Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Scientists Like Lasers

Two words for you: laser tag. Anyone who didn’t celebrate their milestone-birthday-whose-number-shall-not-be-named by playing laser tag really missed out.

Laser tag for my birthday!You will not find a finer group of laser taggers than this crew.

I knew I wanted to do something different for my birthday this year and after much deliberation, I settled on laser tag. I hadn’t played laser tag since high school, but I remembered it being really fun and also, it seemed like something epically ridiculous to do for my birthday. And hence, I scheduled two private games of laser tag (or should I say “lazer” tag) at the laser tag place in New West and gathered a group of peeps who were up for the challenge of spending an hour shooting at each other in a dark labyrinth. The first game was a free for all, where it was every man, woman, and child for themselves. In this game, I learned that I have terrible aim and was very glad that there is no cost for ammo when it comes to laser tag. In the second game, we were put into two teams and your objective was to only shoot people on the other team while not shooting people on your own team. As it turns out, Team Red’s strategy of strategizing bested Team Blue’s approach of not strategizing. Who knew? Despite my poor performance, I had so. much. fun! It was even more fun than I remembered it being! Everyone else was also raving about what a blast they had too (even a few who had been skeptical before the game), which made me very happy!

After the games were over and we all had a chance to examine our score cards in detail1, we headed over to my place for the after party, where we (along with some other peeps who weren’t up for (or available for) laser tag but who were up for partying) ate, drank, and were merry into the wee hours. As usual when it comes to parties, I didn’t get nearly enough time to chat with anyone as much as I wanted to, but I did really have a great time and was reminded that I have the best friends ever.

Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate with me. And if anyone wants to go play laser tag again, I’m game!

  1. For the record, in game two I only shot one of my own team members, though I did shoot her twice. []

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Items I Knocked Off My List of 101 Things To Do List

I set a goal to knock 16 items off my 101 things to do in 1001 days list during 2016 and while I failed spectacularly at doing that, most of the 5 things that I did were pretty awesome. In level of increasing awesomeness, they were:

21. Get rid of the fake trees my condo’s previous owner left on my balcony

This one wasn’t awesome, but I am glad to have it done. When I bought my place, the previous owner left these gaudy fake trees in extremely heavy pots on my balcony, claiming they were part of the condo because they were tied with twine to the balcony railing. They were ugly and they took up valuable room on my balcony, but the aforementioned extremely heavy pots stopped me from getting rid of them until I got a message from my strata that they would be power washing all the balconies and everything had to be taking off our balconies during that time.

35. Go for a ride in a float plane

I spent some time on Salt Spring Island this year and on one of the trips, I took the float plane back so that I could spend one extra night there and then just fly into Vancouver for work in the morning. Super fun.

47. Go to Newfoundland

Visiting my 10th of 10 Canadian provinces was a milestone this year. Not that many people can say that! Plus I went to an awesome conference and got to hang out with my sister!

43. Go to NYC

I <3 NY. We had such a good time and now I want to go there again!

37. Present at a conference at an international location (not including USA)

Definitely the highlight of the year was my trip to Australia! The conference was fantastic and I really enjoyed all the places that I went!

So while I didn’t knock a large quantity of items off my list, I’d say that the quality of the ones I did do were A++.

My current 101 things to do in 1001 days is slated to end on April 9, 2017 and I’ve only achieved 34 (!). I should probably take a hard look at the remaining items to see which ones I can feasibly do in the next 3 months. Surely I can do better than 34/101!

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One Week Today….

… I’ll be co-presenting a workshop in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador with my sister! I am very excited about this for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) and in no particular order:

  • the content we are presenting on is very cool and I’m excited to share it with colleagues
  • the conference that we are presenting at is a good one – I always learn a lot, meet great people, and have a lot of fun
  • I get to hang out with my sister
  • Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province I’ve never been to, so when I go there I will have collected the entire set of provinces in my travel history

The one thing I’m not excited about is the weather forecast. St. John’s is going to be cold while we are there:

St. John's forecast

And in the meantime, I’ll be missing out on summer weather in Vancouver:

Vancouver forecast

I’ll have to make sure to pack some warm sweaters and my coat!

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My New Messenger Bag

Generally speaking, I’m a cheap, cheap frugal woman. I prefer buying my clothes at thrift stores over paying retail prices1 ,2. I collect AirMiles and Shoppers Optimum points and various other points that I can turn into money. Today I was very excited to learn that the cobbler near my office has a “buy 10, get the 11th one free” card for shoe re-heeling, as I wear out heel tips pretty quickly and I’ll re-heel a shoe several times rather than throwing them out and buying a new pair3.

However, there are certain things I’m willing to spend money on. Laser eye surgery was one – I wasn’t going to trust my vision to a pay-for-one-eye, get-the-other-eye-zapped-for-free scheme. Getting my hair coloured is another – I figure my hair is beside my face every single day, so it makes it worth my while to pay Jenny Lynn to work her magic rather than go to a cheaper place (or try to do it myself at home!). I also made a deal with myself once I finished paying off my student loans that I wasn’t going to buy any cheap Ikea furniture again – when I want a new piece of furniture, I look for a good quality piece that will last me, rather than something disposable.

So this brings me to my latest purchase. As someone who commutes via transit, I need a good bag for carrying stuff to and from work. At a minimum, I’m carrying a wallet, phone, various keys, my eReader, an umbrella, and my travel coffee mug and these items are often joined by some combination of a notebook, journal articles, a laptop, my lunch, my breakfast, etc. Up until now, I’ve been using a variety of tote bags, but inevitably, they eventually fall apart (usually the straps end up wearing through and breaking). So I decided it was high time I invest in a really good quality bag that willl last, rather than continuing to buy bags that end up in the landfill after a year or two.

I had it in my head that I’d like to get a nice messenger bag, but after searching through a ridiculous number of stores, I couldn’t find anything I liked. A friend of mine recommend that I check out Saddleback Leather which admittedly has lovely stuff and, while I’m willing to pay for quality, when you factor in the current US exchange rate (which is roughly US$1 = $10,000,000 Canadian) and the shipping, the prices became pretty hard to swallow. Also, I can’t hear the word “Saddleback” without thinking about the Saddleback Church and, more specifically, Dan Savage’s definition of saddle backing [NSFW].

So then I started thinking – isn’t there anyone local I can buy from? So I googled “leather messenger bag Vancouver” and found Divina Denuevo. They hand-make also sorts of leather products and I want to buy all of them! After checking out the stuff on the website, I made an appointment to drop by their studio (which is conveniently located about a 10 minute walk from my office) to check stuff out in person. (They also sell their products on Etsy, but it’s cheaper if you buy on their website as you don’t have to deal with the US exchange rate or the markup that they have to cover their Etsy listing costs). I decide on the “Canterbury Briefcase Satchel” in “Crazy Horse Brown”, customized it with the pockets I wanted to have, and then patiently waited for two weeks while they made it. And let me tell you, it was well worth the wait!

Divina Denuevo

The photo doesn’t really do it justice – you just have to see it in person!

I am told that I don’t need to do anything to care for it and then the look of it actually gets nicer with use – the leather will get softer and will develop a nice patina.

Divina Denuevo

Anyway, I’m glad to have found this shop – I get a high quality product at what I think is a reasonable price and I get to support a local artisan. And if anyone is in the market for some hand-made leather wares (and/or is looking to buy me a present), it wouldn’t hurt to check out their website!

  1. Or I buy stuff from Beyond the Rack – if you haven’t joined and want to, let me know because if I send you a referral, I get a cool $10. []
  2. Disclaimer: As per usual, I have no relationship with any of the businesses mentioned on here, other than that I give them money in exchange for their products and/or services. []
  3. Or just wearing one of my other elevently billion pairs. []

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Omg, this looks like fun

Apparently there’s a blizzard going on out east. And these people figured out the best way to take advantage of it!

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The Penultimate Night of the Year in Our Nation’s Capital

Spent the day driving to Ottawa with my family, as we are going to a friend’s wedding tomorrow night. The invitation says it’s a fancy-schmancy attire sort of occasion, so I’ve got a fancy dress, impractically tall shoes, and even some full length gloves for the occasion. My friends Sarah and Dave and their crew will also be in attendance, so it will be nice to ring in the new year with them. My niece baked the wedding cakes and I hear there’s a late night pierogie bar! Rock on!

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Race Medal Pinterest Board

OK, one last thing about race medals. A blog reader who knows of my love of race medals directed me to this Pinterest page of awesome race medals! If you love race medals, you should check it out!

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OK

Speaking of LitFest, I’ve been meaning to write a blog posting about Olga Kotelko since I learned about her at LitFest 2015… back in May!

One of the events at LitFest 2015 was a talk byOlga’s co-author Roxanne Davies and her editor Michele Carter about the book “Olga – The O.K. Way to a Healthy, Happy Life“. I’d not heard of Olga before this talk, but I learned that she:

  • started competing in track and fieldwhen she was 77 years old
  • competed around the world in track and field events until she died at the age of 95
  • won more than750 gold medals and broke more 30 world records!

Talk about an inspiration! Just check this out video of her competing at 95:

And here’s her telling the story of how she got into track & field:

In related news, here’s a story about Harriet Thompson, a 92 year woman who finished the San Diego marathon, becoming the oldest woman ever to do so!

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Everyone Deserves Access To Healthy Food

As you may recall, my friend Dr. Dan, in addition to his more-than-full-time job as a professor at the U of G, also runs a non-profit organization called Farm 2 Fork (F2F), in which they

“develop tools to help address food insecurity in the City of Guelph, and beyond. In 2012 and 2013 the students developed Farm To Fork – a website that links people who can donate food to the real-time needs of food banks and food pantries, to improve the quality and quantity of food donated. In 2014 the students worked with the Guelph Community Health Centre to develop programs for the Garden Fresh Box program – a program that brings fresh local fruits and veggies to people who need it. This year the students worked with the national charitable organization Meal Exchange to develop tools for their Trick Or Eat campaign. This campaign – which runs in Canada and the US – sees thousands of university students collecting food for the food banks during Halloween.” (Source: D. Gillis, personal communication that I was too lazy to paraphrase and besides, he said it so eloquently in that email!)

Well, F2F is currently running a fundraiser to support those students. While F2F started as a class project, students really have gone above and beyond – they’ve volunteered hundreds of hours of their time, sometimes even volunteering over the summer instead of taking on full-time jobs to, you know, pay for tuition and living and suchlike. If you donate, the money will go to support these students with things like computer equipment, stipends, and travel to go present about/meeting about/etc. the project. If you donate by the end of December the Dean of the College of Physical & Engineering Science at the University of Guelph will match donations, dollar for dollar, up to $5,000.

So while you are thinking about your end-of-year donations, why not consider donating to F2F?

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Conferences and Conferences and AGMs, Oh My!

PrintToday was the Canadian Evaluation Society BC and Yukon (CESBCY) chapter’s conference. Now, I may be biased given that I was the conference Program Chair, but I think we had an outstanding program of presentations this year! Now, before you think I’m being too arrogant, I will state for the record that the outstanding program was 100% due to the fantastic presenters – my job as program chair was easy given that incredible proposal we received from evaluators and non-profit organizations from around the region1.

I decided to take on the role of Program Chair for this conference because I’m also a Program Co-Chair for the 2017 CES National conference, which is being held in Vancouver, and I thought that gaining some experience on the provincial conference would be a good idea before leaping into the national one2. I quite enjoyed working on the program for this conference – the whole conference committee was fantastic and we had a lot of fun while also putting on a great conference, if I do say so myself3. In fact, I’m already starting to think about what we are going to do for next year’s conference. As well, I’m really enjoying working with the 2017 National Conference committee – we’ve already been meeting for several months, as pulling off a national conference requires *a lot* of planning!

And apparently I’m really enjoying being engaged with the evaluation community, because at the CESBCY Annual General Meeting that was held after the conference this evening, I got myself elected to the Executive Council as a member-at-large! Now, I realize that I do have a tendency to do all the things, which I’ve been attempting to moderate to “do most of the things”4, but I made a wise and considered decision to accept the nomination of my colleague for this position, because this is my professional organization and so it’s a totes good career move. Also, did I mention how much fun these people are?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, they just announced the call for workshop and presentation proposals for the 2016 CES National conference in St. John’s and I need to start brainstorming some presentation ideas!

  1. If you are so inclined, I’ve put all the notes that I took in the session I attended over on my professional blog. Note to self: my professional blog really needs a makeover! []
  2. I was on the conference committee for the CES national conference in 2010 when it was in Victoria, but I was the Volunteer Coordinator and only took that position quite close to when the conference happened, so I wasn’t involved in much of the planning for the conference. []
  3. There is a conference evaluation happening – because of course there is, we are evaluators! – but the feedback I heard from people at the conference, my impression of the sessions that I attended, and the fact that the conference was sold out and had a waiting list all indicate that the conference was a success! []
  4. Like, remember that time I went to my strata AGM and didn’t run for strata council? That was a big accomplishment for me! []