Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese


Kitties Report, Q1


The cats were acquired by Snow Industries on 18 January 2014, such that the initial cat fiscal year runs from 18 Jan 2014 to 17 Jan 2015 (henceforth referred to as fiscal year (FY) 2014. This report covers quarter 1 of FY2014.


A capital investment1 of $225 was made to acquire said cats. Other fixed assets included a scratching post, litter box/scoop/mat, food and water dishes, and cat carriers. These non-biological capital investments are categorized as “supplies” for accounting purposes, because our accountant is lazy. See Figure 1 for a breakdown of expense by category2

Figure 1

Operating Expenses

Primary operating expenses for said cats comprise food and litter, with additional variable costs including treats, cat nip, cat grass, and toys3. Cost savings have been realized for food by the R&D department’s discovery that First Mate Cat Food and First Mate Dog Food are identical products4, but the dog food costs 34% less (see Figure 2). A consistent feeding program results in highly accurate forecasting of food consumption, allowing for optimal inventory management.

Figure 2

The R&D department is actively investigating suppliers for litter. Initially, pine pellets were used, as this was the litter the cats were using prior to the acquisition and using the same product was recommended as the cats acclimatized to the organization. That product performed well on the characteristic of not smelling bad, but performed poorly on the sawdust-getting-tracked-all-over-the-apartment characteristic. The next supplier to be tested was Natural Cat, which is grain-based, clumping, and flushable. The product does not appear to perform quite as promised, it is more sticky than clumpy, retains a slight ammonia-y odour, and though it tracks less than the pine pellets, it does tracks across a large mat in the litter box area. An external consultant conducted an independent audit5 and has recommended investigation of World’s Best Cat Litter. The R&D department will be conducting further research on this topic in Q2.

Our innovative sustainability program includes re-purposing packaging from our suppliers as cat containment/entertainment devices, resulting in significant cost savings (see Figure 3).

Dr. Watson, The Cat

Figure 3

Risk Assessment

Major risks for this endeavour include claws and teeth, but the sweet nature of the CATpital assets mitigates this risk. However, CATpital investment Watson loves to rip the crap out of cardboard, causing a minor inconvenience for the janitorial staff. The anticipated risk of the cats eating the Frog Department seems to have been quelled, as the cats rarely pay any attention at all to the tank, unless the CEO is interacting with the frogs, at which point both cats stare up at the interaction.

Social Media Marketing

The cats have embarked on a social media marketing campaign by handling their own Twitter account. (See Figure 4 for monthly Twitter activity). In addition, the cats are regularly featured on the Snow Industries Twitter account, and were highlighted during the CEO’s reign as the Curator of the People of Canada Twitter account. Market research indicates a strong positive reaction to Watson & Crick, though this is not surprising given the overall trend of appreciation for cats on the Internets.

Figure 4

Return on Investment

ROI was strong in Q1, coming in the form of cuddles, cuteness, and love. (See Figures 5 to 8 for representative examples of cuteness). Forecasts anticipate ongoing positive returns for the foreseeable future.

Dr. Watson, The Cat

Figure 5: Dr. Watson, The Cat


Dr. Crick, the Cat

Figure 6: Dr. Crick, The Cat


Crick is helping me blog

Figure 7: Dr. Crick and CEO Snow in the social media command centre



Figure 8: Dr. Watson in the trademark purple chair at Snow Industries headquarters



Figure 9: Drs. Crick & Watson, tired out for a long day of being adorable

  1. Or should I say CATpital investment? []
  2. Get it. CATegory! []
  3. Watson is also a huge fan of any green vegetables – lettuce, asparagus, green beans, and especially cucumber, but these come out of existing Snow Industries inventory and are sufficiently small as to be ignored for cat accounting purposes. Crick, on the other hand, looks at the supplier as if she is crazy when offered lettuce []
  4. Including the addition of taurine, which is a required amino acid for cats. []
  5. Thanks for cat sitting, Steven! []


Official Proof That I Can Count to 20

Hey, remember that time that I finished my MBA? That was pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself. But, because I’m me, I’m paranoid that I’m going to get to convocation day and someone will say “Actually, you only did 28.5 credits of post-core modules, but you were supposed to do 30 credits. No MBA for you!” I mean, sure I kept meticulous track of my courses (especially given that I messed around with the schedule, taking things from various different programs that I was interested in, instead of just the ones laid out for my cohort). I know without a doubt that I needed to do the equivalent of 20 post-core modules, worth 1.5 credits each1. Sure, I’ve counted all my credits up 17 different times. I’ve added them by hand and on a spreadsheet. I’ve had a fellow classmate count them for me. And I’ve had the MBA office double check that all my credits actually count. But what if we all made the exact same counting error and no one noticed? It could totally happen. Well, the other day we got an email about all the glorious things that await us when we become alumni2  and in said email it told us that we could ask the MBA office to produce a letter certifying that we have completed the program3. And thus I give you:

MBA Letter of Completion


And, since I already have it handy, here’s the spreadsheet listing all the courses that I took. You know, in case you were wondering (a) what I’ve been doing for the past two years, (b) what topics you can now ask me for my expert advice on, or (c) you happen to be thinking about doing an MBA and want to know what some of the stuff you might cover could be4:

So now that I have my proof (and all of you can count my courses in that spreadsheet, just to be sure), I’m pretty content that come May 28, I shall be crossing the stage to receive my MBA. And so today I placed my order to rent my regalia for the ceremony. And, as I was informed by the robe guy5, because I already have a PhD, I get to again wear the pink robe and puffy hat that is reserved only for those special people who have a doctorate from UBC – because one always wears the robes of their highest degree when at a graduation ceremony. Long live the puffy hat!

  1. Two of the course I took were 3 credit courses, so they count as two modules. []
  2. Of course, I’m already an alumna of UBC. But what does it make you when you are a double alumna? An dalumna? An alumna2?. []
  3. Such a thing might be useful if, say, one was getting a job that requires an MBA and one needed proof before our graduation ceremony, which isn’t until late May. I’m not in that situation myself, but I want proof to prove to me that I can count! []
  4. Come on, you *know* you want to do an MBA! All the cool kids are doing it! []
  5. I totally have a robe guy. []


One Week Today….

… I’ll be running the Hollywood Half Marathon!

Now that the plague that had infected my lungs is down to a mere biosafety level of 2.5, I’ve been able to get out and do a couple of runs this week, confirming that I can, in fact, break the previously-elusive (at least in the past 3 weeks) 7 min/km barrier. So I might just finish this race in a halfway decent time after all1. But, as is the case with all my races in the last few years, I’ve downgraded my goal from “personal best” to “hope it’s not my worst time!” Actually, my hopes are a wee bit higher than that. Here’s the graph of all my half marathon race times:

Race Finish Times up to Nov 2013

As you can see, I managed in my most recent race to turn the tide of the downward spiral I was in (remembering that this is a graph of race finish times, meaning higher is worse) and it would be just peachy if I could continue that and  beat my time from the Fall Classic of 2:17:25. Honestly, I’d be happy with a 2:15.

More importantly, though, my two runs this week were actually enjoyable. They were short and quickly (for me) run and along the pretty riverfront and dry and zombies were chasing me2

Also, my Runkeeper app tells me that I’ve achieved 32% of my running goal for the year:


And we aren’t even quite 25% of the way through the year! If I managed to do that during the hardest part of the year to run, I think that I’m going to crush this goal now that the better weather and long days are here!

  1. Assuming my foot holds out – it’s been a bit sore since the running study, though nothing that a bunch of stretching shouldn’t be able to fix – and that there’s not an earthquake. Yesterday’s news of an earthquake in LA reminded me that LA gets earthquakes. I hadn’t even thought of that until now! []
  2. Hmmm. I thought I’d blogged about the zombie running app that I use, but a quick search of the blog reveals that I have not. Guess that’s the subject for an upcoming blog posting!!). Pretty much everything one could want in a run. This winter and spring has had far too much running on treadmills or in the dark and the rain and I’d almost forgotten that I actually *like* running. But when I ran one day after work this week and actually felt the warmth of the sun as I set out on my run, and when today I felt like I was flying as a cruised along the pier, smiling happily at others out for a walk or a run, I remembered: this is why I run.

    As if to reward me further, the running gods decided to put someone at the Waves coffeeshop by my place giving out free samples when I was was on my way home from my run:

    Day 265

    I generally don’t like Waves coffee, but this vanilla latte wasn’t too bad ((Kalev, remind me to give you the coupon that I got, as I’m not likely to use it, but I know you like some of the stuff at Waves. []


An Organization Quest

Since I finished school1, I no longer have an excuse for my place to be a mess. For the past two years, I was able to tell myself that I didn’t have time to be organized, but now that I’ve got nothing but time on my hands, I think it’s time to do a total reboot of my apartment.

Organizing my Seed StashAs I was thinking these lofty thoughts, I came across this on Lifehacker: 52 weeks to an organized home. It’s a series of challenges where you tackle one organizing task per week. The idea with it is that you can’t do everything at once, and even if you could, you’d probably just mess it all up right away anyway, because you haven’t given each new organizing solution enough time to let it sink in and become a new habit. Also, giving yourself a week to do each task allows you to spend time thinking about the best way to set things up for your particular (for lack of a better phrase) work flow and to test out the new configuration to see if it works. It’s basically Lean and prototyping2.

What really appeals to me about this is that I don’t have to decide where to start. I think of it as being similar to running. When I’m training for a half marathon, I follow a training plan where each day that I need to run, the decision about how long I need to run that day has already been made for me – maybe I run 12 km on Sunday, 5 km on Tuesday, 8 hill repeats on Wednesday. I know when I have to run and how far and so having to make a decision about that is eliminated as a barrier to me actually going and doing it. So it’s much the same with this organizing program. This week you organizing your kitchen counters, next week you organize your kitchen cabinets, etc.

As I’m organizing, I have to keep reminding myself to take it one step at a time. Like this week, I’m organizing kitchen counters, which means all the stuff that I had stacked on my counters that didn’t belong that had to be moved, ideally to the location where I’ll ultimately be wanting it. But as I do that, I’m super tempted to then organize that other location completely, but I know that if I fall into that trap, I’m going to become overwhelmed with all of it and that’s what this program is trying to avoid. So I’m trying to be content with shoving things in a cabinet or closet that isn’t organized, as I know I’ll get to it on a future week.

TastefulThat’s not to say that I’m not organizing *anything* that’s off schedule, as I have re-arranged my living room to accommodate the flat screen TV I bought myself as an “I’m done school” present, which necessitated moving a bookshelf from the living room to the growerly3, and since I had to take all the books off said shelf to move it, I used that opportunity to organize the bookshelf a little better. I also set up a better spot to keep my recycling bins, because they were totally in the way where I had been keeping them, as well as creating a box to put things to donate in4, as I figure the organizing process will generate a fair bit of things to recycle and things to donate.

So, that’ s my plan for the next 52 weeks. But this time next year, I’ll have the most organized apartment ever!

Image Credits:


  1. Fun fact: 57% of my sentences these days start with “Since I finished school”. The other 43% start with “When I was in Ireland”. []
  2. See, I learned useful stuff in school! []
  3. Not to mention rearranging how my living room furniture was configured. []
  4. As I had just been shoving stuff into a plastic bag, which wasn’t worrying well at all. []


Nerd Stats 2013

Here is a quick summary of my blog and Twitter stats for 20131:

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 % change from 2012
Blog postings: 423 357 344 380 201 213 +6%
Tweets: 2,227 1,815 2302 3,625 8752
945 +8%
Visits to my blog 32,410 45,153 44,689 60,560 63,844 46,665 -27%
Average number of blog visits per day 93. 126
122 166 175 128 -27%
Busiest day on my blog: Sept 26, 2008 (460 views)
July 25, 2009 (1,181 views
Feb 9, 2010 (233 views)  Oct 10, 2011 (374 views) Feb 13, 2012 (350 views)
Sept 4, 2013 (721)3,((Note to self: You get this information from the “annual report” that sends to you.)) +106%

My blog readership took a big hit this year, but that’s not surprising as my blogging was fairly inconsistent. Case in point: 32% of my blog postings for the year were in the month of December, when I went on this crazy blogging spree to hit my goal of 213 postings. Moreover, blogging is a social activity that requires you to engage with others to build community, and I’ve not done much to do that, so my blog readership is generally people that I already know (or who already know my blog) and continue to follow along. Given that I’m done classes now (boy, I’ve been saying that a lot lately, haven’t I?), I expect to blog more consistently – and engage with others more – in 2014, so we’ll see if there’s any merit to this hypothesis.

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

  1. To see previous years’ nerd stats postings, click the year in the table. []
  2. note to self: You started Tweeting in 2008, so you get these totals by simple subtraction, not by some fancy pants program or anything. I hope this helps you when you write your “Nerd Stats 2014″ posting when you think “how the hell did I figure out how many times I tweeted in a given year??” []
  3. Thanks to my blog posting “Why You Should Always Proofread“, with Cath posted in a comment on another blog. []


Ontario Science Centre – A (Very) Brief Review

As previously mentioned, I met up with my friend Sarah and her family at the Ontario Science Centre today. Sarah et al live in Ontario, but are in the GTA to see her in laws and so they came out to meet me today and the OSC seemed like a good place to do that because (a) we are science nerds and (b) they have an almost 5-year-old and a ~3 year old and the OSC has lots of fun things for them to play with and gives them a chance to run around and burn up some energy. They also have a nice baby – 10 weeks old – so it was awesome to get to meet her for the first time.

I remember quite liking the Science Centre, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been there and once inside *nothing* looked even remotely familiar except for the electrified ball that you touch that makes your hair stick out all over. I couldn’t believe how big the place was – we were there for 3 hours and didn’t even get to all the different floors. We all had a really good time and it was great to have a chance to catch up with Sarah and Dave and to see the kids. They have gotten so big since I last saw them – and they are so adorable!

I didn’t take any pictures at the Science Centre because I’m lame, here’s one that someone posted on Flickr. Hooray!

Ontario Science Centre: Plasma Ball


On a bus!

Just to mix things up, I’m on a bus instead of a subway today. Off to the Ontario Science Centre to meet up with Sarah and her fam. Because science. I haven’t been to the OSC in a while, but I do remember it being pretty awesome. Because science. I’m sure there will be a blog posting about our science-based adventures in the very near future! Because blogging!


Twelve Months of NTBTWK

While looking for old blog postings to link to on some of the postings I’ve been writing, I came across this meme that I did in 2010 and it seemed like a good time to do it again.

The idea is to post the first line of the first blog posting of each month of the year (and the name of each month is a link to the full posting). But I posting the first *two* lines of every posting, because that’s just the way I roll.


Tonight marks the end of my holidays – for tomorrow I head back to work. My clothes for work tomorrow are selected and hang waiting for me to put them on in the morning.


How, exactly, is it February? It seems like just yesterday I was finishing up my lovely restful Christmas holidays and *poof* it’s February!


Note: I wrote this posting on March 11 and totally thought I’d posted it (and I was wondering why no one had commented on it), but I just discovered it in my drafts, so apparently I had saved it rather than posting it.

Things have not been going well in the tank.


So the fine people over at Farm to Fork are in need of your help. Farm to Fork, for the uninitiated:

… began with a simple question: in a culture that wastes nearly 40% of all food produced, how do we connect the people who have fresh food to give to those who need it most?


I’ve long been absentminded, but I can now add “Professor” on to that, for, as you will already know if you are linked in to me on Linked In, I have a shiny new title to add to my resume: Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Health Science at Simon Fraser University.

Adjunct Professor, unlike the regular kind, is a title that signifies that one is associated with the university through their professional work.


Because I am crazy, I decided to sign up for a half marathon that occurs on the only weekend I have off in a month1! Yet despite the fact that I am robbing myself of my only chance to sleep in for 32 days, I’m still pretty excited about a weekend trip to Tofino – which is beautiful.


Don’t you just love when a holiday falls on a Monday? And don’t you extra super duper love it when it falls on a Monday and the entire long weekend has been super hot and sunny?


Apparently my blog was down for a bit – I think leprechauns got in the tubes and messed thing up, but thankfully, unlike me, Kalev, the Tsar of the Geekery and Overseer of Deb0rking is not on vacation from overseeing the necessary deb0rking and my blog was returned to its fully functioning form, just in time for me to write a quick blog posting from Ireland!

I’m taking most of my photos on my real camera (as opposed to on my iPhone or iPad), so won’t be able to show you them here until I get home, as I didn’t bring my laptop and have no way of getting them off the SD card.


This is the first of a bunch of blog postings that I’ve been putting together from my trip. Rather than going through chronologically, as I’ve already done a quick chronology of the trip, I’ve done these more detailed postings by themes.


So it’s that time of year again – National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), the month in which bloggers blog every. single. day. I was seriously considering skipping NaBloPoMo this year, because omg so busy, but then I thought “how many years have I done NaBloPoMo?” and it turns out the answer is the last FIVE YEARS.


Yesterday I totally wrote and posted a blog posting about how I’m going to do National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) again this year, for the sixth year running. It was a fairly reasonable sized post and I put the NaBloPoMo badge into it and everything.


So I posted for 29 of 30 days in National Blog Posting Month (missing the full completion only because of a technical glitch)… and then disappeared for a week. Typical.


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:

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 []



As you are probably aware, I’m a huge nerd. One of the manifestations of my nerdery is a love of spreadsheets1,2. I love tracking things3 and calculating stuff and generally being organized. In addition the many and varied spreadsheets I have at work, I also have a number for me personally4. And now I’ve made a spreadsheet of all my active spreadsheets. So meta.

  1. See: my previous blog posting. []
  2. One of my big pet peeves is people not knowing how to use Excel. And I’m not talking about using advanced features of Excel, but just the basic stuff like the fact that Excel can do math for you. I think one of the most useful things in the introductory stats class that I teach is how to use Excel. []
  3. Of course, I use other things to track besides just spreadsheets – like Runkeeper to track my running and biking, and Time Edition to track time spent on school. []
  4. I also have a number of inactive spreadsheets, either because they have outlived their usefulness (e.g., tracking student loan payments, but my student loans are now all paid off) or because I’ve been delinquent (e.g., budget). []