29 May 2017


Some recent cookings:

Hybrid east-west scrambled eggs with chives from mom's garden. Chives are like the trailer for fresh garden vegetables, ugh how many more weeks till I get my tomatoes?

First shot at soba, quite mediocre in execution.

27 May 2017

white sandwich loaf v2

version 1

Strangely, or perhaps because the yeast is getting old, this batch took much less time to rise. Thankfully I had to courage to stop the final rise early. The crumb is also more airy, but that could be because I didn't do a good job deflating the dough. The final bread is quite soft because that, which makes it difficult to slice. You can see the indent from me holding the bread:

Step Time Temp
End of mix 1:40 PM 80
Fold 1 1:46 PM 76
Fold 2 13:53 77
Fold 3 2:02 PM 77
End of bulk 3:06 PM 77
End of pre-shape 3:40 PM 75
Start of baking 4:57 PM -
End of baking 6:00 PM 210

26 May 2017


Lunch with mom at pretty cafe version 2:

I very much like the tableware here.

25 May 2017


Opening my last pack of sencha, picked up on a whim at a teashop we found above Okonomi.

Perhaps I overleafed a bit, but the tea taste very umami in the initial steep and fades into a pleasant bitterness in the subsequent steeps. The liquor is most cloudy that the ippodo senchas that I've had, I think its because this tea is steamed for a longer time.

Overall I think I'm not a huge sencha fan, probably because I'm just not that into green tea. One pack per year is about all I can stomach.

24 May 2017


Ajax views:

Lilacs are everywhere

I actually really enjoy watching cars speed by on the 401

23 May 2017


some of the long weekend eats:

 salted caramel chocolate mousse from David Leibovitz

Where I learned that making caramel isn't scary at all, thanks to Stella's advice of using a giant pot. This recipe is moreso tricky trying to fold in stiffly whipped egg whites. I also ate it after chilling it for only ~2 hours, which made the texture not quite mousse like. It was like a sticky pudding instead, which almost match the caramel taste more. Would def make again.

red velvet cookies via Sally's Baking Addiction / chocolate chip cookies via Kenji

Somehow Jeff and I spent 2+ hours making these two cookie doughs, but at least we now have cookies on demand. The UFO profile cookie (thin, crisp edges with a thick chewy centre) still eludes us, so we're still bickering over cookie texture for the near future. I also believe that the cookie dough is a mere vehicle for containing oozing chunks of chocolate.
There's some moose track ice cream sitting in the freezer and I'm dreaming of it being sandwiched between these chocolate chip cookies.

brunch: leftover lasagna with an egg and garlic bread

aka I ate too much and still feel crappy. Let's just appreciate a rather photogenic spread.

We also made steak, which ended up being a tad overcooked (medium to medium well). I blame a very slow reading thermometer, but it's a poor excuse since I later found out that the thermometer is oven proof and could've just been left in the meat. At the very least I appreciate my thermopop and cast iron pan more.


Cheese is so much cheaper at costco. $9 for a huge chunk of smoked cheddar hurr.

I lament about how much more expensive grocery is downtown in general, but at least there's farmer's markets and my own gardens to look forward to. Going to gorge on all the fresh tomato I can.

22 May 2017


Looking forward for these to grow:
basil / thyme / oregano / rosemary / sage

21 May 2017


Some progress on Gabriel Garcia Marquez:

I gave up on Autumn of the Patriarch because the edition I have has no paragraph delineation, very sparse periods (I count about 3 periods per page), which makes a difficult to read book even more strenuous to read. Also too many 5 words+ names of generals to remember.

The other three are good, I think I prefer his shorter works more, if only because they require less effort to appreciate.

From Memories of My Melancholy Whores:
The world is moving ahead. Yes, I said, it's me gong ahead, but it's revolving around the sun. He kept my Sunday column because he could not have found another cable editor. Today I know I was right, and I know why. The adolescents of my generation, greedy for life, forgot in body and soul about their hopes for the future until reality taught them that tomorrow was not what they had dreamed, and they discovered nostalgia.

From Strange Pilgrims:
Since I described the European cities where the stories take place from memory, and at a distance, I wanted to verify the accuracy of my recollections after twenty years [...] Not one of [the cities] had any connection to my memories. Through an astonishing inversion, all of them, like all or present-day Europe, had become strange: True memories seemed like phantoms, while false memories were so convincing that they replaced reality. At last I had found [...] what only the passing of the years could give: a perspective in time.
It was difficult for him to believe that time could cause so much ruin not only in his life but in the world.
(end of first paragraph of the first shot story)

A good review via Goodreads on On Love and Other Demons:
If Garcia Marquez explored the metaphor or love as a disease in "Love in the Time of Cholera", then here he centers his story around the metaphor of love as madness and demonic possession.
Also, this book focuses on one incident during a very short period of time and therefore reads very differently than Garcia Marquez's more famous extensive sagas.

18 May 2017

little changes

17 May 2017


Capstone is never done durr. At least I get a trip to Vancouver out of this, I'll take that as consolation for being waitlisted for the Global Grand Challenges conference in D.C. 

15 May 2017


I am so convinced:
The leather clicking is so beautiful, I really like how the smaller scales are closer to the sole.


Now the scales reminds me of meshing in ANSYS, where the mesh is smaller closer to walls and inflates farther away.

14 May 2017


Day out along Queen W with mom:

Started off at the Flower Market, aka how I roped her into travelling all the way to Toronto. The size was somewhat disappointing to her since her hometown has a large flower and bird market every weekend.

Hopefully by the time convocation rolls around the "peonies" in her backyard would be blooming.

Lunch at Fresh, the menu didn't have many hot items which was what I was craving, but the squash tacos were pretty tasty. Their hot sauce is on point. But the best order was the gojiccino, which is a goji berry based drink with coffee and chocolate flavours. Maybe it'll be the next "it" drink after turmeric lattes.

My appetite has really shrunk since two tacos filled me up really well. But there's always a separate stomach for desserts at Nadage. Mom was unimpressed with macarons.


lol by this recount it seems like she didn't have a terribly great day. In my defence she got nice botanical art cards and this rose that she couldn't find in the garden centre close to her house.
Thanks mom :)

13 May 2017


Better than Tokyo Grill curry

11 May 2017


My team member would be proud, a lot of swearing was involved in the making of this series of implementation graphics for capstone. The misalignment will annoy me to no end in the gif, but no one is going to notice on a poster. On one hand, using different artboards is better practice management, but it was an absolute nightmare lining up the CAD drawing with my basemap 7 times.

It was sort of useful having done 3/6 of UCL's online urban planning graphics course. The first three that I've watched is also the least helpful since I was already familiar with the programs and have no access to the baseman database "orz

Soundtrack of tonight:

10 May 2017

Wabi-Sani: Further Thoughts

I thought it was odd that the library doesn't have the first book in the series, but I don't think I'm missing out on much except aesthetic theory.

First a short interlude on Japanese aesthetics via Stanford. Some concepts that stood out to me are:
  1. Mono no aware (物の哀れ), which gets translated into "pathos of things", a phrase that means close to nothing to me. Instead I think of it in relation to impermanence: “awareness of the fundamental condition of existence is no cause for nihilistic despair, but rather a call to vital activity in the present moment and to gratitude for another moment's being granted to us.”
  2. Wabi, I think of this as an anti-thesis to beauty in perfection: “If for the Buddhists the basic condition is impermanence, to privilege as consummate only certain moments in the eternal flux may signify a refusal to accept that basic condition."
  3. Yugen (幽玄), explained as “depth of the world we live in, as experienced through cultivated imagination” 
  4. Kire, translated as cutting and explained as "“In severing the flowers from their roots, Nishitani suggests, and placing them in an alcove (itself cut off from direct, as Tanizaki remarks), one is letting them show themselves as they truly are: as absolutely rootless as every other being in this world of radical impermanence.” I now have an introductory book on ikebana because of this.
I found the explanatory notes of this book to be more helpful (as in I can understand) compared to the main body text. This is more so my lack of knowledge on aesthetics rather than the fault of the book. The notes define many of the keywords used in the main text, which made me now understand why my ENV222 course was such a stickler about assuming the audience has no background knowledge and to define all of your key terms (a tall order for less than 800 words). Anyways.

The best definition of Art I've read so far:
A powerful dynamic of the art-making process is representing the ordinary as extraordinary, and making what was heretofore invisible visible. Most artist realize that anything can be "beautiful", or at least very interesting, if properly contextualized. Contexts, or conceptual frames, are especially useful if the focus of attention is something very subtle. Sometimes "contextualizing" or "framing" means placing things in isolation. Sometimes it means placing one thing that to another, as a contrast. The calm, clean, ordered frame or context allows the viewer to perceive the featured qualities without distraction
Defining elegance:
"Elegant" refers to a graceful acceptance of restraint, inconvenience, and uncertainty.
This quotation lodged the concept of empathy in my head for the past couple of days, to the point that I'm framing my scholarship applications with that concept:
Iconographically, Wabi Sabi is often represented by the entropic processes of nature made visible. Entropy precipitates chaos and unpredictability, and this produces variety and interest. [...] Imperfection also implies a "spiritual condition". Under the right circumstances, imperfection-embodied things can arouse a sense of empathy.
Try to be better at both:
Thinking - conceptual thought - is about building up mental structures. Experiencing reality non-dualistically is about being free of them.

09 May 2017


A quick stumble down the rabbit hole of the usefulness of empathy:
  • Paul Bloom on the limitations of empathy as moral guidance via The New Yorker. Read this one if you only have time to read one (long) article
  • Paul Bloom again via Boston Review, the responses by other people are interesting. His opening piece includes more examples than his piece in the New Yorker, but I feel his thesis is less clear here.
  • Harvard Business Review with a more practical view on the limits of empathy.
Best part of not being in school is all the free time to read into new topics. 

08 May 2017

2017 summer readings

Another year, another list.
...but with some format changes. Instead of listing individual titles, here's the general direction of what I want to read.

  1. Finish Murakami's novels, basically read A Wild Sheep Chase since Killing Commendatore probably won't be out for a while
  2. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is my next author to tackle. I considered Terry Pratchett, but the timeline is a little unrealistic. 
  3. Design...theory? Not sure what's an accurate name for this category, aesthetics? So far I'm almost done Wabi Sabi, have a book on Dieter Ram on the way, and want to read a couple of Kenya Hara's books. Also The Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox, which has haunted me since seeing it in New York during my second trip.
  4. A whole bunch of cookbooks. Too many, too many. Some other food writings as well, such as MFK Fisher. 
  5. Classic Russian novels. Finished the first part of Anna Karenina over the winter book, will finish the rest. This video made a convincing case for War and Peace. Also need to finish a Dostoyevsky book that I started reading last summer "orz

07 May 2017


No idea if W2T is super duper generous with samples or I got sent someone else's order as well. I ordered the two items in the top row (White Whale and Old Reliable), while the rest appeared along with them.

My quest to find tea that taste like the tea of my memories is most likely a futile endeavour. This order was enabled by W2T's free shipping event, so I ordered the Old Reliable in hopes of finding a cheap ripe puer that taste like the cake of Lincang Baodaoshan that I had ages ago. The flavour isn't that similar unfortunately. The Old Reliable is characteristic of what I think a "typical" ripe taste like. It's also loosely compressed, which is good for breaking pieces off without using a pick, but bad for estimating how much tea you've actually broken off. Longevity is so-so, getting about 5 - 6 good brews out of it using somewhat gong-fu brewing style.


Relevant to ripe puer: my mom is microwaving soil for gardening, and the smell of heated up soil is legit so similar to some ripe puer. At first I was a little uneasy with the smell, but the realization made it a lot easier to bear.

06 May 2017


Farewell beautiful late afternoon light

featuring rokinon 12mm, for its crappy corners and distortions, it makes the fuji colors even more awesome.

03 May 2017


The last set of marks for undergrad, dun dun dunn:

  • Technology & Design for Global Development: 90 (Bilton is awesome regardless of what I got)
  • Special Studies: Eglinton Crosstown: 88 (not bad for a subject area I know very little of, also the most enlightening feedback on an assignment I've ever gotten in undergrad)
  • Capstone: 88 (clutch!)
  • Sustainable Buildings: 96 (yay the one course I need a high mark in I get)
  • Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment: 86 (good enough, although slightly embarrassing that my lowest mark is a 200 level course)
I'm frankly surprised that I kept a 4.0 this semester, guess all that misery amounted to something. Or maybe forth year profs are nice in the end and gave us all good grades so we can move on with our lives. It's extra sad that this was my least enjoyable semester because it was the only semester where I like the subject of every one of my courses.

Am I salty that I was one semester away from keeping my 4.0 cGPA? Yeah somewhat. Oh wells, there is no longer a need to advertise my grades on my resume, I'll just brag about high honours. 

02 May 2017


Went down a mini rabbit hole about watches, rather two specific watch brands of A. Lange & Nomos,  through the photography reddit. Here's my preliminary line-up of watches I'd like to own in descending order:

It wasn't very hard to come up with the list since there's not that many thin / small / relatively inexpensive watches / non-vintage models. I'd like to get the Tangente with my first bonus (and just save throughout my first year of working for my dear trench coat).

Man, taking ENV222 has not made me any bit less of a consumer, and actually more of a materialist. If I'm supporting a system of luxury goods that's screwing over most of the world's population, then it better be goods that I really, really like. Other things that fall on the list include:

  • Clothing and shoes, moreso the latter since the only clothing category I'm super willing to spend on are outerwear and scarves 
  • Teapots
  • Cosmetics
  • Cameras
A good article on "the improbable survival of the luxury watch business":
But why do we continue to buy these over-engineered and redundant machines? Why do so many people pay so much for an item whose principal function may be bought for so little? And how does the watch industry not only survive in the digital age, but survive well enough to erect a 16,000-litre salt‑water shrine to its continued mastery of an outmoded art? Far beyond the telling of time, watches tell us something about ourselves. And so the answers to these questions lie within our propensity for extreme fantasy, our consumption of dazzling marketing, our unbridled and shameless capacity for ostentation, and our renewed reverence for craftsmanship in a digital world.

And perhaps there is something else ticking away at us – a feeling that the acceleration of our daily lives may soon prove overwhelming. When watchmaking began, we had no concept of packed calendars and unbreakable deadlines, much less of “quality time” or “me time”. Our days were not ruled by the clock. These days, having brought this ungovernable storm of rush upon ourselves, we may be grateful for anything – not least a beautiful windable timepiece – that reinstates at least an illusion of control.

I never showed off my current watch, here is a belated photo:

Lessons learned: glass surfaces are very difficult to photograph / I see the limitation at f2 now, this is the first time I've actually ran up against a hardware limit. There was quite a lot of halo and was generally supremely difficult to focus at f2, these two problems pretty much disappeared by f4. 

This is a photo that didn't turn out well overall but the dial looks pretty reflecting the flash, also a reminder to self to always wipe the surface:

01 May 2017


image via, but also see lots more suede jackets

Just a note to future self in case I have loads of disposable income: show this image to Atelier Savas.