Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Washing nightmare

As always, laundry is piling up at our house. Lots and lots of dirty clothes everywhere. It's getting close to that point of the semester that we start wearing all the granny and grandpa underwear hidden in the bottom of the drawer just because nothing else is clean.

Luckily our landlord installed new washers and dryers and it's a bit less disgusting to do the laundry at the building, but now it works on plastic tokens that we have to buy from his daughter, whenever she happens to be home. And people still have the nasty habit of feeling free to take out my damp laundry from the washer before the end of the cycle to put their owns, which I'm not really fond of.

We end up using our whole wardrobe to then rent a car2go and take the 5 tons of everything we own to the laundromat once every 3 months, more or less, to wash it all at once. The closest laundromat is not exactly heaven on earth and just thinking about how close we are to that time of the year that we spend a whole free saturday washing and drying and folding clothes makes me sad.

That's when I have the excuse to not do what I was supposed to be doing and window shop online for laundry alternatives!

We have absolutely no space for a proper washing machine at home, but there are several options that might be possible for us and I have been studying them for the 3 1/2 years that I've lived in this apartment.

Apparently the best option could be the Haier portable washer, that could fit in our coat closet if we take out everything else that's in there, and the roll it in and out of the bathroom every time we do laundry. It does fit a whole set of queen size sheets or about 15 t-shirts. It also does all the work by itself and has an integrated spin cycle. But it's the largest of the options, which would force us to have it in the middle of the bathroom all the time, squeezing in and out to get to the toilet. It has the looks of an actual washing machine, good reviews everywhere and an used one on craigslist costs $150, or $250 for a new one. 43x45x76cm

Panda is a chinese brand (well, at least it's all chinese, not only the manufacture) that has some interesting things. A while back I almost bought the mini washer. It's tiny like a bucket and also has great review. It would fit perfectly fine under the sink for storage and then inside the bath tube during work hours. But it's only an agitator. You have to fill it with water, let it work, put the hose down for draining the soapy water by gravity, then fill it with clean water, agitate again to rinse and have an absolutely soaked laundry to air dry, which takes forever. Having a Mini Panda also meant I would have to buy a separate spin dryer, to make the drying time a little bit better. Laundry alternatives sells a spin dryer that apparently even people that have full sized washer and dryers use to have the items almost dry before putting in to the dryer, to save energy, so it must spin even better than a regular machine. It isn't the most practical combo, but it's small enough to have it at home and it does mean not having to go to the laundromat... It fits only on queen size sheet at a time, or one pair of jeans and a few t-shirts. $99 for the Mini Panda plus 145 for the spin dryer, which adds up to quite a lot!

But in January Panda came up with a new washing machine that was only available in China before! It's a more automatic version of the Mini, with a spin dryer attached to it! From what I understood, you still have to fill it with water in the beginning and then again to rinse, but it drains more automatically and better than the Mini and the spin dryer is supposed to dry really well. It fits inside our bathtub while it's washing and comfortably in the coat closet afterwards, it does the whole cycle (washing, rinsing and spinning) in about 15 minutes and can wash more than the Mini one.

(I would be as happy as that little guy with one of these!)

This youtube review quite well the struggle with it, but it isn't all that bad!

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/jmQKnX1tRTI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

The best alternative would be if a smart person rented one of the ground level stores on the new apartment building they are building right across the street from us and made it a laundromat as amazing as the one we saw in Bellingham by the Trader Joe's, all clean and really pretty, with brand new fancy machines, a coffee shop and wifi to make your time waiting less painful. One can dream, right? It was just a while ago that we had to commute to the super market, and now we have the best one right on the corner, why not this one too?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lynn Canyon Park

Yesterday we went off to North Vancouver to spend the afternoon at Lynn Canyon Park.

We had been there once during the fall two years ago and it was very pretty, but Vancouver during summer is a whole different thing and we were curious to see the Lynn Creek in a sunny day.

We reserved a Car2go and it was parked in front of a Peruvian Cafe, so we decided to try some Inca Cola. With our tutti-frutti chewing gum flavoured soda in hands, we drove off to North Van.

We got in to the park at the wrong entrance (2011 was a long time ago!) but had a pleasant surprise! We didn't get to see the Indiana Jones kind of suspension bridge they have at the other park entrance, but we didn't had to share "our" area of the park with any other tourists either.

We walked down some narrower trails following the sound of water until we arrived at this crazy beautiful shallow and wide portion of the creek between a short waterfall and a small rapid.

The water was extremely cold and we couldn't have our feet underwater for more than a minute.

Unfortunately it was late in the afternoon and we wanted to go through the trails back while it was still light out, but we are definitively going back someday this summer early in the morning to perhaps risk a freezing swim.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

In silico mobile

The other day I talked a about the physics involved in mobiles. I said I wanted to build a bigger and simpler one. I don't actually have time for that, but I can simulate it:

The same one with perspective:

I'm afraid the gifs don't always load properly, maybe they are a bit heavy.

Eating in Vancouver Vol.1: The Naam

The Naam is a pretty easy choice for us. It's vegetarian, on our street (the busses go from door to door), it's good and it is 24 hours. The Naam and the japanese restaurant close by are our to go restaurants for when we don't feel very creative to try someplace new. We even went there on new years eve, after getting bored at a house party!

I guess it's the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver, located in a very hippie house, with aweful live music sometimes in the evening. The menu is huge and pretty eclectic, which makes it even easier to just go there and decide what kind of food you want to eat later. They have burritos, burgers, pizza, pasta, asian noodles, vegetable bowls, nachos, hot dogs... most of it with a hippie twist (the pizza is in a pitta bread, the hot dogs are wrapped in chapati...) but really really tasty.

They also substitute the real cheese for vegan Daiya on any item. Even though I'm not vegan, the dragon bowl with vegan cheese is one of my favourites, and their miso gravy is crazy good!

This is just the dinner/lunch menu. For breakfast they have a special menu that includes one of the best vegan sausages I've ever had, made in house!

We went there yesterday and we had a Milano quesadilla platter and an Asian noodle bowl to share. Servings are huge!

I though we had more pictures from other meals we had there, but it turns out that if we had any, they were in Pau's stolen computer, so here are some shots from Geoff Peters from Dine out here Vancouver:

The Naam is on 2724 West 4th avenue and it's well worth the ride.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mobile physics

About a year ago Gabi gave me some vintage flying dinosaur toys. Since then, I've been meaning to do something with those. They are not sufficiently nice as to display them by themselves, but they look really good when they are together, that's why we said "let's build a mobile!". It's been more of a child-bedroom mobile than an Alexander Calder's, but hey, it's our first time.

We only have 4 dinosaurs, which is actually the complete collection. We got some wood sticks from the dolar store, and thread.

The objects (dinosaurs) are suspended in a 10 cm string, and the lower level suspends from the double of that (20 cm). Those distances can change depending on the size of the object you hang, the length of the string doesn't affect the balancing, but it's important that the objects don't bump into each other. The rod length can change as wished, that won't affect the balance either (it's only the ratio between each side of the lever what matters, see below.)

It's really great how many configurations such a simple object has, and more importantly, governed by chaotic dynamics!

While I was building the craft, I couldn't help thinking about the physics it envolves. It is a quite simple problem, very easy to model following Archimedes "Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the Earth with it".

We enumerate each level of the mobile as n, the mass of the rod is M, the length of the rod is L, and the mass of the object is m. Here we consider that the strings are massless and that each rod and each object have the same weight.

The small side of the rod (distance from the rod tip to the string that it hangs from) Ls of the nth level will have length:

Therefore it behaves as 1/n. Below there is a Ls/L plot and a scheme of an ideal m=M mobile plotted using Python.

That last scheme made me want to build a very minimal mobile, exactly the same as this one.


We always have our daily dosis of streaming tv here at our house, but for the last few months we had been struggling to find something that could hook us for real.

After a long period of searching, we downloaded the first 3 seasons of Boardwalk Empire and have watched the first two in about a week or so, but as always, good things come in three (or four) and now we have a ton of shows to watch and almost not enough time.

Apart from the 3rd season of Boardwalk Empire, the new season of Wilfred just premiered this week, two episodes in a row, but that is not the greatest. The greatest is Un Principe Para Corina!

Oh my! oh my! It has been a while without watching thrash tv and I guess there's nothing like a good manipulated Spanish reality show to get brainwashed late at night. 24 weirdos competing for a bland blonde's love, in the best Bachelorette style possible, as funny as it can be. There's a vampire, a nerd rapper, a christian body builder, a guy with thousands of plastic surgeries, a porn lover chinese-basque guy, a dog loving cop... We are hooked! Hooked! It's all in Spanish, but you can watch it here.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Italian Day

Yesterday it was Italian Day at Commercial Drive in Vancouver. It was sure better than the time we went to Greek Day in Kitsilano, but it wasn't exactly the "OMG it's so authentic" that we overheard people saying on the streets.

We started off with a 2PM breakfast of Fanta Banana Slurpee for Pau and some Tonic Water for me to get us going.

As expected, there were several non-sense vendors that just enjoy the opportunity to sell a bit more, like promotional stands from bands, radio stations and Car2go. The restaurants of the street also set up an outside stand with foods that are no so very Italian, like butter chicken and sushi.

Out of all the activities expected for the day, like eating contests and Italian fashion shows, we only saw the very end of a cooking demonstration with "The Singing Chef". We got there at the right time!

Singing was actually the only thing we saw. A trio with dark tans and bright teeth at first, then the singing chef, then a very self confident guy in a pink silk shirt and a smaller karaoke style area.

After some good laughs, we started getting cranky from hunger and decided it was past time to have our first meal of the day. But everything was so full! The lines for the street vendors were huge and the prices weren't really that attractive and all the restaurants of the Drive were packed with long waiting times.

By 4PM we gave up on the theatrical Italian Day and went on to get great pizza on Gastown, at Nicli Antica, far from it all. It was really really good as always, but we were way to hungry to take pictures.
From there we walked back home, stopping for a Clover coffee on the way, Pau's new coffee preference that deserves a whole post about it.

Sunday, June 09, 2013


Since we were going to meet friends from Barcelona in Montreal last month, Pau made a small package with gifts for his parents and brother, so Albert took it back to Barcelona to them as early birthday gifts with free shipping.

To Jordi, Pau's dad, we got this very fun book, with 642 things to draw. It just says a word (in english, so he can also practice vocabulary) and a small blank space to illustrate each word.

Last week Jordi sent Pau some pictures of what he had been drawing:

All these fun drawings made us want to try too, and I enjoyed a great sale on chapters to get the 642 things to draw for Pau and the second book, 712 more things to draw for Jordi in advance for christmas or something.

I know I didn't get me one and it sure wouldn't hurt to have a reason to draw more (or to draw all together, because I definitively don't draw anymore at all.), but I can always just copy the words from Pau and draw in another notebook, right?

Sunday, June 02, 2013


Being international students forces us to live in a semi-temporary arrangement. We refrain ourselves from getting anything too permanent, since we don't know how long we'll live here. That includes nice expensive furniture, records, books and pets.

I miss having cats around. A lot. I like their company, playing with them and having something to take care of, but cats do live a long time and we're not one of those people (and there are many!) that move out and leave their pets behind.

Last weekend we finally decided to contact VOKRA to become volunteers. The Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association is a non-profit association that rescues cats in the Lower Mainland and does not have a central shelter. They rely on volunteer foster homes (like ours!) that help on keeping the cats safe, tame and socialized, making it a lot easier for them to be adopted later on. It is the perfect solution for us! It allows us to have a cat, help out and hopefully keep the mice away!

After filling an application and a few phone calls, our first foster cat arrived 3 days ago! They brought her together with canned and dry food, a litter box and wood pellets to use as litter.

Her name is Katrina and she's 14 months old and a real sweetie! She has spent the first day behind the bathtub (that's why she's so dusty) and so far has chosen the bathroom as her HQ. She's a talker and meows a lot every time we stand up because she wants us to keep her company by the toilet, where she feels safe.

But little by little she'll get used to the rest of the house and today she even played a bit with a string in the living room.

When we feel like she's ready, calmer and socialized, we'll right a short bio about her, take pretty pictures and try to get her adopted through Vokra. We get to choose who adopts her, since we will be the ones who know her better. I'll sure cry a lot and then get another foster cat to start it all over again.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


So, I got back to university for graduate school. And it's cool how everything feels totally different from the boring bachelor's degree. After discussing lots of physics with colleagues and my supervisor, I realized that whiteboards are exactly where the magic happens. That's why I got obsessed with getting a nice whiteboard for home.

I looked at many options, I was about to spend $60 in whiteboard from Staples, but since we were in front of IKEA, we got in there to see what do we find. They sell an actual whiteboard which looks nice (even though I would need like 2 of those to fit in some formulas).

However, we bumped into a 70 x 100 cm aluminium picture frame for $15 that is just perfect. You simply draw on the glass, and, even after many days, it's extremely easy to erase.

I use it a lot, and I actually own a bunch of different markers for the sake of good science!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Radio 557

Some months ago I lost my backpack in the Skytrain with my laptop inside and someone took it. It was a terrible thing. The "find my mac" app from Apple was supposed to block the computer but it did absolutely nothing. Thanks to Chrome, I could see from another device all the things that this person googled trying to wipe everything out of the laptop until he finally did so. Also, Gabi did a great detective work on Craigslist and we were 99.9% certain that we found the laptop, but we couldn't contact the guy.

Anyways, I'm telling this because today I remembered that between lots of pictures that now are lost forever, there were the radio podcasts that I did with my friends from Barcelona three years ago. I am actually really proud that we got to broadcast 42 programs, and today, searching in my old emails I could get some of the cover pictures of the show, which brought me lots of good memories. The covers were made late at night by Oriol Roca while Albert and I were uploading the thing.