Jun 25, 2011

Of HTML and Blogger: Here Be Dragons.

The legendary dragon Bloggogg (Blogger) and his minions Facebook, Twitter and AddThis
The legendary Bloggogg and his devil-spawn

My experience with HTML is extremely limited. I like to figure things out, but this is my blog and it's mine and it's wonderful (to me) and I'M TERRIFIED OF MESSING IT UP REALLY BAD. I swear I've backed up my blog template a platypillion times.

Also, getting something to almost work drives me up a spider-covered volcano of incapacitating OCD-like frustration. I will work on it for days instead of writing new posts... (hem hem) and then I get behind and don't post anything for a week. Sorry. D=

But such was the process of trying to add sharing and Facebook "like" buttons to my blog.

Before I started this blog, my only knowledge of HTML was from grade 7 computers class when we created our own webpages and published them on the school's intranet. Mine looked like this... only worse, because instead of a cartoon the picture was a grainy scan of my student ID card.

Home     About Me     Links     Here I wrote something about myself. It doesn't really matter what, because it was almost wholly illegible. It had random bold and italics in order to prove I knew how to do them and the text was centered because our teacher said it looked better that way.

Our teacher was wrong. Large paragraphs of centered text ooze of visual barf and eye-seizures. They're slightly worse than using two spaces after periods, but not quite as bad as publishing in a monospaced font like Courier New.

But I digress.

I discovered AddThis last week and wanted to add its fancy buttons to all my posts... so people could like them and share them and stalk them. *cough* But AddThis didn't want to co-operate and Blogger made things difficult.

Working with HTML was as bad as trying to edit an essay written in another language... but without the help of using Google translate.

I finally got everything to work. I may or may not have stayed up until 4 am.

There are two things I'm getting at here...


If you have a Blogger blog, want to do something like what I did (or anything seen on this blog actually) and happen to think I could be helpful for whatever crazy reason...

Go ahead and ask! I like helping! Also, emails make me happy.

Knight in Shining Armour fighting the fire-breathing Blogger dragon, Bloggogg the Legendary.
I did this so you don't have to. I'm a hero!


See those ohh-so-shiny Facebook/Twitter/SiteThingy buttons? The colourful ones that sit tantalizingly at the top and bottom of every post? The ones that I spent HOURS and HOURS fiddling with to make sure they worked perfectly? Yeah.

A lot of keyboard sweat and eyestrain tears went into those and it would suck bagels if they all just sat there.

Click them. Please?

Jun 14, 2011

This is my brain on FAILURE.

The following events happened on Friday May 13th, but I have no need of bad luck. Nope... everything here can be properly accredited to my own stupidity.

One sunny Friday last month I decided to install new fenders on my bike. All I had to do was unscrew the broken parts and put on new ones. What could go wrong? I found a wrench and screwdriver and set to work.

Four bolts, two screws, three washers and four nuts later, the last screw remained completely blocked by the back wheel.

A glass of lemonade, two nuts, three washers and a kickstand later, the back wheel was still trapped inside the brakes.

After wrestling the back wheel out from the chain I took the front wheel off too. This made sense at the time, I'm sure....

As I stopped to look around me I realized that my plan to keep track of parts as I took them off had FALLEN TO PIECES (hurr hurr). Pieces of bicycle were strewn all about the lawn. Washers and nuts were scattered throughout a forest of grass blades. The chain had snotted grit-filled grease all over my hands and to top it all off, somehow the last of my lemonade had tipped over.

I no longer knew which parts went where and I began to panic. My brain went into overdrive to try and sort through the kaleidoscope of pieces. Bike? What bike?

This is practically a genuine scientific drawing. Of my brain. Yep.

Dejected, I plopped myself down on the grass to collect myself and contemplate my failure.

Becky, the wife and mother of two who lives upstairs from my apartment, passed through the backyard and saw me sitting in the grass amidst my frustrating dismantled heap of a bike.

"Ellen, you're so handy!" she said.

I died a little inside.

I'm sure Becky thought my small mountain of dismembered-bicycle chaos was somehow impeccably organized inside my brain. I knew otherwise, and the cosmic void separating her perception and my reality was depressing.

I wish.

After a long break I finally got down to business to defeat the huns put my bike back together. I still had a whole pile of leftover hardware, but somehow I managed to reattach all the important parts into something resembling a bicycle.

Boy, was I proud of myself! I felt capable, even self-congratulatory.

This was a mistake. [Obligatory hat-tip to Hyperbole and a Half]

Now feeling like the self-appointed master of all things cycling, I decided that just putting the bike together wasn't enough. No, I had to fine-tune this beast into a [Tow Mater voice:] precision instrument of speed and aromatics!

The first thing to do was to loosen up my seized brakes. What could I use to lubricate them? I ransacked the garage and found a can of WD-40. Yay! That stuff is supposed to work on everything from evil zippers to spastic lawnmowers, right?

After squeezing some WD-40 around the joints I tested out the brake arms. I didn't notice much improvement... that was weird. So I added more, but the brakes acted like they were trapped in a slow-motion freeze-ray. When I finally couldn't move them at all, pebbles of doubt began to ripple through my mind.

I was the sorcerer of all things cyclic and surely my bike was the problem... but I decided to look it up anyway.


The following is a list of things that did not happen:

  • I didn't die
  • I didn't damage my bike... permanently
  • I didn't try to ride my WD-40-soiled bike and get pitched off of a cliff
  • I didn't take the can of WD-40 and actually... no. Just no.

So really, it could have been worse. And I DID fix my bike... eventually.

Shoosh yeah!!!

All Songs Light and Musical

The change in background today is in honor of Owl City's new and long-awaited album, All Things Bright And Beautiful.

I have been waiting for this for MONTHS. And the release date got bumped back like a kajillimillion times and I was like ARGHWHYWHYWHY but then I was patient and now it's finally here!


I'm not normally like this about music releases, honest. But then I'm not usually inclined to celebrity crushes either. UM.

Exceptions, exceptions...

Sorry for the crazy, guys — I'll make it up to you and post a real entry soon about bicycles and failure. It has like SIX pictures! (Maybe ten, it depends how you count.) Yay!

Jun 9, 2011

Taking Photos of Butts is Probably Illegal or Something

Especially a stranger's butt. I'm fairly sure that even considering it certifies me as a Grade A Creeper. (Do I get a badge for that?)

Tuesday evening I was minding my own business and heading home on city transit. We stopped at a station like any other, the doors opened, the doors closed, nothing was out of the ordinary.

Nothing, that is, until I became the unwilling bench-mate of this wardrobe-malfunctioning peacock.

Due to technical difficulty this image is an artist's rendition only.

I hold all pant owners who decline to cover their underwear in the highest disregard, but this degree of failure is a rare breed. Firstly, all his other clothing was neutrally-coloured. If the one splash of colour had been anything but underwear, I would have admired his sense of style. What ran through my mind instead was this:

Mister, did you PLAN on looking like a baboon when you dressed yourself this morning?

It was bad. I've tried to match the colour as accurately as possible, but something my drawing can't convey is how tight they were. I learned, in a glance, more than I ever wished to know about the thickness of the cloth. The very prominent seams were dangerously strained.

It's the new corset for buttocks! Can your butt even BREATHE?

Naturally, I chose to do what any writer would do after such an experience.

I am so going to blog about this.

Then it occurred to me that rants about the "style" of wearing one's trousers hung halfway to Hades were already way overdone. Hence:

I should take a PICTURE of his butt and blog about it!!!

Oh no.

I'm not sure how human decency allowed that thought into my conscious mind, but the idea stuck. I was determined to somehow get a picture of this butt without the guy noticing.

  • iPod? No good; it only does video and this picture needs to be high-quality.
  • Cell phone? Nope... It plays a recorded duck sound when taking pictures and I can't turn that off.
  • Camera! I still have it in my backpack from earlier today. YES.

I began forming a strategy. While I could probably get away with just holding a camera, taking one out only to point it at someone's butt would surely arouse suspicion. This was my plan:

  1. Inconspicuously obtain camera.
  2. Turn off flash and sound under the guise of looking through previous pictures.
  3. Take pictures of moderately disinteresting things through the train window.
  4. Lower camera and pretend to check settings while aiming at the offending butt.
  5. Hit that shutter button like a ninja!
  6. Check results; repeat if necessary.

With my scheming complete I rummaged through the contents of my backpack, shifting papers as quietly as possible. With each rustle and clatter of pencils I was sure I could feel Mr. Baboon's laser-eyes watching me, prepared to decapitate me with a glance. At last I located my camera. Carefully and casually I slid it up onto my lap.

Mr. Baboon looked directly at me.

I aimed the camera down, avoided all eye contact and deliberately gazed out the window. I held back a powerful urge to whistle.

Mr. Baboon turned away.

I slowly turned back to the camera to adjust its settings. Holding my breath, I discreetly slid the power switch to the "ON" position. Nothing.


Even worse! The train began to slow down for the next stop and Mr. Baboon shifted his weight as if preparing to stand up.

He's going to LEAVE? Noooooo!

Shoving my good pal Secrecy off of the proverbial cliff, I dove for my notebook and threw it open to the first mostly-empty page. My pencil tore over the paper in a mad frenzy as I dashed to finish the obscene doodle as a reference for my future, erm...

"Work of art."

Hey look, it's a moustache!

If you need me I'll be at home, waiting for the Blog Police to show up and permanently revoke my maturity license.

Jun 8, 2011

Secrets of Invisibility

Why hello there everyone!

If you were looking for me, I'm not here... and I'm only here now to tell you to look for me elsewhere. Today I wrote a guest post for Dan Hough, a downright marv'lous Brit who 'as a blog of 'is own, wot!

Er, please excuse the failure of my British blogccent. Back on topic.

For REAL ninjas, invisibility comes naturally.
For everyone else, there's this guide. READ IT OR BE NINJA-ED.

Do you have unusual obsessions? Stick out in a crowd? Wear T-shirts with obscure references? Are you... a geek? You're in luck! I have compiled a comprehensive guide on social camouflage for geeks of all kinds. Read all about the secrets of invisibility on Dan's blog: How to Blend In: A Guide for Geeks!*

I'll be back with a normal post tomorrow... or at least, something as normal as they ever are. =D

*May contain sarcasm, generally useless advice and an appearance by Mr. Bean.

Jun 5, 2011

Marshmallow Insanity

Rice Krispies are the sad pandas of the cereal world. This horribly bland breakfast needs 2% milk and triple portions of sugar just to be palatable.

In Australia and New Zealand they're called Rice Bubbles, which is a much better name. "Rice Bubbles" sounds sad and wimpy, making it far more appropriate. Bubbles are awesome. Rice bubbles are not.

The addition of melted marshmallow decreases mediocrity by about 22 per cent, but I've never been overly fond of them even then. You just can't make a great marshmallow treat without using great ingredients!

I was babysitting for my parents this week, and one afternoon I decided I would make a fancy snack for my younger siblings. My family doesn't make Rice Krispies Squares very often. Instead, we make marshmallow things with Corn Flakes called "Crispy Crunchies." But I wasn't in the mood for Corn Flakes.

Then it came to me: the inspiration to create Marshmallow Insanity:

  • S'mores are awesome.
  • Marshmallow goop is awesome.
  • Shreddies are awesome! (Graham crackers are possibly more awesome, but this was not foremost in my mind.)
  • [UPDATE: So my American friends might not know what Shreddies are; I hear they're like Chex, only better. =P]

There was no freaking way this combination could be not-awesome. So without further ado, I give you:

Marshmallow Insanity in 5.5 epic (if not easy) steps.

Step 1: Acquire Marshmallows.
If you don't have any you'll need to go out and hunt them in the wild. The Western Canadian Marshmallow shares its habitat with gummy bears and skittles. If you live outside of Western Canada, you may need to consult a wildlife guidebook to identify native marshmallow species in your area.

Step 2: Liquefy.
Trap your marshmallows in a large bucket and microwave them until the bucket melts or the microwave explodes, whichever happens first. Make sure to scoop all marshmallow innards off of the microwave and counter-tops/ceiling/floor before proceeding.

Step 2.5: Contaminate
So apparently making marshmallow-type treats is easier if you stir a bunch of melted butter into the marshmallow goo. Who knew? So, uh, you might want to do that. (I didn't.)

Step 3: Hybridize
Stir a bunch of Shreddies cereal and chocolate chips into the molten marshmallow. This is the most dangerous step, so be sure to arm yourself with multiple stirring weapons — erm, utensils. You may want to grease your hands for extra protection against marshmallow goop attacks.

Step 4: Dissect
Grease a muffin pan with butter or oil. Don a surgical mask and gloves to separate the experiment into snowball-sized chunks, squish these into separate compartments in the pan and eat any goobs that refuse to be squished. That last part is totally mandatory. (Remove the surgical mask first.)

Step 5: Escape!
If you're anything like me you will end up looking like the unfortunate victim of a marshmallow suicide pact; free yourself quickly — or they will suck out your brains and you will become... *cue freaky music*



And here's a picture of the Marshmallow Insanity Snacks! They're like S'mores wrapped up in a portable lump of rainbow and awesome.

Jun 2, 2011

Kites Part 1.5: Accidental Awesomeness

I can't believe I COMPLETELY forgot about sharing this until today.

A couple weeks ago I was illustrating my post about a traumatic childhood experience with a kite and I created an accidental Frankenstein of hilarity. It is the funniest thing I have ever unintentionally created and WAY too good not to share. =)

But it didn't fit with the story I was writing at the time. =(

"Nooooooo Ellen!!!! Come Back!"

When I colour my fish-people drawings, I edit all of the pictures for a post in one mammoth image file. (This helps me stay organized and makes it easier to keep colours consistent.) There are several layers for each picture and I just turn them on and off as needed and export them separately when I'm done.

I was working on this set of drawings when I happened to see these two pictures superimposed on each other. The alignment was incredible! I honestly couldn't have drawn this better if I tried.

Plus I'm terrified of heights, so the expression on my face as I appear to be dragged away by the kite is just perfect.

I had to take a break from working because I was laughing so hard. Hopefully I'm not the only one who finds this so incredibly funny... It also reminds me of my all-time favourite Calvin and Hobbes comic, which is (unsurprisingly) also about kites. [UPDATE: The link is working now! Sorriez!]

Can you tell by now that I like kites? I love kites. I have at least two more childhood "Misadventures with Kites" to write about, and I'll post those as parts 2 and 3... eventually. =D

There will be plenty of random stuff in the meantime!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...