Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holy Malls! (Literally)

I'm currently working on a paper that mixes systems thinking and consumerism. I'm looking at leverage points to alter people's retail consumer behavior. While looking through a list of materials concerning consumerism in my university's library database, I found a documentary called "Malls R Us". I signed it out and now that I've watched it, I don't think I can view malls the same way again.

Trailer of the documentary Malls R Us:

Malls are like churches: a sacred refuge to people and they help people find themselves. Retail and consumerism have power over people. What would you do if all the malls you frequent all died? Mourn. I know I would. Well... until the next mall opens. ... Okay, I rarely visit malls, but I still enjoy spending time walking around in one. Okay, that depends too. I enjoy spending time in malls when store workers aren't giving me glares or the pursing of the lips (like that woman from Michael Kors).

The pursing of the lips

If I had to choose between visiting a mall or a street full of shops, I'd choose the street shops. I like malls, but there's something about street shops that feel unique, personal, and charming.

Image source:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's December already?!

Examinations time!!

It's already December and I haven't finished most of my essays. I'm expecting a few take-home exams soon too. This is bad. I have a tendency to procrastinate because procrastination pays now--hard work pays later.

Also, I believe I forgot to share pictures of a monarch butterfly I passed on my way home on November 1. The only camera I had with me was the one on the ipod 4. Either the camera on the phone takes pictures with terrible quality or my hands shake much more than I thought. FYI: I carry a picture that distinguishes a monarch from a viceroy, and I confirmed it was a monarch.

Click to view the pictures in a larger size:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sword Makers

LikeCOOL recently brought attention to a video on sword making in Japan. Living in this era where technology is advanced and with weaponry that could cause disastrous effects in one click of a button made me forget about checking out the state of traditional craftsmanship such as sword making.

Handmade Portraits: The Sword Maker from Etsy on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Battle Against NOEZ

It turns out there has been conflicts going on for months between NOEZ, the people behind MangaFox, and the countless people whose hard work they take (like those from scanlation groups)--well, some of them. MangaFox disregards people's requests to remove their hardwork, or more well known as scanned and translated manga, and profits from advertisements placed around the site. NOEZ also sells counterfeit anime goods online on their other few websites. They have a few websites similar to MangaFox too.

The people whose work NOEZ uses don't do scanlations for money. Of all the scanlators and scanlation groups I know, most of them don't make money off of the manga they clean and translate. The ones that do make money probably put all their earnings towards hosting their website or servers.

I don't know much about what scanlation groups have to go through or do. I wanted to give a few people a heads up on this news I recently found because if I were a scanlator, I'd want people to know about it.

More [reliable] information can be found at these sites:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

October 30: 2011 Toronto Miyavi Concert

2011 Miyavi concert in TorontoI won a place on the guest list for October 30's Miyavi concert under J-Rock North Promotions, so I attended the event with Pavanjit. We met up at the entrance of Pheonix Concert Hall in the morning and watched as the line grew longer. I recognized a few people from last year's Miyavi concert, which was pretty cool.

The doors opened at 8 PM, but I wasn't allowed in because the people at the ticket office didn't receive J-Rock North's guest list. Representatives from J-Rock North dealt with the problem and eventually got us all in.

The stage was much closer to the audience this time and fans could actually touch Miyavi. The crowd was more wild than the concert from last year, so I kind of feared for my life while standing right next to the stage. The most fun part of the concert was when some of the fans were trying to have a conversation with Miyavi. It took awhile before we got on with the show, and I know it bothered people because someone from the back told the people in the front to stop trying to talk with him (or something along that line). The most scary parts of the concert was near the end of the show: when Miyavi was giving low-fives to his fans and when Bobo tossed his drum sticks into the crowd. I was pushed to the edge of the stage and onto the floor when Miyavi was giving the fives and almost tackled while two fans were fighting over the drum sticks. It was awesome.

I don't scream or jump around when I go to shows. Did I have fun, though? Yes. I love Miyavi's new look and even though he seems more serious than he used to be, his guitar playing is still as great as ever.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

October 23: Canzine Toronto

One of the larger rooms with tablesMy friend Siena introduced me to Canzine Toronto by Broken Pencil and asked if I wanted to table with her. Wanting to experience the excitement of a zine fair for years, I answered yes. Siena named our group "Amazingly Good-Looking Cat" and thus began our first experience with a zine fair.

Preparing small cat booksAfter weeks of preparation, the day finally arrived. The building Canzine was held at looked like a nicely renovated old church. We set up our table in the morning and tended to the table throughout the day. There were three main rooms throughout the building filled with artists at their table and a food bar in the basement.

I noticed I was scaring some people away with my stares, so I asked Siena to hold the front-lines. Siena, you're such an adorable sweetie.

Our tableThere were many different styles of art from illustrations to crafts and more. I was impressed by the number of people tabling and their artworks too--most looked like they were in their late teens to early thirties (ah, youth). It was a grand mash of styles and colours: simply inspiring.

There were contests and presentations held throughout the day, but I feel like checking them out. I spent most of my time daydreaming and staring into space at the table.

At the end of the day, we quickly packed up our things, put away our chairs, and left. There were still a lot of people shuffling about the building at the time.

Will I ever attend another zine fair? We'll see, we'll see.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October 15: Occupy Toronto

Ariana, Jenny, and I went to check out Occupy Toronto on October 15th. We're avid of memes and phenomena related to the Internet, so the thought of witnessing an Occupy in the flesh was exciting. We read stories on Occupy Wallstreet and wondered how such an event would be like in Toronto.

The morning of Occupy Toronto--Day 1It was cold in the morning, but it didn't stop people from showing up. There weren't as many people as I expected at Occupy Toronto--I was hoping for a whole two blocks of people (my expectations were high). The weird thing I noticed was that most of the occupy folks were on one side of the street--which can be seen in the attached photo above--while many photographers and the one guy yelling "bull shit" were on the other.

The roads on the block were off limits to the occupiers to let traffic run for awhile in the morning, but then it was closed for the occupiers to move around at around 11 AM. People started selling newspapers and subscriptions and giving out fliers. The newspapers and subscriptions had information on Occupy, but much of the information from the fliers covered topics from corporate greed to animal abuse and wages to missing persons. The purpose of Occupy Toronto started to get confusing when someone took out a megaphone and proceeded to talk about how his sister suffered a life of hardship and died working in an environment where she was mistreated. I understand how people may want to take advantage of the Occupy movement to pass out fliers, but the person's story on his sister didn't seem to match with the Occupy movement in New York. We later figured that the Occupy movement in Toronto was going to be different from the one in New York.

After having brunch, we walked to St. James Park where the occupiers were setting up camp. I was in awe when I experienced the human microphone: it was impressive when the message got across the crowd of people. Signs were everywhere around the park, and they covered as many topics as the morning fliers did. I could understand how all the things people were protesting about are related, but I wasn't sure if they could explain what the whole Occupy Toronto was about. Heck, not even I could explain it in a short 1-minute speech at the time. If I tried, I'd probably have the bull shit guy on my case. Maybe that one line, "it's about social and economic inequality," would do.

I'm late with this blog entry, but I hope that the occupiers are doing fine right now. The weather's getting cold, and winter is approaching.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Last Day, Next 7 Days

It was my last day volunteering for the Toronto Zoo's Rouge Park road ecology survey. I'm going to miss those 3-hour morning walks around the park. Turns out the park has a good population of leopard frogs. Though I've picked up more than 500 dead frogs off the road over the last 6 months, at least they're doing better than the snakes and snapping turtles. There are many animals in the park that cannot be found in the city or the suburban area I live in, so it was quite refreshing. Will have to visit the park once in awhile.

Now to tackle my midterms and reports.

I regret wasting 20 hours on a mask I didn't want to do in the first place. I don't even know how I ended up promising that person a mask. I could have used those hours to study and work on assignments... and now I'm late with my study schedule. I guess I'll be getting only an hour of sleep per day in the next 7 days. Everything is my fault: I should stop worrying about causing another person to want to commit suicide. Time to put up a mean wall again.

I will be uploading a few pictures I took at Rouge Park in this album by November 5:
Rouge Park

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Environmental Studies at York University: Year 2

Year 2: 2009-2010

After receiving a number of C's in my last year's report card, I felt ashamed of myself and wanted to drop out of school. I didn't want to leave all the money I spent in first year to be in vain though, so I decided to stay in school to see if I could improve my learning and writing on my own.

I became an executive of YAMA, which took up most of my time. I joined the archery club, but I didn't show up to the practices often.

My grades and work initiative improved a little. I still left a most of assignments to the last minute though, which caused huge amount of stress on my organs. There were a lot of assignments and reading logs to do! Year 2 was when I received my first A, but also my lowest final grade: a D+ (I was never suited for administrative studies). My GPA didn't improve by the end of the year, which was disappointing, but I learned a lot about how the government, economy, and various societies affect the environment from the second year environmental studies fundamental courses.

Year 2.5: Summer 2010

I took two summer ecology courses that had field trips around Toronto every week. It was a great experience, because we had the chance to do hands-on work. The courses were inspiring and it brought light to the subject of environmental studies. It was sad how they were only a month long.

After the summer term ended, I was sent to British Columbia to work in a restaurant. I took note of restaurant operations and how their impact to the environment could be reduced. I left British Columbia right before the start of my third year.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Environmental Studies at York University: Year 1

In the last 3 years, I've grown to appreciate the environmental studies program at York University and enjoy what I learn in the variety of interdisciplinary courses. It's hard to believe I was frustrated with the program when I first started it.

This post will be one of three mementos of my last 3 years in environmental studies and at York University. I will also share a bit of information on what I'm studying in fourth year. My experiences with university clubs and residence will be included.

Year 1: 2008-2009

Most of my courses were under the faculty of environmental studies. Some common themes in each of those courses were environmental disasters, human contributions to climate change, consumerism, social issues in small and large communities, and the division of power between subject x and y. They were enough to make one feel depressed because the lessons always gave a 'people won't do anything that would actually benefit the environment if it means sacrificing a little wealth' vibe. One of my courses was a geography course which taught history and discourse. It was a little more enlightening than the environmental courses.

I thought that passing my classes was enough to make me happy but I learned it did not. The level of work and writing was much higher than I expected, so I struggled a lot. I used to be great with presentations in high school, but I screwed up group presentations with a sudden stage fright. After receiving a zero on an oral exam, one of my professors suggested I may have a learning disability and I should get help from one of the school's learning services. I didn't go because I believed I could improve my learning capabilities on my own.

I lived on residence in my first year, but I spent most of my time sleeping and hanging out with fellow residence friends. We would stay up until the next morning watching the food network, drinking, or talking about something related to anime, manga, or gaming. My parents called me almost every day in the first few months but gave up after I stopped picking up the phone. They used to give me surprise visits on Fridays to take me home and even sent their friends to pick me up a few times. I told them I wanted to stay at residence on weekends, but they insisted that I wanted to go home. What was the point of pressuring me into living on residence and spending that $7,000? At least I got to meet great people there and I had enough time to explore the whole campus.

I checked out a few clubs on campus throughout the year. I submitted a few comics and attended general meetings of the campus' newspaper group Excalibur, sat through a few of the astronomy club's awesome weekly activities, and eventually joined Yama anime and manga association. One of the members from YAMA showed a fellow first year and I around the campus's underground pathways. He didn't tell us that people usually get raped there until he led us to a sketchy tunnel. (I learned the next year that there's a worse rape tunnel somewhere else on campus.) The groups took a lot of my time every week because of their long meetings, but I don't regret taking the time to participate in their activities.

Throughout the year, I had a habit of falling asleep everywhere. I slept through my classes [in the front row], slept in random common rooms around campus, slept in cafeterias, and even while walking to classes. The bad part was that I wasn't aware I fell asleep until I woke up. I took a blood test during a doctor's appointment halfway into my second term and learned that I had iron deficiency anemia. I asked the doctor if I had to eat more food with iron in it, but she suggested I take supplements instead. I had to take iron tablets everyday after that but I still felt tired. (I feel much better now so the tablets must have worked.)

What I didn't like most about my first year was the long strike: it lasted from the beginning of November until the end of January. I spent most of my strike days looking for news on York University, reading comics and novels, and sleeping at home instead of finishing all my readings and assignments.

Year 1.5: Summer 2009

I wanted to experience summer school back in high school, but I never got the chance to because I had to take care of my younger sister. I figured I could try it out in university and maybe pick up the habit to do assignments ahead of time. The summer term was shorter because of the strike, so everything in the course was crammed. There wasn't that much resting time between assignments, but I didn't mind. My habits of keeping things to the last day continued though.

I think the only bad thing that happened that summer was spraining my ankle and having to use crutches. I sprained my ankle after jumping off a curb and landing on my ankle. It was painful.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Nuit Blache 2011

There's probably a bunch of blog posts on the Internet today (or will be sometime during the rest of the week) on last night's Nuit Blanche. Here are a few blurry shots I took last night.

Taken at city hall, an image of the lights.

Taken at the same place at city hall.

There were protests going on around downtown Toronto.

People were crowded around these two caution tape walls.

Stacks of wooden boards, colored at the end.

A robot that is suppose to be able to identify people's faces. There's a monitor off the robot's red area that shows people the robot's vision.

I kept around Younge and Dundas, so I didn't see much. The projects I did see were interesting though. I left Toronto by 10 PM.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dreams V

I once had a dream of a zombie apocalypse. I was riding my bicycle to a place unknown and stopped when I spotted a person lying on the street. I watched them from a distance and thought they were dead until the body started to crawl towards my bicycle. I freaked out and tried to get away from the body as quickly as I could.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dreams IV

I once had a dream where I could levitate and touch clouds.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fancy Cats 3

Dreams III

I once had a dream where I was walking in a line with many people through an old open forest. Everyone wore white clothing. I was a child and I did not know where we were walking to.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fancy Cats 2

Monday, September 12, 2011


Every 5 or 6 weeks, a group of old high school friends and I go out to eat. We usually pick our eateries by looking through restaurant listings online and making a list of places that interest us. Last Friday, we visited WVRST for dinner because we wanted to try their sausages and beer.

WVRST was an interesting experience for me from the moment I stepped foot in its hall. There were two long rows of tables and benches, a snazzy bar at the far wall, and a busy open kitchen perpendicular from the tables. Beside the wall of windows opposite from the kitchen were high tables and chairs. It felt like a fancy cafeteria!

My friends and I chose a table to sit at and a runner came over to drop off the menu. He told us that we order food at the kitchen counter. After reading through the menu, I ordered a Kranjska with caramelized onions and Sauerkraut and a glass bottled Coke. Beer had to be ordered at the bar. My friends and I each received numbers so that the runners know where to drop off our orders.

While waiting for our food to arrive, I noticed most of the lighting were just light bulbs on strands of wires (like Christmas lights). The washrooms were also hidden behind a long, shiny-looking, and red brick wall with the word WVRST over it.

After a little wait, the food arrived. My friends and I didn't speak much while we were eating. We were all busy with our delicious sausages (... that sounds so wrong). The duck fries didn't taste different from regular fries, aside from being softer. My friends commented on how the beer was great: it had no funny aftertaste. We stayed for another half-an-hour after finishing our food and left when we noticed a fair number of people waiting for seats.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dreams II

I once had a dream where I was sleeping in a large room with mirrors as the walls. There was nothing in the room except me. There was no way in and no way out. All was silent and when I spoke, no voice was heard.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fancy Cats 1

Monday, September 5, 2011

Presto: the Toronto Transit Card

Over the summer, York Region Transit set up booths around York Region selling discounted Presto cards. The full cost of a Presto card is $25. Six of the 25 goes to paying for the card itself while the rest goes into the card for transit use.

I read the week before last week's Markham Economist and Sun and saw an article about how a group of people wanted a refund on their Presto card because its registration and set up was mafan. Though my sister and I also went through the trouble of activating it and setting it up, we kept our cards.

My sister and I each bought a Presto card at a YRT Presto event in Vaughan Mills this summer. The laptops at the event that were meant for people to register their cards weren't working, so we went back home. We registered our cards online at, but learned that the cards are defaulted to charge users the regular adult price. My sister wanted her card to charge student transit prices for YRT, so we went to YRT's Richmond Hill office [which is inside the York Region building] to get it set up. We had to wait in line before being attended to, but we didn't mind the wait. It only took 5 minutes for the lady at the office to set up the card. I recently received my GO transit student ID, but I have no idea where I can get my Presto card set up for Go student pricing. I will try the YRT Richmond Hill office first, then the nearest GO stations.

Presto's website said that the card's activation has to be completed by using it 7 days after activating it. I used my card when boarding a YRT bus within the 7 days after activating it, but my sister did not. She freaked out for awhile and complained about how stupid it was that Presto cards had to be activated again by using it when she didn't need to use it. She waited 3 weeks before using her card and it still worked!

Compared to Hong Kong's octopus transit card that takes less than 10 minutes to set up and activate, yeah, Presto is annoying. ... I also think Presto cards look ugly compared to the octopus cards, but I love using transit cards. You can keep them at the end of your wallet and scan your wallet. (Just make sure no one steals your wallet.) How cool is that?

Transit cards

[September 10, 2011]

I transferred buses using the Presto card for the first time today. I was charged the appropriate fare after scanning the Presto card on the first bus. The Presto machine displayed the amount it charged and the remaining time (1-hour and 59-minutes) I had left to ride the bus [like a paper transfer]. When I scanned my Presto card on the second bus, the machine showed that I was charged $0.00 and that I had 40-minutes left.

I like how I don't have to worry about losing my paper transfer.

[September 14, 2011]

It seems that if you stick to a certain route within the YRT's area, there aren't that many problems with the Presto card. I met a lady at the bus stop the other day that said she used her Presto card on the (2) Denison bus. She asked for a transcript to get on the northbound Warden TTC bus but the bus driver denied her one. When she arrived at Denison and Warden, she found out that the TTC bus did not have a Presto machine, so she had to walk.

[September 17, 2011]

I learned last year that York Region Transit and GO Transit have a system together where you can pay 50 cents for rides to and from GO transit stations on the YRT. My first time transferring from a GO bus to a YRT bus during the Presto era was a few days ago. I paid fifty cents and asked the bus driver for a transfer. He hit a touch screen next to him with a finger and I waited for him to hand over a transfer paper. No paper. It felt like the driver was ignoring me because he didn't say anything or show eye contact. I noticed that the old area where a stack of transfer papers sat was empty, so I accepted the fact that maybe he just didn't have any transfers. I took a seat and prepared for a 30-minute walk home.

As I was sitting in the bus the next day, a lady walked into the bus, inserted her ticket, and asked for a transfer. The bus driver hit the touch screen next to him and out came a paper from behind the screen. It was a transfer paper! When the bus stopped at a red light, the driver got out of his seat and put in a new roll of paper behind the screen. Since I've been using the Presto card, I haven't asked for transfers and people who enter the bus after me haven't asked for one either. I guess the transfer machine from the day before ran out of paper, because I certainly did not see anything come out from behind the touch screen.

[November 24, 2011]

YRT and viva in my area have been on strike for awhile now, so I decided not to add money to the card. I still haven't tried adding money to the card at the Go station... I'll do that when the strike's over [and if they decide to continue using the card].

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dreams I

I once had a dream of a library in a forest's opening with wooden shelves that sheltered its books from the sunlight and rain. Most of the plants were above the ground and trees because it often flooded in the area. An old man took care of the library and guarded it from people who wanted to be rid of it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fan Expo 2011: Friday

Fan Expo started at 10 AM on Friday, but Oie Lin, Carlton, and I arrived at the convention center around 4:00 PM. What I like about arriving [super] late to a convention is that there is no line-up to get in. It was hard to find the box office though because it was moved to a location that could hold a large population of people in a line. Signs around the convention center that gave arrow directions to the box office led my friends and I to a long descending tunnel. It was a bit sketchy in a it's-a-zombie-apocalypse-time kind of way.

A sign!

The long tunnel to the ticket booths.

The entry way next to the box office.

What I got from the box office and entry way.

First glance of the show room.

There weren't as many people as I expected at the convention, but then again, it was Friday and it was almost dinner time. Most people who attend Fan Expo every year probably go on Saturday too.

Many of the booths in the main attraction room had interesting displays. The Real Steel movie display area held three models of its robot characters. There was also a Lego Hagrid and a Lego Optimus Prime. Ubisoft had a display wall of Rabbits and Assassin’s Creed figures. One booth had the original model of Abin Sur from the Green Lantern movie and another had My Little Pony toys. There were many awe-inducing things to see.

3D street art outside the South building.

A man who went by the name of Dr. Phil was offering cinnamon-smelling medicine. His name tag said he was a synthetic digestion analyst.

Dr. Phil--Synthetic Digestion Analyst

There were many different waste bins around the convention center. I had to wonder what people did with the waste that doesn't go in any of those bins.

We met up with Gurjit and her gang later, but our time was cut short due to a "Please do not touch" sign under the Harry Potter "It All Ends" poster board.

At some point I started asking cosplayers for pictures and to do poses for me. It was mostly pointing at a sign. (Excuse me for taking blurry pictures: my hand tends to shake these days.)

This cosplayer seemed a little confused about my request for a "life's good" pose.

Bronies unite!

Suki from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Anthony as Inuyasha

I love the Lego table that was open to anyone who wanted to play with Lego. It was really small though. I was glad that there weren't many people around the time we were there, otherwise there would have been a big crowd around it and we wouldn't have had the chance to play.

I like to build upside down pyramids with Lego.

Outside of the showroom was a table with touch screen monitors where people could enter a contest/draw. (The monitor looks so nice! Don't you just want to grab it and take it home?)

Out in the hallway there was a gorgeous red carpet and background screen. A few Fan Expo staff/volunteers were stationed next to it surveying people (well, they did with my friends and I) and offering people help with taking pictures.

And so...

That's all I have for Fan Expo 2011. Thank you for reading!

Fan Expo 2011 Picasa album:
Fan Expo 2011
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