Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

By

RIP Kobo

My kobo1, appears to be no longer capable of holding a charge. I plug it in overnight and it seems like it’s charged, but then a few hours later (during which time it isn’t being used) and I see this:

My kobo won't hold a charge :(

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, as it is more than 4 years old and in electronics time that’s like 1000 years old. Plus I’ve not been able to get it to connect to my computer for quite some time now, which means that I haven’t been able to put any new books on it. I was hoping to read the books that I already had on there that I hadn’t yet read though. I’m in the middle of reading The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker. Though I can’t tell you exactly how far because my goddamn kobo won’t hold a charge. Guess it’s time to start looking at what’s happened in eReader technology in the last four years…

  1. Which I had named Luna, after Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series. []

By

Goals 2017 Check In

We are more than 5/12 of the way through 2017 and first of all, how is that even possible? It feels like it was just New Year’s! But secondly, it seems like a good time to check in on my goals to see if I’m even remotely on track before the year completely gets away from me.

Let’s dive right in, shall we? Below is a list of the goals with notes on how I’m doing on each one. I’ve also colour coded them: green for those that are done or on track, orange for those where progress is made but the goal needs a bunch of work to get back on track, and red for those that are seriously in danger of not getting completed (or are already failed), plus grey for one that has been superseded.

1. Learn 12 new things (1 per month). So far I’ve learned: plumbingfolding a fitted sheet, strength trainingsewing, and growing balcony potatoes – I’ve also learned about one more thing but haven’t written it up yet, so I’m actually ahead on this one!
2. KonMari my condo. I have started this one, but have gotten a little stalled after I got through all my clothes and shoes (still have jewelry and purses to do before I can consider the “clothing” category done). Got a little distracted by teaching a course for the past 6 weeks, which took up a lot of my spare time, but that’s done now so I can get back to making giant piles of my belongings to decide which things bring me joy and thanking the ones that don’t make the cut for their service (lol!)
3. Do yoga at least 2x per week (either at home or in a class). Haven’t done it even once this year!
4. Establish a weight training program and actually do regular weight training, where “regular” = at least 2x per week for at least 3 out of 4 weeks per month. I’m doing excellent on this one! I have gone to the gym 3 days a week, every week, since I joined Strong Side on March 3. Hooray for me!
5. Get back to journalling regularly (where “regularly” = once a week). I forgot this one was a goal. I should really do this! Good thing I’m doing this check in to remind me!
6. Travel somewhere awesome. Scott and I are doing a road trip next week1 and one of the places will be going is Jasper. Though it’s not far away, I do believe it constitutes awesome.
7. Get gum graft surgery done.  Booked for July 4!
8. Get a Nexus card Oh yeah, I should do this!
9. Send an actual physical birthday card on time to all my family members and close friends Already failed at this one! Maybe next year…
10. Bring my lunch to work 80% of the time. I’ve been tracking this on a weekly basis, but hadn’t looked at the actual percentage until just now. I’m only at 56% Clearly I need to up my lunch game when I get back from my holidays!
11. Complete the 100 push up challenge. This goal has been superseded by my joining Strong Side. Hopefully I’ll start to get better at pushups – I’ve managed to make great improvements in my strength, but pushups remain tough for me.
12. Submit 5 papers for publication. I’ve gotten one submitted, I’ve got one that is about 85% of the way done, I’ve got one that I’ve planned out with my co-authors (but we haven’t yet started on), and I’ve got one in my brain. Better get working on the lesser done ones (and also come up with the 5th one!)
13. Read 17 books. I’ve only finished one so far this year (Maria Kondo’s book), but I’m in the middle of reading 4 different books at the moment, plus I have my friend Cath’s new book sitting on my coffee table waiting to be read. So I’m rather behind on this one and I mostly blame the fact that I spend my commute doing my Pokemon inventory management rather than reading
14. Make 17 new foods and/or drinks that I’ve never made before. I’ve only done 6 so far, but I’ve got some good ideas for other things, so I think I’ll manage this one.
15. Write 117 blog postings! Counting this one, I’ll have done 26 blog postings so far this year. I better step it up!
16. Finish the plan for mystery thing #1. I’m actually working on this in earnest this week – my mystery collaborator and I have the week off work to focus on this, so this goal is well underway.
17. Finish the letter of intent for mystery thing #2. I did finish this, so technically I completed my goal. Doesn’t look like this mystery thing is going to go anywhere, so let us never speak of it again.

So I’m doing OK on several, have quite a few that are not on track, and a few on which I’ve made progress. So I guess now it’s time to turn some of those orange and reds into green!

  1. Attention would be robbers: My cat sitter will be here, so don’t even think of trying to rob me! []

By

Stuff I’m Learning This Year: Growing potatoes on my balcony edition

Last year when I made my herb garden, I learned that one could grow potatoes on their balcony. I didn’t get to try it out last year due to travel and balcony power washing that happened, but decided I would do it this summer. Fast forward to the May long weekend – Scott and I set out to buy some seedlings to plant this year’s herb garden and while at the store, I remembered the potato thing! I hadn’t remembered early enough to actually sprout some potatoes on my own, but fortunately one can purchase “potato seeds” (which are little potatoes that have been sprouted).

Potato seeds

Basically, you cut a bit off of the potato, put some dirt in a bag, and bury the potato cut side down.

Potato seed

Cutting the potato seed before planting

Growing potatoes on my balcony

Growing potatoes on my balcony

After about a week, you see the plant sprouting above the surface, and then you dump more dirt on it to cover the sprouts and let it grow another four weeks. And then you have potatoes!

As you can see, my potato plants are sprouting quite nicely:

June 4:

Potato plants are growing!

June 10:

Potatoes

June 14:

IMG_5865

Also, the bag that I bought to grow the potatoes in has am opening, which I’m assuming is to make it easier to harvest the potatoes when they are ready. However, such a bag also doubles as an excellent astronaut costume (as long as it is before you put the dirt in it):

Potato growing bag doubles as a spacesuit!

Since I still had more potato seeds, so I decided to get myself another bag to grow a second batch. But since the space suit potato bag appeared to be made out of the same material as Ikea bags, we decided to just buy an Ikea bag for less than $1 and cut a hole in the bottom of it!

Planted on June 4:

Planting balcony potatoes - second batch

June 10:

Potatoes
June 14:

Potatoes
In addition to growing potatoes, also picked up a bunch of seedlings to make this year’s herb garden1. For the record, this year’s garden consists of:

  • chives
  • cilantro
  • dill
  • marjoram
  • mint
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • tarragon
  • thyme
  • tomatoes
  • jalapeño
  • strawberries

Balcony Herb Garden

First strawberry of the season

Strawberries

Balcony Herb GardenDoes anyone know why this tomato is called a “mortgage lifter?”

Also, while we were picking up seedlings, we discovered that the garden store was selling  cat grass seedlings. And seedlings of variegated cat grass. And cat nip seedlings. So guess who got their own little garden?

Watson & Crick love their new cat garden

You can’t see it in the photos, but the cats are wearing harnesses and leashes because I don’t want them falling off the balcony!

I also toyed with the idea of growing a hipster garden when I saw that you could buy kale, quinoa, and stevia seedlings, but decided that the cost in money, effort, and space on the balcony would outweigh the joke. Of course, if I had, I would have to have bought the “craft” compost:Hipster dirt

Anyhoo, like last year, I’m enjoying having fresh herbs to cook with, as well as enjoying watching the garden grow! And I’m really excited to get to harvest some potatoes!

  1. I didn’t find a way to bring last summer’s herb garden inside, given that my cats would eat it all and that I really don’t have anywhere to put it all, so I had to make a new garden from scratch. []

By

My new neck guard

Two games ago, I got high sticked in the throat. It wasn’t intentional – we were playing hard and it was so fast I’m not even sure how it happened, but seemingly out of nowhere I felt a stick blade on my throat – but it was hard and down I went. All I could think was “Can I breathe? Ok, I can breathe now, but is my throat going to swell up and I’m going to suffocate to death right here on the ice?” My throat did swell up, but not so bad that it killed me (obviously, or I’d have a hard time writing this blog posting!). I couldn’t lie on my back and breath at the same time for two days (as the swelling in the front of my throat would sort of collapse down on itself), but I was OK if I lay on my side.

Old hockey neckguard

Old neck guard

Long story short, I decided that the neckguard I’d been wearing – because, yes, I was wearing a neck guard – was providing me with insufficient protection. I felt the stick blade on my skin, so I think the blade must have hit below the neck guard, or at least shifted the guard out of place when it hit. Imagine if that had been a skate blade instead of a stick blade! So off I went last weekend to the Hockey Shop to buy a new neck guard that provides more ample coverage.

New hockey neckguard

New neck guard. My neck feels so much more guarded now!

As you can see from the photo, the new neck guard provides a lot more coverage in case of errant sticks, skates, or punches. Also, if someone challenges me to a duel on the ice, I’ll be ready for that too!

I wore it in my game on Wednesday night (and I scored a goal1!) It’s definitely warmer wearing this new guard compared to the old one, but I’m already sweating up a storm out there, so what’s a little more sweat? And it’s a small price to pay for an intact jugular and a non-collapsed trachea.

Stay safe out there, people!

  1. Coincidence? Probably, but we can’t really know for sure! []

By

My Dad’s Legacy

In honour of what would have been my Dad’s 72nd birthday, I give you this photo of me entering a door that has a sign explicitly stating that only authorized personnel, which I am not, may enter:

Authroized personnel. Pfft!

And so my father’s legacy lives on every time I see a sign that says “do not enter” and I think “There must be something good in there. I should go check it out!”

In all seriousness, though, I was thinking about this the other day and as much as I enjoy the rebelliousness and hilarity of disobeying signs the way my dad liked to do, I think there are two important character traits that I learned from my dad reflected here. One is confidence. I remember him telling me that it’s easy to get away with going where you aren’t supposed to go: “Just walk in to a place like you belong there, and no one will question you.” Acting confident can often get you want you want. And in my life, acting confident often has gotten me what I wanted! The other is questioning authority. The sign may say “Do not enter” or “Authorized personnel only” – but why does it say that? Sometimes there is a good reason, but sometimes not. When I saw the signs at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland that said “do not cross this fence”, I knew that many people have accidentally slipped off the edge of those cliffs and fallen 700 ft to the death, so I thought “that’s a sign to take seriously”.

IMG_5563

But this “no entry” sign on an open gate in Freemantle, Australia, where there was clearly no danger, not so much:
Freemantle, Western Australia

So I guess the take home message here is not to automatically not do something just because you are told not to, but to ask the even important question “Why?” Asking “why?” has also gotten me things that I want (or, in some cases, the knowledge of the reason why I can have what I want – but at least I know). I think these are two pretty cool things to have learned from my dad.

I wish you were still here for me to wish you a happy birthday, Daddy.

By

101 in 1001 Days Recap (A Wee Bit Late)

So, I figured it was a good time to do a check in on my 101 things to do in 1001 days because that 1001 days is coming to an end very soon… or so I thought. I was sure that my list’s end date was in July, which meant I’d have about a month to try to knock a few more items off the list, but I just looked at it to see what specific date in July and found that it wasn’t any date in July – it ended on April 9! As in almost 2 months ago!! It started on July 12, 2014, which must be why I had July in my brain. I am an epic fail! So yes, let’s start with seeing how I did on my 101 list!

In total, I achieved 38/101 things. While that sounds pretty sad, it is better than I did on my second 101 list and one shy of the number that I achieved on my first 101 list. Let’s look at the breakdown:

Completed Items – A. Stuff I Did That I Figured I’d Be Likely To Do

7. Be written about in the New Westminster Record
13. Install screen doors on my balcony doors
16. Get a jewelry armoire
18. Get a strong structure on which to place my frog tank
20. Clean my new BBQ
21. Get rid of the fake trees my condo’s previous owner left on my balcony
22. Put felt pads on the bottom of all my furniture to protect my floors
23. Replace my mishmash of old dishes with a nice set of dishes
26. Unpack everything from my recent move
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
29. Get rack and pannier for my bike
32. See a show at Bard on the Beach
38. Write a will1
56. Visit Bowen Island
57. Participate in political campaign
58. Ski at Whistler
64. Go on a Paddle Wheeler cruise down the Fraser River
66. Take the Peak to Peak gondola in Whistler
69. Create a balcony herb garden
80. Have a picnic
83. Make a Christmas wreath to hang on my door
86. Decorate a cake in a creative and awesome way
89. Increase the amount of money I loan out via Kiva by 100%
91. Pain something worth hanging on my wall
92. Get a journal article published
99. Don’t get any university degrees (unless they are honorary degrees) during this 1001 day period

B. Stuff I Did That I Was Surprised I Managed To Accomplish

4. Create a computer simulation model
35. Go for a ride in a float plane
37. Present at a conference at an international location (not including the US)
43. Go to NYC
44. Go to Chicago
46. Go to Nova Scotia
47. Go to Newfoundland
78. Get a promotion or a new job
93. Get a book chapter published
95. Publish something with my sister
100. Fall in love

I listed all the travel-related ones as “surprising” because my travel locations tend to relate to opportunities that present themselves rather than my picking them.  Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and presenting at an international conference (Australia) were all places I went to because there happened to be conferences there and I went to Chicago on the way to a conference in Kansas City. I did pick NYC, but it was actually my sister’s idea of a place to take our Mom for her birthday.

C. Stuff That I Partially Accomplished

19. Hang all my diplomas and artwork in my new place – All my diplomas are hung in my office at the hospital and almost all of my artwork is hung (I just need to hand a photo of a cool iceberg that I got in Newfoundland, a painting of flowers that I got in Nice (which I did *finally* get framed), and the two paintings that I painted at Paint Night.

60. Participate in 10 research studies (as a research “subject”) – I participated in 5 studies. And I actually emailed two or three other studies that advertised they were looking for research participants but didn’t get a response back from them.

Incomplete Items

A. Abject Failures

These are all things that I totally could have done but just didn’t.

1. Fix my ruby ring (from which I lost a ruby!)
2. Stay in the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
3. Stay in the Chateau Lake Louise
14. Paint a room
15. Get a linen tower for the bathroom
17. Get a litter box hiding piece of furniture
24. Mend all the clothes in my “to fix” box
31. Read “Lord of the Flies”
33. Watch salmon spawning
39.Buy a red suit
40. Run a triathlon
41. Go zipling
42. Go skydiving
61. Make homemade marshmallows
62. Go on a relaxing vacation in a tropical location2
63. Donate blood (despite my needle phobia!)
65. Go to the free Friday night dance class at Hyack Square3
68. Go horseback riding
70. Go to a New Westminster Salmon Bellies lacrosse game
71. Complete the 100 pushups challenge
72. Write a short story
74. Make a list of 100 things for which I’m grateful!4
75. Go waterskiing
76. Go scuba diving
79. Hike up a glacier
81. Make a key lime pie
82. Send out Christmas cards to all my friends and family
85. Make Eggs Benedict
87. Make homemade spruce beer
88. Go to Science World After Dark
90. Lose the weight I gained during my MBA program
94. Publish something with Dr. Dan5
96. Invent a cupcake recipe
97. Invent 5 new drinks
98. See a Cirque du Soleil show

B. Stuff I Thought Was a Long Shot Anyways

5. Use the computer simulation model that I created to run a sensitivity analysis.
6. See Celtic Thunder live
8. Cage dive with sharks
9. Ride an elephant
10. Ride a camel
11. Ride a zamboni
12. Go whitewater rafting
25. Make a quilt from all my old t-shirts from different events
34. Go for a ride in a helicopter
36. Climb an active volcano
45. Go to Paris
48. Go to the Yukon
49. Go to Nunavit
50. Go to Iceland
51. Go to Italy
52. Go to Hawaii6
53. Go to Japan
54. Go to the Galapagos
55. Go somewhere in South America
59. Skate on the Rideau Canal
67. Visit Alcatraz
73. Do an amateur stand up comedy night
77. Go for a ride in a hot air balloon
101. Publish 751 blog postings during these 1001 days7

C. Stuff I no longer even care about/couldn’t do because of outside forces.

30. Bike to work at least 10 times – Once I got my new job, biking to work became off the table as it would probably take me 2 hours each way (at least at the speed I bike). And you can’t take a bike on the Skytrain during rush hour, so it’s not like I can Skytrain part of the way and bike the rest of the way.

84. Decorate my balcony with Christmas lights – I decided I don’t really care about this one anymore, as my balcony faces the back of the building, so who is even really going to see them?

I feel like the stuff that I accomplished was most boring tasks – though I suppose that a fair number of task-y type things ended up on the list because I’d just moved into my new condo when I wrote that list. I did manage to get some cool travelling accomplished and I published two journal articles and a book chapter, so that’s something. But I really haven’t done anything epic like I did during my previous 1001 days (much of which wasn’t even in my list at the time!).

I guess it’s time to put together a new 101 list – my fourth one! I have a few items on my list already and I think I’ll import a few of my as-of-yet not done ones from this list. And then I need to think of some truly epic things to do (I do have one extremely epic thing I’m working on, so that’s going on the list!). If anyone has suggestions on what I should put on my next list, I’m all ears!

  1. Loophole on this one – I’ve written it, but not yet signed it, as you need two witnesses to sign it at the same time and I rarely have more than one person at my place unless I’m having a party and I feel like “who wants to witness the signing of my will is like the worst party game ever. At any rate, I’ve written my will and that’s all this item said, so I’m counting it! []
  2. I can’t believe I didn’t go on a relaxing tropical vacation in 1001 days!! []
  3. I don’t think they even have those classes anymore! []
  4. I really should have done this. This is going on my next 101 list for sure! []
  5. Definitely going on my next 101 list. We even having something that we are just starting to write up! []
  6. I did have a plan for this one, but my stupid hip injury thwarted my plans! []
  7. For the record, I only wrote 289 blog postings in this 1001 days. Yikes! []

By

Stuff I’m Learning This Year: Sewing Edition

Knowing about my goal to learn one new thing every month this year, Cath suggested we try out a sewing class at Spool of Thread in Vancouver1. I’d never sewn anything using a sewing machine before, and Cath hadn’t sewn since high school where she used a machine from the Stone Age, so we took the introductory how-to-make-a-tote-bag class. Our other friend, Stephanie, who has a little more experience than Cath and I, also joined in the fun.

Fabric at Spool of Thread sewing shopI have to say, Spool of Thread is a cool little business. They sell sewing supplies, hold sewing classes to make things of varying levels of difficulty, and you can even rent time on their sewing machines (along with use of the associated space and equipment – a big table to cut out your fabric, irons and ironing boards, and all the pins in the world). The renting of the sewing machine time is a particularly good idea in a city where everyone lives in tiny condos (because who has room for a sewing machine?) – and also for people who have curious cats that love to sit on whatever you are working on at the moment (because who wants to end up sewing a cat into their tote bag?).

Fabric to make a tote bag at my sewing classYou could bring your own fabric to the class, but we all elected to buy some fabric there. There was an extensive range of options and I spent an embarrassingly long time trying to choose. The tote bag is reversible, which meant we had to pick two fabrics, and every time I picked one that I liked, I couldn’t decide on another one that would go with it. I. The end I decided to go with a black and white theme and picked ampersands on one fabric and stars on the other.

The sewing teacher, whose name I completely forget, explained all the parts of the sewing machine, took us through how to thread the sewing machine, and then step-by-step through how to make our tote bags.

As it turns out, the easiest part of sewing is the sewing part. Threading the machine, cutting your fabric, and pinning it together correctly take about 99.9% of the time and effort, but the actual sewing is relatively easy, at least as far as sewing a tote bag where you only need to sew in straight lines. And while not all my lines came out perfectly straight, they came out straight enough and Cath and I agreed that we are both better sewers than we are painters.

Here we at with our fabulous tote bags:

Cath, Stephanie, & Beth at sewing class

Cath, Stephanie, and me with our new tote bags!

During the class, when we were cutting our fabric, the teacher mentioned that we’d have enough leftover fabric to take the how-to-make-zippered-pouches class – we’d learn how to sew a zipper and have pouches to match our totes! He also mentioned that since we get the pattern and instructions for the tote bag, we probably should come back to rent a machine to make another one to reinforce our learning. Sewing machine and Fabric to make a tote bag at my sewing classAnd when Cath inquired into it later, apparently the zipped pouch course is more advanced, so we’d need to take at least one more introductory level class before we do zippered pouches. So they’ve really got a good little system set up from a business perspective because all of that does make sense – I do want to have pouches that match my tote and I want to learn how to sew more things and I kinda want another tote bag – and it all just so happens to increase their sales!

All in all, I really enjoyed my sewing class! I got to make something useful (I often use my tote bag to bring stuff to work), I learned something new, and now I want to do more sewing!

  1. As usual, I have no relationship with this company other than that I am a customer. []