Six Degrees of Wikipedia

August 27, 2010 § 2 Comments

Wikipedia. I’ve mentioned it a few times in previous posts, but I can’t tell you enough: I love it. True, it’s not always the most accurate of sources, but you can get some basic information about completely random stuff. Haven’t we all read some sort of article online where one word confuses us, and then wikipedia to the rescue? I’m sure we all have. What I like best about this is that Wikipedia becomes like a mall: once you’re in for something specific, you might as well browse around. I’m sure this is somewhere on the internet already, but if it isn’t, I’m here to put it out there officially. The Six Degrees of Wikipedia game.

Go to Wikipedia, and click on your preferred language. On the Welcome to Wikipedia page, there is a plethora of random information just waiting to be picked, and so pick the link that most strikes your fancy. The point of this random time waster is to click to six different subjects and see how far you get from your original search. Allow me to illustrate.

On the Welcome to Wikipedia page, under Today’s Feature Article is a link to Recently Featured articles. The first, in my case, is Allosaurus (the others are Ethan Hawke, and Joy Division). Let me break briefly to say that how often do you see those three subjects juxtaposed? Not often. Ergo, awesome. Back to Allosaurus. As all dinosaur-sounding/related words are awesome, I’m choosing that one. 

Best sentence of the article: “Some paleontologists interpret Allosaurus as having had a cooperative social behavior, and hunting in packs…” Clearly popular animals.

Next I click on Gilmore (Charles), who is a paleontologist who referred to the Allosauridae as Megalosauridae. There isn’t much to see in this entry, so I click on Cretaceous, which I’m sure has something to do with a shell-like substance… like a crustacean maybe? Let’s see.

So apparently someone *pointing to self* has forgotten her geological periods. It’s the period right after the Jurassic period and followed by the Paleogene period – and yes, I’ll admit, I have no idea what the Paleogene period is (but look at this engineer learning about paleontology and geology!). Skimming through the article, I find something related to Mexico (my most recent trip and love) called the Chicxulub crater. And on we go to our fourth degree.

Chicxulub is a crater created by an impact to the earth in the Yucatan Peninsula. The impact of that created the Chicxulub crater went further inland to create sinkholes – otherwise known as cenotes (also known as why I fell in love with Mexico), and therefore the fifth degree.

A cenote is a sinkhole filled with groundwater. In my opinion, a cenote is heaven on earth. There are open cenotes, with vertical walls and the sun shining in, and closed cenotes, where you are in an underground cave system. Ahh the memories. Peaceful, quiet, clear water, bats (um wait, maybe not the awesome bit), heaven.

So what’s the sixth degree of Wikipedia in this case? Cave divers. The people who explore cenotes and other caves.

Allosaurus – Charles Gilmore – Cretaceous – Chicxulub crater – Cenote – Cave Divers. Dinosaurs to scuba enthusiasts. All in a day’s wiki.

Nocci’s Random Life: Likes & Dislikes Edition

August 26, 2010 § 2 Comments

Words I like: iteration, chewy, beast, miscreant, brigand, unctuous, thwart, hwhat

Crayon/colouring pencil colours I like: pumpkin, jungle

Words that books/blogs use in their titles ad nauseum: confessions, diaries, musings, ponderings

Current favorite book: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Book I loved to hate: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Favorite part of my week (so far): Buying the flats I wanted to buy 5 months ago 75% off

Worst part of my week (so far… and hopefully ultimately!): Going to a sewage plant for work

City things I hate: traffic (like the 10-day traffic jam in China… um HWHAT?!), absurd housing prices (yes, it’s totally reasonable to drop 250K on a 400sqft condo), sewage plants servicing 3 million people

City things I love: outdoor movie screenings in parking lots, architecture, people on the streets at almost all times

Random celebrity I like: Joseph-Gordon Levitt

Movies in the Park(ing lot)

August 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve always been intrigued by drive-ins. Growing up in Montreal, there weren’t many, and the few there were were far-off from where I lived. To this day, I haven’t been to a drive-in. Boo.

The next best thing – because there always has to be one – is the concept of movies in the park. Back in high school, a local radio station started showing movies in different parks around the island, and everything was free. The entrance to the movie, the popcorn, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and a whole bunch of random swag. It was like a teenager’s dream come true. Fun AND affordable! If only I had gone with a boy… but anyway. I went to a few of them and loved every minute. How could I not when it had the ingredients for a perfect night out: moonlight, movies, fattening snacks, and warm weather.

About two weeks ago, I was perusing my usual websites when I stumbled upon a post about outdoor movie screening of the movie Waitress (absolutely adorable). Remembering the good old days of free summertime fun, I clicked on the link to the post. A surprise awaited. Not only were they showing movies outdoors, not only were they free (mostly), but there were MULTIPLE locations, MULTIPLE times a week, with MULTIPLE different themes! This had the Quest written all over it.

There were romantic comedies (like Waitress) at the harbourfront, crime capers (like Catch Me If You Can) at Yonge-Dundas square, indie films at the Amsterdam brewery parking lot (like The Parking Lot Movie), and a mixed bag of tricks at Metro square (like Casablanca – my next movie screening). I missed Waitress because I had found it the day of that screening, and most of my friends were busy. I wanted to venture out and attempt a movie on my own, but I haven’t been able to cross that hurdle yet. Concerts alone I can do, movies alone… maybe Casablanca. We’ll see.

The best option seemed to be the indie films at the Amsterdam brewery parking lot, organized by Open Roof Films. I read through the synopses of the films, and though I really wanted to see The Parking Lot Movie, I found myself sans ami(e)s once again. So I picked This Movie is Broken showing the following week. It wasn’t a free screening but that’s because they had a concession stand (complete with TO prices – OUCH!), and a pre-show by a band called The Little Black Dress. So really, the 15$ was well worth it, especially since I got to hear a band that was really cool.

My friend P and I walked into the parking lot of the Amsterdam brewery, bought some wine, and sat down to girl talk until the band started. Don’t let the parking lot bit fool you, the location was incredible. Yes, it was right below the elevated highway that is the Gardiner, but the CN Tower stood to the east, amongst the twinkling lights of the city. It was actually a really nice venue. So cue the band, they were awesome. The movie finally began, and so let me take a teeny-tiny tangent here.

I love movies. I’ve always loved them but when I first moved here, knowing very few people made me Blockbuster Video’s best customer. I rented movies weekly, sometimes 3 at a time. I often went to the theater with my friends. Movies are almost synonymous with my life in this town. But it’s not all couch potatoes and loneliness, I actually relish the idea of sitting at home to watch a movie (in the wintertime, of course). Hence the appeal of outdoor movie screenings. At Blockbuster, I would try to rent anything that struck my fancy. Sometimes that meant romantic comedies, sometimes that meant foreign movies. Often it meant a movie that etched itself into my heart, but occasionally, I’d stumble upon a head scratcher. A movie whose premise seemed to come out of someone’s behind. I found that though I loved a lot of artsy films (Le Sacaphandre et Le Papillon aka The Diving Bell & The Butterfly, oh how I love that movie!), there were plenty that just didn’t resonate with me. End tangent.

SPOILER ALERT!

This Movie is Broken started. Broken Social Scene songs throughout. It was an awesome mix of movie and BSS concert scenes. Half way through, I thought I might want to buy the DVD when it comes out, it’s that genuine and emotionally resonant. Three quarters of the way through I start to wonder if the central plot of the movie is actually the side plot, if the seemingly-side plot isn’t actually what we’re watching unfold. Near the end, my suspicions were confirmed. This is a movie about boy-likes-girl, girl-likes-boy-but-is-leaving-for-Paris, boy-tries-to-woo-her-by-getting-her-backstage-passes-to-concert, girl-runs-away-after-going-backstage, boy-searches-for-girl-with-best-friend, boy-and-best-friend-get-drunk-and-high, boy-and-best-friend-make-out, girl-comes-back, boy-makes-out-with-girl. So. Hm. Yeah. Wha? I should mention that the best friend is also a boy, and that he was sleeping naked next to the girl and boy while they were making out. In Y Tu Mama Tambien, two hot Mexican actors (Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal) make out. It shocks the viewer because the two are stereotypically macho, fratboy douchebags (though loveable ones), but given the context of the scene (which I will not spoil) it fits. But here… the whole crowd was left audibly confused. The story seemed to derail.

Ultimately, I liked the composition of the movie, intertwining the music with the actors, leaving just enough dialogue to the imagination to make it seem real (save the end). The atmosphere of the screening and the music (live and in-film) made the night what it was: a NICE NIGHT OUT!

Imposter food

August 20, 2010 § 2 Comments

Disappointment (noun): Buying a muffin that claims to be oatmeal chocolate chip but is actually oatmeal raisin.

I don’t know about anybody else, but I hate it when raisins make their way into my baked goods. Though I do like raisins on their own or in chocolate (raisinettes, or Cadbury’s Fruits and Nuts… yummm), I hate them in cookies, muffins, or cakes. They affect the taste of the cookie/muffin/cake negatively. But that’s just a nice way of saying they suck. Again, I’m not hating on raisins, just the marriage of raisins with a sweet doughy substance.

I used to be a low maintenance picky eater, which basically means that there are plenty of things I wouldn’t eat but had no qualms about spending the time and effort to individually remove said things from the bit that I liked. For example, in my younger years, I wouldn’t eat all dressed pizza. Why? Because I didn’t like onions, mushrooms, and green peppers. However my parents loved it, and on the rare occasions that we’d order in, they’d order veggie and all dressed. So I would take my slice, and remove each morsel of vegetable I hated with patience I rarely exuded anywhere else in my life. The time and effort spent was worth it to me because there is nothing worse than biting into something (or drinking something) that you think is one thing but ends up being something entirely different. Even if you like the thing you are actually eating or drinking, it’s still a shock to the system like “Mmm Coke, yum…eeehhh what’s wrong with this Coke?! Oh… it’s iced tea.” I like iced tea so much that my blood is partially composed of it, but if I ordered Coke, I’m expecting syrupy fizz to be cavorting with my taste buds, not cool, still, sweet iced tea. This is even worse if you hate the imposter ingredient/drink. Fortunately for me, I no longer hate mushrooms or green peppers, but onions, if you aren’t finely chopped I want to have NOTHING to do with you.

When I first bit into my muffin, I was expecting the yummy oatmeal to be mingling with some melted bits of sweet heaven (aka chocolate) but what ended up happening was a full-out attack on my sweet expectations. The texture, the taste, all unexpected and all unacceptable. When is it acceptable to replace chocolate with raisins? Never. That’s when. I totally understand Chris Farley’s epic bit about Columbian coffee now.

I counted 52 raisins in that god damned muffin. 52!!! It’s a little muffin! Yes, I counted, because I picked each one out, one at a time. Some of them came in clusters of 7, as if 1 wasn’t enough to burn the skin off your face, here’s 7 so you can have a grand old time gagging. Every time I thought the coast was clear, I’d rip open another bit of muffin and there were 3 staring me in the face. I almost growled by the 20th minute of dissecting my muffin. Why is it that the things you dislike appear in numbers tipping the ingredient ratio scales in their favour? I don’t like kidney beans but there are more kidney beans in my chilli than there is meat. It’s cheap filler ingredient you say? Well I say give me less food but with the correct ingredient ratio!

So maybe that means I’m not all that low maintenance with my pickiness anymore… maybe it’s because I have come to like things I didn’t before (broccoli, sweet peppers, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, squash, mangoes)… maybe it’s because the things I still dislike are warranted (spinach, eggplant, onions, liver, bok choy, sprouts, papaya, honeydew, cantaloupe, etc)… just let me eat the way I want to eat!

Wherein I admit being somewhat adult

August 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

One of the most physically satisfying jobs has to be window cleaning. Maybe it’s a throwback to the days when my mom would pull into the gas station and my sister would jump out to squeegee the windows clean while my mom pumped gas. There was something about that soapy water being wiped clean that made me sit back and breathe a sigh of relief. That’s what I mean by physically satisfying, that sensation that you had no idea things could get better, but they just have. It wasn’t that there was an abundance of dirt on the windows, rather the slight murkiness became obvious only when you could see the crisp outdoors. It’s more satisfying than a car wash, though I just about lost my shit every time we’d turn the corner on the pumps and punch in the code to enter the lair of the swishing and spinning rubber strips. The squeegee is the secret to bliss.

The tides have turned my friends. There’s something so ADULT about cleaning stuff and liking it that I’m forced to admit that I am somewhat of an adult. This quote from Que Sera Sera sums up how oddly satisfying it is to clean: “I just cleaned my baseboards with a special attachment and was like UUHHHHHNNNNGGG SO GOOD who am I I DON’T CARE ANYMORE.”

Hell yes.

Sweating and Condensating

August 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for the last 9 years. I started with Hatha, evolved into Ashtanga, dabbled with Vinyasa, and settled into a Hatha-Ashtanga hybrid taught at my gym. About a year into my yoga practice, I read an article about Bikram yoga, which is practiced in a heated room (roughly 38°C or 100°F). I couldn’t fathom how that was possible, because I would sweat enough to eradicate the “sticky” from my yoga mat in my regular, non-heated practice. I knew one thing though, I totally wanted in. I clicked around the internet to find my nearest friendly neighbourhood yoga studio that offered classes in an inferno and found out that they came with a price tag that had one too many numbers in front of the decimal point. Wanting in never felt so bad. Needless to say, the 53¢ in my bank account (I was a still a student at this point) didn’t allow me to sweat it to the yogis.

A few months ago, when writing down the list for my Quest, it occurred to me that I had never tried this sweaty brand of yoga, and since I was writing a bucket list of sorts, why not include hot yoga? I wrote it down, then set out to find a good studio in my ‘hood. My search brought me to a type of hot yoga I hadn’t heard of called Moksha. I had no clue what the difference between Bikram and Moksha was. Even my trusty sidekick in useless information Wikipedia didn’t have an entry about it. What is this world coming to when you can’t count on Wikipedia? But I digress. I poked around enough to piece together some information. Bikram is practiced in 90 minute sessions, with a set sequence of 26 asanas (postures). Moksha doesn’t seem to have those rules, though the 3 classes I’ve attended so far have followed a similar sequence to Bikram’s set. So really, I say the difference is moot. The point is that it’s practiced in a heated room.

So how does hot yoga feel? Let’s put it this way. If you’ve ever sweat enough to shrivel the skin of your fingers, you can begin to understand what it’s like. I would say it’s on par with hiking in a hot, humid, muddy, Mexican forest, mostly because that’s the last time I remember sweating enough to soak my clothing. I was nervous prior to entering the studio, because I didn’t think I could stand the heat. I got ready for the class, opened the door to the studio and did a 180. It felt like walking into a wall of heat, complete with a lightly sour smell of sweat floating in the air. I had to remind myself that I had done this before, the only new bit was the heat. Even the sour stench of sweat wasn’t new, as I would pass by a Capoeira class on my way to the first yoga class I attended. I tiptoed back in, unrolled my mat and lied down. My attempts at zen brought me to daydreams of Mexico, the heat, the readily available poolside, and the realization that, though, at the time, I was floating inside the pool, Sombrero in hand (the drink not the hat), there were bartenders working, fully clothed. I imagined myself as one of those workers. The oppressive heat calmed a little. Then we started the practice.

In terms of asanas, moksha wasn’t tough at all. They were basic, asanas I had plenty of experience with. The heat just brought them to a new level of difficulty. That’s basically the toughest part of moksha (and I imagine bikram as well), battling the heat while you balance yourself in a pretzel-like garudasana (eagle pose). I’m not accustomed to having sweat dripping from my elbows. I don’t usually taste my sweat either. But there I was, sweating through the first 5 minutes of the class, in savasana no less (corpse pose). The one thing that kept going through my head was a Dane Cook bit about the sweating, condensating, talking bowl of fruit punch otherwise known as Kool Aid. I was indeed sweating and condensating.

I made it through the 90 minute class intact. When I finally left the room, the “cool” air outside the studio greeted me, and by “cool” I mean a humid 28°C. That’ll give all the Canadians complaining of our balmy summer temps a helping of perspective, eh? Aside from being able to appreciate the humidity waiting to assault my hair, I left feeling entirely too happy. That’s what got me addicted to yoga all those years ago. Something about using so many of your muscles leaves you feeling high on life, and I haven’t been able to let go of it since that winter semester, 9 years ago when I decided to indulge in my yoga curiosity. So I’ll be going back to that heated inferno of a studio at the tail end of our hot and humid summer, seeking that natural high.

Moksha yoga: a Quest success!

Putting a smile on my face

August 11, 2010 § 2 Comments

I just pulled an airhead move and ran across the street while a cyclist was riding past. He calmly said “Watch out sweetheart!” Smiling. I laughed and said sorry. It’s not always you get this kind of calm interaction when you cross cyclists. Nice people rock.

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