Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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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. []

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Bethmas Weekend – A Recap

Hey, remember that time when I was born? That was a pretty fortunate thing to have happened as all the other things I’ve done since then would have been rather difficult had it not. Serious props to my mom and dad for having me on a cold and snowy day in 1977.

And since that cold and snowy day was 38 years and two days ago, I spent my weekend celebrating the holiday known as Bethmas! On Saturday I had a fabulous Bethmas Eve party. The great thing about having a party is that I get to see a whole bunch of friends, many of whom I haven’t seen in awhile. The less great thing is that I don’t get to spend as much time catching up with each friend as I would like ‘cuz there are just so many people to chat with and only so many hours in an evening. Happily, all my friends are made of awesome and despite many of them not knowing each other (or not knowing each other very well, having only met once or two at previous parties I’ve held over the years), everyone was chatting and getting to know new people and seemed to have a good time.

As I discussed with Cath that night, due to my family’s tendency to make way too much food for any event, I have an inability to make appropriate amounts of food for party1 due to my unnatural fear that someone might ever go hungry at my house. Saturday was no exception. I did have fewer leftovers than I usually do, but only because I usually have enough leftovers to feed *two* armies. As well, I had been inspired by Cath, as it so happens, who had made some fancy, delicious foods for our book club meeting last week, to find some fancy new recipes to try. Googling “party appetizers that are easy to make but look fancy” yielded some excellent results, as did asking my sister for ideas, and I ended up making 5 new food items, along with some of my good ole standbys2

Combined with the fact that I made homemade sour mix for the house drink – as it turned out to be impossible to find sour mix anywhere5 – and I made chocolate butter cream icing for the first time for Daniel’s birthday cake earlier this month, I’ve now made a total of 8 new food or drink items towards my goal of making 15 new things in 20156!  The house drink was also new, but since I enlisted Kalev to make the drink as I was running late, I can’t claim to have made this drink.

I also made chocolate cupcakes from scratch, which I have made before, but this time I mad them using a recipe from my Aunt Lynn, who gave me a recipe after I said that I’d never found a recipe for cake that turned out as good as a cake mix. And I have to admit, they were pretty good! I think I’d need a head to head comparison of it with a cake mix to tell which is best (as it’s hard to really compare without having the two at the same time), but even saying that means this is the best cake I’ve ever made from scratch!

Sunday consisted of going for a run (because half marathon training knows not of birthdays), cleaning up the party mess (thanks Daniel for helping with that task), watching a kids’ hockey team earn its first win of the season (no doubt in honour of my birthday), and a lovely dinner out. I may also have eaten my weight in leftover cupcakes (which I kinda forgot to put out before a number of people had left the party, so they didn’t all get eaten by those who remained after I remembered to put them out).

So, in conclusion, birthday celebrations rock and I highly recommend you have them when the anniversary of your birth comes around. Speaking of which, you now only have 1 year and 363 days until my birthday for which I will be going on a surfing trip where it is hot in January, like Hawaii or Australia7, and not somewhere where it is freezing cold in January, like I did on my last milestone birthday that ended in a 0. So that gives you 729 days to save your pennies if you want to come with me!

  1. Or just, like, a regular every day dinner. []
  2. Like potatoes wrapped in bacon, veggies and French onion dip, and spinach dip in a sourdough bread bowl. []
  3. This was supposed to be cucumber cups with salmon whip, but I decided to make some with dip whip so that the vegetarians could have some and then I ran out of time to cut the cucumbers into 3/4 inch slides and then scoop out a bit of the seeds to make it a cup, so I just put the whip out in dishes and served them with cucumber slices to dip in the whip. []
  4. This recipe was from my niece, as my sister told me that my niece has been making cheese puffs that are the best thing in the world, which I thought was a bit of a tall tale, but turned out to be pretty true. []
  5. Thanks to everyone on Twitter and Facebook who pointed out how ridiculously easy sour mix is to make when I tweeted to ask if anyone knew where I could buy some. []
  6. i.e., I’m more than halfway done and it’s not even two weeks into the new year! []
  7. I’m leaning towards the former. []

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Road to #12

Hey remember that most recent time I set a goal of running a sub-2 hour half marathon, specifically for this year’s BMO Vancouver, which will be my 12th half marathon? Since I’m really, really, really going to dedicate myself to my training and not flake out on it and tell myself that finishing the race is good enough1 this time, I went for my first training run (and my first run in *eight* weeks!) on my lunch break today.

Snail

My Runkeeper app doesn’t pull any punches. Apparently not going for any runs in December makes me a snail.

As usual, I’m following the training plan from the Running Room‘s book on running2 – except for the part where I’m actually going to follow the plan3. I’ve also signed up for a Sunday morning running clinic so that I have people to do my long runs with, which is through Fit First4. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to today’s training run.

As I mentioned, I hadn’t been out running in two months (!), so I was expecting be sucking wind on today’s run. Instead, I actually felt fine. And not only did I feel fine, but I ran a significantly faster pace than I usually do, though it didn’t feel like I was running faster. I think maybe there really is something to this whole “recovery” thing I keep hearing about.

Today’s run5 was slated to be a 3 km tempo run, targeted at 5:55 per km. Since I was running on my lunch, I decided to set up my Runkeeper app to have a 5 minute warmup, which is enough to get me away from the busy street on which I work and past the long streetlight on another major street, so that I could focus on running uninterrupted along the seawall, in the hopes that I could reach the target 5:55 pace. And as you can see from this handy dandy screen shot, I was practically on my target pace for the warm up, and then well within the pace for the necessary 3 km (outlined in red):

3 km tempo run(The last “1 km” is really just a small fraction of a km and included me stopping at the aforementioned stoplight as I geared down for my cool down).

I have to say, I was pretty chuffed that I was able to achieve the target pace and that I didn’t feel like puking from it. Honestly, I was really surprised when my app told me what my pace was (as it was set up to tell me my pace every 1 km) and thought that there must have been a glitch where it thought I’d run further than I had, as I felt the same as I do when I run my usual ~6:30 per km pace! I think what we can learn from this is that my internal speedometer, like my internal compass and my gay-dar, is broken.

Now here’s hoping that this run is a harbinger for the rest of my training6!

  1. To clarify, I do think that finishing a half marathon is an accomplishment and, in fact, I recommend to people running their first half marathon that “finishing their race” is a fantastic goal. But I’ve run 11 of them now, so I know I can do them. I really think it’s time to challenge myself. []
  2. And, as usual when I mention a company here on ye old blog, I have no affiliation with the Running Room, other than the fact that I spend a bunch of my money there. []
  3. As opposed to what I usually end up doing, which is just the long run on the weekend and one short jog during the week – nowhere near the 5 days per week of running that the plan calls for. []
  4. I also have no affiliation with Fit First, other than having paid to join their running clinic, albeit through Groupon, so I didn’t pay that much. []
  5. which was actually scheduled for tomorrow, but I have a hockey game tomorrow night, so to avoid tiring out my legs with a run on a game day, I did the run today. []
  6. *Knocks on wood* []

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Jumpstart

I’ve been watching a lot of the World Juniors Hockey Championship Tournament this year, since for the first time in eleventy billion years I have cable TV1. The games go by pretty fast compared to NHL games, as there are a lot fewer TV timeouts, but when there are commercials, they’ve played a lot of commercials from the Canadian Tire Jumpstart charity ((As per usual, I have no affiliation with this organization – I just think what they are doing is awesome and wanted to share it here on ye old blog)) , which have been totally tugging at my heartstrings. I can’t find any of the current ads online, but here’s one from 2007 that will give you a sense of what they are like:

Obviously, I’m a big fan of sports and I was lucky enough that my family was able to afford to put me into sports when I was a kid – softball, skiing, and swimming were my main ones, but I also played some extracurricular sports at school: volleyball, track & field, and cross country skiing2. And I got a lot of benefit from this – keeping fit (and setting me up for a lifetime of physical activity), mastering skills, and learning about teamwork, for example. So these commercials about how many families can’t afford to put their kids in sports make me sad! I can’t even imagine what it must be like for a kid to want to take swimming lessons or play baseball or join a hockey team and not to be able to because their family can’t afford it. As I said on Twitter, well played Jumpstart! Those commercials definitely convinced me that some of my 2014 charitable donations should go to this organization. And I also wanted to spread the word about them here, in case others are looking for a good organization to donate to.

Also, watching World Juniors makes me think of my dad, as he loved watching that tournament. And my dad was not a big fan of charity as a whole, because he was concerned about how much of the money went to administrators as opposed to the cause you thought you were donating to3. So I was pleasantly surprised when I checked out the Canadian Tire Jumpstart website that 100% of donations go directly to families in need to pay for their kids’ registration fees, equipment, and transportation to their sport, as the Canadian Tire Corporation itself funds the administrative costs of running of the program. So I feel like supporting this charity is a nice way of honouring my dad.

  1. But only because Shaw offered me 6 months of free cable. I’m sure they assume they’ll get me hooked on cable so that I’ll want to keep it after the 6 months are up, but I think they are underestimating my cheapness. []
  2. Ones I was never any good at included badminton (I just could *not* get the serve right), jumping rope (for some strange reason), and, unsurprisingly, basketball. []
  3. My dad was more of a direct action kind of guy – he’d prefer to give his gloves to a person out on the street in the cold who didn’t have any rather than giving money to a charity where he didn’t know what the money would be used for. []