Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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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. []

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Books I Read in 2016

I set my goal to read 16 books in 2016 and I started off strong with books I was reading for fun, but the decision to take on teaching a new course meant that come the summer, when I did my course development, the type of book I was reading was predominantly textbook. Also hampering my reading was the launch of PokémonGO, as I used to do a lot of reading on my commute to work, but once I got hooked on trying to catch ‘em all, I ended up spending much of my commute either catching Pokémon or grabbing stuff from PokéStops as I whizzed by them on the bus or train1 or doing my Pokémon inventory management2.

Anyway, I did manage to surpass my goal of 16 books:

I read 21 books in 2015!

The books were:

2016 Books

2016 Books 2

2016 Books 3

This list includes:

  • 4 fiction books
  • 8 non-fiction books
  • 9 textbooks

I think my goal for next year should be to read fewer textbooks!

Looking at the list, the book I most enjoyed this year was the Voodoo Killings, followed by Dear Committee Members, and the books I learned the most from were the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and The Spirit Level. The book I liked the least was Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking3

In terms of stats, I read 7,711 pages of books4 in total, with book lengths ranging for 181 pages to 704 pages.

2016 books - stats

Not surprisingly, the most popular book I read was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the least popular book was the textbook I assigned to my class. Apparently only one other person on all of Goodreads read that textbook, which I’m hoping means none of my students are on Goodreads!

I’m not planning to teach any new courses next year, so I’m hopeful that I’ll be reading more books for fun!

  1. Back before they changed the game so that you can no longer get stuff from Pokéstops when you are travelling at fast speeds. []
  2. For the uninitiated, you only have room for 250 Pokémon in your PokéBox, so once you’ve caught that many, you have to free up space by transferring some of the Pokémon to the professor in exchange for candy. This takes some work, as you need to figure out which Pokémon you have extras of and then figure out which is the lowest value Pokémon so you know which one to get rid of. []
  3. And that includes all the textbooks I read! []
  4. I also read some unholy number of pages of journal articles. I wish there were a site like Good Reads where I could track all my journal article reading! []

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Writing

I love writing. I’m not sure what it is about writing that gets me so excited. It’s almost like I have all these ideas whirling around in my head and I have to write them down to get them out. There’s something very satisfying about that. There’s also something gratifying about looking at something that you made and feeling proud of your creation… especially when it’s something that speaks to others – it makes them laugh or makes them think or makes them see they aren’t alone in the world1,((Incidentally, I get a similar feeling from baking – there’s something wonderful about making a creation and even more so when you can share it with others.)).

I do a lot of writing in my work – strategy documents, plans, reports, briefing notes, literature reviews, conference proposals, and sometimes even research grant applications, then the ensuing grant reports and the occasional manuscript for publication. And emails. Don’t forget the endless emails!

I’ve written a dissertation, a book chapter2, and a textbook3. And, of course, this blog that I’ve been writing on for more than 11 years!

I wonder how many words I’ve written in my life….

  1. And before you think I’m being too arrogant, this is based on feedback I’ve gotten over the years. I’m still being arrogant, but at least it has some basis. []
  2. Which apparently I never blogged about – just searched my blog for a posting to link to and I can’t find one! Silly me. []
  3. The latter of which, incidentally, we are nearly completion of the second edition. I’ll keep y’all posted on that. []

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I Challenge You

So I read this on CBC’s website today:

B.C. author challenges Canadians to sign up for TRC reading challenge
Jennifer Manuel wants 1,000 people to pledge by National Aboriginal Day

The Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a commission “organized by the parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement” and “was part of a holistic and comprehensive response to the charges of abuse and other ill effects for First Nations children that resulted from the Indian residential school legacy” (Source: Wikipedia).

Jennifer Manuel launched an online campaign to encourage people to read the Summary Report from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which is “nearly 400 pages long and documents the history and legacy of Canada’s residential school system, which the report says is “best described as ‘cultural genocide””(Source: CBC).

I remember first hearing about residential schools shortly after I moved to BC – someone gave a presentation on it at UBC and I remember thinking “How did I get to be in my 20s, with two university degrees and I’m working on a PhD and I have never before heard about this horrible part of my country’s history?” Since then, I’ve learned more about residential schools, as well as Indian Hospitals and about racism experienced every day by Aboriginal people in Canada through having met and worked with a number of Aboriginal organizations (mostly in my previous job) as well as taking an indigenous cultural competency training. But I know that I have only scratched the surface and I have much to learn. So I’ve signed the pledge to read the TRC Report and I’m challenging each and every one of you to read it too.

Basic principles underlying this challenge

You care genuinely about the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada.

You believe that improving this relationship requires meaningful, respectful, mutual dialogue, and that you cannot contribute to this dialogue unless you have first listened to the truths expressed by First Nations people.

You prefer to read the TRC Report yourself, rather than letting others interpret it for you, especially since they may not have actually read it themselves. (Source: TRC Reading Challenge)

Jennifer Manuel’s goal was to have 1,000 people take the pledge by June 21st – Aboriginal Day in Canada. She has already surpassed this goal, but that shouldn’t stop you – the more people who read the TRC Report, the better.

To sign up for the challenge, go to http://trcreadingchallenge.com/ (and let me know if you signed up by leaving a comment!). On the website, she provides access to the document as a .pdf and as a series of audio files (which cover the History section of the Summary), in case you prefer to listen to the report.

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All the Books I Read in 2015!

I started tracking the books I’m reading on GoodReads this year and it made a nice summary of the 18 books I read (i.e. surpassing my goal of 15 books), so I just stole screenshots from that report. #Efficiency

GoodReads 2015 - part 1
GoodReads 2015 - part 2

The above list includes:

  • 4 books that I read for one of the courses that I taught
  • 5 books that I read for my book club
  • 1 book that I read for work
  • 8 non-fiction books that I read out of interest

Wow, I just realized there isn’t a single fiction book on that list that I just chose to read myself. Good thing for my book club or I wouldn’t have read any fiction at all!

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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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Books I Read in 2014

Making this year’s list of books that I read was much easier than last year, since I started using GoodReads to track my reading1

Fiction books I finished in 2014:

  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
  • Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
  • Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card
  • The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh2
  • We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo3

Non-fiction books I finished in 2014:

  • The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
  • Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall4
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot5
  • A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout6
  • Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Catalan7
  • Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi8
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Books I’m currently reading:

So I read 14 books this year with 5 more in progress – the exact same numbers as I had last year 11 – which surprises me, since I was still in school in 2013 and I figured that in 2014, with both not being in school and the addition of my Skytrain commute to work, during which I do a lot of reading, that I’d have read a lot more books this year. Perhaps I’ll make one of my 2015 goals to read even more books!

  1. If you know me and we aren’t yet friends on GR, feel free to friend me! []
  2. A book that I read with my book club. []
  3. Final book club selection of the year – for January 2015’s book club meeting, but I finished it a couple of weeks ago. []
  4. This was a Christmas gift from Sarah and Dave a few year’s ago, but which I didn’t get around to start reading until last December thanks to all that pesky school I was doing. Finished it early this year. []
  5. Another Christmas gift from Sarah & Dave. They know me well, as I loved both this and Born to Run. []
  6. Another book club selection, but this was a memoir rather than fiction, which all the other book club books have been. []
  7. Borrowed this one from Daniel. Totally fascinating! []
  8. This is an amazing book and everyone should read it. []
  9. I went to the book launch for this as Kalev is friends with the author, so I have a signed copy! []
  10. This book was funded by a Kickstarter – the first and only Kickstarter I’ve ever taken part in. []
  11. Though I suppose there are still a few more days in the year so I might complete some of those “in progress” books in 2014. []

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Books I Read in 2013

Because of school, I didn’t get to do as much fun reading as I would like to have in 2013, but I did manage to read a few during my breaks (i.e., before classes started in January, over the summer, and this Christmas). For school, I did a lot more reading of journal articles than textbooks (which my bank account is very thankful for!), but for those classes that did have textbooks, we did tend to read almost the entire book.

Here’s the breakdown of what I read in 2013, as far as I can recall1

Fiction

  • The Passage by Justin Cronin
  • The Twelve by Justin Cronin
  • World War Z by Max Brooks2
  • Momo by Michael Ende
  • Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach
  • Bridge to Teribithia by Katherine Paterson
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (in progress)

Non-Fiction – for school

  • Essentials of Negotiation by Lewicki, Barry, Saunders, & Tasa
  • The Leadership Moment by Michael Useem
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Concepts and Practice by Boardman, Greenberg, Vining, & Weimer
  • Business Ethics in Canada, 4th edition, edited by Deborah C. Poff

Non-Fiction – for fun

  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  • Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
  • The Myth of the Garage: And Other Minor Surprises by Chip and Dan Heath
  • Systems Concepts in Action by Willsions & Hummelbrunner (in progress)
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (in progress)
  • Born to Run by (in progress)
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (in progress)

So that’s 14 books read completely, with another 5 in progress. Not bad for a year where I was in school in addition to working!

  1. I wasn’t tracking my reading, so I’m probably forgetting some. Will be able to do a better job of reporting on my 2014 reading as I’m going to track everything on Good Reads! []
  2. I might have actually read this at end of 2012 – I can’t quite remember. []

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If you only read one lablit story this year, make it “Crisis Management”

As I was looking at my favourite tweets for that last blog posting, I realized that I hadn’t blogged about Cath’s short story, which was recently published in LabLit. For the uninitiated1:

lab lit fiction depicts realistic scientists as central characters and portrays fairly realistic scientific practice or concepts, typically taking place in a realistic – as opposed to speculative or future – world. The action does not have to take place in a laboratory per se, just anywhere where scientists are doing what they do, such as a field station. Although some science fiction does indeed have elements of ‘lab lit’, and the boundaries can be fuzzy, this list is meant to feature real scientists in the real world.” (Source: LabLit.com)

So in case you missed it when I tweeted it, go check out Cath’s story. And I can now check off “be a muse” on my list of life’s goals2.

  1. Which included me until Cath introduced me to Lab Lit by publishing there. []
  2. Although technically I was a muse for my ex-husband’s novel in which – *spoiler alert* – the character that is clearly based on me is gruesomely killed not once, but twice. But I much prefer Cath’s story []

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Reading Fiend

Two parallel stacks of books on blue backgroundNow that I have copious amounts of time on my hands, I’m doing what I did the last time I suddenly had copious amounts of time on my hands – reading all the books ever!

Since finishing school, I’ve read one complete book (The Bridge to Teribithia – which I read for the book club that my friend Shalu just started), started two other books (Ender’s Game and A Short History of Nearly Everything) and nearly completed another book (Born to Run). To give you a sense of how bad my ability to read for fun has been while I’ve been in school, Sarah and Dave gave me Born to Run TWO Christmases ago, and I’ve only now gotten around to reading it! I also started reading Thinking, Fast and Slow near the end of the summer, as it was a recommended book on the syllabus for my Internet Marketing class (and it sounded super interesting), but once my classes, including Internet Marketing, started, I didn’t have time to finish it. So I’ll get back to that soon!

As I’ve now returned to the land of reading things other than textbooks and Harvard Business Review articles1, I also finally gotten around to joining Good Reads, where I will track all the stuff that I’m reading because in addition to loving to read, I love to track things! So you can friend me over there is you want to follow my reading adventures, which you totally know you want to.

Image Credit: Posted by Horia Varlan on Flickr using a Creative Commons license.

  1. Not that I intend to stop reading stuff from HBR – I *love* those articles! []