Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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One of my favourite Dad stories

When my dad was young, he was in the Sea Cadets1. And when you got in trouble in Sea Cadets – which for my Dad was, apparently, quite frequently – they made you do chores. Now, my dad hated to do the dishes2, so when he was assigned to dish duty, he made a big show of playing with the bubbles and pretending to have lots of fun. “That’s it, Snow! You aren’t getting dish duty anymore!” Unlike dishes, he loved to peel potatoes. So when he got in trouble and was assigned to potato peeling duty, he made a big show of “Aww, man! Not peeling potatoes!!!”, and so henceforth whenever he got in trouble, it was off to peel potatoes that he went. Given that, as previously mentioned, he got in trouble a fair bit, when he got some time off3, he went into town and bought a potato peeler, because they only gave you a knife with which to peel the potatoes. A potato peeler is, of course, much easier on the hands and you lose less of the potato, so you have to peel fewer potatoes – and it takes much less time – when you use a peeler than when you use a knife. So when he was on potato peeling duty, he would take the bag of potatoes up on the ship’s deck, quickly peel all he needed to peel with the potato peeler that he had hidden in his pocket, but he’d put a bunch of the peeled ones in the bag with a few unpeeled one on top to make it look like he was only partway done. And then he would sit and relax in the sun and when his superior came by to check on him, he’d have a knife in his hand and would appear to be peeling the potatoes in the amount of time it should take if one were peeling potatoes with a knife.

Three years ago today, we lost my Dad. Today, I’m thinking of him telling that potato peeling story – which I heard many times during my life – and I’m smiling at his cleverness and how he liked to know that he was sticking it to The Man. I miss you, Daddy, and I think of you every single day, especially when I back into a parking spot4, put on my hockey gear5, or peel a potato.

  1. Or were they called Navy Cadets? []
  2. Clearly, I have inherited my loathing of doing dishes from my paternal DNA. []
  3. I think they called it “shore leave”, but I could be mistaken. []
  4. Which I *always* do. []
  5. And tie my skates really, really tight. []



Wrote this on a plane on Thursday night. Plane arrived at 1 am. Then I spent the next two days having fun with my family and completely forgot to post this. So now I’m posting it from the Toronto airport as I await my next flight. Better late than never, right?

So here I find myself on a plane heading to Toronto and I realize that I haven’t even mentioned a thing about my trip here on ye old blog! But now I’ve got 4+ hours on a plane and, sure, I have work I could be doing1, but my brain is pretty fried from all the work I’ve been doing of late, so I figure I’ll write this blog posting now and leave the work for later, as there will be plenty more flights and sitting around in airports in the next week!

So yes, about the trip. I found out about a month ago that I was getting the opportunity to go to a conference for work. The conference itself looks fantastic – so many interesting sessions to go see and lots of great networking opportunities. The conference is being held in Kansas City, Missouri2 and while Kansas City was not on the top of my list of places that I wanted to travel to – hell, it wasn’t even on my list at all – I’m not one to turn down free trips to interesting conferences and I have been assured there will be excellent BBQ to be had.

Anyway, unsurprisingly, there are no direct flights from Vancouver to KC, so I started looking at flight options and, weirdly, I saw a flight through Toronto. I say “weirdly” because Toronto is not on the way to KC and that flight had another stopover in addition to Toronto, but at any rate, it got me thinking about tagging on a leg of the trip to go see my family3. The conference starts on Sunday night, so I first thought I’d fly out after work on Friday and get to spend Sat with the fam. But then I looked at the calendar and realized that Friday is Halloween and no way was I going to be spending Halloween on a plane! So I took tomorrow off and booked my flight for this evening so I get to spend Halloween at my sister’s place. Which means I get to go trick or treating with my niece and nephew for the first time ever! I moved out to Vancouver before either of them were born and have not had the opportunity to be in Toronto on Oct 31st since then4, so I am super duper stoked to go out with them!

Also, my sister bought a pumpkin for us to carve and, because she’s the best sister in the whole world, she bought a big, big pumpkin, because she knows I love big pumpkins (and I cannot lie.). When we were kids, my parents would take us to the pumpkin patch and my sister would always choose the most perfectly shaped, round little pumpkin she could find and I would picked the biggest one (obviously compensating for my own short stature by choosing a pumpkin that is bigger than me. Go big or go home, I always say). So it’s super sweet that she got us a giant pumpkin, because her own pumpkin preference is little and perfect!

After Halloween, I get to spend Saturday hanging with the family some more and then I’m jumping on a plane on Sunday morning to make my way to Kansas City. I have a 1 hr stopover in Chicago – Chicago *is* on my list of places I want to travel to and so I’m a bit choked that all I will get to do is run through O’Hare airport to catch my connection. That won’t stop me from crossing “Visit Chicago” off my list of 101 things to do, but getting to actually go to Chicago and see the city is still going to be on my list of places to travel!

I’ll be in Kansas City for three days of learning all the things, and then Wednesday night it’s back to Vancouver with a 1 hr stopover in Denver. And then back to work on Thursday! No rest for the wicked!

As per usual, let me remind any would-be thieves that I do have a house sitter who will totally kick your ass if you try anything, along with 2 attack cats and 4 vicious (not viscous) attack frogs. You have been warned.

  1. In addition to work work, I also have to make some edits to my online stats course, which I will be teaching again at the Justice League and I have a talk to write for a workshop to give to some med students that I was just invited to do today and I have a journal article that I’ve been meaning to start for ages! []
  2. Not to be mistaken for Kansas City, Kansas. Why the hell Missouri decided it was a good idea to name their biggest city “Kansas City” when there is already a Kansas City right there in the state of Kansas, I’ll never know. It would be like New Brunswick saying “You know what would be a good name for a city? Quebec City, New Brunswick. Yeah, I like that way that sounds!” []
  3. Once you are flying, it’s way cheaper to tag on a side trip than to book a flight on its own. I have to pay the difference between what my flight would have cost if I’d only gone from Vancouver to KC and what it cost to add on the Toronto leg, which was only $150. A flight to Toronto from Vancouver is usually in the range of $800, so I’m totally fine with paying $150 to get to see the fam! []
  4. The closest I’ve been was a couple of years ago when I was in Toronto for the Hoot and Howl fundraiser at my niece’s school and we had Thankoween dinner. []



One of the many ways in which I was spoiled by my mother for my MBA graduation was that she bought me a frame for my diploma1. But not just any frame. No, I needed a fancy pants Sauder School of Business frame. In my defence, my PhD is also from UBC and I already have a fancy pants UBC frame, so I wanted something that would make this degree look different than that one.

Anyway, while my mom was here, we ordered the frame and then I dutifully waited 10 business days for shipping… and it turned out they sent the wrong frame! Well, technically they sent the right frame with the wrong mat. Instead of sending me the mat with the Sauder logo and the Robert H. Lee Graduate School wordmark – I was in the graduate school, after all – they sent me one with just the Sauder logo. Like as if I were an *undergrad*! The horror!

I emailed the company that sells the frames and they quickly shipped me a new mat and then I waited something less than 10 business days and then all was right with the world. Here is my newly framed MBA:

MBA frame

And here is a close up of the Sauder School of Business logo *AND* Robert H. Lee Graduate School wordmark:

MBA frame

It also came with this swanky Sauder logo medallion at the top:

MBA frame

Also, I was surprised to discover that the frame was made in Canada:

MBA frame

Except then I noticed that the frame was made in Italy:

MBA frame

So I guess the “made in Canada” refers to the mat and/or medallion? At any rate, I have a lovely frame for my hard-earned degree. Thanks, Mom!

Perhaps hanging things on walls should be my task for this weekend?

  1. Being that I’m the type to lose and/or spill things on important documents, I wanted to get my diploma into the frame to protect if from me. []


My Last Vacation Was So Fun, I Think I’ll Have Another. And Another.

Last week I was on holidays to spend time with my mom and my aunt, who were visiting for my graduation. We had a lovely time being Vancouver tourists, doing such activities as:

  • shopping on Robson Street
  • various delicious meals with various delicious wines
  • visiting Granville Island
  • walking along the New Westminster Quay about a million times
  • my graduation
  • dinner with project group from school after graduation at Cioppinos
  • grad party on the Yaletown Keg rooftop patio
  • chocolate tasting at Xoxolat

This week I was back at work. And while I love my job, work has significantly fewer lunches where someone says “Let’s share a bottle of wine” than does vacation, so I’m going back on holidays after tomorrow.

Actually, I’d already planned this second vacation even before all the wine-based lunches of last week. I’m going to a conference in Ottawa the following week and since I had to pay for the flight out east, I figured I should take some vacation time to visit my family. So all next week I’ll be in Toronto, visiting family and friends, getting in some very important aunting time – I haven’t seen my niblings since Christmas! – and, undoubtedly, having more wine-based lunches. Then it’s off to Ottawa, where I’m going to the Canadian Evaluation Society conference. I’m staying with Sarah & Dave while I’m there and I would not be surprised if there was some wine drinking involved.

But lest you think I’m drinking too much wine – do not fear! I’m starting my holidays on Friday night at a craft beer event with Cath. Right after my massage appointment.

And as if my two vacations weren’t enough, just 9 days after returning, I’ll be setting out for a long weekend in San Fran to celebrate Kalev’s birthday! In those 9 days, I’ll be running a half marathon and moving, so I think I’ll  be ready for another vacation!


MBA = Most Bad Ass

Last Wednesday, I attended my fourth – and final – university convocation as a graduate1, receiving my hard earned MBA2. It’s hard to believe that just 28 months ago3, me and 50 other brave souls embarked on the intense and life changing journey that is the part-time MBA program at UBC. Taking an program like this – super intense in both the amount and type of work – while also holding down full-time jobs4 takes a special5 kind of person. I knew I was going to learn a lot in this program, as I had no background in business whatsoever, but when I look back on it, I’m still stunned by how much I learned. Entire fields that I knew nothing about – accounting, finance, economics, marketing, just to name a few – are now not only comprehensible to me, but also fascinating. This program has provided not just content, but also new skills that I apply every day in my work and personal life and it has expanded my worldview.

And I feel very privileged to have traveled these past 28 months with the most fantastic group of people. I met people from all sorts of different sectors and backgrounds and learned as much from them as I did from my professors and textbooks. We worked hard together through countless classes and group meetings and Skype meetings and lunch meetings, through study groups and running simulated businesses and writing business plans and doing Friday case nights and the seemingly endless hours of capstone weekend. There were papers and exams and presentations and celebrations. There was a lot of laughter and some tears and some rants and all the things that life-long friendships are made of.

The day of graduation, though they were calling for rain, actually turned out to be sunny and beautiful! One of the graduates from the full-time MBA cohort with whom I had a class6 and next to whom I sat at grad (due to us having surnames that are alphabetically similar) noted that this was because he’d worked his skills from the MBA – Master of the Black Arts. The convocation ceremony was nice, full of all the pomp and circumstance that a university convocation entails – the speeches were great and since I knew all of the part-time MBAs and a bunch of the full-timers (as I’d taken a couple of classes from the full-time program and some of them took some of our part-time classes) the seemingly endless parade of graduates crossing the stage was more interesting to me than my previous graduations, where I’d known far fewer of the people graduating.

This is the sea of graduates as seen from the balcony of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC, where convocation is held:

MBA Graduation 2014 - A Sea of Graduates

You can spot me in the fifth row by the fact that I’m in a pink robe instead of the black MBA robe – one of the perks of having the PhD7.

In other news, I totally underestimated how long I’d be on stage when I said 7.4 seconds – it actually turns out that I was on stage for nearly 20 whole seconds! Here’s the video to prove it:

Here is 4/5ths of D2NA, my group from school. One of our big project in the Core part of our program was to write a business plan and our company was D2NA, and our product was the Double Device (you may recall our mascot, Marty The Moose.)). From left to right we have Bronwyn, me, the guy who holds the ceremonial university mace8 (not part of our group), Emily, and Tyler. Missing from the photo is Edmond, who wasn’t at the ceremony.

D2NA at MBA Grad!

And here’s a photo of me with Fran, the most helpful person EVER! When I first started my MBA, UBC had some difficulty in figuring out how to process my scholarship, as it’s a rare type of scholarship9 and they didn’t appear to have ever had a student with one of these before, so no one in the finance area could figure out how to deal with it. But Fran came to my rescue and after about a billion emails with Finance, she was able to get it sorted out for me so that I could get my scholarship money and thus be able to pay my tuition fees. She came up to me after the ceremony and introduced herself because, despite the aforementioned billion emails, we’d never actually met in person. Needless to say, I gave her the biggest hug!

MBA Graduation 2014

Because I’m spoiled, my mom and my Aunt Eileen came out from Toronto for my big day:

My mom, me and Aunt Eileen

They were here for the whole week and we had many adventures, which will have to be the subject of another blog posting as this one is already getting way long!

Speaking of spoiled, I was spoiled by my mom and aunt, who not only came all this way for my grad, but also showered me with gifts, including the beautiful shoes I wore to grad10 and the beautiful flowers that you see me holding11

And as if I weren’t spoiled enough, my Aunty Gwen sent me this MBA grad present – a gorgeous blanket that she crocheted herself, made specifically to go with my beloved purple chair:

Handmade afghan - an MBA grad present from my Aunty GwenThe picture does not do it justice – it’s an exquisite stitch that she used an the colours in it as so beautiful and it totally completes the chair!

All in all, it was a lovely day and I am very pleased that I can now officially put the “MBA” behind my name. For the record, I am now legally entitled to write my name thusly:

Beth Snow, BSc(Hons), MSc, PhD, MBA, CE

So that’s 18 letters after my name – and only 8 letters in my name! Even if you were to use my full legal name “Mary Elizabeth Snow” instead of just “Beth”, that’s only 17 letters in my name – still one fewer than all the ones I’ve earned the right to be put after my name!

Image Credit: Specially thanks to my Aunt Eileen and my friend and classmate, Emily Graham, for the photos and video!


  1. If I get any more university degrees, they will have to be of the Honorary Doctorate variety, as I have no plans to actually do work for another degree. Though apparently you have to do something honourable in order to be granted an Hon Doc, so I guess I’ll have to figure out something honourable to do now. []
  2. A.k.a., graduating from grade 25 []
  3. And three years ago I don’t think I’d even started studying for the GMAT yet! []
  4. Not to mention having families, social lives, etc. By my count there were 11 babies born or conceived during the 28 months of our program, along with 6 weddings. []
  5. Translation: Crazy. []
  6. Healthcare Management. []
  7. You can spot the other PhD from my class – Keith – in the bottom left of that photo. []
  8. I have no idea why the university has a ceremonial mace. []
  9. Mostly because you can only get it if you hold a health sciences-based PhD and are doing an MBA, and there aren’t many people who have done a PhD that want to go back to school! []
  10. See photo above. []
  11. The flowers, sadly, have had to live on my balcony as the cats seem to think they look most delicious and I have no idea if these particular flowers are poisonous to cats, so to be on the safe side, I’m keeping them outside. []



The first of several mini-vacations I’m having over the next ~month started at 5 pm on Friday. So, naturally, a wicked sore throat started at about 4:15 pm on Friday. Because why get sick during work time, when you can be sick on the weekend and vacation1? I’m trying very hard to kick this sore throat’s butt, with copious amounts of lounging, tea, water, kitty cuddles, and Buckley’s mixture. My throat was feeling significantly better today than yesterday, so I went for my scheduled 18 km run today, which I can only assume helped me sweat out the virus/bacteria/prion/evil spirit that has taken up residence in my throat. Because my mom and aunt Eileen arrive to visit me tomorrow and I want this sore throat gone by then! But I digress.

This upcoming week is my first of three mini-vacations. As I just mentioned, my mom and aunt Eileen2 are coming to visit me. And they are coming to visit me to attend my GRADUATION! That’s right, though it seems like forever ago that I finished my MBA, graduation comes but twice a year at UBC, and so I will be graduating on Wednesday! I’m really looking forward to this graduation, as the MBA program is cohort-based, so unlike the graduations for my previous degrees, I will actually know a tonne of the people who are graduating3 and even the valedictorian is from my cohort! Plus, I get to wear the awesome bright pink robes and puffy hat of the PhD again! Long live the puffy hat!

After this week off, I’ll be back at work for a week, and then I’m off for mini-vacation #2. Specifically, I’ll be heading to Toronto to visit my family, then catching a ride with Sarah & Dave to Ottawa, where I’ll be going to a conference. Then I’m back at work for 5 days out of 6 possible work days (I’m taking one day off in there to move into my new condo!) and then I head out on mini-vacation #3 – a 4-day weekend in San Fran for Kalev‘s birthday!

Hooray x3!

  1. Incidentally, I think this may be why I have like 800 hours in my sick bank at work. []
  2. You you make recall from our fabulous European vacation last summer! []
  3. In addition to my part-time cohort, there will also be the full-time cohort, the Executive MBA cohort (and I’ll know a few of these people), plus a few other programs graduating. []


Two Years

Two years ago yesterday my Dad went into brain surgery, which he didn’t survive. We wouldn’t know that he hadn’t survived for three long days, during which we sat at his bedside willing him to wake up. We didn’t know his brain had suffered too much damage during the surgery and could no longer do anything but the most basic functions to keep his body going, but even then only with the assistance of artificial life support and even with that life support, it was barely able to do that and his body started shutting down over those three days. He couldn’t hear us talking to him, he hadn’t had a thought since he’d gone into surgery, scared but hopeful that the massive tumour in his brain would be removed and he would be OK. He also hadn’t known the tumour was malignant melanoma, as on the scans that they did before the surgery, it looked decidedly like a benign meningioma, which would have meant that removing it would have made him feel better than ever. I’m generally not a believer that “ignorance is bliss”, preferring to face facts over being in the dark about things, but in this case I’m glad that the surgeon wasn’t able to tell what kind of cancer my dad had before the surgery. It would have done my dad no good to go into his surgery knowing that his cancer was incurable and that he would only have suffering, debilitation, and death ahead of him. Given that the surgery turned out to be non-survivable, I’m willing to accept that in this case, where knowledge of the stark realty would have offered no way to have done anything differently and only would have served to make my dad’s last weeks of life that much more depressing, ignorance was preferable.

Around this time of year, I can’t help but think of my dad’s death and everything that surrounded it – the diagnosis, the waiting for surgery, the surgery, sitting vigil by his bedside, the moment that he stopped breathing and then, shortly after, when his heart stopped beating, the funeral. But I don’t want his death to overshadow his life. My dad was a man who believed in living life to its fullest. He was larger than life. The life of the party. He loved his family and we loved him.

I think of the things that have happened in the past two years. I did a whole MBA. I moved into a new place with a boyfriend. And then we broke up. I got pet frogs – that I think my dad would have liked – and pet cats – that I think he wouldn’t have1. My nephew has grown from a wee baby to an energetic, hilarious little toddler. My niece has continued to blossom into an intelligent, creative, and hilarious little girl. My mom and I went to Ireland together, and we know he would have loved to hear all about our trip. So many things he never got to see. So much life he will never get to live.

Last night, his Toronto Maple Leafs played my Vancouver Canucks and for the first time in more than TEN years, the Leafs won. And I would have given anything to have gotten a phone call last night after the game for him to tease me about it.

I miss you always, Daddy.

  1. My dad liked birds, so he didn’t like cats. []


More Adorable Things My Nephew Said

Before I went to visit my family, my sister Facebooked something adorable my nephew had said. She’d told him that it was time to go to Vaia’s (Vaia is the lady who runs the daycare that Thomas goes to) and he told her “I am not going to Vaia’s. I am going to a meeting. I am big”1. Apparently this is a strong association in his mind, as he told me the same thing the other day. “I am big. I am going to a meeting.” I was unaware that being big is a pre-req for going to meetings. I’m surprised they let me in.

When Jeff suggested that we leave some carrots out for the reindeer on Christmas Eve, along with the cookies for Santa, Thomas told him, “No! Carrots are for bunnies and I don’t like carrots!”

And in other vegetable-related shenanigans, Thomas calls potatoes “tomatoes”, so at dinner the other day, Jeff was trying to teach him the difference, since we had both vegetables in our meal. The conversation went something like this:

Jeff (pointing at a tomato): Tomato.
Thomas: Tomato!
Jeff (pointing at the potatoes): Potato.
Thomas: Tomato!
Jeff (pointing at the potatoes): Potato.
Thomas: Pa-tomato!

Christmas Eve dinner

A delicious bowl of mashed pa-tomatoes!

  1. Little does he know that all the big people would happily trade places and go to daycare and he could go to their meetings. Daycare has nap time. I’m just sayin’. []


At The Airport

How does 2 weeks go by so fast? Seems like I only just got here and now I’m back at the airport waiting for my flight home. On Christmas Day, I said to my sister, “I can’t believe I’m still here for 6 more days!” That feels like 2 minutes ago! But I did see a bunch of family and friends and there was much catching up and laughter and all that good stuff. I haven’t spent Christmas with my family for three years, so I’m really happy I was able to this year!

Looks like it’s almost time to board the plane, so I better pack up. See y’all on the flip side.


My Nephew Seems To Like His Christmas Present

For Christmas, I got my nephew a shark bath towel. It’s got a hood with shark teeth and a fin on the back, so you can dress up like a shark after your bath. I bought it even before I knew we were going to go to the Aquarium and so when we were there, I was quite happy to see that he loved the sharks. And he seemed to quite like the towel: