Saturday, 29 September 2012

One Month of Classes

So I've been back to University for a month now and I think I have a pretty good run-down of each of my Psychology courses. I'm actually taking nothing but Psychology which is nice even if it is 4 classes crammed onto a single day.

Let's take a look shall we? In alphabetical order:

Aging Psychology

This class, is easy. A lot of it is disorders or events that happen to people as they grow older and how they're affected. Maybe it's just because the class has just started but I find it kind of obvious that if a person has arthritis/incontinence/cataracts, they become more dependent on others and can become depressed by this.

Really, the only thing I've learned from this course so far is that people in nursing homes are often unintentionally jerks, and glare is scary to patients with Alzheimer's. Apparently it looks like water or something to them.

I mean, I finished the midterm in 15 minutes, and then stayed an extra 15 minutes just to be certain of everything. I hope the class stays this easy, and I hope she continues to bake us food for each class.

No problem.

Cognitive Psychology

The exact opposite of Aging Psychology. This course is possibly one of the most dense Psych courses I've ever taken. Every week we are given a quiz on one concept from one the chapters of the textbook.

That's not so bad, except when the text is 50 pages of stuff like this:

The arbitrariness of symbols, and the multiple realization of universal machines, is rooted in the relative notion of universal machine. By definition, a machine is universal if it can simulate any other universal machine (Newell, 1980).


The phrase marker for a sentence can be illustrated as an upside-down tree whose structure is grown from the root node S (for sentence). The application of the rewrite rule S → NP VP produces the first layer of the Figure 3-6 phrase marker, showing how the nodes NP (noun phrase) and VP (verb phrase) are grown from S.


In a dissociation, an injury to one region of the brain disrupts one kind of processing, but leaves another unaffected, suggesting that the two kinds of processing are separate, and are associated with different brain areas.

Keep in mind that all of those excerpts were from the same chapter. Cognitive psychology claims it's an interdisciplinary science, so that means that in any given chapter I'm faced with Computing Science, Philosophy, Neuroscience, English grammar, and a sprinkling of Psychology.

Oh and those quizzes I mentioned? Yeah, one random question every week on any one of those concepts. Lots of fun this course.

Conservation Psychology

I'm convinced now that we as a species are doomed. I mean, I knew that there were a lot of problems with how we treated the planet but just seeing how much damage has been done (and how little is being fixed and rectified) is really frightening. I'd need to dedicate an entire blog post to cover everything.

It boils down to humanity is consuming too much, and there are hidden environmental costs to everything we consume. I honestly don't think we can change our mentalities anytime soon but I still have the rest of the course to decide on that.

We're doomed.

Social Influences

Yeah, I don't really have much to say about this class. I also fall asleep the most in this class. I'm not sure if that's more indicative of me or the class itself. Nothing really new has been discussed that hasn't been discussed in my previous classes.

I remain hopeful.


And from the looks of things I'll be taking a few more courses in the Winter term. I'm missing a few per-requisites for the Master's program I want to get into so, wish me luck with that as well.

It never ends.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Well this isn't good.

I thought I'd be more on top of things but maybe I got a bit overconfident. This post is a day late, I haven't been doing my rounds and I need to get back to studying.

This is what I looked like yesterday before I passed out.

And no, I'm not kidding. My head tilted back and I was out cold in a chair with a textbook in my lap, laptop with blogger to my left, and my desktop with more work in front. Clearly I wasn't going to get much more work done so when I woke up I dragged my sorry butt to bed.

I might be getting sick. It also might be Theresa's fault but you didn't hear that from me.

Even when you're full of germs.

I have a midterm, an assignment, and another quiz due for Thursday. I need to get back to studying so proper post Friday and I'll hopefully visit everyone else's blogs by then.

Yay, University.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Happy Belated Birthday Mom

I'm fairly good for remembering the birthdays of people. So imagine my surprise last week when my Mother says to me "I think this is the first time you've ever forgotten to wish me a happy birthday."


And so I feel like a terrible son and I sit there wondering if there was anything I could try and do to make it up to her.


And thus I decided to try and bake red velvet brownies again. Cupcakes for my Mom is something I've never done before. And this time I had decent recipes courtesy of both Lizzy and Michele, so I had a much better chance of doing these properly.

But immediately when I started, I noticed a problem. We had almost no butter left in the house. I had no choice but to make a third of the recipe and go from there. I also forgot to buy buttermilk and substituted 2% instead but I'm certain that it's still better than using sour cream like the first recipe I used suggested.

Maybe I could have added a bit more dye though...
As I'm going along, I begin to notice that it's getting increasingly difficult to mix the batter. I just attributed it to the mixture being more thick with this new recipe and continued on.

Until I realized that the mixer was dying.

Yep, looks like whoever used the electric beater last (probably me) was too inconsiderate to even charge the electric beater after using it (also sounds like me).

So I had to mix the batter by hand near the end. Wasn't that bad. Also learned the hard way why you don't mix liquids and powders together. I hope no one minds getting a chunk of hardened cocoa in their cupcake later on.

Baking goes without incident and in the end I get:


It may be hard to tell from this photo but these looked (and tasted) A LOT better than the first batch. I can't tell if it's because I'm improving or if the second recipe is way better.

Unfortunately, I used the last of the butter to make the batter so that meant no icing. And maybe that wasn't such a bad thing, because all the icing I ever make turns out disgusting and weird looking.

Mom said she liked the cupcake. And only ate half of that. My sister, Bree, ate half of that half and then said there were crunchy things inside. My brother and Dad have not touched one and I doubt they will.

It doesn't look that bad does it?

Theresa got one and she said she enjoyed it. But I'm certain that if I burnt a cupcake to a crisp and gave it to her she'd still "like" it. Looks like I need more practice with baking but it's always nice to make progress.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Slenderman

Most urban legends and mythical creatures are products of older civilizations and eras. It's difficult to replicate the sort of mystery, wonder and sometimes fear that is associated with things like the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, Jack the Ripper and similar entities.

But if there is any modern urban legend that is thriving it would be the creature known as the Slenderman.

The Slenderman is depicted as a tall, skinny, and faceless entity in a suit and tie, often with disproportionate limbs and fingers. He or it, is usually seen in the edges of photographs with the photographs ranging anywhere from the 1900's to modern times. It is common for the Slenderman to be seen in areas where children frequent. And it is not uncommon for children sharing a photo with the Slenderman to be declared missing.

No one knows why the Slenderman stalks and abducts children. Or what happens to those who go missing. Upon seeing the Slenderman, some individuals claim to suffer from, but not limited to, nausea, blurred vision, and headaches. But reports will vary from individual to individual.

Can you spot the Slenderman?

So popular is the Slenderman that he has become the choice topic of numerous short stories, "documentaries", and even games, the most well known being Slender. You play as a young woman lost in the woods as you try and find pages of a notebook whilst being stalked by the Slenderman.

The game has gotten so much attention that an updated and improved version will likely be released on Steam in the near future. I intend on doing a review, but make due with the trailer for the meantime.

Now there's a reason why I'm suddenly discussing the Slenderman, and it's simple. It's been years since I've dressed up for Halloween and going as the Slenderman is easy. I'm tall, thin, and I don't mind standing around looking creepy. All I need to do is get my old suit adjusted for my weight loss over the years, and away we go.

Though, I'm going to have to get used to wearing contacts because no glasses allowed. And I'm also unsure of what to wear so my head is completely white. I'm tempted to just get a nylon something to shove over my face but I doubt that be effective, or comfortable.

Any suggestions would be great.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

My Final Schedule

So my schedule has been finalized for this term. Which is good. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get into that one class that I wanted. And talking to the Administration revealed that there were over a hundred people on the wait list and it was a first come first serve basis.

One spot opened up after about half a week and it was gone within 15 minutes, maybe less. With these kinds of odds, I decided I was better off trying to get into another class.

But I refused to give up my 4 day weekend. Thus I am now taking another course in Cognitive psychology. It's not so bad so far, nothing too interesting.

My other 3 Psychology courses are Aging psychology, Social influences, and Conservation psychology. Aging psychology is pretty self-explanatory. Exact opposite of Child psychology, we are now looking at how people age and the changes that occur. Social influences is going to have us looking at how other people try to convince and sway us into doing various things.

It's amazing how people can be manipulated.

The last one is a bit weird and is kind of a new course. My professor believes that the heart of any conservation effort needs to take a look at humans and how we think in regards to conservation. Think about it, bluefin tuna aren't jumping onto our plates to be eaten nor are whale hunting themselves to death. They're dying because they're a "commodity". Rainforests and marshes aren't clearing themselves away either.

No matter what angle you look at it, our attitudes towards nature is what has caused so much destruction. You don't need a biologist to tell you that all is not well with our environment. And my professor wants to see if we even have the capacity to change the way people see conservation, because clearly what we're doing isn't near enough.


Last thing before I close this post up. I think I may have finally figured out what I want to do with this Psychology degree. There's some sort of career conference in the upcoming weeks and if I like what I see, I'll go right into it if possible. I have most of the course requirements already but if I do decide to enroll in this Master's program I'll need to take a few more courses in the following term.

Best of luck to me.

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Short post today. I'm only into my second week of classes and already I'm getting <5 hours a sleep a night. You'd think that I'd be able to sleep in on my days off but I've taken extra working shifts at my part time job instead so I think this means I'm busier than normal.

Anyways, details about that in future post. Recently I somehow reached the 500 follower mark. That's like half a thousand which is pretty awesome. I don't have much else to say other than if you have things you want me to do a post on, feel free to suggest it. I could always use some new ideas.


I usually share a few videos with these kinds of posts so to start, here's an amazing painter:

Anyone fond of MAD, The Avengers, and Adventure time?

And last, this one is only for people who play Starcraft. Otherwise it won't make much sense:

I'll have a proper post up on Sunday. See you then.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Sherlock: This Show is Amazing

Apologies to The Golden Eagle who recently also did a post about Sherlock.

I hadn't intended on talking about this show. I had no intentions of watching it either. For the longest time my sister Bree had been badgering me to watch BBC's Sherlock. But I had other shows to watch, games to play and so Sherlock was left on the backburner.

But one evening I decided on a whim to watch an episode and see what all the fuss was about. Just one episode before bed.

I ended up watching the entire first season in one sitting. And it took all my willpower not to start the second and go to sleep.

Unless you've lived under a rock your entire life you probably know of Sherlock Holmes, the famous detective with his assistant Dr. John Watson. They run around and solve mysteries. But the stories were originally from the 19th century. So, what if it took place in the 21st Century? The BBC series does just that, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in modern day London.

And together they solve crimes using both Holmes' incredible mind and modern technology.

First off, the characters are played by great actors. Sherlock is observant, inconsiderate, brilliant, cold, witty, and eccentric. There were speculations that Arthur Conan Doyle based Sherlock on individuals with Aspergers and BBC's Sherlock certainly has it. It's convincing and it feels real, not artificial and forced like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. Basically, if upgraded Sheldon enough times, you would get Sherlock.

Watson is exasperated, loyal, and does an excellent straight man for all of Sherlock's antics. There are a lot of discussing online claiming that Watson and Holmes are gay. I don't see that at all. Just because two men hang around each other a lot, care for one another in times of danger, and live together in an apartment does not automatically mean they're gay.

Moriarty on the other hand is a completely different story but I'm not going to delve into that too much.

Each season only has 3 episodes but with each episode being an hour and a half long, each episode is like a mini movie. There is a lot of thought put into each episode, the writing is excellent, almost every joke presented required me to pause the show because I was laughing too hard to keep watching. I've never had a show force me to the edge of my seat in anticipation with what happens next. It's an amazing feeling.

Each crime is loosely based on the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. For example, A Study in Pink is based off of A Study in Scarlet. The crimes are also supposed to be solved in a similar way to the original. Apparently there are tons of little references to the books hidden in the show. This series was clearly made for fans, from fans. So fans of the original Sherlock Holmes story are going to pick up on these things. I didn't. I'm just going to use Wikipedia to find them.

I'm going to watch the second season with Theresa as soon as possible. And then we will sit and wait for the third one to come out. I highly recommend everyone else do the same.

Note: If anyone has things they want me to try and review go ahead and suggest it. Games, books, shows and even recipes. As long as you think I could do something interesting with it, I will try it.

Second note: If you think my reviews suck let me know. :(

Friday, 7 September 2012

The First Week of Classes

So the first week of classes has begun much to my dismay. No more sitting around and relaxing, nope, it's back to being crammed in a room and time to learn.

It's not all that bad. I'm mostly interested in my classes and they don't seem to strenuous at the moment, all Psychology related. 3 classes on Tuesday and Thursday and 1 class on Wednesday evening. Not bad. Especially considering that Wednesday's class is a lower level Abnormal Psychology course. I took a higher level one a few terms ago so I expected this one to be a breeze.

Maybe I'll just skip class and reuse my old notes.

And then I'm told I shouldn't have been allowed to register for said class.

Yep, turns out that I only got into the course due to some computer glitch. The two courses are essentially the same or something. I'll go talk to someone about this but in the meantime I better find a different course.

I decide to try and fit into another Tuesday/Thursday Psychology course. It didn't seem that amazing or all that special. It's currently full but I'm hoping someone will drop it and I can claim their spot.

And then the prof. mentions that all exams (including the final) are going to be take home.

Yeah, so now I REALLY want to get into this class but who's going to drop it now? It is possible to ask professors to let you into their course and generally they accept.

Unfortunately our class is in this dinky classroom and you're legally not allowed to exceed the max capacity. Fire safety issues and what not. All I can do is hope someone is crazy enough to drop the course so I can steal it.

So I've been brooding over my laptop all week. Constantly checking my email for an opening.


I mean, yeah, I could just take any other course BUT I am determined to maintain my 4 day weekend.
And if I get into this class, it means I get Wednesday off too. So it's almost like a 5 day weekend.

I am more than ok with that. 9AM to 6PM twice a week. Feels pretty good.

So wish me luck. One of my Psych buddies Don is thinking of possibly dropping the course and if he does, I'll be on it like a hawk.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Game of Thrones: This Series is Excellent

University has a way of stealing all your reading time. After reading pages upon pages of notes and textbook materials most people don't want to do more reading. But Theresa has been bugging me to read some of the books she's reading so I grabbed the first 4 novels as the beginning of the month.

And in my spare time I'm nearly done all 4 of them. From my understanding, there's a 5th book out right now and a 6th and 7th in the future. So if my impression of the series changes I might do another review then.

But for now, here's my thoughts on the first 4 books.

A smart person would have turned this into 4 blog posts with 4 book reviews.

The series takes place in a somewhat medieval era where most magic has died. Most of the story thus far takes place on the continent of Westeros which mostly consists of the Seven Kingdoms. Whoever sits on The Iron Throne rules all of the Seven Kingdoms. And this is which much of the conflict of the story pertains to. The Game of Thrones refers to the fight for said Iron Throne.

No seriously, you'd have to be completely blind to not see where most of the conflict and plot is coming from. What happens when you cram a bunch of people into a room and tell them only one person can rule over the others? The ambitious people start killing and backstabbing each other, the uninterested get dragged into the conflict anyways, and crazy people are going to be crazy.

Lots of this.

The Game of Thrones is unique in the way that the story is told, utilizing multiple protagonists. Each chapter is distinguished by a different character and is told from his or her point of view at that specific time in the story. You are given a look into their very thoughts, motivations and feelings of ongoing events. Each book has both old and new characters each time, mostly to replace dead people but we'll get to that later.

The first book mostly focuses on characters from the House of Stark, a family of people from the North who are dragged into the fight for the Iron Throne against their will. By the 4th book the number of characters we have is completely diverse and unique in terms of their role is in the Game of Thrones. Several which aren't even from Westeros but on 1 of the other 3 continents.

I am told that book 5 takes place at the exact same time as book 4 but told from the perspective of additional characters, but I wouldn't know. I haven't read that far yet.

As of writing, I haven't seen any copies in paperback in my area.

The writing is excellent, the characters are usually interesting and entertaining in their own ways. Myself, I find Tyrion and Jaime Lannister hilarious and I can't stand Eddard, Catelyn or Sansa Stark. The story continues to evolve and hint at things for future books which is nice. I don't like having random plot devices inserted into my stories that conveniently help one random person.

And yes, there is lots of sex but it's done almost tastefully. Well, it's the most tasteful I've ever read it. None of that over-the-top nonsense that you'd see in something trashy like Fifty Shades of Grey. Yes the book contains violence but it also isn't over excessive and overly gory.

The incest aspect wasn't that prominent either. I think people just like to blow things out of proportion. Same thing with dying characters. Yes, usually at least one main character will die in each book but most people generally will come out at alive.

But that's only because the series isn't done yet.

I haven't watched the TV series yet but my friend has and he complains a lot about the deviations from the book. That, and much of the events in the story are quickly glossed over. I'd recommend reading the books first before watching the show.

You know what, read the books regardless even if you have no intention of watching the show. It's a great series and I normally cannot stand the fantasy genre. Game of Thrones is the first exception I've made in years.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Disappointing Cupcakes

Theresa isn't too fond of cupcakes. Which is unfortunate seeing as there is a cupcake craze going on. But one day we passed by a bake sale on campus and got a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing on it. Which she strangely loved. It may have been just due to the cream cheese icing but that's not the point.

There was a type of cupcake she liked, cupcakes are "easy" to bake. I need to learn how to bake this thing. Simple as that.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find Lizzy's red velvet cupcake recipe on her blog. Only a red velvet brownie. And after the results of this particular recipe, I think I'll try the brownie one next time instead.

Pretty much.

Now for those unaware, I'm Canadian and I have a preference for the metric system. So when I saw a recipe that offered ingredient amounts in metric I gladly followed it.

Until I realized most of my tools were in imperial.

So that's the first possible reason why my cupcakes didn't turn out so great. Switching from metric to imperial probably caused some discrepancies. And I was making a half recipe so again, more math. Math is bad. I know I'm Asian and I'm supposed to be good at math, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

I also reduced the recipe down to 12 cupcakes, so if I failed, there would be less failure. So imagine my surprise when I poured the batter and got this:

Something seems wrong here...

In case you can't count, that's enough batter for 9 cupcakes apparently. Not, 12 like I had planned for. So, not only was I unable to do conversions properly, I didn't even make enough batter for the converted recipe.

So I dump the cupcakes into the oven. Think nothing of it. Start working on the cream cheese icing.

And then oven starts smoking.

This is probably bad.

Fortunately, it wasn't my cupcakes that were burning. No, someone else had cooked something in the oven recently and it had got all over the place. Said person also didn't clean the over afterwards so now it was being burnt into the sides and bottom of the oven.

I'm also fairly certain the smoke wasn't doing much for the flavor of my cupcakes.

In the meantime, I continued trying to make the icing. Who remembers my curry brownies should remember the icing I made. Watery, kind of gross looking and not that tasty.

My cream cheese icing was exactly like that EXCEPT replace watery with gritty. I think I'm improving. Well, not to the point of actually using it on my cupcakes. Not that the cupcakes were amazing either.

If you ask me, it looks the same as the first picture.

They didn't taste that great, they weren't that red and the icing was going into the garbage. I later realized that using salted butter for icing is probably not a good idea. And you know what? Maybe it was a good idea that I didn't have enough batter for 12 cupcakes. Considering how good these 9 were.

I'm also going to assume the recipe I used wasn't that great. If anyone can directly link me to a good one, that be great.

Theresa is not going to see these failures in person. Hopefully the next batch turns out better.