the more you do not know, the worse the ache.
This can be read as an argument for the incapability of science to replace religion.

The next two quotations echo my favourite part of Hamlet's soliloquy:
In the depth of my heart there was no faith in my suffering, only a faint stir of mockery, but yet I did suffer, and in the real, orthodox way; I was jealous, beside myself ... and it was all from ENNUI, gentlemen, all from ENNUI; inertia overcame me. You know the direct, legitimate fruit of consciousness is inertia,

perhaps I consider myself an intelligent man, only because all my life I have been able neither to begin nor to finish anything.

This is a contrast to the "The Grand Inquisitor":
What man wants is simply INDEPENDENT choice, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead. And choice, of course, the devil only knows what choice.

But if he is not stupid, he is monstrously ungrateful! Phenomenally ungrateful. In fact, I believe that the best definition of man is the ungrateful biped. But that is not all, that is not his worst defect his worst defect is his perpetual moral obliquity.

The context of this block is that if "showered upon him every earthly blessing [...] man would play you some nasty trick", aka this is why we can't have nice things:
He will desire to retain, simply in order to prove himself that men still are men and not the keys of a piano. [...] And that is not all: even if man really were nothing but a piano-key, even if this were proved to him by natural science and mathematics, even then he would not become reasonable, but would purposely do something perverse out of simple ingratitude, simply to gain his point. And if he does not find means he will contrive destruction and chaos, will contrive sufferings of all sorts, only to gain his point! He will launch a curse upon the world, and as only man can curse (it is his privilege, the primary distinction between him and other animals), may be by his curse alone he will attain his object--that is, convince himself that he is a man and not a piano-key!

Man likes to make roads and to create, that is a fact beyond dispute. But why has he such a passionate love for destruction and chaos also? Tell me that! But on that point I want to say a couple of words myself. May it not be that he loves chaos and destruction (there can be no disputing that he does sometimes love it) because he is instinctively afraid of attaining his object and completing the edifice he is constructing? [...] And who knows (there is no saying with certainty), perhaps the only goal on earth to which mankind is striving lies in this incessant process of attaining, in other words, in life itself, and not in the thing to be attained

This parallels what Zosima says about love in dreams vs love in action:
And what loving-kindness, oh Lord, what loving-kindness I felt at times in those dreams of mine! in those "flights into the sublime and the beautiful"; though it was fantastic love, though it was never applied to anything human in reality, yet there was so much of this love that one did not feel afterwards even the impulse to apply it in reality;
Katerina's character is a support for this:
"Will it not be better that she should keep the resentment of the insult for ever? Resentment - why, it is purification; it is a most stinging and painful consciousness! Tomorrow I should have defiled her soul and have exhausted her heart, while now the feeling of insult will never die in her heart, and however loathsome the filth awaiting her - the feeling of insult will elevate and purify her ... by hatred [...] perhaps, too, by forgiveness.... Will all that makes things easier for her though? ..."
And, indeed, I will ask on my own account here, an idle question: which is better--cheap happiness or exalted sufferings? Well, which is better?

27 August 2016

its the end of the night, you'll be alright

The soundtrack to the previous post, not that they're related in content, but because it's literally the song that I was listening to while falling asleep. This one is my favourite from the album.

26 August 2016


I can see things differently now. Can also see the shape of my ego and take a successful stab at it.
So this should mark the end of a distinct period of anxieties.


Should make more random graphics for my late night thoughts, fun exercise and it'll be justification for having a large font library. Today's pick is Abadi MT Condensed Light.

20 August 2016


I'm a sucker for pretty water, aka 99% of the photos I took where different shots of the Grotto.

This fish and chips places was really good, went there for two meals in a row. Though it reminds me of the shop in Torquay  (also when I started to use VSCOcam o: ) where I dragged my two friends on a 30min uphill trek to...only to discover that it was closed that day.