Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Classic gag, approximated with multimedia (or, the real joke is in subverting both the convention and the form)

I got a dishwasher.

Her name is Roxie.

I actually really did get a dishwasher.

Also OK yes I named it Roxie.

Current Music: The Beatles - Hey Bulldog

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pedagogy 101 (Random quotes from a few hours ago, provided with context)

I did my second mini-lesson today

it did not go as smoothly

I tried to do a problems lesson where I gave people a sheet with a problem on it and then I had them work in groups

this is pretty difficult when you only have 10 minutes, it turns out


still, I wanted to try it

Were you supposed to do something interactive?

you don't *have* to, but I wanted to try

people got confused with the notation I used on my exercise


What was your exercise?


it was on integration by parts

I had them calculate \int_0^1 x e^x dx

in three steps: first, let u = x, let v = e^x



let u = t, v = e^t



man, this is harder than I thought

no wonder they got confused!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

In conversation with Dickolas (or, Random quotes from yesterday, provided with paraphrased context and a more-or-less accurate punchline)

I think Team Canada should just dress a bear in hockey equipment and put him in goal.

[excitedly] Have you seen that?! Bears playing hockey?!

Wait, what?

Bears playing hockey! Have you seen the video?!

Wait... are you talking about the animal or the archetype?

Current Music: Squeeze - Another Nail in my Heart

P.S.: First person to provide a Photoshopped picture of Alec Baldwin playing hockey gets a reward
P.P.S.: Bonus points if you can make him a Cal Golden Bear

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

What's Wang This Week (special five-year anniversary edition)

Against my better instincts, I decided to start watching Mad Men. Mainly I did this because I felt like I was becoming a bit too attached to light and happy comedic entertainment, and was becoming especially uncultured. Mad Men seemed easier than reading a book. Despite my initial indifference, I quickly became hooked and powered through all of it, finishing last night. Some of it was not that pleasant -- I'm not very attuned to drama anymore, I guess -- and I watched too much, too quickly, but I had to get through it as quickly as I could so I could Google "I hate Betty Draper" without worrying about spoilers. Man do I hate Betty Draper.

Me and the rest of the LUGs bought Settlers of Catan a few weeks ago. I don't know why we didn't buy it sooner, since Jowen and I were playing online probably four times a week a few years ago. Jowen and I were so addicted we would play two-player Settlers, which is about the dumbest thing you can do. He beat me all the time, and I wish I'd saved some of the numbers, because the number of times he rolled 7s more than I did must be statistically significant. I used to half-jokingly accuse him of cheating by altering the random seed on his computer, which he would always deny. Since we've been playing the real board game, though, I've noticed that his dominance has all but disappeared. Now, I've noticed that now when I say "Not so good when you don't fix the game, are we?" to him, he doesn't seem to reject the notion quite as quickly, and there might even be a hint of embarrassment.

So, as the reigning King of Catan (having won all five real games we've played so far, as well as being 2-1 in two-player Jowen-Richard grudge matches), despite the fact that I'm clearly going to jinx my current run of success by just saying this, eat it, Jowen. I am your Catan daddy. It's good to be King.

A few days ago I was sitting in my apartment eating lunch with the slide door open to get some fresh air when I heard a rustling in the kitchen. Without thinking I started to worry that it was a skunk, but then I remembered that I don't live in Berkeley anymore and there's no way a skunk could get in a tenth floor apartment without me noticing. I also don't live in Port Coquitlam anymore, so it probably wasn't a raccoon either. No, it was probably a squirrel, I figured, and sure enough, it was. This is not a good thing, though: I've been afraid of squirrels ever since I was 18. I saw a squirrel chase another squirrel, and when it abandoned its pursuit, it stood there, staring at the fleeing squirrel, chest heaving up and down, with pure malice in its eyes. Ever since then, I've known that squirrels are far more man than me.

Anyway, I managed to direct it back out onto the balcony, but before I could close the door on it, it put its hands onto the sliding door track, stared right at me, and growled at me. What could I do? I couldn't close the door on its hands; this little bastard climbed up ten stories of concrete to get at my stuff: if I even made a move to hurt its hands, there could be some serious hell to pay. I tried not to soil my pants and stared it down, and finally it relented. I closed the door on it and resigned myself to losing the mandarin oranges I was keeping outside on the balcony. Now they're yours, squirrel. Please don't harm my family.

Today my blog is five years old, and what a five years it has been. I toyed with the idea of getting on Twitter a few weeks ago, because I'd be more likely to use it since it's much quicker to Twitter than it is to write a blog post -- and also I wanted to follow Big Ben. I decided against it because I feared I would end up never blogging again, and I'm very fond of the medium- to long-form blog format. I couldn't have written a paean to all-you-can-eat sushi on Twitter. I couldn't have written about my lost youth on Twitter. On the other hand, though, there's Big Ben. Regardless, I've made my choice. Long live I, Dickolas Wang.

Current Music: Dwight Twilley Band - I'm On Fire

Friday, November 20, 2009

The creative process

decide that it's been too long, and set down to write a song

after an hour of being too lazy to open a text editor to brainstorm, decide to record an old song that I'd never actually recorded

realize that not only had it never been recorded, it had never actually been played anywhere outside of my mind, so set down to play the song

after futzing around with the bass part, realize that I don't have the lyrics memorized and set out to write them down

open that text editor

after remembering a grand total of two lines, start rifling through old backed-up files from my old Linux partition in search of the lyrics

continue rifling through old backed-up files, this time from my old Windows partition. They've got to be here somewhere

try using Spotlight to find it by typing in the few lyrics I remember. Find a link which once pointed to the file, but now points to nothing

time for Conan

set it down for tomorrow and pat myself on the back for a productive and creative evening

Current Music: something that is not my song

What's Wang This Week

I went to Berkeley last weekend for a visit (DW Fun Fact: I graduated in May and am back living in Vancouver for the next couple of years as a postdoc at UBC). When I first moved to Berkeley, it was right at the end of what had been a gorgeous Vancouver summer, and so moving to the sunny climes of the Bay Area was actually kind of a letdown weather-wise. This is California? Where's the sun? What's with all this fog?

Anyway, because of this bad start I never fully appreciated the weather. Sure, I was aware that December in Berkeley isn't really much worse than August in Berkeley, and I was wearing shorts in November, but still, it never really sunk in how great the weather is in Berkeley. Well, all of that changed this weekend. Damn it is sunny there. And warm. And dry. And not windy enough to make me fear that my windows will blow clean off my building. So, although I may have said all sorts of things about Berkeley -- it's crazy, it's unfriendly, it's dirty, it's dangerous, the people are mean, Americans suck, the food is overrated, and so on -- in the past, I now have to finally admit that Berkeley is a beautiful place. Oh, and also, you can access Hulu from Berkeley, which is a major selling point right there. So thank you, Berkeley: you may be a bit of a bitch, but at least you're hot.

I've been playing a lot of pitch-and-putt golf for the last few months. It's past the season (read: it's cold, wet, and windy -- I would be playing so much golf if I were still in Berkeley), so I'm currently stuck at driving ranges. This works for me though because I'm entirely re-working my swing. I was playing pretty well for a while, but then during a round, just when I had pulled ahead of Jowen and put myself in birdie position at the 11th hole, he goes and hits a hole in one, which caused me to seize up and bogey the hole. Since then I've been psychologically shattered and have completely sucked every time I've played.

No matter: I've got the whole winter to watch instructional YouTube videos, improve a little bit, have a friend take a video of me swinging, and then completely start over because I don't look right in the videos. People say to take golf lessons, but the next person I pay $75+/hr to better also get me acquitted of some serious criminal charges1 or at least provide delicious food, so that's out. Instead I think I will continue to watch YouTube swing instruction videos, and watch myself try to mimic it. I haven't seen this much of myself in videos since my videoblogging days. In related news, man am I fat.

Lately I've been completely obsessed with Community, the new show on NBC. From the moment I saw the commercial, I was interested: Joel McHale is on it! While some of you might know him as the host of The Soup!, or from any one of a number of commercials, or from The Informant!, I know him as the young guy from a Seattle sketch comedy show called Almost Live! I can't stress enough how important this show was to me growing up: it was one of my favourite shows through most of my teen years, and a great deal of what I know about being funny was learned from Almost Live!2 (DW Fun Fact: the name of this I,DW feature was taken from this Almost Live! segment:

(link for those of you on Facebook).)

It gets better: the creator of the show is none other than Dan Harmon, who some of you who are not me might know and admire as one of the creative forces behind The Sarah Silverman Show (man I can't stand that show). However, those of you who are me will know him as Doobie Brothers and Van Halen producer Ted Templeman from Yacht Rock!

(link to the video for those of you on Facebook)

Anyway, this show Community is really great, it's really funny, and also I think I love Alison Brie:

Oh come on, go to CityTV's website (or Hulu, if you're American) and watch the scene in "Debate 109" where she lets her hair down and tell me that you didn't fall in love just a tiny bit. She's also in Mad Men so I thought I'd try watching it, but I watched the first episode and decided that I'll stick to Community. Maybe I should keep watching until I get to an episode that she's in. I also saw an episode or two of My Alibi, but decided that I'll stick to Mad Men. Also I got about two minutes into Hot Sluts, which is not what you think it is, but decided that I'll stick to My Alibi. Also, and I cannot believe I just did this, Googling "Hot Sluts" is not the most efficient way to find the URL for the show's website.

On that note, I leave you with a classic Almost Live! sketch3.

(link, you lazy Facebookers)

Current Music: ELO - Evil Woman

1. There's a joke here about criminal charges stemming from paying $75+/hr for services, but I'll leave that to the reader.
2. Which is why I went into math, I guess.
3. Non-DW Fun Fact: if the guy sounds familiar, video gamers, it's because he's the announcer in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Culinary idea of the day

I read not so long ago that beekeepers sometimes feed bees plain sugar water and get really crappy honey on the cheap. I'm guessing that this honey doesn't have much subtlety or complexity to it, without the floral notes that you might get in the honey from proper nectar-fed bees. Also, at the PNE I saw some bees in a glass tank that had a tube going out of it so that they could have at flowers, but there was also a little jar of sugar water on top for them to eat, since the tube wasn't big enough for the bees to get through unimpeded and because the flowers were kind of far away. (Really, I'm guessing it's just so that they can pad their output volume with some plain-sugar-water honey.)

But then it hit me: why not take this seemingly lame practice and turn it on its head? Sugar water might not have much flavour, sure, but there are plenty of things that do have flavour. Why not feed the bees Coke? What would the honey taste like? I'm guessing Coke.

(Actually, my first thought was root beer, as I think that would turn out a pretty interesting result. Plus the caffeine might do bad things to the bees and make them all aggressive.)

If anyone out there keeps bees and wants to try this, please do and tell me how it goes. All I ask is a free jar of the resulting honey if it's good. Also a mention on your website when it becomes the next big thing. Also a cut of the profits.

You're welcome.

Current Music: The Replacements - Kiss Me On The Bus

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I don't remember how to do this

I realized the other day that I now have way too much stuff to do, not much of it important. I find myself in a new (old) place, starting a new job, living in a new apartment. I have, shamefully, bought myself a few new toys -- and I didn't even spend enough time with the old toys. Some of the new toys give me motion sickness; I actually have toys that literally make me physically ill. Soon work will pick up, too, which is important, and I'll have less time even to play with any of them.

But my favourite toy of all was this blog, at least for a few years there, and I certainly haven't played with it enough. I think I stopped using it when I decided that I should probably try and make some music, which was defensible. Why expend what creative energy I have on a blog, I thought, when I could be working on music? Now, though, I'm doing neither. I should change that.

How do I work this thing again?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Note to self

It's Adam's birthday.

Current Music: Metric - Fantasies

Thursday, June 04, 2009

In conversation with Dickolas (Random quotes from a few days ago, provided with some context)

That's really cool, about the hockey... I don't have anything I'm as passionate about as you are about hockey.

Yeah, but one day, you wake up, your team is out of the playoffs, and you own the world's ugliest jersey, and you think to yourself, "How did I get here?"

Current Music: A.C. Newman - Get Guilty

P.S.: Worth it

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Note to self

It's Galen's birthday.

Current Music: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps

Friday, April 10, 2009

Random quotes from my past, provided without context #41

What is it that you do for Passover?

Well, we gather round the table, and we sing the songs, and we tell the stories, and then we eat a Christian baby.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Occam's razor

From this article by Shelley Fralic in today's Vancouver Sun:

If you're Bryan Adams, for instance, and you sell millions of records over three decades, get nominated for three Oscars, become a social activist and respected photographer with Queen Elizabeth as a subject, you can expect to be largely ignored by the local media.

If you're Celine Dion, and you sell more records than just about any other female singer alive, and are the most lucrative act to hit the Vegas strip since the Rat Pack, and have one of the most glorious voices on the planet, you can expect to be be ridiculed by artistic purists.

And if you're Nickelback, whose trophies could fill a semi-trailer and whose song How You Remind Me received more airplay than any other single in 2002, you can expect to be compared to an overrated garage band.

They may be three of the most successful Canadian musical acts, ever, in the world -- selling more than 250 million records combined -- but they sure can't get no respect at home.

Why? She goes on to posit:

One theory is that success, whether intentioned or accidental, carries the aura of the crass, as if one has sold his soul or trampled babies to achieve all that unseemly fame and fortune.

And we're Canadian, don't forget, inhabitants of a country that makes no waves, draws no attention and prefers quiet achievement over a raving fan club.


... they're all just too successful, too radio-friendly, too middle-class and mainstream for our prissy colonial comfort.

Just FYI, Ms. Fralic, that's probably not the main reason.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009