Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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At the Ballina Airport

Now I’m at the Ballina1 Airport. I have much to blog about, but I think that will have to wait until I get home, as I’m having far too much fun sightseeing and Pokémon-ing and whatnot to spend my time on my computer. But probably the most exciting thing about our time here was that there was a great white shark attack at the beach over from the beach we were boogie boarding at2 – they are big beaches, so it was about 20 km away, but I’m sure a great white could swim 20 km no problem3. The least awesome thing was the two giant cockroaches (like about 1.5 inches long) that showed up in our kitchen yesterday. Apparently having a banana on the counter was not a fantastic idea4. Also, we didn’t see a single kangaroo here, despite driving through a “kangaroos next 5 km” area twice5. The best part of the trip was that my friends from high school Tanya and Greg joined us – they are currently living in Melbourne and came out to Byron Bay to hang out, which was super awesome! But I will blog about our adventures more later – looks like it will be time to board the plane soon!

  1. Pronounced Ba-lyn-ah, and not Ba-leena, like I assumed before I came here. []
  2. My injured hip wasn’t up to surfing, so this was the next best thing. []
  3. Don’t worry, Mom, we didn’t see any sharks and we are leaving now! []
  4. Thank the FSM that this happened on our last day and not the first day. Neither of us slept well last night, even though Andrew killed them both and we took the banana and the garbage can outside. []
  5. But during the day, so they were probably all sleeping. []

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Happy Birthday, Watson & Crick

It’s my kitty cats’ 5th birthday today! Because I’m the worst cat mom in the world, I’m on the other side of the planet. Fortunately, they are cats and don’t know how to read a calendar, so I can spoil them when I get home and they won’t know the difference. Special thanks to their Aunty Heather, who is looking after them when I’m away, with help from Uncle Dwayne and from Aunty Ellen!

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Happy birthday, my sweet baby kitties!

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In the Perth Airport

I’ve been in Australia for an entire week and haven’t yet blogged anything! Usually I’d blog from the airport while I wait to leave on a trip, but when I was in the Vancouver airport waiting for my flight to Perth, by way of Hong Kong, I was frantically trying to get a reference letter done for a colleague and also had a slew of other work to do1 Preparing to go away for 2.5 weeks takes *a lot* of work – you basically have to do all the work you would have done during the 2.5 weeks before you leave. Hence, no blog posting.

Now I’m in the Perth airport – having completed the first part of the trip: a conference2, plus a few days of seeing the sites in and around Perth3, I’m now waiting for a flight to Byron Bay, by way of Sydney. It’s 11:15 pm Perth time as I write this, which means it’s only 8:15 am back home in Vancouver. It’s very strange to have lived a whole day when everyone back home is only just starting their day. We’ll fly through the night, then have a few hours layover in Sydney, followed by a flight to Ballina airport. Then I’ll get to try my hand at driving on the opposite side of the road than I’m used to. Wish me luck!

My flight is boarding, so I gotta go! See you on da flip side.

  1. E.g., lecture notes and slides for my course, putting together a CV for thing I’m applying for (Not a new job, in case you were wondering), etc. []
  2. Which was awesome! []
  3. Also awesome. I’ll blog about it all in more detail later. []

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Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon

So I ran a half marathon last Sunday. And despite it being my second worst finish time of the 14 half marathons that I have run, it turned out to be the one that required the most perseverance and I am actually proud to have finished, yet a bit mad at myself for even having run it. As I mentioned previously, I was suffering from a gluteus medius issue that was so bad it was causing me to limp and it hurt to run. And nothing I was doing was working – it was like it was too tight to even get it to stretch at all, no matter how much I tried. Then I went out for dinner with my friend Linda and she told me about a physiotherapy treatment called intramuscular stimulation (or dry needling1.). This technique uses acupuncture needles, but instead of poking the needles into things that have never been scientifically demonstrated to exist, they insert them into tight bits of muscle. It seems like the idea is that your muscle is confused and thinks it should be shortened into this tight piece of agony and isn’t getting your message to just chill the fuck out already, so you poke it to sort of reboot the system.

Have you tried turning my muscle off and then turning it back on again?2

I did a (very) quick look at the research literature and, unlike acupuncture which has definitely been shown not be any better than a placebo, there really isn’t much research on IMS to know if it’s effective or not (at least as far as I can tell from my quick look). So I figured that it at least has some biological plausibility and I was desperate, because I knew I couldn’t run the race if something didn’t give. So I decided to try it as a Hail Mary pass.

It’s a very interesting sensation to have someone poke a needle in your muscle. It doesn’t hurt, but it feels… unusual. Also, when I told the physio that I wanted to be able to run a half marathon in 3 days, he decided to do electrical stimulation with the needling. So in addition to stabbing the muscles, he also electrocuted them. That felt in some cases like he was just flicking my leg and at other times it just made the muscles twitch repeatedly. Oh yeah, and a lot more muscles were messed up than just the glut med. The TFL ((a.k.a., Tensor Fascia Latae.)) was solid like a rock (which my massage therapist had also noted) and the quads and hamstrings were too. So he stabbed and electrocuted a whole bunch of parts of all of those muscles.

After the treatment, I could immediately stretch my hip more than before the treatment3 and it continued to loosen up a bit more each day. Could it have been a placebo effect? Entirely possible. Would it have loosened up in those days even if I hadn’t had the IMS. Maybe they would have, been there’s no way to know!

The physiotherapist’s advice was to try a little 1-2 km jog on the Saturday and see if it was loose enough to run. So we made our way to Kelowna on Saturday and then I went for a 2km jog, which I was able to do, but with a shooting pain with every step. It would get a teensy bit better, but if I stopped, say, to catch a Pokémon, when I restarted, it would hurt as much as the start of the run. What to do? What to do? I was of two minds: the one that said “Maybe it just needs a bit more jogging to loosen it up4. If it loosens up as much over tonight as it has the last few days, I’ll be fine. What if that happens and I don’t do the race – I’ll be walking around all fine and then I’ll want to kick myself! I can’t miss another race this year!” And then the other one that said, “What if you injure yourself more by running on this injury? That’s how you got this injury – running on the not fully healed sprained ankle! Do you really want to jeopardize your upcoming trip to Australia? The race fee is a sunk cost!” So Andrew made me an offer – I’d  start the race and if after 5km, I’m still in pain, I could call him and he’d come and pick me up. So that’s what I did.

Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon route 2016

Long story short: my hip was considerably looser the next day and combined with the race day adrenaline, the first 15 km were slower than I’d usually run a race, but faster than I’d expected given the circumstances. My hip didn’t hurt, it was more just uncomfortable. As I passed the 15 km marker, I thought “I’m glad I did this, I’m going to finish much sooner than I thought, maybe I should text Andrew to let him know as he might not go to the finish line in time to see me” and no sooner did I think that than a pain shoot through my hip – pain that would continue to shoot on every step of the remaining 6 km. Every volunteer I passed gave me a look of genuine sympathy and a kind encouraging word that I could do this. As I crossed the finish line, I was glad I was wearing sunglasses because maybe that would make the tears of pain streaming down my face less noticeable.

Kelowna half marathon 2016 - finish line 2

Me at the finish line. You can see the pain on my face.

Some thoughts on the race itself:

  • The route itself was gorgeous – it officially replaces Victoria as the most beautiful race route I’ve run. It started in the Vibrant Vine vineyard, ran through some wine country and farm lands, down a giant hill, through some neighbourhoods, and finished up in a park by the lake, where a wine festival awaited. I’d really like to run this race again when I’m not injured so I can more fully appreciate it.
Kelowna half marathon 2016 - actually smiling

This is me at some point before the 15 km mark, where I was only in mild discomfort. Or as I call it now “the good ole days”.

  • While the race as beautiful, the logistics weren’t the best thought out. For example, the website mentioned nothing about a shuttle bus taking runners to the start line, so we expected Andrew to be able to drop me off there, but then out of the blue the road was closed and they said I had to go wait for a shuttle bus. Since people weren’t expecting this, they didn’t allot time for it and they had to delay the race start to allow for more people to arrive on the shuttles. Even with that, I heard that some people didn’t get to the start line until after the race started because they had to wait for the bus they didn’t know they’d have to take.
  • Another example of poor planning was that the place to pick up your gear that you’d checked and your wine glass that was required for the wine festival tastings was at the very end of the festival compound, which meant you had to walk all the way to far end to pick up your stuff and then all the way back to the entrance to the festival to go to wine tastings. This was particularly bad for me since I was in a lot of pain and walking was not something I was wanting to do at that particular time.
  • It was different to run a race at the back of the pack. I mean, I’m not a top finisher by any stretch, but I’m used to being in the top half to the top quarter. Being at a slower pace meant I did have more time to look around and enjoy the scenery – though I guess that part of that was also the I chose to do that to try to distract myself from the pain.
  • I also had more time and attention to think about things. Who were my fellow runners? For how many of them was this their first half? Their 50th? Who else was running hurt, pushing through despite the pain? I thought about the saying that you should “Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” What battles were my fellow runners fighting, physically or psychologically, that you just can’t see from the outside? What motivated them to run today? And conversely, who was having the best race of their life? And who else was in this for the wine?
  • I also thought about my dad. I find I do that often when I’m running, because I know he was a runner before I was born. Also, my dad was very stubborn and I was being stubborn too, by running this race.
  • The race medal was awesome. When I first saw it, I didn’t clue into what it was and just thought “It’s huge!” But it turns about that it’s a coaster for your wine! It’s easily detachable from the ribbon so you can actually use it! Though I’m sure I’ll just hang it on the wall with my collection5

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    I do love a good race medal.

I’ve spent the past week since the race limping around – I saw the physio on Wednesday and he said I have acute bursitis and maybe acute tendinitis – and I saw the massage therapist today. I had to skip my hockey game today because I can barely walk, let alone skate. Here’s hoping the 16 hours of flying I have coming up on Wednesday doesn’t kill me!

The one silver lining – well, in addition to the awesome race medal and all the wine – was that I finally caught the damn Mankey that had been eluding me in Pokémon Go. Mankey isn’t that rare of a Pokémon – I just could never seem to catch one, until now ((Of course, once I caught one, I ended up catching a few. Now I just need to keep catching them so that I can evolve one into a Primeape!)!

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  1. As opposed to “wet needling”, i.e., injecting you with stuff []
  2. Props to Kalev for coming up with this line in a convo we were having yesterday []
  3. By which I mean to say – I could then stretch it more than 1 mm. []
  4. I had some bad shin splints earlier this year that took about 5 km of jogging before they disappeared, so this wouldn’t have been unprecedented. []
  5. Speaking of which, my medal rack is too full – I need a new one. But I don’t have time to deal with that right now, so that is after-Australia Beth’s problem. []

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Introducing My New Cleaning Crew

So, Andrew is something of a neat freak1,2 and suggested that perhaps I should clean my algae-adorned frog tank more often than once a century. And while I sort of agreed in principle – i.e, I agreed with the notion that the frog tank should be cleaned, but disagreed with the notion that *I* should personal do any more cleaning than is absolutely necessary. So I have decided to outsource this work to three otocinclus catfish.

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One of my three new ottos

These little guys are algae-eaters who can happily co-habit with Tyrion Froggister, Copernicus the Third, and Timbit.

The only thing they need now are names. My initial thought was to call them Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar, but I feel like it’s a little too trendy and once the PokéCraze is over the names will seem dated. So if anyone has ideas of a better trio after whom to name them, I’m willing to take suggestions3

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Three little otto fish!

  1. Given this, why he’s dating me is something of a mystery. []
  2. He’s an accountant, so this is to be expected, I suppose. []
  3. Except Larry, Curly, & Moe. That’s a non-starter. []

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I’m In It For The Wine

So I’m one week away from my next half marathon – the Kelowna Wine Country half. When I set my goals for 2016, I had big plans to really focus on my training to finally Posterior Hip Muscles 3.PNGbreak the 2 hour barrier that stayed just out of reach in my races last year. But a series of annoying illnesses and sprained ankle have hampered my training and forced me to recalibrate my goal. After taking three weeks off due to my sprained ankle, I did manage to do 1 long run in July (16 km) and 3 long runs in August (a 17 km, an 18 km, and a 19 km), but I didn’t manage to fit in any speedwork. And in the last week I’ve been dealing with an insanely tight gluteus medius muscle. Like so tight that I’ve been limping and have been unable to run without a lot of pain. And so I haven’t run. My massage therapist theorized that it might be from the fact that my left ankle was not 100% so I was compensating and putting extra pressure on my right gluteus medius and now I’m in this state. So I had some massage and I’ve been stretching and foam rolling and I had an Epsom salt bath yesterday and I tried running again this morning and it definitely still hurts, though not as bad as it was. I’m hoping that if I continue to stretch and roll it for the rest of this week I’ll be able to loosen it up enough to get through the half marathon next Sunday. So that’s basically my recalibrated goal: I would like to be able to finish the race. I figure that I’ll just try to enjoy the scenery and be motivated by the fact that there is a wine festival waiting for me when I cross the finish line! Wish me luck!
Image credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=545381

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A visit from my mom and my niece

Hey remember that time that my Mom and my niece came to visit me? Of course you don’t, because I didn’t blog1 or tweet/Facebook/etc. any of it while they were here because we were having way too much gallivanting (and perhaps spent all of our tech-related time catching Pokémon instead).

Highlights of their trip included:

  • the New Westminster petting zoo (which I’d never been to before, despite being a New Westie for several years now!)

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    My niece holding a bunny at the Queen’s Park Petting Zoo in New West

  • the Vancouver Aquarium, where we petted rays and saw beluga whales, dolphins, otters, sea lions, and much more
  • Science World at Telus World of Science2, where we did the spy exhibit. Wasn’t really any science to it, but it was super fun! It was challenging enough to keep us engaged through all the parts of the exhibit – and my niece was the master of figuring out the clues! For the record, we totally figured out who stole the computer chip and why!
  • New West StrEAT food truck festival. It was insanely hot out, but that didn’t keep me, my Mom, my niece, Kalev, Andrew, and I from checking out all of the 88 food trucks. Among us we had an Aussie meat pie, a Japadog, bubble tea, a tacotino, pizza, hurricane potatoes, a Beaver tail, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting!

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    My niece was inspired by a photo of a child with ridiculously placed chocolate on his face on the side of the Beaver Tails truck to place some chocolate in a similar ridiculous fashion.

  • BBQ dinners, including pork tenderloin and steaks
  • Granville Island, including Lee’s Donuts3, jewelry shopping4, looking at fancy brooms (and my mom saying “How can I fit this in my luggage?” and then not buying one because she can’t fit it in her luggage – a tradition of hers when she comes to Vancouver), sitting in hammocks (and saying “Where could I hang this?” and realizing we have nowhere to hang hammocks and then not buying them – another tradition when my family comes to town), and lunch at Edible Canada.

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    This was a menu item at Edible Canada, but we were pretty sure it is actually a Pokémon.

  • Delicious pizza from Pizza Garden. Crick became obsessed with the pizza box5, even choosing to sleep there at night instead sleeping with me like she usually does. After a few days, I decided that it was time for the pizza box to go (given that it does have bits of food in it, which will get icky) and said “I’m going to take the pizza box to the compost”, and the Crick bolted from across the apartment to the box and stood on it and looked at me as if to say “You aren’t taking this anywhere!”

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    Crick is in her happy place

  • Pokemon Go! With all the walking around we did, we had ample opportunity to hunt for wild pocket monsters. We caught an Electrobuzz at the New West petting zoo, and 3 Tauros in one day! We also collected so many Pokémon that we had a whole bunch that we could evolve, so we planned it out so that we could drop a Lucky Egg (which gives you double XP6 for half an hour) and then evolved about 40 Pokémon, which resulted in me finally levelling up from Level 20 to 21 (and getting a good chunk of the way through Level 21 to boot.)) We evolved a few Pokémon that I didn’t have before – a Persian (from a Meowth), a Wortotle (from a Squirtle), a Venomoth (from a Venonat), and a Poliwhirl (from a Poliwag) – and a bunch of ones that I already have just to get the extra XP7.

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    My mom, helping us catch a wild Hypno.

  • A very exciting semi-finals hockey game in which my summer hockey team went to an eleven round shootout to decide who went on to the finals!

Lowlights included:

  • Losing the aforementioned hockey semi-final in an eleven round shootout.
  • My mom’s triple injury – she burned her finger on the first day here, she cut two fingers quite deeply on her second day here (trying to open a package with an overly sharp knife)8, and then a few days later is poked herself in the finger with a bamboo skewer while making dinner.
  1. Other than to mention briefly that it was upcoming. []
  2. That is really its name and the ridiculousness of that name makes me laugh every time! []
  3. Hands down the best donuts in the city. []
  4. My mom bought be a gorgeous necklace as a Christmas present. []
  5. As she usually does when I have a pizza box in the house. []
  6. Experience points. []
  7. I’m looking at you, 21 Pidgey evolutions! []
  8. Needless to say, there were some “Not to be trusted with knives” jokes made. []

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It Wouldn’t Be Vancouver if We Weren’t Talking About the Weather

It rained in Vancouver yesterday, so naturally everyone was all “WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GET SUMMER?????” and then I was all “Um, didn’t we have like 2 weeks of straight sunshine? Haven’t we had summer weather pretty much since April??” And then I was like this:

So then I decided to go to the data. According to vancouver.weatherstats.ca, this has been our rainfall in Vancouver for the past two weeks:

Rainfall over the last 2 weeks

So we haven’t had *straight* sunshine for two weeks leading up to yesterday’s rainy day – we had a whooping 0.6 mm of rain on Aug 2 and 1.8 mm on Aug 3. And then no other rain in the past two weeks!

And then I looked at the temperatures. According to Accuweather, we had temperatures at or above the historical average for:

  • 28 of 30 days in April
  • 29 of 31 days in May
  • 24 of 30 days in June
  • 27 of 31 days in July
  • 5 of the 10 days so far in August1

Here are the graphs, because all data should always be graphed2!

April 2016 temperatures

May 2016 temperature

June 2016 temperatures

July 2016 temperatures

August 2016 temperatures

Now, I realize that last summer it was even hotter and much, much drier. So much drier that we were on water restrictions due to the drought were experiencing3. But this summer has been warm and sunny here in Vancouver and I’m actually sad that it’s on its way out – sunset is coming noticeably earlier and I’m having to think about whether I need to bring a sweater with me when I go out if I’m going to be out until the evening, which I haven’t had to do for quite some time. But I am glad that we’ve had a long summer and I do plan to enjoy the remaining above average temperatures we have coming for the rest of this month!

  1. With a forecast that we’ll be at or above historical average temperatures from now until Aug 29. []
  2. Note that I didn’t make the graphs – I just took screenshots from Accuweather. []
  3. And as much as I love the heat, I prefer not having all the plants dying and not worrying if we were going to run out of water! []

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My calendar makes me want to cry

I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself.

In the next 37 days before I leave for Australia1, I have the following things in my calendar (in addition to, you know, going to work):

  • a weekend hockey camp in Whistler
  • a long weekend in Kelowna for a half marathon
    • which requires a bunch of training for said half marathon
    • plus I have another half marathon after I get back from Australia, so I don’t even get to stop training when the Kelowna half is done
  • a weeklong visit from my mom & my niece
    • which will involve us being tourists in my town. I’m thinking Granville Island, Stanley Park, and Science World (where they are having an exhibit where you get to be a spy. So exciting!)
  • a food truck festival
  • a concert
  • appointments for rehabbing my ankle
  • an executive council meeting for one of the boards I’m on
  • a meet & greet for the program of the student that I supervised this summer
  • a mixer for people from various MBA part-time cohorts (of which I am one)
  • a book club meeting
  • summer season hockey playoffs, the schedule for which is determined based on how we do in each game2, which requires me to be flexible in my scheduling, which is really not my strong suit right about now!
  • the first two classes of the course I’m teaching
  • the first hockey games of the fall season

Interspersed with all of this is coffees/lunches/drinks/dinners with various friends and dedicated time for working on the course I’m teaching in the fall (as I need to get that all completed before the course starts!). My boyfriend has now had to start being scheduled in or I wouldn’t see him between now and when we leave for Australia!

Maybe when I return from Australia, I should try to not do all the things. Maybe just like 90% of the things? I’ll let you know how that goes.

  1. Holy crap, I can’t believe I leave in Australia for 37 days!! []
  2. e.g., we won tonight, so we play next Monday. Had we lost, we would have had to play on Wed []

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A Wild Pidgey Appears

When my dad was young, he and his brothers would go hunting with my grandpa. My dad’s older brother, Bob, used to say that if he died, he would be reincarnated as a duck and then one day when his brothers were out hunting, they would take aim at a duck, but would miss and the duck would laugh at them. My Uncle Bob died in a boating accident when he was 21. And then one day my dad and his brothers were out hunting and they took aim at a duck and were sure they had the duck in their sights, but when they fired, they missed and the duck quacked and quacked in the duck-like way that sounds like a laugh. Personally, I don’t believe in any sort of afterlife or reincarnation, but I always loved that story.

My dad used to raise pigeons for racing and every time I see a pigeon – which is quite often where I live – I think of my dad. In Pokémon Go, the most common Pokémon seems to be Pidgey, the pigeon-like Pokémon. Sometimes when you throw a PokéBall at a Pidgey (which is how you catch a Pokémon) you miss and I would swear that the Pidgey is laughing at me.

Pokemon GO