Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Destruco-Kitty Strikes Again

For the most part, my kitties are fairly non-destructive. About 99% of the time, they reserve their scratching for their scratching post and their chewing on things to their cats toys and the cardboard boxes that I put out for them to play with. They don’t chew on cords that are plugged into things and Watson’s has lost interest in his habit of pulling the decorative knobs out of my bed frame (and even that didn’t cause permanent damage, as I could just plug them back in again). The only things they’ve destroyed so far are Daniel’s iPhone cord and the cord of my headphones and, since then, I’ve been good about not leaving cords lying on counters to tempt them.

But the other day I discovered that apparently the lid of my running water bottle was apparently delicious, because I found this when I woke up on the morning:

Water bottle lid,

I’ve left my running water bottle on my kitchen counter countless times – as well as my hockey water bottle which has a very similar lid – so I’m not sure why, on this night, a kitty who shall remain nameless1 decided to chew it.

To add insult to injury, I had only recently bought this water bottle because the one I’d been using before, which had been Daniel’s but he’d given to me as I’d gotten him a new one as part of his Christmas present, had broken when it fell out of my water bottle belt, into which it apparently did not fit snugly enough. And I’d only gotten that one from Daniel because my previous one, which I’d had for the better part of a decade (!) had its lid destroyed when it fell off the shelf in the dishwasher and got chopped up by the spin-y part of the dishwasher2:

Water bottle lid

So now I have yet another new running water bottle – this one is actually a bit taller than the one I had3, but fits nicely in my water bottle belt. It has a clear plastic lid rather than a black one, but I still plan to be very careful not to leave it sitting on counter!

  1. Because I don’t know which kitty it was. []
  2. I have no idea what that thing is called. []
  3. Given how hot it’s been this summer and the fact that I’m now getting up to longer distances in my half marathon training, more water is needed! []

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Open all the tabs

My process (over several days, if not weeks):

  • see interesting article linked to in a tweet. Open tab in my browser to read later when I have time
  • open tab in my browser to check the weather
  • open tab in my browser to Google something. Results taking too long, get distracted by something else.
  • open tab in my browser to edit a Google spreadsheet. x5 spreadsheets
  • open tab in my browser to check the weather
  • open tab in my browser to check how long it will take me to get somewhere on Google Maps. Go to that place.
  • click a link in an email that opens tab in my browser for an article that someone is suggesting I read. Too long – I’ll read it later.
  • open tab in my browser to look something up on Wikipedia
  • open tab in my browser to read the news
  • open tab in my browser to check how long it will take me to get somewhere on Google Maps. Go to that place.
  • open tab in my browser to check the weather
  • see interesting article linked to in a tweet. Open tab in my browser to read later when I have time
  • open tab in my browser to write a blog posting. Then open several more tabs to grab a Flickr photo to put into my blog posting, to grab the link to an old blog posting to link my current blog posting too and to look something up to make sure I have a fact correct before I post my blog posting. Click the “preview” button, which opens up a preview of the blog posting in a new tab
  • never close any of the tabs
  • computer crashes and loses all the tabs. Don’t remember what any of the things that I was saving in the various tabs to read later were.
  • repeat.
all the tabs

A screenshot of the top of browser.

See also: my “Read it Later”1 and Instapaper graveyards and my “to check out” folders in my various email accounts.

  1. Apparently “Read it Later” changed its name to “Pocket“. That fact that I didn’t know that really exemplifies how much of a graveyard that is for me! []

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I *Never* Run Into People I Know

When my mom and sister were visiting, I said  “I *never* run into people I know”, which I always find surprising because I feel like I know a lot of people1 And, of course, about 3 minutes after I said that, as we were walking across Pacific Boulevard, a driver stopped at the light starts yelling my name. It was a former coworker of mine who just happened to be driving by. “So, what’s that about never running into people you know?” my sister said.

Since that time, I’ve been constantly running into people I know. This includes, in no particular order:

  • a former colleague from my previous job, who also has a new job in the same area of Vancouver as me, who happened to be on the 84 bus when I was taking the 84 bus
  • another former colleague who was walking down 8th Ave while I was walking the other direction on 8th Ave
  • a friend of a friend who was running west along the seawall by Olympic Village as I was running east
  • my friend Alicia who was sitting outside of Whole Foods while I was walking past on my way from work to Canada Line2
  • a professional colleague who was walking past a restaurant patio I was sitting on while having a beer with a friend
  • my boyfriend’s brother-in-law’s aunt, who I met at a recent family function, while taking the elevator at work3
  • two of my MBA classmates, who were in a pub that I was in with some friends before our book club meeting

That’s 9 people4 in less than 5 weeks! I don’t know how often other people randomly run into people they know, but I feel like I probably didn’t randomly run into 9 people that I know in the previous 5 years!

Extremely tangentially related: This song just popped into my head and now I can’t get it out.

  1. I have friends and acquaintances from 6 years of PhD school – including tonnes of people I met through the science outreach that I did – plus from 8 years of working in three different health organizations and from several hockey teams – and from playing in the 10-day long hockey game (where there were 40 players and dozens upon dozens of volunteers) – and a surprising number of people from blogging and then the 49 other people who I did my MBA with (plus profs and staff at the b-school) and then I know a bunch of friends groups of some of my friends. I’m one of the most extroverted extroverts who ever extroverted. []
  2. What was extra funny about that was that I hadn’t seen in her ages until the day before this, when we had gone paddle boarding. So it was funny to run into her the very next day! []
  3. This one wasn’t super surprising, as we’d discovered that we work in the same building while chatting at said family function; really, the surprising part was when we discovered we work in the same building. []
  4. And I feel like there might be more that I’m forgetting! []

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Paint Nite – Take 1

A little while ago I got the idea that it would be fun to get some friends together to do a Paint Nite. For the uninitiated, Paint Nite1 is where you go to a restaurant and they have all the supplies you need to do a painting – a canvas, paint, brushes, smocks – and an artist who gives you instructions on how to paint a particular picture. I emailed around to a bunch of friends to see who was interested, but given that people need to align on available dates, locations they can get to, and taste in art (since everyone is painting the same picture), I didn’t manage to get a group together. I did, however, find a date/place/painting that worked for both me and Cath (this past Monday) and another date/place/painting that worked for me and Amy (late August). And so it was that on Monday after work, Cath and I found ourselves at Nuba2 in Kitsilano wearing smocks and ready to paint!

To set the stage, this is the painting that we were trying to imitate:

Paint Nite

Now, I should point out that the disclaimer on the Paint Nite website notes:

Paint Nite makes no representations or warranties about the quality of your painting or individual experience. Every painting will be unique, and the expectation that your painting will be a facsimile of the painting depicted on the Website is patently absurd. (emphasis mine)

I can only imagine the situation that lead to a frustrated legal writer penning this statement!

At any rate, we were told that the instructor would show us how to paint this painting, but we were free to change things up as we liked.

I feel like things were going OK for me as I painted the sky and the mountain – I decided I wanted to go with a darker sky and a blacker mountain than the original – and even the land on which the trees would sit. I didn’t love my trees at first – the instructor wasn’t giving very clear instructions at that point… he was mostly just saying “Do this with your brush” but not explaining what “this” was.  And then when it came time to paint the water, things went totally off the rails. I had *no idea* what he was talking about and he seemed to be doing it all very fast, so I need up getting, well, this:

Paint Nite

Then things went from bad to worse, as we were supposed to be painting some yellow (i.e., moonlight) on the water, but mine turned out way too yellow:

Paint Nite

Yes, I realize that this looks like I have more of a wavy stream of urine than some moonlit water on the bottom of the painting!

I know that one evening does not a painter make and so I’m not just making excuses here, but I would like to reiterate that the instructor could have been a little bit more effective than he was. I would have appreciated some more specifics and, quite honestly, fewer cliché sentences like “Just feel the tree emerge from the brush”. Also, I know that this is supposed to be a “fun” and “nonjudgemental” good time, but I also could have done without comments like “These all look amazing! You are all doing such a great job!” because that, to borrow a phrase, was patently absurd. My painting is not, by any measure, amazing, and it wasn’t by any stretch the worst painting there. I’m not saying the instructor should tell us that our paintings look terrible or anything, but he just came across as completely insincere by doing that.

Anyway, I don’t think we did half bad for two people who haven’t picked up a paint brush in decades and, as Cath pointed out, we each reconfirmed that we made a good career choice in becoming a scientist.

Paint Nite

Cath and her masterpiece

Paint Nite

Me and my masterpiece

And, most importantly, we had a blast! I’m looking forward, to Paint Nite 2, The Repaintening. I’m hopefully that the instructor is a little better at the next one, though I think I’ll check out some YouTube videos on how to paint before then just in case!

  1. As per usual with blog postings where I talk about companies, I have no affiliation with Paint Nite. I paid for the event like everyone else, so I’m not receiving bribes to blog about it! []
  2. I also have no affiliation with Nuba. I wish they would give me bribes – their food is delicious! – but alas, I paid for my own drinks and dinner there. []

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101 in 1001 mid-2015 check in

So I’m 372 days into the 1001 days of my latest “101 things to do in 1001 days” list (a.k.a., one year and one week or 37% of the way through) and at my latest count, I’ve achieved 25 of the 101 items (i.e., 24.75%). So while I’m a little bit behind, I have been making decent progress. I set a goal of knocking 15 items off of my list in 2015 and so far have done 11. Those 11 are:

58. Ski at Whistler
66. Take the Peak to Peak gondola in Whistler

Daniel got me lift tickets for Whistler for my Christmas present, which allowed me to knock the two aforementioned items off my list. We had a fantastic time!

On the Peak-to-Peak Gondola

Daniel and I on the Peak-to-Peak Gondola going from Blackcomb to Whistler – thereby achieving two things from my 101 list that day!

27. Update my address on every account I have by the time my mail forwarding ends
28. Update my budget to reflect my new financial situation

A couple of boring ones, but important!

64. Go on a Paddlewheeler cruise down the Fraser River

The Paddlewheeler is a paddle wheel-powered boat that travels up the Fraser River doubling as a pub on the weekends. There was a Groupon deal for tickets, so Daniel and I did this back in April and it was pretty fun!

89. Increase the amount of money I loan out via Kiva by 100%

Kiva is a microfinance organization where you can loan money to people in need, primarily in developing countries. It’s a fantastic way to support people who can’t get access to traditional financing to build their businesses, get an education, and build their communities. Typically the loans are about $25 per loaner, with a group of people loaning the total amount the loan recipient needs. I was originally introduced to Kiva by my friends Sarah and Dave, who gave me a gift card of money to loan through Kiva. As the loan recipients pay back their loan, I then loan that money out to other people. Every once  I add more money to the pot – usually when someone is offering to match any new funds that are loaned during a given period of time, and I decided that in my 1001 days I wanted to double the amount I was loaning out, from $76 to $151. I’m currently at $200 being loaned out, so I’ve more than met this goal.

93. Get a book chapter published

This one I added to the list knowing that I’d have a very good chance of achieving it because I was already working on the chapter! If memory serves, we didn’t have a publisher secured at that time, but the book editors were working on it and they had experience publishing several academic books like this one, so I was confident that we’d get the book published. It doesn’t appear that I’ve blogged about the book – oops! Anyway, it’s called Transforming Addiction: Gender, Trauma, Transdisciplinarity and I co-wrote chapter 2 “Fostering transdisciplinarity in addiction research training” based on my experiences as the Program Director of a transdisciplinary addictions research training program, which was my first job post-PhD. You can buy the book on Amazon or Chapters if you are so inclined.

46. Go to Nova Scotia

Untitled

I’m in Halifax and have now been to 9 out of 10 Canadian provinces (and 10 out of 14 provinces + territories)

Nova Scotia was one of the two remaining provinces that I needed to go to in order to have been to all 10 provinces. The last one is Newfoundland and I’m hoping to go there for a conference that I really want to go to next year. Then I have to conquer the remaining territories – I’ve been to the Northwest Territories, but I have yet to get to Yukon or Nunavut.

56. Go to Bowen Island

Untitled

Waiting for the ferry to return home from Bowen Island

This one is a little closer to home than Nova Scotia, but for some reason, I haven’t been to any of the islands around here, other than Vancouver Island. Bowen is a small and easy-to-get to island and I’d heard that it was quaint, so I put it on my list of 101 things to do. I ended up going there when my mom and sister were visiting. I’d been told there were cute little shops and restaurants there and that was true, though there were far fewer of them than I’d expected. But we did some shopping and had a delicious lunch and I got to knock this item off my list!

69. Create a balcony herb garden

This is another one that I achieved while my mom and sister were visiting. We went to Granville Island and I found a lovely herb garden in a box that contains parsley, sage, chives, marjoram, and peppermint and it only cost $13. So I bought it and put it on my balcony and now I have a balcony herb garden!

86 Decorate a cake in a creative and awesome way

Logic Model cake

A logic model cake

I had a colleague who has been working with me since last August and we have spent several months building logic models. Logic models, for the uninitiated, is a tool that is commonly used in program evaluation and it depicts the relationships between inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes (basically, it shows the “if.. then” logic where “if you have input w, then you can do activity x and if you do activity x, then you will get output y, and if you get output y, then you will get outcome z.” These logic models typically are represented by a bunch of boxes linked by arrows. Anyway, this colleague finished up on our project recently as she is moving and at her last team meeting with us, I made her a logic model-themed cake.

I’m pretty happy with having achieved 11 out of my goal of 15 things, and I’m hopeful that I’ll achieve another two very soon:

92. Get a journal article published. I’ve had a journal article accepted and am just waiting to find out what issue it is going to be published in!

91. Paint something worth hanging on my wall. My friend Cath and I are going to a Paint Nite event, where you go to a bar or restaurant and an artist teaches you how to paint something. So I will paint something tomorrow but whether or not it meets the criterion of “worth hanging on my wall” remains to be seen!

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PNE Donut Dash 5 km

And speaking of race medals, another race that I’ve signed up for is the PNE Donut Dash 5 km race on August 23rd. And while getting to have mini-donuts and cotton candy throughout the race course is appealing, I’m really signed up for it because the race medal has a picture of a smiling donut running on it. And who doesn’t want to add a medal with a picture of a smiling donut running on it? Look how happy that donut is!

Of course, now that I think of it, he’s probably running because he knows that the people in the race are going to try to eat him, so he’s actually running for his life! So it’s actually a little weird that he’s smiling.

Another thing that is weird is that in this race, you don’t get a timing chip unless you pay an extra fee of $5. Usually, when you sign up for a race the cost of the timing chip – which records when you start and finish the race so you know how long it took you – is included in the registration fee. But that’s not the case for this race and, being that I’m cheap, I rationalized that it wasn’t really worth even $5 given that  (a) my running watch will tell me how long I took to run the race and (b) they are giving you donuts and cotton candy along the course, so I’m not going to be expecting to set any land speed records that day. As long as they give me my adorable medal, and I get a mini-donut or two along the way, I’ll be a happy camper.

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The Florida “Virtual” Half Marathon

As most people who know me are aware, I have a bit of an addiction to race medals. I think it’s the last vestige of my pack rat-ness, which I’ve worked very hard to overcome over the year, combined with liking shiny objects. It allows me to satisfy my pack rat nature of wanting to hold on to physical items, but since I have to work to earn them, I can’t accumulate them too quickly. Also, shiny!

One of my favourite of my race medals is the one I got from the Hollywood Half Marathon – it was, in fact, being told that the Hollywood Half Marathon medal is a big blingy star that inspired me to do that race in the first place1. Apparently the Hollywood Half Marathon had a sister race in Hollywood, Florida, in 2012, but they discontinued it and, I’m guessing, had a bunch of medals leftover that they wanted to unload, so they set up a “virtual” half marathon where if you sent in a link to a running tracking service (like Runkeeper or your Garmin/Polar/Nike GPS watch data) that showed you had run at least 21.1 km (and you paid a nominal fee), they would send you a shiny Hollywood Florida Half Marathon medal. I hemmed and hawed about it for a while, but in the end I couldn’t resist the lure of the shiny object! Plus it got me one medal closer to achieving my 2015 goal of Add 5 new medals to my collection, so really, everybody wins2!

Florida Hollywood Virtal Half Marathon medal

  1. Well that and the fact that it has a flat course! []
  2. Where by “everybody” I mean “me” []

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15 New Food Items That I Made This Year

As previously mentioned, I’ve already completed my goal to Make 15 new food or drink items that I’ve never made before  in 2015 – in fact, I’ve actually surpassed my goal by making *16* new items. I got myself a nice head start by having a birthday party where I made 6 new items that I’d never tried before. Then I racked up a few more items by having made a batch of home-brewed beer that ended up suboptimally carbonated, but since I didn’t want it to go to waste, I looked up recipes that involved beer – those, plus making dog biscuits from the spent grains of another batch of beer totalled another 5 items, which meant I only needed to make 4 other things to hit my goal of 15!

So, for the record, the new things I made so far this year that I’d never made before were:

15 Food Items Made Date Comments
1 Chocolate buttercream frosting (for Daniel’s birthday cake) 1-Jan-2015 I got a lot of compliments on this!
2 sweet and spicy pecans and cashews 12-Jan-2015 Very tasty!
3 caramelized onion, mushroom, apple and Gruyère puff pastry bites 12-Jan-2015 These were a HUGE hit!
4 cucumbers with salmon whip and dill whip 12-Jan-2015 No one seemed all that into these
5 slow cooker gingered chickpea and tomato stew 12-Jan-2015 Pretty good!
6 cheese puffs 12-Jan-2015 Got this recipe from my niece. They were amazing!
7 homemade sour mix 12-Jan-2015 Needed this for a drink I wanted to make, but couldn’t find it in any store
8 Swiss cheese beer bread 4-Feb-2015 Really easy and super tasty!
9 potato, cheddar & beer soup 4-Feb-2015 This was OK (though I’m not a huge soup fan, so YMMV)
10 beer marinated pork chops 4-Feb-2015 Pretty good!
11 brown ale potato galette 12-Mar-2015 Pretty good!
12 black bean & mushroom tortilla casserole 12-Mar-2015 I quite liked this
13 spent grain dog biscuits 28-Mar-2015 made these from spent grains from home brewing. My brewing buddy’s dog loved them!
14 rice pilaf 29-Mar-2015 I didn’t really like this.
15 BBQ short ribs 14-Jun-2015 These were amazing!
16 grilled potato skins 4-Jul-2015 I’d make these again!

I’ll continue to keep track of any other new things I make for the second half of 2015 and see how high a number I can hit!

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Goals 2015 – Mid-Year Check-in

So it’s just past the halfway point in the year and I figure that means it’s a good time to do a check-in on my goals for the year!

Of my 15 goals, 4 goals are completed:

  • Organize all my closets
  • Set up a new investment plan
  • Pay off 7.5% of my mortgage principal – I’ve actually paid off 9% of the principal I had owing at the start of the year – and counting!
  • Make 15 new food or drink items that I’ve never made before – this one warrants its own blog posting!

6 goals are on track:

  • Run two half marathons – having done the BMO half, I’m 50% complete on this goal and I’m registered for the Montreal half as my second half of the year.
  • Run a sub-2 hour half marathon – being less than 3 minutes off of hitting this goal in May and into my training for Montreal in September, I think there’s a reasonable chance I could get this one done.
  • Run 800 km – I’ve run 500.3 km so far this year, which puts me at 62% complete. I’ve got another 9 weeks of training left for Montreal, and then I’m running a 10 km in October, so I’ll be motivated to do some more runs after Montreal… so I’m really hoping I can complete this goal this.
  • Add 5 new medals to my collection – I’ve got two so far – BMO half marathon and the Florida virtual half (which I just realize that I have failed to blog about!) and am registered for three more races (Montreal half, PNE Donut 5 km (also warrants a blog posting), and the Vancouver Rock’n’Roll 10 km – so as long as I do all those races, I’ll have 5 shiny new medals in my collection…. plus, since Montreal & Vancouver are both Rock’n’Roll events, I will also get the “double beat” medal for running two R’n’R events in one calendar year – so I’ll actually add 6 new medals!
  • Bring lunch to work more often than I buy lunch at work. I have a spreadsheet to track this one (because spreadsheet) and I currently sit at 49% of my lunches having been brought from home so far this year, so I really should make a more concerted effort to bring this number up to give myself some breathing room!
  • Complete 15 items from my 101 list. I’ve completed nine items (looks like that’s another blog posting I need to write!) and have booked something for next Monday which will, if all turns out well, allow me to knock item number 91 off my list.

4 goals have been neglected so far:

  • Complete the 100 push up challenge.
  • Lose those last 5 lbs that I gained during my MBA. I
  • Write a will.
  • Apply for at least one research grant.

And then there’s this one:

  • Write 115 blog postings. So far in 2015, I’ve written a mere 37 blog postings. Which means I need to write 14 blog postings per month – or 3.25 blog postings per week – for the remainder of the year to hit this target. Challenge accepted!

As a bonus goal, I decided the other day to set a goal of reading 15 books in 2015, mostly because Goodreads kept harassing me to set a goal every time I logged into the app. I’ve currently read 10 books this year (and am in the middle of a few others), so I’m on track for that one too.

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Happy 10th Blogiversary to Me!

Number 1010 years. A decade. One-tenth of a century. Whatever way you look at it, it’s an awful long time. Unless you are looking at it in geological time, in which case it’s not even noticeable. Thankfully, neither me nor my blog is a rock.

Obviously things have changed a lot during that time. In fact, blogging itself has gone from “You write a what? A “blog”? What the hell is a blog?” (when I started in 2005) to *everyone* is blogging (in maybe 2007 or 2008) to “You write a what? A blog? How antiquated. Can I Instagram a photo of you? #OldLady #GetWithTheTimes”1.

I obviously don’t blog anywhere near as often as I used to – the days of the 231-day blogging streaks are over2. Even at my peak, I never had a tonne of comments on my blog postings, but the comments section has been a veritable wasteland for years now, with the few people who choose to comment doing so on the Facebook posting linked to my blog posting.

I don’t think it’s very difficult to figure out why me – and pretty much every else – is blogging so much less these days. There are just so many more ways to publish your ideas online now. Back in 2005, Facebook wasn’t yet open to the public – you had to have a university-affiliated address to join back then – and Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and the myriad other ways we have of sharing our ideas online weren’t even invented. And it’s a lot easier to write 140 characters or copy-and-paste a link to something than it is to sit down and think enough to write a coherent blog posting. And, likewise, it takes a lot more attention to read a blog posting than to flip through a bunch of tweets and Facebook statuses. As Mitch Joel said in his blog posting Blogging is Dead (Again):

Blogging is hard because writing is hard. Writing is hard because finding the time to do real critical thinking and then to put those thoughts down in writing is even more complex. Reading, research, critical thinking, writing, editing and publishing isn’t like posting a picture to tumblr or texting off a tweet. They’re different beasts and they deserve different forms of metrics and comparison.

When I used to not have those other outlets, I channeled all of my creative energies into blog postings. Now it’s much easier to post a funny one liner on Twitter and go on about my day.

But the thing is, I’m still constantly thinking of ideas that would  take more than 140 characters to write, and I often find myself making a mental note about something that I want to blog about3. I currently have 63 draft postings sitting in my blog in various states of being written (from just a title to remind me of something I wanted to blog about to some half-baked postings that I haven’t found the time to finish baking), not to mention other ideas jotted on my whiteboard and still others floating around in my brain. But, as Joel says, finding the time to actually craft a blog posting is the real challenge. It’s not just that other social media platforms are competing with blogs, it’s that all the other stuff I do in my life is competing for my time.

Anyway, after all this talk about needing to spend time to think critically to write blog postings, I’m pretty much just rambling on at this point. So I should probably find some way to wrap this thing up. But now I can’t think of a good ending. Gah! The pressure is too much. Oh wait, I know! How about a quiz to see if anyone is actually reading this. 1000 points to anyone who actually posts a comment on this blog posting (and you lose one million points if you post a comment on the link to this blog posting that appears on my Facebook).

10th Birthday Cakey

Omg, why didn’t anyone make this cake for me today?

Image Credits:

-Number 10 image osted by draml on Flickr with a Creative Commons license4.
-Sheep cake photo posted by darkdwarf on Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

Footnotes:

  1. See here for a report on how blogging is for old folks… and this was back in 2010! []
  2. Though you may have noticed that I’m currently on a 6-day blogging streak, which I started when I noticed “blogiversary” in my Google calendar. []
  3. Something that frustrates me is that I never seem to get a blog posting written on current events because I need to take my time to learn about them, to think critically about them, and to decide what I’d even want to say about them and by the time I’m done all of that, everyone will have stopped posting links to that news story on their Facebook, having moved on to the next big thing. []
  4. While searching for an image for this blog posting, I searched Flickr for “number 10″ and got a lot of photos of the house of the British Prime Minister. []