Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese


My Belated Halloween Blog Posting – Daenerys Targaryen Costume

So I have a slight reprieve from my crazy busy-iness, as the class I’m teaching is on Wednesdays and since next Wednesday is a holiday, I have two weeks to write my next lecture instead of the usual one1. So I figured that I should probably blog my Halloween costume before it gets so late that it’s completely ridiculous. I figure that posting about my Halloween costume on November 6 is only slightly ridiculous.

This year I decided to go as Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons. For the uninitiated – and, as I discovered on Halloween, there are a lot more of the uninitiated that I expected – Daenerys is a character in the Game of Thrones books/TV series. I figured she’s short and blonde, so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for me.

I searched Google images for inspiration and decided to go with this outfit:

Mostly because I already owned a flowy blue top, pants, and tall boots. That left me in need of a cloak, long platinum blonde locks, and some dragons.

The hair was relatively easy – I just went to the Halloween store by my office and picked up the “Medieval Princess Wig”, which was clearly designed to be a Daenerys wig as it’s the exactly right colour and styled in the exact right way, but they didn’t have the license to call it that.

The dragons were a little more challenging. I figured I could go to any toy store and find me some dragons, but apparently dragons aren’t the in thing right now, as they were hard to find. Eventually I found this guy – who Daniel’s 6-year-old daughter informed me is a character named Stuffy from the show Doc McStuffins2 – and bought three of them, because Daenerys is the mother of a trio.

The last thing I needed for this costume was the cloak. I couldn’t find anything in stores – either regular stores or thrift shops, so I decided to make one. I learned to sew by hand when I was a kid3, but I haven’t sewed anything save for a few stitches to hem something or fix a hole in an existing garment since high school. But I was determined, so I found some instructions on the Internets and headed off to Fabricland to find some material that would match my flowy shirt.

Now anyone who tells you that time travel is not possible has clearly not been to Fabricland recently. Stepping through the door, I found myself instantly in the early 1990s (i.e., the last time I set foot in Fabricland). I made my way through reams and reams of fabrics4 and found a fabric that was not only the exact perfect colour match to my shirt, but was also just the right weight and flowiness for a cape! And it was on sale! I also found a beautiful clasp that I could use to hold the cape on! So I took the fabric over to the counter where they cut it for you and after explaining to the salesperson that, no, I don’t have a pattern, I’m just using some instructions from the Internet (she was horrified by this idea), she cut my fabric for me and then pulled up a clunky device that held carbon copy sheets on which sheet wrote the details of my purchase (what fabric, what length) and gave me the original to take to the cash and kept the carbon copies for her records, I guess?

Daenerys Targaryen costume

Seriously, it’s 2015. I am shocked you can even buy carbon copy papers in this day and age! You’d think that in the last 20+ years they might have come up with some sort of app to track these purchases (and thus, their inventory), but no. Carbon. Copy.

Anyway, I was very excited to have a little sewing project! I don’t own a sewing machine, nor do I exactly know how to use one, so I sewed it by hand. It only required that I sew the two sides onto the main part of the cloak, sew the two pieces of the hood together, sew the hood onto the cloak (make some gathers as you do to make it nice and flowy), and then hem the whole thing. I actually kind of enjoy sewing by hand – it’s somewhat meditative – though on the night before I had to have my costume done to wear to work I ended up staying super late finishing it, and then I kind of wished I’d taken up Daniel’s mother’s offer to borrow her sewing machine! But I got it done and I was quite proud of it in the end. And I think once I’m done teaching this new course, I might come up with something awesome to make that I can wear more than just on Halloween!

Anyway, here I am in my costume at work:

Daenerys Targaryen costume

And here I am running an important business meeting at Daenerys Targaryen5:

halloween costume at work

And here’s a close up of my dragons, who somehow acquired some candy!

Daenerys Targaryen costume - my 3 dragons

I was surprised by how many people didn’t know who I was. I got a lot of “You’re Elsa!” – and I guess because Elsa has long blonde hair and wears blue, but Elsa wears one long braid and I had curls and a few little braids pulled back at the top. Plus I had dragons! There were also a few “nice costumes” said with a tone that belied the speaker’s thoughts: “Please don’t realize I have no idea who you are dressed up as!” But anyone who knows Game of Thrones knew who I was instantly, including a lady I walked by in the Broadway-City Hall Canada Line Station who yelled “Daenerys Targaryen!!!!” when she saw me. And that was just based on the hair, because I was wearing my coat at the time and my dragons were tucked away in my bag!

Now I just need to find an excuse to wear a blue cape again.

  1. I also have assignments to mark, but they are group papers, so I only have four of them and they aren’t too long. []
  2. According to Wikipedia, Stuffy is terrified of spiders (citation needed), so therefore he is very sensible. []
  3. My mom and my paternal grandmother were my teachers. []
  4. Which, truth be told, really made me want to make a bunch of stuff! []
  5. My colleague who was sitting across from me at this meeting thought this was too hilarious not to photograph. []


Stuff To Blog About, Should I Ever Get Time To Blog Again

Another day, another no-seat-on-the-Skytrain1. Since I again can’t do the reading that is really like to be doing now, I figured I’d start pecking out that list of blog posting topics that I mentioned yesterday many days agoonmy phone’s tiny, tiny keyboard.

In no particular order, here are some things I want to blog about when I get the time:

  • Review of my Polar M400 watch
  • My quest for the best “to do” list solution (titled: Much Ado About To Do)
  • Olga K
  • Don’t tell my hands, my achy breaky hands
  • The saga of my Irish marble ring
  • Comparing my training for the BMO half marathon to my training for the Montreal half
  • The Vancouver Rock’n’Roll 10 km
  • My Halloween costume2
  • My trip to Quebec
  • Alicia’s birthday dinner and Gelato 101
  • Medal inflation
  • Race medal Pinterest page3
  • VOKRA gift card fundraiser
  • The next installment in my Prime Minister series: PMJT!
  1. OK, actually another couple of days where I didn’t get a seat on the Skytrain. Or I did get a seat on the Skytrain but my brain was too tired to do real work, so I added things to this list. Or I jotted an idea or two on the list on my lunch break []
  2. I figure by the time I get around the writing any of these postings, Halloween will have come and gone []
  3. []


My brain is tired

The blogging dilemma – when you have no time to write, the ideas about what to write about come at every moment, but when you have time to write, you have writer’s block. Right now, I’m deeply in the former situation. And so I find myself typing this on my phone as I Skytrain to work, and even then it’s only because I didn’t get a seat on the train this morning so I can’t read the journal articles that I intended to read.

The reason for my extreme lack of time these days is the new course I’m teaching, which is taking up my every waking moment. Don’t get me wrong – I’m having an absolute blast teaching, but it is *a lot* of work to teach a class you’ve never taught before. There are lesson plans to create, lecture notes and slide decks to prepare, which means a *tonne of reading*1 (because, despite the fact that I’m teaching a topic that I’m an expert in, it’s important to be up-to-date on the literature, to read different ways that people present the same material so as to have a few ways to explain things because everyone learns differently, to think of different in-class activities that you can do because no one wants to listen to me drone on for three hours on a Wednesday night), guest lectures to book, emails to answer, and the marking. Omg the marking. During my MBA program I was reminded how annoying it is to hand in an assignment and then not get a mark back for several weeks and I vowed to improve my marking turnaround time2. And to be honest, I enjoy reading student papers and providing feedback. But actually giving a number grade on an assignment is not my cup of tea. I want to ensure that the grades are a fair representation of what the student has achieved, are fair across the different students, and are transparent to the students as to why they got the grade they did. And that’s a lot of work!
And all of this is on top of the fact that things are super busy at work, which means both long days and a tired brain by the time I get home and am able to work on my lecture notes and my marking.

Anyway, the point of this posting was not to whine about how busy I am3. The purpose was actually to jot down a bunch of ideas for future blog postings so that when I get through this crazy busy period and have some time to write, I’ll have ideas to write about. But now my Skytrain ride is up and it’s time to get to my day job. I guess that list will have to wait ’til next time. Which at this rate will probably be December :S

  1. Hence the aforementioned journal articles I wanted to read on the Skytrain this morning. []
  2. Which I’m happy to report I managed to significantly improve in the stats course that I teach in the January semester. []
  3. Or, at least, that wasn’t the purpose when I started writing it. []


Frogs Need Birthdays Too

Celebrating the kitties’ birthday got me to thinking about how I have no idea when the froggies’ birthdays are. I don’t know if they all share the same birthday or if they have different birthdays. And, come to think of it, I don’t even know if you are supposed to celebrate the day the frog eggs were laid as their birthday or the day that the eggs hatched or even possibly the day the tadpoles metamorphosed into frogs. They just don’t tell you such things when you adopt frogs!

So, I have made an executive decision to celebrate the frogs’ birthday on February 19, which was the birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus, the great mathematician and astronomer after whom Copernicus the Third, and his forefathers Copernicus and Copernicus the Second, were named after.


Also, I’m just realizing that I haven’t yet blogged about the recent frog tragedy at Chez Neige. A few weeks back at frog feeding time, only 3 frogs came out to eat. And, as we all know from the back of my car, I have 4 frogs. Now, the frogs are *very* good at hiding, so it was possible that perhaps one of the little guys was just having a snooze in the castle. Unfortunately, the fourth frog never materialized and so after a few days of only seeing 3 frogs, I ended up taking stuff out of the tank to make sure (s)he wasn’t hiding the castle or in one of the plants. And then I had to admit that the frog was MIA. I’m guessing that somehow, despite the lid being on the tank, the frog made a great escape (the lid doesn’t cover the entire area, as there’s some room between the lid and the filter cube in the tank, so it’s possible (s)he jumped out). Aquatic dwarf frogs can’t live more than 20 minutes out of water, so once a frog leaves the tank, that’s pretty much it for them. And there’s really two possibilities as to what happen to the froggy cadaver. Either I will find their dried husk under a piece of furniture at some later date or a kitty got a snack. If it was the latter, I wouldn’t blame whichever kitty it was – they are obligate carnivores, after all, and I don’t even know what would be a worse – slowly dehydrating to death or being devoured by a cat. I hope whichever way my froggy went, it was the less bad way.

Also, I have a bit of a conundrum as all the frogs had grown to be the same size, so I was no longer able to tell them apart. So I don’t even know which frog is missing and presumed deceased! So now I’m going to make another executive decision1 – RIP Raspberry. You are missed.

  1. Based solely on choosing the least creative of the 4 frog names. []


Happy 4th birthday, Watson & Crick!

UntitledThis blog posting in a couple of days late, as the kitties’ actual birthday was on Thursday. But I had an after work meeting on Thursday and by the time I got home I was too exhausted to do anything other than curl up with the kitties and watch some TV. I figured this was a good way to celebrate their birthday, since I don’t watch a tonne of TV, but they seem to quite enjoy it when I do, as it means I’m sitting on the coach for an extended period of time and so Crick can alternate between walking over me, kneading on me, and curling up on my lap and Watson can sit just out of arm’s length and meow at me that he wants me to pet him, which he alternates with sitting on the purple chair and watching the TV screen.

Also, I gave them their birthday presents:


I figured the tiger would be good for Watson, because he has stripes (and I sometimes call him “my little tiger”) and the lion would be good for Crick because she’s a solid colour (and I sometimes call her “my little lion”).

These seemed to go over better than last year’s catnip bubbles, which didn’t make bubbles.


Happy birthday, my sweet kitties!


Mon 13ème demi-marathon: Pas le résultat que je l’espérais, mais je suppose que si je vous écris ce titre en français il sonnera plus impressionnant

Translation of the title (assuming that Google Translate translated it correctly): My 13th half marathon: not the result I was hoping for, but I figure if I write this title in French it will sound more impressive.

I was hoping to have called this blog posting “Lucky #13” and to be writing about how I’d finally run the elusive sub-2 hour half marathon that I’ve been aiming for, but alas, it was not to be. In fact, I didn’t even beat my time in the BMO Vancouver half marathon in May, as I clocked in at 2:03:07 in yesterday’s race, compared to 2:02:24 in May.

Those 43 extra seconds, however, are likely due to the fact that I had to take a pee break during the race because I was waiting 45 minutes from the time the race started and when I actually crossed the *start* line. The race started on Pont Jacques Cartier (i.e., a really big bridge in Montreal), so the pre-race portapotties were just before you go on the bridge, so we went pee there and then had to walk eleventy billion miles to get to the corrals. I was in corral number 17 (of 26) – they put runners in corrals by speed, so the fast people are in the first corral, then the next fastest and so on. Daniel was in corral number 2, so we went up to our corrals about 10 or so minutes before the 8:30 am start time.

The first thing I noticed in my corral was The Flash, so naturally I asked for a selfie with him:


Then I spent 45 minutes looking at this:


Because that’s how long it took for all the runners in the corrals ahead of me to go.

Also, did I mention that it was eleventy billion degrees below zero? And I was dressed in a tank top and shorts because it was going to warm up to 21 degrees, so basically after waiting – did I mention? – FORTY-FIVE minutes!! I was frozen and I had to pee again!

UntitledSo I finally got to start running at 9:15 am, at which point I was so cold that I couldn’t feel my hands or my feet. It was really weird to be running and not be able to feel my feet! I contemplated whether I could run the whole race without stopping to pee, but I realized that I had to pee so badly that if I tried that, I wouldn’t be able to run as fast and I’d probably end up taking a pee break later anyway, so I should just stop at the first opportunity. I saw a bunch of people peeing in bushes in the first few kilometres, but then I saw a sign in some of the bushes that said “Beware – Poison Ivy”, so I decided to keep running until I found portapotties. At about the 4 km mark, I found some and went pee and I’m pretty sure that it took me 43 seconds (give or take).

After that, I felt much better – not only did I no longer have to pee, but I’d warmed up enough that my hands and feet had regained feeling. The next many kilometres I actually felt good – I was running at a good pace and feeling strong. I was using my Runkeeper app to tell me my pace1 every km, but because I’d taken a slight detour to the portapotty and also because GPS is imperfect, the pace it was reporting was a bit off – it would tell me I’d reached a kilometre about 200 m before I hit the kilometre marker. Which meant that the app was thinking that I had run further than I had and thus, was reporting a pace that was faster than my actual pace. Unfortunately, I suck at math in my head at the best of times, so I certainly could not figure out the correction required to know my actual pace while exerting myself on the run! However, since the app was telling me that I was a bit faster than my target pace for most of the race, I figured I was in the ballpark.

It definitely started to feel harder in the last third of the race and I knew from looking at the elevation map prior to the race that I’d be running up some hills toward the end of the race, including a big one in the last ~1km.

My mom, my sister, my niece, and my nephew had driven out to from Toronto to watch the race, as had Sarah & Dave and their kiddies from Ottawa; I knew they were intended to be at about the 19 km mark and I managed to see my family, who were on the far side of the road, but completely missing seeing Sarah & Dave et al, who were on the side of the road closet to where I was running! Seeing friendly faces in the crowd always gives you a boost when you are running!

The big hill, however, had the opposite effect. It was steeper and longer than I had envisioned based on the elevation map, so it definitely slowed me down, but once I caught my breath after cresting the hill, I decided that with just 1 km to go and being somewhere in the ballpark of meeting my goal, I would increase my speed as best as I could without dying and then sprint once I saw the finish line. So I did all that and when I got across the finish line, I stopped my Runkeeper app and looked expectantly at my time, thinking I was reasonably close to my goal. But much to my surprise, it said 2:03! Wtf? I really thought I was close, but it turned out I’d done worse than my run in May! Not by a lot, but still. This made my very grumpy, as all I could think was “I trained for 4 months to get slower. I should have just sat on my couch eating Doritos for the past 4 months!”

On the plus side, while I didn’t achieve my top goal – run a sub-2hr half marathon – I did achieve my consolation goal, which was to run my first half marathon where I don’t do 10 and 1s. So there’s that. And I suspect from the results of my second fitness assessment, that it was my insufficient zone 3 training that prevented me from achieving the elusive sub 2-hr half. I did do my zone 3 training after that assessment, but it was too little, too late. So at least I know for next time2

The way this race was set up, all the half marathoners and the full marathoners started together. Daniel started at 8:30 and, since I was told I should expect to start at 8:45, I expected to be done around 10:45, which would give me enough time to get my medal, my post-race food, and find my family and friends, and make way back to the finish line to watch Daniel complete his race around 11:45. However, since I started at 9:15, I didn’t finish until 11:18, which was not enough time to do those things, so I didn’t even get to see Daniel finish. He set a new personal best of 3:17, putting him 1 minute better than May but 2 minutes shy of his goal of a Boston qualifying time. So both of us were a wee bit disappointed in our results, though everyone else thought we were slightly crazy because our times were good.

After we managed to find our respective families/friends/each other, the next event was the kids run… I mean, the P’tit Marathon. Daniel’s kids and my niece ran this 1 km race – they all did really well and had a great time!

And also on the plus side: shiny new medal3!


It’s a big 25 because this was the 25th running of the Montreal marathon. And for the record, the green bit in between the 2 and the 5 is not a crocodile, as one of my coworkers thought upon first seeing the medal. It’s Montreal island, on which we ran a bunch of the race!

  1. As I’d lent my running watch to Daniel, because he forgot his at home. []
  2. I haven’t decided when my next half marathon will be. I’m registered to run the Rock’n’Rock Vancouver 10 km next month, and my tentative plan is to maybe do the Chilly Chase in January (assuming that next year’s medal is like this year’s, which was gorgeous and I was so sad i didn’t do that race once I saw the medal!), the Delta triathlon in the spring, run as part of a relay team for the BMO Vancouver marathon, and then maybe do the Scotiabank half? Or maybe some other half marathon that I haven’t done before? I’m not sure, but I am reasonably confident that I can say that I’ll do another half marathon in the near future. And in the far future, actually, as Sarah has us pencilled in for the Ottawa marathon in May 2017! Half marathons, I just can’t quit you. []
  3. The kids got s smaller version of this for their race too! []


And now we taper

It has been 14 weeks since I started training for the Montreal demi-marathon. BlissThis training has been quite a bit different than my previous training sessions. Differences include:

  • Over those 14 weeks, I’ve run all my runs straight through – no more 10-and-1s for me.
  • I’ve run the majority of my runs in my zone 1 heart rate zone and done a few zone 3 runs – though not nearly as many as I should have. And I’ve done some zone 2 (which is the zone I’ll run my race in) at the end of some of my long runs, but, as with zone 3, not really as much as I should have.
  • I’ve been alternating between two different pairs of running shoes

One thing that has been similar to my previous training session, despite using a different training plan, my weekend long runs have still increased in distance each week, save for a few recovery weeks where the “long” run got shorter. Yesterday, I ran my last really long run of this round of training – 20 km. Which means now the tapering begins!

Tapering is where you decrease the volume of running you are doing to allow your body to recover from the training you’ve done so that you are in tip-top shape on race day. You don’t get to slack off completely – the schedule I’m using calls for a couple of runs this week where you warm up for 10 minutes, run as fast as you can handle for 30 minutes and then cool down for 10 minutes. Next week it goes to 10-20-10. And next weekend my “long” run is 14 km – so less than this week’s 20 km by a fair margin, but still a long run to be sure!

As you can tell by the photo of my foot – yes that is a blister on top of a blister which has a blister inside of it! – my poor feet sure won’t mind running a fewer kilometers for the next two weeks!


Academically Promiscuous

It’s September, which means the start of the school year is upon us. This is, of course, rather meaningless if you aren’t a student, a parent of a student, or some sort of instructor… Now, don’t worry, I haven’t enrolled in any new degree programs ((I’m still sticking by my claim that I’m not going to do any more degrees!)). But I have picked up a new teaching gig.

As you know, I teach an online stats class at the Justice Institute, but that is offered in the January semester. I haven’t taught a face-to-face class since before I started my MBA and, honestly, I’ve been missing the in-person interaction with the students1. I really enjoy working with students – it’s so rewarding to be able to help them learn new things, to see the moment when a new concept or skill just “clicks” for them, when they start to connect what they are learning in class with things in their other classes or their work, and I always learn new things from my students too. So when the opportunity to teach a class that is in my exact area of expertise came up for this semester, I jumped on it!

As you also may know, I have three different alma maters2 and I’ve taught at two different post-secondary institutions ((UBC and the JI)). But now I’m adding yet another school to my repertoire, as the university I’ll be teaching at starting next week is Simon Fraser University. Now, you may recall that a few years back I got an Adjunct Prof title at SFU. In that capacity I’d done some grant writing with a colleague and supervised some practicum students, but this has been my first opportunity to teach a course3. And I’m pretty stoked about it.

So now the number of post-secondary institutions where I’ve taught has caught up with the number that I have degrees from! I know some academics who are academically monogamous (*cough* Dr. Dan *cough*), but apparently I am academically promiscuous.

Anyway, writing this blog posting has been a wee bit of a break from preparing my slides for next week’s class, but I really should get back to that! In the meantime, check out this adorable image that I found while looking for Creative Commons licensed or royalty-free images to put on slides4!

L'il Devil

Image Credit: Post on Flickr by Darren Bell with a Creative Commons license.

  1. While doing my MBA, I often thought about how, though I really enjoyed all the cool things I was learning, I kind of liked being on the other side of the classroom better! []
  2. McMaster – the best university in the history of universities! – for my BSc(Hons), University of Guelph  for my MSc, and UBC for my PhD and MBA. []
  3. This is the first time that they’ve needed an instructor in a class that I have expertise in where the class wasn’t during the day. I can only teach night classes, since my day job is, well, a day job. []
  4. For the record, the slide on which I’ll be putting this image is during the part of my class where I’m talking about group work and, in particular, the importance of having someone be a devil’s advocate, so you don’t get stuck in groupthink! []


Peak Centre Video

Hey, remember those times that I did fitness asssessments and found out that I have a respectable VO2max but I’m a wimp and getting wimpier? The place I did those assessments – the Peak Centre for Human Performance – recently shared this video from when they were on the morning news1 putting some newspeople through fitness assessments. So I thought I’d share this in case you were interested in seeing what it’s like2 ,3.

In related news, only 18 days until the Montreal demi-marathon!

  1. It was actually from spring 2014, but I hadn’t seen it before. []
  2. As per usual, I have no financial relationship with the company, other than when I pay them money for their services, of course! []
  3. The newslady is doing the VO2max and blood lactate assessment on the bike rather than running, but the basic idea is the same. []


New West Food Truck Festival

The donut race wasn’t the only blogworthy eating that I did this weekend. Saturday was the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest in New Westminster. For 6+ hours, Columbia St (a.k.a., right outside my front door) was lined for as far as the eye could see with 70 food trucks (plus 30 other “food outlets”1.) And the street was packed – it seemed like every truck had a line at least 15 people long and many much longer2. Apparently, an estimated 90,000 attended!

In addition to all the trucks, there was entertainment, like a “chalk zone” for kiddies to draw on the street with sidewalk chalk, dance lessons from a swing dance group, and not one but *two* busker tents hosted by the Arts Council of New West. As you may recall, I’m on the board of the ACNW and on Saturday I did my boardly duty of volunteering at one of the busker tents. Which basically meant being around the tent in case the buskers needed anything and mostly just enjoying the music. Here’s one of them – a father-daughter pair named Roland and Emma Nipp:

During my volunteer shift, I had my dinner #1 – an Australian meat pie from the Aussie Pie Guy3 Omg, that might just be the best meat pie I’ve ever eaten!

I had great intentions of photographing all my meals, which lasted exactly one photo:

Aussie Meat Pie. So delicious. new West Food Truck Fest.

At the end of my shift, Daniel and the kids showed up, and we went off in search of their dinner (and my dinner #2). There were sooo many options that it was hard to choose, but in the end Daniel got a pulled pork sandwich (I can’t remember from which truck) and the kids and I settled on some tacotinas (for the kids) and a burrito (for me) from Arturo’s. Next up was ice cream from Rocky Point Ice Cream, but I was too full to have any! The kids, however, seemed quite enjoy their salted caramel ice cream!

After that, we decided to head to my apartment so the kids could play with the cats and, much to my surprise, you could hear the music from the busker’s tent in my place. It was a clear as if they were performing *in* my living room!

In conclusion: A++. Would food truck again.

  1. I think that refers to the tables of farmer’s market vendors selling food stuffs that were also on the street. []
  2. Some of my friends waited 45 minutes at the Bannock Wagon to get some bannock. Mmmm, bannock. []
  3. As always, I have no affiliation with any of the business mentioned in this posting! []