Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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The Time in Nye! #BillBillBill

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When I was a kid, I loved Bill Nye the Science Guy. Oh wait, I just looked up when that show actually aired, so let me re-phrase: When I was a teenager, I loved Bill Nye the Science Guy. I had already decided by that point that I was going to be a scientist, so how could I not love a show full of science-y facts and experiment you can try at home and silly science jokes?

Fast forward nearly 20 years, and I still love Bill Nye the Science Guy. He’s a promoter of science, skepticism, and rationality. And he’s the only man who, in my humble opinion, can actually pull off wearing a bowtie.So when I heard there was Kickstarter going on to fund a documentary about his life, how could I not take part?

Personally, I chose to donate at the level that would get my name in the credits and a bowtie for your dog… or in my case, cat1. I also get a Bill Nye Frisbee because science.

Perhaps you would also like your name in the credits? Or to get a bowtie for your dog, cat, rabbit,lizard, or other similar sized animal? Or one of the many other cool rewards one gets for kickstarting this awesome film? Well, you only have 29 hours to go (as of the time at which I’m writing this posting!) to do so! Just go to Kickstarter and give them all your money! Or, like $50. Whatevs2.

You can also follow along with them at:

Image Credit:

Footnotes:

  1. Watson & Crick will have to share the bowtie. []
  2. It’s the most funded documentary in the history of Kickstarter, but I’m sure they could use a few more bucks, asmaking movies isn’t cheap! []

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Mindfulness – My Take Home Lessons

Mind Full v. MindfulThis past Monday was the last class of my 8-week mindfulness class. So I figure now is a good time to stop and reflect on what I learned.

  • Mindfulness is “intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment, which can be trained by meditational practices.” (Wikipedia). But reading a definition of mindfulness is really hollow – in my experience, you need to actually practice mindfulness to really get what it is. Before this class, I’d read a bit about mindfulness and talked to people about mindfulness, but until this class, I hadn’t actually put any dedicated time towards doing mindfulness. And it’s really in the process of doing it that you come to understand and to get any benefits from it.
  • Speaking of which, I was *terrible* about doing my homework for this class. As I mentioned previously, I didn’t realize that there would be homework – and certainly not several hours per week for homework – and I just never managed to get dedicated blocks of time into my calendar to do a 45-minute body scan or a half hour sitting meditation or an hour of mindful yoga. I was more successful with finding brief moments in which to practice mindfulness – 5 minutes here where I would drop everything and really pay attention to playing with my cats or 10 minutes there to clear my mind of thoughts of past and future and really experience the sensations as I was out on a walk. I think this is more likely to be the way that I’m going to be able to work on mindfulness in my daily life.
  • Here’s a quote that was in our workbook that I found interesting: “We almost never directly experience what pain is because our reaction to it is so immediate that most of what we can pain is actually our experience of resistance to the phenomenon. And the resistance is usually a good deal more painful than the original sensation. In the same way, we experience our tiredness, our boredom, our fear; we experience instead our resistance to them.” (Stephen Levine, A Gradual Awakening, 1979). By anticipating and fearing pain or loneliness or boredom, we actually make it worse than it otherwise would have been!
  • Another useful tidbit: When we desire something and then we get it, we are often gratified “only in the process of moving from not-having to having […] The process of satisfying the wanting occurs not in the possession of the wanted object, but in the cessation of the painfulness of desire.” (Source: class instructor’s notes). Once we have it, we then experience the fear of losing it or of it becoming damaged. This relates to the idea of non-attachment – if we are less attached to things and understand that things are impermanent, it lessons the fear of losing that which we have and allows us to enjoy something in the moment, in and of itself. Because once we don’t have it anymore, we’ll look back and think “Why didn’t I appreciate that when I had it??”
  • While meditating, you often focus on your breathing. As my instructor put it, this is something you can do any time you notice that you are worrying about the future or brooding about the past, as a way of grounding yourself in the present because “no matter where you go, you always have your breath with you!”
  • The instructor shared this poem: Please Listen – with us.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why
I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

  • I’m sure we’ve all been on the receiving – and the giving – end of this type of behaviour. This poem was a useful reminder of the importance of really, genuinely listening to people. And then later in the poem was some good advice for helicopter parents:

When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and
inadequacy.

  • I’m always amazed by what kids can do and I’m equally amazed when I see parents who won’t let them do things for themselves. I’m sure some are afraid to see their kids experience anything hard (so they take over) some are control freaks who think that their way is the only “right” way (and so they take over), and I’m sure there are tonnes of other reasons that I can’t even imagine as to why people do what they do. But I remember one of the profs I worked with when I first started teaching saying “Praise the students up to where you want them to be. Even if you think it’s beyond them. They will surprise you.” And I think it is similar with kids. Listen to them, let them do things for themselves – including failing! “Failing” is a great way to learn.
  • I think the most useful thing that I learned – which I have thus saved for last – is something that our class instructor shared with us from the Zen Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh. He talks about treating our “negative” emotions gently, like you would a small puppy or a baby. Often, we don’t even notice that were are experiencing our emotions as we get more and more wound up by them. Our fear or anxiety or judgmentalness grows and grows. But if you manage to be more observant and notice that you are feeling an emotion, you can hold it gently and say to yourself ‘My little anger, what do you need from me?” I’ve tried this out and it is amazing how it diffuses the spiral of emotion and helps me to think “What is underlying this feeling? What am I anger about?” or “How, if at all, does this feeling of judgmentalness serve me?”

Image Credit: Posted by Heidi Forbes Öste on Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

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I wish there were more time in a day!

As someone who is always trying to do all the things, I’m perpetually saying “I need more than 24 hours in a day!” Well today, for the first time in 3 years, I’m getting my wish. Today we get a leap second!

Leap seconds, which happen every once in a while, are added to our clocks “to keep Co-ordinated Universal Time (or UTC, the modern replacement for Greenwich mean time), the world standard for regulating clocks, in sync with Mean Solar Time, which marks the passage of time based on the sun’s position in the sky” (Source).

I say “every once in a while” because it’s not on a set schedule, like leap years that occur every 4 years like clockwork (pun intended). When we are going to have a leap second is decided on by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS)1.

“Between 1972 and 2012, a leap second has been inserted about every 18 months, on average. However, the spacing is quite irregular and apparently increasing: there were no leap seconds in the seven-year interval between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2005, but there were nine leap seconds in the eight years 1972–1979.” (Source).

The last time we had a leap second was 3 year ago. Here’s what it looked like:

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So enjoy that extra second that you get today, everyone. Try not to spend it all in one place!

Image Credit: Posted on Wikipedia, in the public domain.

  1. At least since 1988. Prior to that, it was done by the Bureau International de l’Heure (BIH). []

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Doing All The Things!

So apparently I’ve decided to do all the things, which means that I have eleventy billion things to blog about and no time in which to write said blog posting1, which can only mean one thing. It’s time for a bullet list! List all the bullets!

  • Both my teams’ winter hockey seasons have come to an end. My Burnaby team got knocked out of the playoffs yesterday, but we made a decent showing in both of our playoff games and besides, this was a rebuilding year. My Coquitlam team made it all the way to the finals and lost a heartbreaker in OT.
  • Speaking of hockey, remember the beginning of the NHL season when I joined a fantasy hockey league? As it turns out, I abandoned all gimmicks after week one and actually changed my picks each week (it’s the kind of pool where you get to pick new players each week) and would you believe that actually putting effort into it, rather than being goofy, resulted in me winning the pool? Now I am the proud owner of all the bragging rights!
  • Also, speaking of hockey, I’m taking another set of hockey lessons. I signed up for a class called “Shoot to Score” and based on this description: “The Shoot to Score program is designed for adults wanting to exclusively improve their scoring ability. The program will incorporate skating, passing and puck control but a major emphasis will be placed on developing a players wrist shot, snapshot, back hander, slap shot, one-timer and shooting while in motion“, I made the silly mistake of thinking that I’d be learning to shoot the puck. Instead, the class is being taught as “forward” class, with the other half of the rink being “defenceman” class and then at the end of the lesson they put the two groups together and run drills against each other. I’m a bit disappointed, because I really wanted to work on my shot, which is terrible, but I am learning a bunch of stuff that I think will improve my game, so I’m still going2.
  • Speaking of lessons, our salsa dance instructors told me that I’m good enough to move on to level “Intermediate 2”3! We are just at the start of our third set of “Intermediate 1”, so I think that’s pretty good, as they actually have 4 different sets of “Intermediate 1” classes that people can go through. The problem, however, is that our instructors don’t offer “Intermediate 2” on a night that we are available, so we have to hope that in the next set of lessons, they switch up the nights or we may need to find a new dance studio.
  • Speaking of working on stuff, I’m just 17 days away from my next half marathon4! Since my usual running partner, Alicia, isn’t running this race with me, I decided to sign up for a Sunday morning running clinic that was set up to train for the BMO half, so I’d have people to run with, as the long runs start to get a bit boring by the end of the training if you don’t have company. The group is run out of Fit First in Burnaby (the same place I did my running study) and I’ve enjoyed having company to run with5.

    Here’s a photo of my running clinic group – aren’t we a good looking group?

    I have more to say about my training, but I think that I’ve got a whole blog posting on that (spoiler: there’s a spreadsheet involved!), if only I can find the time to write it. I will say that my ambitious goal, which I’m not sure I will be able to achieve, is to run a sub-2 hr half marathon, which has been on my “to do” list since forever and is currently sitting my list of goals for 2015.

  • Speaking of my “to do” list, I’ve completed yet another item off my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days: #64: Go on a Paddle Wheeler cruise down the Fraser River). Daniel and I went on this cruise last Friday and we had a really good time. We tried to take a selfie that I could put in this posting, but could not get anything even halfway decent (at least in part because I didn’t think to take a photo until after we’d gone out on the ship’s deck in the rain and my hair becomes a complete rat’s nest at the slightest sign of a drop of water). Also, by sheer coincidence, a woman from our salsa dancing class was there with a bunch of her friends, and while there was no salsa music, we all had lots of fun hitting the dance to some old school tunes mixed with some current hits.
  • And speaking about my 101 list, I’ve also knocked #7 – “Be written about in the New Westminster Record” off the list, with this article about the Arts Council of New West, where I happen to be on the board of directors. I really like the photo we had taken:

    For the record, I didn’t know everyone else was going to be wearing black, grey or blue when I chose a red shirt!

  • And also speaking of my 101 list, I have just booked a trip to Halifax in May, which will knock #46 – “Go to Nova Scotia” off that list and will leave me just one province short of having been to all the provinces in Canada6. I’m going to a conference in Halifax to present some of my research, which will be fun. I’ll also get to stop by Toronto on my way home to visit the fam for a few days, which will be awesome. And, as it so happens, I’ll be there for my nephew’s birthday party, which will be doubly awesome!
  • Speaking of trips, Daniel and I have registered for the Montreal full and demi-marathon, respectively, in Montreal in September. So I’ll get to see some family then too, as I have family who live there and my mom plans to go there while we are there too.
  • And speaking of seeing my family, my sister is coming to present at a conference in Vancouver in June and my mom is going to join her for the trip. The kitties are very excited to see their grandmother again and to meet their Aunt Nancy!
  • And finally, speaking of people visiting, I get to see Sarah on Sunday, as she is going to be in Seattle, so I’m going to drive down there to hang out! So excited!

So, as you can see, I am clearly doing all the things and I haven’t even talked about, you know, work, teaching, and various other gadding about that I do. I also hear there’s this cool thing called “getting enough sleep” that I’d totally love to check out someday, if I can only find the time!

  1. As a microcosm of my doing all the things, while writing this blog posting, I’m also doing laundry, doing dishes, baking cherry squares for the bake sale that my office is having tomorrow, watching the Winnipeg Jets v. Anaheim Ducks playoff game and being kneaded on by Crick. Oh, now I’m being climbed all over by Crick. Crick is really turning into quite the lap cat, especially when I’m trying to type something. []
  2. Incidentally, if anyone knows of any good classes where I can actually learn to shoot the puck, let me know! []
  3. Daniel’s done Intermediate Level 2 before, so it’s just been me that needed to develop my skills a bit more so we could move on []
  4. The BMO Vancouver []
  5. Though to be totally honest, I really miss running with Alicia! []
  6. Newfoundland, I will conquer you one day! []

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Look at me! I’m A Talking Head

A colleague of mine was making a series of videos1 for a class that she teaches and interviewed some experts on relevant topics. One of those topics was evaluation and one of those experts was me!

I’m totally breaking my “I don’t talk about work on my blog” but (a) the job title listed in the video is my old job, so I’m technically not talking about my work in its current form and (b) rampant narcissism requires that I share this video with everyone. Also, I think I come across as a little bit more professional than the last time I was interviewed as an expert… on drinking beer and eating nachos while watching Canucks playoff games

  1. I posted this on Twitter the other day, but I figured I’d post it here so that I’ll be able to find it again when I want to. Twitter is like a black hole that all my various witty remarks disappear into, never to be seen again. []

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Hooray for Composting

I was sure that I’d posted this blog posting back in mid-January, but I just discovered it sitting in my “Drafts” folder, so apparently I did not. At any rate, I’m posting it now!

As of January 1st, it has been illegal to send any organic waste to the landfill in Metro Vancouver 1. Apparently, for the first six months, residents and business who break this rule will just be issued warnings, but after that there will be fines. I was a little concerned when January 1st came and went and nothing had been mentioned in my building about getting compost bins for our places, but then a few days later a memo went up in the elevators saying that on Jan 15 our waste management company would be set up in our lobby with information and free compost bins for everybody.

I’m unnaturally excited by this.

My sister lives in Toronto and they’ve had city-wide compost pick up for years. When I went to the University of Guelph, the city of Guelph was piloting what they called at the time (if I recall correctly), wet/dry garbage pickup, where you had one bin for wet garbage (like food waste) and another for dry garbage. That was back in 1999/2000. So it’s nice to know that Metro Vancouver has caught up only 15 years later.

When I think back even further, I remember in elementary school there was a competition that my gifted class went to where we competed against other gifted classes from other schools in a sort of case competition. I don’t remember all the details but I do remember it had something to do with making some sort of plan around environmental stewardship and when my group presented and we talked about composting (which no other group had thought of) all the teachers went crazy over how brilliant we were2. Anyway, the point of this half remembered and seemingly pointless story is merely to point out that composting is really not a new idea and it seems like it’s taken a long time to get to the point where it’s finally part of our garbage pick up system. But here we are , it’s 2015 and I have a my very own compost bucket:

My new compost bin

The people giving out the buckets claim that the bucket’s lid has some sort of magical sealing property that prevents odours and fruit flies, but from talking to others who have already had their compost bins for awhile, I’m not holding my breath that this will be true.

Also, I was checking out the City of New Westminster’s webpage on food scraps collection (because, did I mention, I’m unnaturally excited by this?), and this sentence made me laugh: “Each residential unit (apartment or condo) was provided with a kitchen container to collect pre and post consumed food scraps.” I don’t think you really want my “post consumed” food scraps. I mean, I’m assuming what they actually mean is food that’s leftover and you are getting rid of after you’ve consumed the rest of the food, but any “post consumed” food will be taken care of by the sewage system, thank you very much.

That site also has this useful diagram on how to origami some newspaper to make a liner for your compost bucket, if you are too cheap to buy the paper bags with corn-based plastic-like lining:

I like how they specify that you should use your “community newspaper” to line your compost bucket. Not sure if this is meant to be a commentary on how the city feels about their community newspapers… At any rate, I am cheap so I think once I’ve used up my free paper bag with corn-based plastic-like lining that came with my bucket, I might just give this whole origami thing a try3.

  1. “Metro Vancouver” is the name of a “political body and corporate entity […] that delivers regional services, policies, and political leadership to” the group of municipalities/a treaty First Nation/an electoral area that make up the greater Vancouver area. Apparently one such policy is what is allowed to go into the landfill. New West is part of Metro Vancouver, so we all have to get onboard with the composting. []
  2. I also remember that we didn’t win and our teacher took us to the store and bought us ice cream bars and told us that even the winning team’s teacher said to her that the judges were wrong, our team really should have won. I’m sure it was more than just the composting idea that we had done well, but I totally can’t remember what else it was all about. All I remember is composting, injustice, and ice cream bars. And I think our presentation involved aliens in some way. []
  3. Update, since I’m posting this more than a month after I wrote it. I’ve tried the origami thing. It seems to work just fine. []

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My Weekend

Spent the weekend on the Island, as my friend Rachel invited me to give a guest lecture on stats in her research methods class1.

On the ferry on the way over to the Island on Friday night I was pleasantly surprised to run into my friend Bronwyn, who I haven’t seen since graduation back in May. It was awesome having a chance to catch up with her and the ferry ride was over in a flash!

Friday night, we just chilled, as Rachel had been teaching prior to picking me up from the ferry and we had to get up the next morning to teach. Teaching was fun, as I’m a nerd and love talking about stats and her students were very engaged – asked lots of great questions. I remember the same thing happening the last time I taught her class, but I’m always a little concerned when I start teaching about stats because many people aren’t stats-loving nerds like me, so I always fear having a room full of disinterested people staring at me. Happily, those fears were unfounded in this case.

After my guest lecture, we grabbed lunch and then Rachel continued teaching while I went off to do a 11 km run2. And then we got to spend the weekend celebrating the survival of having worked on a Saturday. Celebrating included such things as getting to see Rachel’s adorable 21-month-old son (who had been asleep by the time I’d arrived the previous night), hanging out with some other peeps who were also visiting for the weekend, lovely wine, a delicious dinner, an amazing chocolate raspberry trifle3, and a rousing game of Apples to Apples (a.k.a. Wholesome Cards Against Humanity), at which I did disastrously bad.

Today we spent a super relaxing day – had some breakfast, went to a beach in Parksville, lunch at a local pub, playing in the backyard, a walk around the neighbourhood, a delicious dinner – all of which time we got to spend catching up, which was awesome because it’s been a long time since we’d had a chance to do that.

And now I’m heading back on the ferry feeling rested and relaxed!

  1. I gave this same type of lecture 4 years ago, but haven’t been back to do it since then as I got busy with that whole MBA thing, so I couldn’t make it over on a weekend when she was teaching as I was always in class. []
  2. Half marathon training cares not if you are having a weekend away. []
  3. Made as a Valentine’s Day dessert but happily shared with all the visitors, as Rachel mused that had she made that trifle for just her and her husband, it would have been a crazy amount of rich dessert to have! []

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Kitties Annual Report, FY2014

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Nerd Stats 2014

Here is a quick summary of my blog and Twitter stats for 2014, in delightful Google spreadsheet form:

My blogging and tweeting stats are continuing their downward trend, which is not at all surprising, given that my blogging was very inconsistent this year. Case in point, I only blogged twice in the entire month of November – and I didn’t even remember that November is National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) – the month when I usually blog every day- until the past few days when I was writing up my year in blog postings! Ah well, apparently I was having too much fun this year to spend my time blogging! And it’s quality over quantity, right?

Also, if you are interested, you can also check out my blogging annual report from WordPress.

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Twelve Months of NTBTWK

As I’m doing a bunch of year-end type postings, I figured I’d do the “twelve months” one where you post the first line of the first blog posting of each month of the year (and the name of the month is a link to the full posting). But I like to post the first *two* lines of every posting, because it’s my blog and I’ll post the first two lines if I want to.

January 2014

As you know, I love setting goals. And what better time than New Year’s Day to do some goal setting!

February 2014

For the next week, I’m going to be curating the @PeopleofCanada Twitter account! From the @PeopleofCanada Tumblr blog:

About

A rotating crew of Canadians sharing their lives in with Canada and the world.

March 2014

So, I totally thought that I’d written a blog posting about this before, but apparently not. Sometimes I compose blog postings in my brain when I’m not in a position to write stuff down and then forget that I never actually wrote them down

April 2014

Hey, remember that time I played hockey for 10 days to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis? Well, yesterday when I picked up a copy of the Royal City Record (my local paper), I saw a familiar face from that game: Bill Markvoort.

May 2014

Today marked the first time since before my MBA program started that I *wasn’t* in class during the BMO Vancouver International Marathon. Since I just ran a half marathon less than a month ago, I didn’t think it was wise to run another half marathon so soon, and thus I registered for the 8 km race instead.

June 2014

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.

July 2014

Hey, remember that time I bought a condo? That was pretty awesome and also stressful but mostly awesome.

August 2014

Apparently I’m really into theatre all of the sudden, as last night I saw Red Rock Diner at the Arts Club Granville Island Stage.

Here the trailer.

September 2014

Last week was a bittersweet one1. Sweet, because I started my awesome new job.

October 2014

Photos of my running shoes tend to be some of my most favourited photos on my Flickr account. So my all the running shoe aficionados, here are some photos of my newest pair of running shoes.

November 2014

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 doing, 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!

December 2014

My going away present from my coworkers at my old job was two tickets for a tour of three breweries – obviously, my former coworkers know me very well! The tour company,Vancouver Brewery Tours1 picks you up at Waterfront Station, takes you around to tour three different breweries – going behind the scenes to see all the cool equipment and learning about all the cool techniques of how they brew their beer – and then drops you back at Waterfront, so you can enjoy all the beery goodness – a flight at each brewery – in a responsible fashion.