Nov 7, 2012

Page Statistics are Cocaine for Bloggers

Watching your blog's visitor stats is EXTREMELY addicting.

And it's most addictive in small doses. When I first started blogging I would compulsively check my stats more frequently than I checked Facebook, Twitter and Gmail combined. Not a single pageview escaped my hungry, all-seeing gaze!

When I realized that 80% of these views were actually my own, it was a letdown. But I soon discovered how to block my own pageviews with a cookie, and the addiction continued:

"Oooh! Two people clicked on my facebook link!"

"Wow, a visit from India!"

"Another one from BC! Grandma got my email!"

Even worse is the crash after the high (we've all been there):

"WAHHHHH no one at all has visited my blog in 5 hours! Nobody loves me! I suck at writing!" 
[Looks at pictures of fish for inspiration; ODs on pirogies and skittles]

I'm trying to learn moderation in my addiction. There's been some improvement as more people read my blog and their visits are more equally spread out. I imagine that very VERY popular blog owners must look at their stats and react like this:

"Huh. I got a billion thousand hits this past month. That is a *punches calculator* 5.29% increase over last month. Perhaps my post about disappearing bearsharktopus habitat was moderately interesting after all."

One thing still leaves me very curious.

There are many unknown visitors who have viewed my site at least 10 times. Most of them come here from Facebook. This means I know them.

They come, they read, but they never comment. And it leaves me confused and mentally yelling: "WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE???"


A tutorial for these wanted posters can be found here, if you're interested.

And now I worry that I've scared them all away...

If you are a seasoned blogger, you're probably familiar with the wonders of and marvel that anyone might be blogging along blindly without it. You couldn't live without the details of IP addresses and commenting habits of your visitors so as to cyberstalk them more efficiently.

If you are an unaware or new blogger you may ask: "You mean I can see exactly who clicks my pages, and when, and in what order, and their screen resolution and operating system and city and country and internet browser? WHAAAT?" Yes, you can. Get thee to the statcounter! (They should totally pay me for this glowing endorsement, yo.)

If you are not a blogger and do not own a website, you're probably OH MY NOODLES freaking out right now. As you read these words you may be naively starting up a virus and malware scan. It's not enough. Paralysed by the thought of identity theft, you will resolve to incinerate your computer, flashdrives, and iPhone. You will cancel all your credit cards and leave the country. The rest of your internet life will be spent trainhopping through Europe, visiting a new internet cafe each day and hiding behind multiple IP proxy servers.

Or at the very least, you will disable all cookies. (But that will only inflate my statistics to ridiculous highs. And then my head will explode, and nobody wants to see the mess that would make.)

The best solution by far is to somehow make this blog famous overnight! Your visits will be lost in a sea of traffic and my logs will only go back 30 minutes because a 500-entry log is free and I'm too poor to justify paying money for the privilege of being creepy.

I win. You win. Everybody wins! (But mostly me.)

*If you ARE one of the people who come here looking for pictures of butts, shame on you! But the info here is (mostly) fake.

Oct 23, 2012

Behind the Scenes: Defenestrated Drawings

Up until now my illustration process has been extremely tedious. My pictures may not look like much, but I put HOURS of effort into those things. The post from last week with ten pictures in it? At least ten, maybe twenty hours to write and draw, easy.

So what is my drawing process, anyway?

I thought you'd never ask!

1) First I pencil-sketch everything in no-copy blue. Sometimes I'll photocopy it to have more than one original to work with.
2) Then I ink over it with felt-tip pen.

3) I scan it in, adjust the colour levels, and fix pen mistakes. I do all my digital work in GIMP, which you can download for free.
4) The colouring begins! Depending on complexity and depth, this can take 15 minutes... or up to two hours, like in this case.

5) Sometimes I add a background. This picture was pretty fancy, so the background took upwards of a half hour.
6) The finished work of art! Take a closer look and read the related blog post here.

But guess what?

I got a tablet! (Not the iPad type, no. A graphics tablet.)

Behold: the Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch! I found this one second-hand on Kijiji for $50, which is a sweet deal at only half the price of the newer, more stylish model.

On the other hand, this one has features that even the new one doesn't (specifically, an eraser on the stylus).

Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch CTH-460

The verdict: I am IN LOVE with how natural and intuitive it feels to use this thing. The response is great and the pressure sensitivity has so much potential! It's fun to play with and loads better than a trackpad. I even find myself reaching for it instead of my mouse...

And THIS is my first fish-person drawing done entirely on the tablet! Hmmm... I need more practice. XD

Jubilations ensue!

I still have 3 or 4 upcoming posts illustrated in the traditional method, but these will phase out as I start using my tablet.

With any luck, this new gadget will mean more drawings for you and also more sleep for me! Woo-hoo!

So what about the rest of you? Artists, cartoonists, and casual doodlers — what do you draw with?

A graphics tablet?
Tablet computer?
Camera? (Yes, that totally counts!)
Ordinary pens?
Or a trackpad? (Yuck!)

Oct 9, 2012

The painfully realistic guide to looking FIVE* years younger - instantly!

Tried, tested and proven - enjoy!
*Results may vary.

Step 1: Don't wear makeup.

Step 2: Don't do anything with your hair.

Step 3: Squash a brightly-coloured bicycle helmet onto your frizzy head and pedal to the nearest public library.

Step 4: Sweatily attempt to renew your library card:

In other news, I turned 20 last week! YAY!

Do you look your age? Am I the only University student out there who gets mistaken for a pre-teen? (Please tell me I'm not.)

Sep 24, 2012

Amazon Illustrated: Giant Mutant Ants!

The Internet is a very strange place. Take a serious look around and you will find no shortage of flame wars, porn, rage comics, atrocious grammar, porn, advertising, porn, and forums and communities built around every bizzare topic imaginable.

But once in a while, people on the Internet come together just to have fun. And sometimes such a thing can grow a mind of its own and become bigger than any of the contributors... and it can be downright hilarious.

This is one of those times.

Allow me to present this tin of Uranium Ore available on for the low price of $49.95 USD! (Plus shipping.)

Yes, this is a REAL product.

Let's see what reviewers have to say about it, shall we?


247 of 260 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars
Movies Lie
This review is from: Uranium Ore
Do not be fooled by this product. I bought this along with four terrapins and a rat (since I couldnt lay my hands on a warthog and a rhino). I rubbed this product into my skin and gums then rolled around with the terrapins and the rat.

Long story short I did NOT end up with my own crime-fighting mutant superhero team. The rat bit me and I crushed the terrapins. Also I now have a strange rash and Im coughing up blood, whats up with that?



9,068 of 9,225 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
Great Product, Poor Packaging
This review is from: Uranium Ore
I purchased this product 4.47 Billion Years ago and when I opened it today, it was half empty.


2,924 of 3,047 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Ok for cleaning teeth, not so great for killing ants...
By Nero Goldstein "Bemused by a Muse" (The Great Nation of Texas) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Uranium Ore
Picked this up for use in one of my kid's 'diversity' projects in school (Great Success!), and stuck the leftovers in the cabinet next to the baking soda.

Ran out of toothpaste, and remembered how you're supposed to be able to use baking soda to clean your teeth, so of course, I accidentally used this instead, and Wow! all I can say is, my teeth have never been cleaner! They sparkle, they tingle, and for some reason, they STAY clean now, no matter what. Highly recommended!

However, when I ran out of that fire-ant killer powder stuff, I figured I would try some for that too.

Big mistake!

Boy, it sure did not kill those ants!

Fortunately, those suckers get slower as they get bigger, so I have been able to use a shovel to take care of most of them, one at a time though, the sneaky devils.

And the darn trash man refuses to take them away..

I would have given this product 5 stars for the teeth and the project on embracing diversity, but I deducted one star because of the giant mutant ants.


I pulled out some of the best, but there are literally hundreds of these reviews. Want more? Here you go!

Funny and sarcastic reviews can be found all over Do you have another example I should try illustrating? Link me up in the comments! If I use your suggestion, I'll link back to your blog or website in the post. =)

Sep 10, 2012

Food Wizardry on a Budget: How to Stock Your Shelves!

And now for something completely different... and unusually practical! School is starting up and many students are moving away from home, so I thought I would impart a little culinary wisdom.

So you've just moved into a new place... with an empty fridge and a thriving colony of dust-bunnies in the cupboards. You want to survive on more than Kraft Dinner while you're there, but what ingredients should you buy? The idea of stocking a pantry from scratch can be quite overwhelming, and the cost can be downright scary for a struggling student.

So what are your options?

You could plan all your meals in advance and buy only the ingredients needed for each recipe, but the cost (and time!) per meal at the outset can be discouraging, and extra ingredients might be left to sit unused until they spoil. Additionally, you lose the ability to create dinner on the spot from ingredients you have on hand.

A better idea is to acquire a pantry and fridge full of staples: basic ingredients that can be used to create most recipes, often without any unusual additions.

But what should you buy? If you get only a few general things, you might have difficulty finding recipes that work with the ingredients you have. If you try and get everything, it will be very expensive — and more likely than not, you’ll end up with many obscure ingredients you rarely or never use.

Never fear! I’ve compiled a list of 60 basic ingredients to jump-start your collection. These are the ones I use most frequently, and I can prepare an enormous selection of food using only what's listed below. While this list is not exhaustive or completely essential, it does provide a great starting point.

Herbs and Spices:

Garlic powder
Dill weed
Cayenne pepper
Chili powder

Herbs and spices are the crux of good cooking: they can easily make the difference between “edible” and “gourmet.” Although at several dollars for a tiny bottle they can seem expensive, remember that they last a long time. The best strategy is to select a few recipes to start with that use only a couple of spices. Buy only the ones you need, and add to your collection gradually. Soon you will have all of these and more, and you can start experimenting by adding new spices to your recipes! (One of my favourite pastimes.)

TIP: a little garlic powder, basil and oregano will make anything taste like pizza! Try adding them with tomato to a grilled cheese sandwich and see what you think.


All-purpose flour
White sugar
Powdered sugar
Brown sugar
Baking powder
Baking soda
Yeast (regular or instant)
Vanilla extract

Even if you don’t plan on “baking,” you’ll need to have most of these on hand anyway. Flour and cornstarch are frequently used as thickeners in soups and sauces, and I am a firm believer that a teaspoon of sugar makes any recipe three times better. Besides, developing your baking skills alongside cooking is never a bad idea — few things are as satisfying as making your own fresh buns or biscuits from scratch.

Pantry Items:

Rice (or alternative)
Dried pasta
White vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Vegetable oil
Olive oil
Broth or soup stock

Rice or pasta is the base for many filling meals. When it comes to selecting pasta, don’t feel that you need a box of every type. (Has anyone ever died from eating spaghetti sauce with fettuccini noodles?) So if you’re trying to keep things inexpensive, start with one “long” noodle (spaghetti or fettuccini) and one “fancy” noodle (rotini, penne or bow-tie are all great choices).

There are also many vinegars to choose from — balsamic, red wine, cider, and rice, to name a few — but once again, start with one or two. Plain white vinegar is fine for baking where its only use is in chemical reactions, but be sure to use a flavoured vinegar for dressings and sauces.

Canned Goods:

Crushed tomatoes
Tomato paste
Diced tomatoes
Other canned fruit and vegetables

Canned goods are great pantry staples thanks to their long shelf life and potent flavours. You’ll notice that tomatoes are on this list three times — they have more culinary uses than I can count! Likewise, tuna is one of the best canned meats and can be used so many ways: straight out of the can in salads or wraps, broiled in sandwiches, cooked in casseroles, and more. Pick a few of your favourites to add to this list. I never go without canned pineapples, my all-time favourite pizza topping.

Perishables and Produce:

Parmesan cheese
Sour cream
Frozen fruit and vegetables

These ingredients are easy! You probably keep many of these on hand anyway, even if you don’t consider yourself a cook. The tricky part is ensuring they don’t spoil, but they’re actually very easy to use up. Leftover potatoes and eggs can become scrambled eggs and hash browns, and many more of these ingredients can be added to sandwiches.

Onion and garlic are essential for numerous dishes, but be sure to pick out a few more fruits and veggies during each shopping trip. Even if you don’t cook something with them, you’ll eat healthier if you reach for them as snacks instead of carb-filled foods. Frozen fruit and vegetables are wonderful to have on hand – the veggies can be steamed, fried, or added to soups, and the fruit can be eaten with yogurt or cereal or in smoothies.


Soy sauce
Teriyaki sauce
Peanut butter
Lemon juice

Many cooks keep fresh lemons on hand for their juice, but I find that buying bottled lemon juice works fine in most cases. You can also use it to make killer lemonade — who needs cheap drink crystals?

Finally, a word of advice regarding condiments (and all other food items on this list, for that matter): if you know you don’t like it, don’t buy it! Yes, sometimes a food you dislike can add a wonderful flavour when used as part of a larger dish. (I’m looking at you, mushrooms!) But when starting out, your best shot at success lies in making foods with simple, standard ingredients you already know you like.

Good luck and happy cooking!

Have any kitchen tips or tricks of your own? Share them in the comments! :)
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