Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Gimme Sympathy

Yesterday afternoon at work my throat started to get a little bit sore. Being a “walk it off” type of person when it comes to illness1, I had a cup of tea and figured that should fix me up. Went to a board meeting after work and then my salsa dance class.

This morning, I woke up with my throat burning like the fire of 1000 suns. But the thing was, I had a meeting at work where I needed to review some stuff with a governance group and I was on their agenda for 50 mins of their 1 hour meeting. And the only co-worker who could reasonable have covered this for me is away on holidays for spring break. So I dragged my sad little self into the office to do this meeting, update the documents we were reviewing to give back to them, and then came home sick2. On the way home, I stopped in at the grocery store to get some stereotypical sick person groceries:

My sad little grocery order

I ate some soup, drank some OJ, and then went to sleep for several hours. My kitties joined me for this epic nap, because they are such good caregivers. Or possibly because they just nap all day anyway – I’m not usually here during the day, so it’s entirely possible that this is how they normally spend their time.

For anyone who knows me, this is a monumental day, as calling in sick to work goes against ever fibre of my being3. And given how sore my throat is and how tired and weak I am at the moment, I might have to call in sick again tomorrow4. Two sick days in a row for me – I believe that is a sign of the end of times.


Me and my kitty caregivers

  1. A trait I inherited from my Dad, for sure. []
  2. When I mentioned to the meeting chair, who had commented that a few people weren’t at the meeting because they’d called in sick, that I was also sick, she said that something was going around the office, as tonnes of people have been off sick. Which was the first I’d heard about it! I thought everyone was just away for spring break! []
  3. Seriously I have – and I’m not even exaggerating – 6 months work of sick leave accumulated in my sick bank at work because I so very rarely call in sick… and my sick bank has been ported from each of my previous two employers, as all the health authorities in the area have portability of sick time and other things. []
  4. Which will really make me sad, as there is an ethics rounds presentation about a zombie apocalypse that I *really* want to go see at lunch tomorrow! []

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Watson’s Strange Obsessions

I think someone forgot to tell Watson that he’s a cat, as he is strangely obsessed with eating green vegetables. Cucumber is his absolute favourite, but he also likes lettuce, spinach, green beans, and asparagus. One time I had a container of small tomatoes in a variety of colours and he reached in and grabbed a green one and ran away with it1

Not only does he like these veggies, but he seems to prefer them to actual cat food. If I put out the cats’ dinner and then start making myself a salad, he will abandon his meal to come and beg for lettuce and cucumbers.

He also loves to watch me dry my hair. I’m not sure what he likes about it so much, but any time I dry my hair, he sits just outside the bathroom and watches intently.

His other obsession is with taking these things off my bed frame:

I’m not sure what these things are called, but they are little decorative knobs on the bed frame that are apparently just inserted into little holes in the bedframe:

For some reason, Watson just has to rip these things out of throw them on the floor. Just the other day I found five of them under my armoire2. I still haven’t found all of them, but at least those five are back in place… well, until Watson discovers I put them back and rips them out again. I fear I am fighting a losing battle on this one.

  1. Turned out that he didn’t actually like tomatoes, as he tried a bite but then left its squishy remains uneaten on the floor. []
  2. I went looking for them as there were more missing than I could find on the floor next to the bed. []

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Random Things I’ve Been Thinking About in No Particular Order

Here are some things that are too long to tweet, but too short to make into whole blog postings on their own.

I like to be annoying

One of my favourite things to do when I play hockey is to screen the goalie. I like to get right in her way so she can’t see, which means that when one of my teammates gets the puck, they can take a shot and the goalie will have a hard time seeing it (and I’m also right there to pick up a rebound, should one occur). Obviously goalies don’t like this and they often call their defenceman to come and move me out of the way, which is, to their surprise, difficult, since I’m so little. My little size is misleading though, because they totally think they should be able to move me, but since I have a low centre of gravity, I’m harder to move than you’d think. Which then means there’s both me and the defenceman who is trying to move me screening the goalie. The more the goalie and/or defenceman expresses their frustration, the more I know I’m doing a good job, and so it only encourages me to do it more. Anyway, I recently realized that I have an office equivalent of this – arguing with one of my coworkers for the sake of arguing. Things we’ve argued over recently include (1) this study (which he holds up as a reason to not to go out running – and to warn me that I’m probably going to die when I go out for a run on my lunch (he also enjoys being annoying) and I provide a critique of the methodological issues with the paper that makes me question the conclusions) and (2) what time of day does “evening” start.

The Bus Lane Bandit

One of my other coworkers got his first ever ticket – it was for driving in a bus lane. He was in an area he’d never driven before and he didn’t notice the bus lane sign and he was very offended that the cop didn’t just let him off with a warning. I have now dubbed this coworker “The Bus Lane Bandit” and refer to this incident as his “crime spree.”

Google Translate

I am currently working on the revisions to a journal article for which one of the reviewers suggested a few papers that I might find helpful to refer to in my paper – and one of those articles was in French, which, of course, I can’t actually read (beyond some basic high school French I learned more than 20 years ago). So I put the paper through Google Translate and was mostly able to get the gist of the paper, but there were some obvious errors. One such error was Google’s translation of a subheading in the paper that read: “Rencontres après les entrevues semi-­dirigées”. Based on my understanding of the journal article, this should be translated to “Meeting after the semi-structured interviews”, as that section of the paper talked about a meeting that was held after the researchers conducted semi-structured interviews. Instead, Google translates it to this:

Which has a whole other connotation entirely.

Another error I came across in Google translate is its translation of “I love my cats” into French. If you ask Google to translate just “I love” it gives you the correct “j’aime”. “Je” means “I” and “aime” means love and since “aime” starts with a vowel, you replace the “e” in “je” with an apostrophe to get “j’aime.”

But when you ask Google to translate “I love my cats”, you get “Je aime mes chats”.

Why Google Translate gets it right in the first instance but not in the second instance is a mystery to me. And it doesn’t matter what word you put at the end of the sentence – you can ask it to translate “I love my frogs”, “I love my mom,” or “I love job”, it still gives you the incorrect “Je aime”1. It also gives you “Je te aime” instead of “Je t’aime” for the translation of “I love you.” WTF, Google?

Octopus!

And finally, I saw this over on The Bloggess’ blog and it is the coolest thing in the history of ever:

  1. And I did check this with Daniel, who speaks French, to make sure that this isn’t some weird quirk of the French language – it’s actually that Google is crazy. []

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Look at me! I’m A Talking Head

A colleague of mine was making a series of videos1 for a class that she teaches and interviewed some experts on relevant topics. One of those topics was evaluation and one of those experts was me!

I’m totally breaking my “I don’t talk about work on my blog” but (a) the job title listed in the video is my old job, so I’m technically not talking about my work in its current form and (b) rampant narcissism requires that I share this video with everyone. Also, I think I come across as a little bit more professional than the last time I was interviewed as an expert… on drinking beer and eating nachos while watching Canucks playoff games

  1. I posted this on Twitter the other day, but I figured I’d post it here so that I’ll be able to find it again when I want to. Twitter is like a black hole that all my various witty remarks disappear into, never to be seen again. []

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Making Dinner With A Little Vitamin Beer

A friend of mine and I have taken up home brewing, because science. It’s a long story that I’ll blog about later, but suffice it to say that we recently finished our first batch and it was, shall we say, suboptimally carbonated. Tasted quite good for a first batch, if I do say so myself, but one can only drink so much undercarbonated beer, so I came up with the idea that I should look up some recipes for things you can make with beer, because beer. And I came up with the following, all of which tasted pretty darned good, if I do say so myself!

Swiss Cheese Beer Bread:

Swiss Cheese Beer Bread

This was really quick to make and really tasty, if you are in the mood for a dense bread. I had read the comments on the recipe before I made this and noted that someone had commented that it didn’t take nearly as long as to bake as the 50-60 minutes stated in the recipe, so I made sure to check on it early and it ended up only taking about 35 minutes to bake!

Savory Beer Pork Chops:

Savory Beer Pork Chops

These pork chops were also pretty delicious. As well, when I put the brown sugar into the beer to make the marinade, the beer foamed up and looked like real beer!

Homebrewed Beer

Potato Beer Cheese Soup:

Potato Beer Cheese Soup

This was a pretty good soup – and I generally don’t even like soup!

And so I was 3 for 3 on delicious tasting recipes. Can’t say that this was the healthiest meal I’ve ever eaten – pro tip: when you meal is all beige, something is drastically wrong in the nutrition department.

In addition to finding a way to not waste beer1 and making a delcious dinner, I also managed to bring the number of new food items I’ve made this year to 10 and so I’ve officially completed 67% of my goal to make 15 new food items in 2015 and it’s only February!

  1. Which I’m relatively certain is at least a misdemeanour, if not a full out crime. []

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Hooray for Composting

I was sure that I’d posted this blog posting back in mid-January, but I just discovered it sitting in my “Drafts” folder, so apparently I did not. At any rate, I’m posting it now!

As of January 1st, it has been illegal to send any organic waste to the landfill in Metro Vancouver 1. Apparently, for the first six months, residents and business who break this rule will just be issued warnings, but after that there will be fines. I was a little concerned when January 1st came and went and nothing had been mentioned in my building about getting compost bins for our places, but then a few days later a memo went up in the elevators saying that on Jan 15 our waste management company would be set up in our lobby with information and free compost bins for everybody.

I’m unnaturally excited by this.

My sister lives in Toronto and they’ve had city-wide compost pick up for years. When I went to the University of Guelph, the city of Guelph was piloting what they called at the time (if I recall correctly), wet/dry garbage pickup, where you had one bin for wet garbage (like food waste) and another for dry garbage. That was back in 1999/2000. So it’s nice to know that Metro Vancouver has caught up only 15 years later.

When I think back even further, I remember in elementary school there was a competition that my gifted class went to where we competed against other gifted classes from other schools in a sort of case competition. I don’t remember all the details but I do remember it had something to do with making some sort of plan around environmental stewardship and when my group presented and we talked about composting (which no other group had thought of) all the teachers went crazy over how brilliant we were2. Anyway, the point of this half remembered and seemingly pointless story is merely to point out that composting is really not a new idea and it seems like it’s taken a long time to get to the point where it’s finally part of our garbage pick up system. But here we are , it’s 2015 and I have a my very own compost bucket:

My new compost bin

The people giving out the buckets claim that the bucket’s lid has some sort of magical sealing property that prevents odours and fruit flies, but from talking to others who have already had their compost bins for awhile, I’m not holding my breath that this will be true.

Also, I was checking out the City of New Westminster’s webpage on food scraps collection (because, did I mention, I’m unnaturally excited by this?), and this sentence made me laugh: “Each residential unit (apartment or condo) was provided with a kitchen container to collect pre and post consumed food scraps.” I don’t think you really want my “post consumed” food scraps. I mean, I’m assuming what they actually mean is food that’s leftover and you are getting rid of after you’ve consumed the rest of the food, but any “post consumed” food will be taken care of by the sewage system, thank you very much.

That site also has this useful diagram on how to origami some newspaper to make a liner for your compost bucket, if you are too cheap to buy the paper bags with corn-based plastic-like lining:

I like how they specify that you should use your “community newspaper” to line your compost bucket. Not sure if this is meant to be a commentary on how the city feels about their community newspapers… At any rate, I am cheap so I think once I’ve used up my free paper bag with corn-based plastic-like lining that came with my bucket, I might just give this whole origami thing a try3.

  1. “Metro Vancouver” is the name of a “political body and corporate entity […] that delivers regional services, policies, and political leadership to” the group of municipalities/a treaty First Nation/an electoral area that make up the greater Vancouver area. Apparently one such policy is what is allowed to go into the landfill. New West is part of Metro Vancouver, so we all have to get onboard with the composting. []
  2. I also remember that we didn’t win and our teacher took us to the store and bought us ice cream bars and told us that even the winning team’s teacher said to her that the judges were wrong, our team really should have won. I’m sure it was more than just the composting idea that we had done well, but I totally can’t remember what else it was all about. All I remember is composting, injustice, and ice cream bars. And I think our presentation involved aliens in some way. []
  3. Update, since I’m posting this more than a month after I wrote it. I’ve tried the origami thing. It seems to work just fine. []

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My Weekend

Spent the weekend on the Island, as my friend Rachel invited me to give a guest lecture on stats in her research methods class1.

On the ferry on the way over to the Island on Friday night I was pleasantly surprised to run into my friend Bronwyn, who I haven’t seen since graduation back in May. It was awesome having a chance to catch up with her and the ferry ride was over in a flash!

Friday night, we just chilled, as Rachel had been teaching prior to picking me up from the ferry and we had to get up the next morning to teach. Teaching was fun, as I’m a nerd and love talking about stats and her students were very engaged – asked lots of great questions. I remember the same thing happening the last time I taught her class, but I’m always a little concerned when I start teaching about stats because many people aren’t stats-loving nerds like me, so I always fear having a room full of disinterested people staring at me. Happily, those fears were unfounded in this case.

After my guest lecture, we grabbed lunch and then Rachel continued teaching while I went off to do a 11 km run2. And then we got to spend the weekend celebrating the survival of having worked on a Saturday. Celebrating included such things as getting to see Rachel’s adorable 21-month-old son (who had been asleep by the time I’d arrived the previous night), hanging out with some other peeps who were also visiting for the weekend, lovely wine, a delicious dinner, an amazing chocolate raspberry trifle3, and a rousing game of Apples to Apples (a.k.a. Wholesome Cards Against Humanity), at which I did disastrously bad.

Today we spent a super relaxing day – had some breakfast, went to a beach in Parksville, lunch at a local pub, playing in the backyard, a walk around the neighbourhood, a delicious dinner – all of which time we got to spend catching up, which was awesome because it’s been a long time since we’d had a chance to do that.

And now I’m heading back on the ferry feeling rested and relaxed!

  1. I gave this same type of lecture 4 years ago, but haven’t been back to do it since then as I got busy with that whole MBA thing, so I couldn’t make it over on a weekend when she was teaching as I was always in class. []
  2. Half marathon training cares not if you are having a weekend away. []
  3. Made as a Valentine’s Day dessert but happily shared with all the visitors, as Rachel mused that had she made that trifle for just her and her husband, it would have been a crazy amount of rich dessert to have! []

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One of my favourite Dad stories

When my dad was young, he was in the Sea Cadets1. And when you got in trouble in Sea Cadets – which for my Dad was, apparently, quite frequently – they made you do chores. Now, my dad hated to do the dishes2, so when he was assigned to dish duty, he made a big show of playing with the bubbles and pretending to have lots of fun. “That’s it, Snow! You aren’t getting dish duty anymore!” Unlike dishes, he loved to peel potatoes. So when he got in trouble and was assigned to potato peeling duty, he made a big show of “Aww, man! Not peeling potatoes!!!”, and so henceforth whenever he got in trouble, it was off to peel potatoes that he went. Given that, as previously mentioned, he got in trouble a fair bit, when he got some time off3, he went into town and bought a potato peeler, because they only gave you a knife with which to peel the potatoes. A potato peeler is, of course, much easier on the hands and you lose less of the potato, so you have to peel fewer potatoes – and it takes much less time – when you use a peeler than when you use a knife. So when he was on potato peeling duty, he would take the bag of potatoes up on the ship’s deck, quickly peel all he needed to peel with the potato peeler that he had hidden in his pocket, but he’d put a bunch of the peeled ones in the bag with a few unpeeled one on top to make it look like he was only partway done. And then he would sit and relax in the sun and when his superior came by to check on him, he’d have a knife in his hand and would appear to be peeling the potatoes in the amount of time it should take if one were peeling potatoes with a knife.

Three years ago today, we lost my Dad. Today, I’m thinking of him telling that potato peeling story – which I heard many times during my life – and I’m smiling at his cleverness and how he liked to know that he was sticking it to The Man. I miss you, Daddy, and I think of you every single day, especially when I back into a parking spot4, put on my hockey gear5, or peel a potato.

  1. Or were they called Navy Cadets? []
  2. Clearly, I have inherited my loathing of doing dishes from my paternal DNA. []
  3. I think they called it “shore leave”, but I could be mistaken. []
  4. Which I *always* do. []
  5. And tie my skates really, really tight. []

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Kitties Annual Report, FY2014

Kitty Annual Report 01
Kitty Annual Report 02
Kitty Annual Report 03
Kitty Annual Report 04
Kitty Annual Report 05
Kitty Annual Report 06
Kitty Annual Report 07
Kitty Annual Report 08
Kitty Annual Report 09

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Whistler!

“Ski at Whistler” was on my very first list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, which I wrote in the old timey days of 2009. Somehow, I went through those 1001 days without managing to ski at Whistler. Then I totally thought I put “Ski at Whistler” on my second list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, but now that I look at it, I totally didn’t. At any rate, I managed to go through those 1001 days without skiing at Whistler either. Thinking that “third time’s the charm” (because, as you may recall from earlier in this paragraph, I thought I’d put it on my second list), I put it on my third list. Happily, Daniel perused my third list and got me a pair of Whistler lift tickets for Christmas! And then, capitalizing on the momentum, we decided to book a couple of days there to make a nice little trip out of it1. Which brings us to Tuesday, January 21st, the day that I finally skied at Whistler2.

We spent the morning skiing on Blackcomb Mountain. For the uninitiated, Blackcomb Mountain is right next to Whistler Mountain (you’ll often here the whole place referred to as Whistler-Blackcomb) and both can be accessed from Whistler Village, which is where we were staying. Pretty awesome to just walk out of your hotel with your skis and right onto a couple of gondolas that take you up two spectacular mountains. The conditions were fantastic – apparently they had just got a big dump of snow on the weekend, but by the time we were there on Tuesday, it was nothing but sunny skies on the hills.

On Blackcomb Mountain

On Blackcomb Mountain

We skied all morning, had an overpriced lunch (they really have you captive up there when it comes time for eating) and a chance to warm up (it was -7 degrees up there!), then skied a bit more on Blackcomb, and then headed over to the Peak-to-Peak. For the uninitiated, the Peak-to-Peak is a gondola that connects the top of Blackcomb Mountain with the top of Whistler Mountain so that you can easily ski on both mountains on the same day3. Given that taking the Peak-to-Peak is also on my 101 list and given that it was “ski at Whistler” on my list rather than “ski at Whistler-Blackcomb” and I didn’t want to be called out on a technicality, doing this ensured that those two items could be definitively crossed off my list.

On the Peak-to-Peak Gondola

Daniel and I on the Peak to Peak

The conditions on Whistler were equally spectacular and we enjoyed the rest of our afternoon of skiing there. I was surprised to learn that the lifts stop running at 3 pm as there are no lights on the mountains and since it takes half an hour to ski down from the top of the mountain back to the village, they stop the lifts that early so everyone gets off the hills before nightfall. As someone who took skiing lessons at night in my youth, it didn’t even occur to me that there would be no night skiing! We took our last ride up the lift around 3 pm and it took nearly a half an hour to ski all the way back down to the Village. After a day of skiing, a dip in the hotel hot tub, watching the Canucks game, and having a nice dinner a pub in the Village rounded out a perfect day.

Something not so nice happened at our hotel, but we didn’t hear about it until we got back to Vancouver. Apparently on Tuesday morning, someone died in after an altercation in the east wing (we were staying in the west wing). There was a cop car out in front of our hotel on Tuesday morning when we went out to go skiing4 and Daniel commented on it still being there when we came back at the end of the day, but we really didn’t think too much about it. But it wasn’t until we got home on Wednesday that we found out why. Apparently this is only the third homicide in the history of Whistler!

Anyway, despite that unusual circumstance, we had a great trip and I definitely want to go back again!

  1. And then he got us a nice hotel room to stay in for my birthday. I’m so spoiled! []
  2. For the record, from the time I moved to Vancouver until the day I finally actually went skiing at Whistler was a mind-boggling 5,254 days! The first many years of that I blame the fact that I was a starving PhD student, and then there were several years of being a starving student-loan-paying-off-er, and then I was just lazy for a bit, and then there were two years of being a (non-starving) full time worker + MBA student who had no time to do anything. And then I was lazy again for a year and then Daniel came to the rescue. []
  3. You may have heard of the Peak to Peak when some guy forced open the gondola door and base jumped out. Which, of course, is totally illegal. And then he posted the video on Youtube, showing both his own face and that of his accomplice. []
  4. If you click on the link to the news story, you’ll see that cop car in the photo. []