Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Trip

Wrote this on a plane on Thursday night. Plane arrived at 1 am. Then I spent the next two days having fun with my family and completely forgot to post this. So now I’m posting it from the Toronto airport as I await my next flight. Better late than never, right?

So here I find myself on a plane heading to Toronto and I realize that I haven’t even mentioned a thing about my trip here on ye old blog! But now I’ve got 4+ hours on a plane and, sure, I have work I could be doing1, but my brain is pretty fried from all the work I’ve been doing of late, so I figure I’ll write this blog posting now and leave the work for later, as there will be plenty more flights and sitting around in airports in the next week!

So yes, about the trip. I found out about a month ago that I was getting the opportunity to go to a conference for work. The conference itself looks fantastic – so many interesting sessions to go see and lots of great networking opportunities. The conference is being held in Kansas City, Missouri2 and while Kansas City was not on the top of my list of places that I wanted to travel to – hell, it wasn’t even on my list at all – I’m not one to turn down free trips to interesting conferences and I have been assured there will be excellent BBQ to be had.

Anyway, unsurprisingly, there are no direct flights from Vancouver to KC, so I started looking at flight options and, weirdly, I saw a flight through Toronto. I say “weirdly” because Toronto is not on the way to KC and that flight had another stopover in addition to Toronto, but at any rate, it got me thinking about tagging on a leg of the trip to go see my family3. The conference starts on Sunday night, so I first thought I’d fly out after work on Friday and get to spend Sat with the fam. But then I looked at the calendar and realized that Friday is Halloween and no way was I going to be spending Halloween on a plane! So I took tomorrow off and booked my flight for this evening so I get to spend Halloween at my sister’s place. Which means I get to go trick or treating with my niece and nephew for the first time ever! I moved out to Vancouver before either of them were born and have not had the opportunity to be in Toronto on Oct 31st since then4, so I am super duper stoked to go out with them!

Also, my sister bought a pumpkin for us to carve and, because she’s the best sister in the whole world, she bought a big, big pumpkin, because she knows I love big pumpkins (and I cannot lie.). When we were kids, my parents would take us to the pumpkin patch and my sister would always choose the most perfectly shaped, round little pumpkin she could find and I would picked the biggest one (obviously compensating for my own short stature by choosing a pumpkin that is bigger than me. Go big or go home, I always say). So it’s super sweet that she got us a giant pumpkin, because her own pumpkin preference is little and perfect!

After Halloween, I get to spend Saturday hanging with the family some more and then I’m jumping on a plane on Sunday morning to make my way to Kansas City. I have a 1 hr stopover in Chicago – Chicago *is* on my list of places I want to travel to and so I’m a bit choked that all I will get to do is run through O’Hare airport to catch my connection. That won’t stop me from crossing “Visit Chicago” off my list of 101 things to do, but getting to actually go to Chicago and see the city is still going to be on my list of places to travel!

I’ll be in Kansas City for three days of learning all the things, and then Wednesday night it’s back to Vancouver with a 1 hr stopover in Denver. And then back to work on Thursday! No rest for the wicked!

As per usual, let me remind any would-be thieves that I do have a house sitter who will totally kick your ass if you try anything, along with 2 attack cats and 4 vicious (not viscous) attack frogs. You have been warned.

  1. In addition to work work, I also have to make some edits to my online stats course, which I will be teaching again at the Justice League and I have a talk to write for a workshop to give to some med students that I was just invited to do today and I have a journal article that I’ve been meaning to start for ages! []
  2. Not to be mistaken for Kansas City, Kansas. Why the hell Missouri decided it was a good idea to name their biggest city “Kansas City” when there is already a Kansas City right there in the state of Kansas, I’ll never know. It would be like New Brunswick saying “You know what would be a good name for a city? Quebec City, New Brunswick. Yeah, I like that way that sounds!” []
  3. Once you are flying, it’s way cheaper to tag on a side trip than to book a flight on its own. I have to pay the difference between what my flight would have cost if I’d only gone from Vancouver to KC and what it cost to add on the Toronto leg, which was only $150. A flight to Toronto from Vancouver is usually in the range of $800, so I’m totally fine with paying $150 to get to see the fam! []
  4. The closest I’ve been was a couple of years ago when I was in Toronto for the Hoot and Howl fundraiser at my niece’s school and we had Thankoween dinner. []

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Rock’n’Roll 10 km – PB Accomplished!

As you may recall, I’m addicted to race medals. Sure, I love to run because it’s great exercise (good for your health both in terms of fitness and as a stress reliever), it’s a way to challenge yourself, and races provide a great sense of community, fun, and accomplishment. But really, I’m in it for the medals. Well, on Sunday not only did I add an awesome new medal to my collection, but also Daniel surprised me with this awesome medal hanging rack that he made for me:

Rack to hold all my race bling!

You know you are jealous.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Sunday morning, bright and early, we found ourselves running the 10 km race at the Oasis Rock’n’Roll at Stanley Park. My primary objective was, as previously mentioned, to obtain the beautiful race medal. But I was also on a mission to set a personal best (PB), as I’d come within 17 seconds of doing so at the recent Night Race. To remind you, my previous personal best was 58:48 and I decided that my goal would be 58 mins1. I’d been somewhat diligent about keeping up my running since the Night Race, including a few longer runs (12-16 km range) and had been improving my time on my shorter runs. The week before the race I ended up not doing any running, which was a combination of being too busy at work to fit in lunchtime runs, experiencing some back stiffness/groin strain that I figured I (a) shouldn’t exacerbate and (b) should spend my limited spare time working on stretching, and thinking that maybe there really is something to the idea of tapering before a race2.

Well, all of this paid off, as I totally smashed my goal, finishing the 10 km in 56:16!

This put me:

  • 40th out of 307 people in my age/gender category (or 87th percentile).
  • 240th out of 2056 women in the race (or 88th percentile)
  • 511th overall out of 2808 (or 82nd percentile).

And here is my beautiful medal to commemorate this feat:

Rock'n'Roll 10 km medal
So shiny!

After the race came the second best thing, next to medals, about racing: post-race brunch! And after the delicious brunch and much needed coffee3 at Scoozis, the lovely staff there gave us a free dessert because they saw our medals and knew we ran a race!

IMG_0126
Medals, the reward that keeps on giving. Giving us free dessert in this case.

And then after the race, Daniel gave me the medal hanging rack that, did I mention?, he made himself! I’m so spoiled!

Post race

Thanks, Daniel, for pacing me and yet again helping me reach my goal *and* then making me a present! So spoiled!

  1. As my PB was 7 years and ~15 lbs ago []
  2. And, the horrible rainy weather last week may have also contributed somewhat to my decisions that maybe I should taper. []
  3. I never drink coffee before a race because it makes me need to pee, which is not something you want on a race. But I’m addicted to caffeine, so by the time the race is over, I really need a coffee! []

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A Spicy Situation

As I wrote my goals update post last week, I realized that though I’d long ago come up with a solution to my spice situation (item #14 on my list of goals for 2014) and I had promised Stacy that I would blog about it, I have been delinquent in actually writing said blog posting. But better late than never, right?

To give you a little background, I own about eleventy billion types of spices because spices are awesome. What was not awesome was that I had spices in all sorts of different containers – some were in bags, some in jars/bottles – of all different sizes and I basically just had them all thrown haphazardly into plastic bins that I kept in my cupboard, which meant that whenever I wanted a certain spice, I had to pull all the plastic bins out of the cupboards and dig through them all to find what I wanted. Not very efficient and rather annoying when you are trying to enjoy some cooking! Hence, why I decided I needed to figure out a useful way of organizing the damn spices.

My first step was taken care of, as I long ago had made a test tube spice rack out of surplus lab equipment1. I don’t have enough room for all elevently billion spices, but I was able to put the 13 spices I use the most often (or which just look really cool) into test tubes, labelled them, and now they sit on the counter, within easy reach while I’m cooking.

IMG_0436

For the eleventy billion minus thirteen other spices, I decided to use a drawer to store them, rather than the cupboard, because I’m short and I need a step stool to reach things in my cupboards. True story. For any spices that were already in a jar/bottle, I just laid those down with the label facing up. For all the ones that were in bags, I went out and bought a bunch of little jars and labeled them. Hence, I now have this drawer full of well-labeled spices:

IMG_0430

IMG_0433
The metal thing on the right is a grater that I use to grate nutmeg. Because my sister taught me the joy of freshly ground nutmeg.

IMG_0431
I have no idea why I inconsistently capitalized the spice names on the labels. I only just noticed it when I looked at this photo. Omg, that’s going to drive me crazy.

So there you have it – my spice storage solution!

  1. There used to be a lab equipment thrift shop at UBC, where you could buy cast off lab supplies. They even had an electron microscope in their inventory at one point! So I got a test tube rack, which was actual white plastic (which is the kind we usually used in the lab), but I painted it metallic silver to make it look cooler). []

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Can’t Stop Learning

As previously mentioned, I recently started taking some hockey lessons, because apparently 2 years of MBA school on the weekend got me addicted to learning stuff on Saturday mornings. The lessons are going great – the coach is excellent at breaking skills down into easy-to-understand parts and because we only have 5 people in the class (and not everyone shows up to every class), we get to do lots of reps of the different drills. Repetition is very important to learning new skills – you have to do something enough times that it’s just hard-wired into your brain and you aren’t thinking about it anymore1.

Well, apparently I’m not content with just learning stuff on Saturdays mornings. Because, as you may recall, my MBA classes also included Friday nights2. And, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I’ve signed up for a Friday night class. Starting this week, I’m taking beginner’s salsa dancing lessons.

This will be me soon:

The Perfect Moment

Image Credit: Posted by Vineet Radhakrishnan on Flickr.

Footnotes:

  1. So, really, in addition to the lessons, I need to get out to some stick-and-puck sessions to work on these different skills that I’m learning. []
  2. As well as Sundays, but I’m hoping that learning stuff on Fridays *and* Saturdays will fill my learning needs! []

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Kitties Report, Q3

Introduction

This report covers Q3 of FY2014 for Snow Industries, Cat Division.

Assets

There were no new asset acquisitions this quarter. The Procurement Department is on the look out for a cool piece of furniture inside which the litter box can be hidden, but have not yet found the right item.

Expenses

The primary operating expense continues to be food, comprising 97.3% of all expenses for this quarter. See Figure 1 for a breakdown of expenses by category for Q3.

Figure 1

R&D

Advanced box research continued through Q3 at Snow Industries, with ample evidence supporting the the preliminary conclusion of “boxes are awesome to sit in or on” (see Figures 2 to 7).

Watson

Figure 2

Crick in a Box

Figure 3

Watson in a Box

Figure 4

Crick in a Box

Figure 5

Watson in a Baskete

Figure 6

Crick in a box

Figure 7

But bags were also found to be fascinating (see Figures 8 to 10).

Crick

Figure 8

Crick checking out my new wheeled bag for work

Figure 9

IMG_0729

Figure 10

Also registering on the excitement-o-meter was the laundry machine (Figures 11 to 12), trying to grab each others’  paws from opposite sides of the bathroom door (Figure 13), and pigeons on the neighbour’s balcony (see Figure 14).

Crick watching the laundry

Figure 11

Crick is helping me do laundry

Figure 12

Cat games

Figure 13

Cats Watching Birds

Figure 14

It was also discovered by one member of the R&D department that the man who came to install the screen doors at HQ was absolutely terrifying (see cat hiding under couch in Figure 15), though the other member of the R&D department completely disagreed with this conclusion (see cat looking at camera like “what’s wrong with the guy under the couch?” in Figure 15).

Cats

Figure 15

Return on Investment

As expected, the ROI, in the form of cuddles, cuteness, and love, continues to be strong through Q3.

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Milestones and Goals

On Saturday, I went out for a 14 km run and, in doing so, tracked my 300th activity since I started using Runkeeper on on July 2, 2010.

300 activities

In this time, I’ve covered a total of 2,446 km1 in 275.5 hrs2.

I also happened to hit the 75% mark on my goal of running 800 km this year. Unfortunately, we are 78% of the way through the year, so I’m still chasing that goal, but it’s within reach if I really try!

This got me thinking about my other goals for 2014, which I haven’t checked in on in awhile, so I figured that 78% of the way through the year is a good time to do that. Of my 14 goals for the year, I’ve completed goals #2 (run 2 half marathons), #13 (find a reliable cleaning person) and #14 (find a solution for my spice situation). Everything in between is somewhere between “on my way” [#4 (run 800 km), #11 (knock 28 items off my lists of 101 things to do in 1001 days3, #12 (make 14 new food items I’ve never made before4] and “not going to happen” [#2 (run a sub-2 hr half marathon), #5 (bike 800 km), and #9 (write 314 blog postings here on NTBTWK5].

Of course, knowing there is only 2.5 months left in this year and seeing that I royally screwed up a couple of my 2014 goals has gotten me thinking about next year’s goals. I was inspired by Daniel completely smashing his goal for the Victoria full marathon yesterday (beating his PB6 by more than 30 mins!) and have to admit that though running a sub-2hr half marathon has been on my to-do list for the past few years, I’ve never really given it a solid try. I think if I actually do the full training program – including all the hill runs and the intervals and really push myself – I can make a solid attempt at breaking that elusive 2 hr goal. I’m also planning to do my first triathlon next year and so I’m thinking that I can attempt a sub-2hr half at the BMO Vancouver marathon in May, then jump into triathlon training for a late summer tri. And if I don’t reach my sub-2hr goal at BMO, there’s always Scotiabank in June or Victoria in October7.

But I really shouldn’t get ahead of myself. Right now I have my sights on a PB for the 10 km at the Oasis Rock & Roll in 2 weeks. That seems like a good short-term goal to focus on at the moment.

Hey, and speaking of goals, I scored one of those in my hockey game yesterday – my second of the season! Unlike my first goal – where the defenceman of the opposing team put the puck her own net but I was the last person on my team to touch the puck, so I get credited with the goal – I actually put the puck into the net myself! Of course, on this goal, the goalie had gone behind the net to get the puck, but my linemate got the puck instead and fed it to me as I was standing right in front of the net waiting for the pass with, inexplicably, no defencemen on me. So, essentially I scored an empty net goal, but hey, I was in the right place so I’ll take it!

  1. 2,062.5 km of that was running, with the rest coming from biking and a bit of walking (that I tracked mostly when I’m interested in finding out how far a given walk is. I’ve don’t track most of my walks)! []
  2. 239 hours of that in running. []
  3. So far I’ve done 11 [4 on my previous 101 list and 7 on my current 101 list] []
  4. I’ve actually made 13 new items, so only need one more to cross this one off the list! []
  5. I’ve written 75 so far, including this one and there’s only 2.5 months left in the year. In order to meet this goal, I’d need to write >80 blog postings per month for the rest of the year, and no one wants to see that! []
  6. Personal Best. []
  7. Or countless other races near and far! []

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2014-15 Hockey Pool – Team Has-To-Be-Reasonably-Attractive-Or-At-Least-A-Nice-Guy

The start of the NHL season this week means one thing – it’s fantasy hockey pool time! As you know, I’m usually pretty terrible at this hockey pool thing, which I like to blame on a variety of excuses, including “I was too busy with MBA school to pay attention to my picks” and “I’m testing important scientific theories, such as the correlation between level of attractiveness and hockey skill”1.

  • Three years ago I used Team Hottie, where every player on my team had to be a hottie. My terrible finish in the pool that year disproved the hypothesis that level of attractiveness is correlated with hockey skill (p < 0.05)2.
  • Two years ago there was Team Uggoe – since my hypothesis that attractiveness does not correlate with scoring all the points, I decided to try the opposite and hypothesized that higher levels of ugliness correlate with scoring all the points. I again did terribly in the pool and this hypothesis was also shot down3.
  • Last year there was Team Hockey P0rn, where players had to have a dirty sounding name to be on the team (Notable members include Grant Clitsome, David Legwand, Victor Hedman, and Jiří Tlustý). And again – terrible finish in the pool4.

So this year, I’ve decided I’m going to try to be more diligent about updating my picks each week and I’m going to give myself a little more leeway on who I can pick by choosing Team Has-To-Be-Reasonably-Attractive-Or-At-Least-A-Nice-Guy – the latter part of which will allow me to choose a Sedin or two once in a while5.

For the record, here’s my week 1 team:

Hockey Picks - Week 1

I have no idea why I starred St. Louis instead of Crosby. (You get to “star” one forward, one defenceman, and one goalie and you get double that person’s points for the week). I actually thought I’d starred Crosby until I looked at my standing later in the week.

Now, I know it’s early days and we only have 4 people in our pool so far (I expect more to join soon), but I have to record for posterity that, at this moment, I’m tied for first:

Hockey Pool - 12 Oct standings

Now I’m going to make my picks for next week. Wish me luck!

  1. It definitely has nothing to do with the fact that I rarely pay attention to hockey beyond the Canucks and thus have no idea who to pick in a pool. Nothing whatsoever to do with that. []
  2. The scientist in me had a really hard time writing that sentence - we don't attempt to *prove* or *disprove* things in science! But the comedian in me said that "My terrible finish in the pool provided evidence against the hypothesis that level of attractiveness is correlated with hockey skill but the sample size of n=1 means that the study was unpowered to detect an effect. More research is needed." just wouldn't have the same comedic effect. []
  3. I accepted the null hypothesis. But again, this study was underpowered. []
  4. I think that not changing my picks the entire season (this is a pool where you can change picks each and every week, which means that you can clear out injured players and stack the team with players who have the most number of games on any given week) probably had something to do with this. []
  5. Daniel and Henrik are fugly, but I’ve heard that they are really nice guys. []

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#TBT – Happy 10th Anniversary, Sarah & Dave!

I’ve never done a Throw Back Thursday (#TBT) posting before, but today seemed like the perfect opportunity to do one because 10 years ago today two of my favourite people in the world got married and I had the distinct pleasure of being part of their wedding party!

Sarah & Dave wedding photo

Happy 10th Anniversary, Sarah& Dave! Your love is an inspiration!

P.S. I hope you don’t mind that I stole that photo from your Facebook!

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Campaign Curling

On Sunday, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for years1 – I learned how to curl! It was all part of a FUNdraiser for my friend, Patrick Johnstone, who is running for New West City Council in next month’s municipal election.

Ice at the Royal City Curling Club
Ice at the Royal City Curling Club, waiting for us to start our curling lesson!

The event took place the Royal City Curling Club. We got a chance to learn some of the curling basics – how to throw the stone so it goes where you want it to go, how to sweep the ice to get the stone to go further and straighter, how to walk on ice without falling – all the important curling skills2! After practicing all of this stuff – which was far more complicated than one would expect just from watching the game – we got to play two ends, with a little bit of help from a coach (because honestly, I had no idea how to tell if the stone was going fast enough to get where we wanted it to go (and thus we shouldn’t sweep) or if it was going too slow and sweeping was needed). Our game was a close one – my team won 3-1 after the two ends3.

Curling 5 Oct 2017
Group shot of all the curlers for the day.

I have to say, curling is a lot more fun to play than it is to watch and as with many things, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the sport now that I’ve tried it myself4.

After all that, there was delicious food from Re-Up BBQ and beer from Steel & Oak – two fantastic local New West businesses – and a chance to chat with other New Westies.

Untitled
Delicious cake decorated like one of Pat’s campaign buttons

Most importantly of all though, this was a fundraiser, and it was really great to see a sold out event in support of Pat’s campaign for city council. I’ve been helping out on Pat’s campaign5 in the form of door knocking with him6, because I think he’ll make an excellent city councilor. He’s really passionate – and extremely knowledgeable – about New West. And I really like his approach – as we’ve been out door knocking, he’s asking New West residents what their concerns and ideas for the city are. He listens to people and he answers any questions they have for him in a direct and transparent way7 – and when he doesn’t know the answer to a particular question he says “I don’t know, but I will find out for you.” He bases his position on any given subject on reason and evidence – and when there’s not enough evidence available he says “We don’t know enough to make an informed decision. X is the evidence we need to make an informed decision on this and Y is where we’d need to get that information” That’s the kind of approach that I would like to see in my government – receptive to the publics concerns, reasoned and evidence-based decision making, and transparency in the process. Anyway, if you are a New Westie, I encourage you to check out his campaign website for more information on his campaign and to donate!

  1. And which I inexplicably didn’t include on my “101 things to do in 1001 days list”. []
  2. Everyone already know how to yell “HURRY HARD!!!!” – no coaching required on that front. []
  3. No thanks to me, I have to say. I was OK at throwing the stone in practice but sucked pretty badly during the actual game! []
  4. I’m still not going to watch it when it’s on TV and I still think it would be better if there was a 3 second shot clock between when one stone stops and the next one must be thrown – watching people stand around and think for several minutes is SO BORING! – and it also needs 200% more yelling. But I have more appreciation for the skill required having now tried doing it myself. []
  5. Item #57 on my 101 list! []
  6. Though with other tasks still to come! []
  7. I’ve learned a lot about the city just by going around door knocking with him and listening to his answers to people’s questions! []

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My Hideous New Running Shoes

Photos of my running shoes tend to be some of my most favourited photos on my Flickr account1. So my all the running shoe aficionados, here are some photos of my newest pair of running shoes.

New running shoes. So ugly.

New running shoes. So ugly.

Assuming the aficionados like fugly running shoes. As was the case when I bought my last pair2, the current theme for running shoe design is “garish”. I mean, I don’t like pink at the best of times, but paired with that green? The horror! The horror! However, it was the most comfortable of all the many shoes that I tried on, each of which were hideous in their own special way.

An aside: While I was buying my shoes, another woman was also in the store looking for some runners. She told the salesperson that she was just visiting from China, where she is currently working and she needed to buy shoes here because she wears a size women’s 9.5, which is impossible to find in China. She also said she was training for the Great Wall of China half marathon, which sounds like it would be so freaking awesome. And even after looking at this insane elevation map, I still kind of want to do that race someday!

  1. Other common favs include my friends and me in wetsuits in Tofino and these photos of all the places where I got needles for immunizations, blood tests, and a TB skin test. []
  2. By looking for that blog posting about when it was that I bought my previous pair of running shoes, I discovered that I’d had that pair for just over a year! A quick check of my Runkeeper log shows me that I’ve run about 900 km in these shows. 900 km! []