Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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My 21st birthday is old enough to go out drinking

40 anos UniritterSo today I turned 401. It seems pretty hard to believe because I don’t feel a day over 26 and I’m pretty sure I don’t look a day over 35! But the calendar tells me that it was, in fact, 40 years ago that I came into this world. I’m so lucky that it’s 2017 and we have the technology to keep people of my advanced age alive!

Birthday festivities started on Monday when some co-workers surprised me with a birthday cake and diet Pepsi (clearly, my co-workers know me well!). I was lured to this surprise by a meeting invitation, so I showed up ready to talk about the health care IT adoption and instead was greeted with singing and cake! Yesterday, my team took me for a delicious sushi lunch! Last night, birthday wishes started coming in from friends who live in the future (i.e., Australia and Japan), where it was my birthday already.

Today I treated myself by not having to set my alarm, since I have today off. I woke to find a bunch of birthday wishes from my Ontario peeps, who also live in the future (just not as far in the future as Australia or Japan) – including the first ever text that I have received from my mom! I spent a leisurely morning enjoying coffee and some French toast and then did some planning for the birthday party I’m having on the weekend. As per my usual party MO, there will be enough food for at least three times as many people as will actually be at the party.

Right now I have some tradespeople installing some new shower doors on my tub, since the ones I had previously got broken2, so I guess my birthday present to me is that I will no longer have to take showers with a cheap shower curtain duct taped to the frame of the old shower doors. #Adulting The cats are trying to decide if they are more curious or scared by all the noise – Watson has just come out from under the bed, where he’s been since they got here, so I guess curiosity is winning. Crick ran under the bed at first but soon came out to see what was going on, though she’s tending to stay close to me. Ooh, and just as I was typing that last sentence, one of the tradesmen ripped a piece of paper packaging and Watson bolted back to the bedroom!

Tonight I have not one, but *two* hockey games to play, which makes me a happy camper. And my new boy is coming to watch my hockey games, also making me a very happy camper indeed!

All in all, although I am a less than 14 hours into this whole being 40 thing, I don’t think it’s quite as bad as I was thinking it would be – but probably because I still kind of don’t believe it’s true!

Image Credit: Posted by Thainá Gaieski on Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

  1. For my American friends, the legal drinking age here in BC is 19, so my math in the title is actually correct. In two years, my 21st birthday could go down to Seattle to go drinking. []
  2. For the record, it was not me who broke them! []

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Goodbye Grandpa

My grandpa died today. He was 94 years old – would have been 95 in March. He had family with him when he went and my mom tells me that the care providers at the facility he lived in, despite having only been there a few weeks, knew him and were very kind to him and to my family. It’s always hard when someone dies, but at least when they are 94 years old you can say that they had a good long life. And he wasn’t doing well of late – hence having moved into a care facility that could take care of his increasing health needs – so I am grateful that he didn’t have to experience prolonged suffering.

When I think about my grandpa, I usually think of him as being about 65 years old (despite that actually being 30 years ago!). I remember going out tobogganing for his 65th birthday. The whole family, laughing and careening down the hill on our various types of toboggans. All wearing orange and white toques with the Howard Johnson logo on them1, as that was where my grandpa worked at the time. I also remember eating venison that he’d hunted. And the jokes he would tell. And drinking tea at my grandparents house. I have a duck that he carved – a male buffelhead to be specific – in my home office, next to my Dad’s french fry cutter and one of my Granny’s china tea cups.

I didn’t get to see my grandpa when I was in Ontario for the holidays. A combination of a short trip, bad weather, and being sick (and not wanting to bring germs into a facility full of frail elderly people) kept me away. The last time I saw my grandpa was the previous year, on Boxing Day, at my Aunt Wendy’s house, watching World Juniors hockey. He loved hockey, as do many in my family, including me, so it’s a nice memory to have to add to a lifetime of other memories.

You will be missed, Grandpa.

A duck my grandpa carved

A male buffelhead carved by Des Snow.

  1. I also remember these Howard Johnson disposable toothbrushes my grandparents used to have at their place – they had some sort of powdered toothpaste in the brush so you just had to add water and brush. I thought they were pretty cool. []

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Goals for 2017

I’ve been hemming and hawing about what to do about my goals for 2017. I typically do a lot of the same things – earn a certain number of race medals, knock a certain number of items off my 101 list, and perennial favourite goal that I never manage to achieve (run a sub 2-hr half marathon), but given my abysmal performance on my 2016 goals, I’m wondering if I should shake things up? I do have my three things that I’m not prepared to blog about just yet (two of which lend themselves to goals) brewing, but since, as you may remember from earlier in this sentence, I’m not prepared to blog about them, I can’t really set them as publicly stated goals on my blog, now can I? #VagueBlogging. Wait. Unless I write #VagueBlog goals (and then I’ll have to write myself a private note somewhere else as to what those actually mean!). Of course, this plan means that I’ll officially be the most annoying person ever for the 7 people who actually read my blog1. So perhaps I’ll write some specific ones and some vague ones and I can either fill those vague ones in once I’m prepared to blog about such things, should I become prepared to blog about such things at some later point in time.

OK, here goes:

New goals:

  1. Learn 12 new things (1 per month). They can be small things, but just something I didn’t used to know!
  2. KonMari my condo. Just started reading Marie Kondo’s book on organizing and I think it’s worth giving it a try.
  3. Do yoga at least 2x per week (either at home or in a class). I think I’ve done enough stretches to rehab my injured hip and it’s time to work on building up my strength and flexibility.
  4. Establish a weight training program and actually do regular weight training, where “regular” = at least 2x per week for at least 3 out of 4 weeks per month. Building up my strength should also be helpful to prevent re-injury (not to mention improving my running (when I get back into it) and hockey!)
  5. Get back to journalling regularly (where “regularly” = once a week).
  6. Travel somewhere awesome. Haven’t made any vacation plans yet this year. Need to get on that!
  7. Get gum graft surgery done. I’ve been putting it off – I should just bite the bullet it and do it already!
  8. Get a Nexus card. Been meaning to do that for a while.
  9. Send an actual physical birthday card on time to all my family members and close friends. Step 1 will be to make a list of when everyone’s birthday is!

Classic goals:

  1. Bring my lunch to work 80% of the time.
  2. Complete the 100 push up challenge. See above re: getting stronger!
  3. Submit 5 papers for publication. I have one that is almost ready to go and another one that I’ve done a lot of the research for (plus I have someone who said they are willing to read it and provide suggestions for me), so then I just need to come up with 3 more!
  4. Read 17 books.
  5. Make 17 new foods and/or drinks that I’ve never made before.
  6. Write 117 blog postings!

Vague goals:

  1. Finish the plan for mystery thing #1.
  2. Finish the letter of intent for mystery thing #2.
  1. If you are one of those people and actually want to know what the hell I’m talking bout, feel free to email me 🙂 []

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Happy New Year!

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Nerd Stats 2016

Another year goes by, another row gets added to my table of nerd stats. The stats for 2016 are up until the time of publishing this (i.e., on the afternoon of Dec 31), because I’m going out for NYE tonight so won’t be sitting around counting up the remaining nerd stats. Except for the # of blog postings – I have included this one plus one more that I’ll post after this for a total of 116 – the exact number of my goal for this year.

Blog postings Tweets1 Visits to my blog Average number of blog visits per day Busiest day on my blog
2008 423 2,227 32,410 93 Sept 26, 2008 (460 views)
2009 357 1,815 45,153 126 July 25, 2009 (1,181 views)
2010 344 2,302 44,689 122 Feb 9, 2010 (233 views)
2011 380 3,625 60,560 166 Oct 10, 2011 (374 views)
2012 201 875 63,844 175 Feb 13, 2012 (350 views)
2013 213 945 46,665 128 Sept 4, 2013 (721 views)
2014 91 910 33,948 93 Mar 7, 2014 (208 views)
2015 118 800 34,930 96 Nov 23, 2015 (512 views)
2016 116  812  51,549  141 Jan 29, 2016 (13,968 views)
% change from 2015 -1.7% +1.5% +47.6% +46.9% +2,628%

My amount of blogging and tweeting were pretty much the same as last year, but blog views were substantially above 2015, predominantly due to a record breaking nearly 14,000 blog views on Jan 29. Almost all of those were views of a small posting I did back in 2010 about the fine print on a can of Red Bull. I haven’t the vaguest idea why.

  1. 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 2017″ posting when you think “how the hell did I figure out how many times I tweeted in a given year??” []

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How did I do on my 2016 goals?

Abysmally.

I blame the illnesses and injuries that plagued me this year for hampering me on many of my goals, since I set a lot of physically activity related ones. I also didn’t achieve my goal of paying off 16% of my original mortgage principal, but that one was actually a deliberate choice as I’ve diverted money that I would otherwise have put towards mortgage lump sums payments towards a different opportunity #VagueBlogging

Failures include:

  • Run a sub-1:50 half marathon. My immune system going on holidays for three months prevented me from training and then my sprained ankle and hip bursitis made sure this didn’t happen!
  • Run/bike/swim 1000 km. See above. I’m cringing just thinking about checking my Runkeeper account to see how few kms I actually covered this year… OK, I looked…418.3 km. I didn’t get out on my bike even one time this year and I haven’t run since August1!
  • Run a triathlon. See above again.
  • Add 6 new medals to my collection. See above yet again. I achieved 50% of this goal, as I got a medal for each of the Hot Chocolate Run, the BMO Marathon Relay, and the Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon.
  • Complete the 100 push up challenge. See above yet one more time!
  • Bring lunch to work 75% of the time. I actually don’t know if I achieved this or not because I forgot I was to track it after I returned from my trip to Australia. At that time I was at 73.86% of days where I brought my lunch to work. It’s possible that I actually did achieve this goal, as I did bring my lunch a fair bit of time in the remainder of the year, but since I didn’t track it, I can’t be sure so I’ll have to chalk this one up as a failure.
  • Lose those last 5 lbs that I gained during my MBA. Given my inability to be physically active for most of this year, I had to really pay attention to what I was eating to just not gain weight. So I’m taking the fact that I weigh the same today as I did on this day last year as a success (though not as an accomplishment of the goal, of course).
  • Pay off 16% of my mortgage principal. As mentioned above, I made a deliberate decision to divert money I was going to use to do this to a different opportunity, so I’m OK with not having achieved this goal. I did manage to pay off 11% of my original principal, or 14% of the principal I had remaining at the start of last year – and I have less than 15 years to go on the mortgage – so that’s pretty reasonable.
  • Complete 16 items from my 101 list. Fail.
  • Paint a room. Also failed. I still want to do this though. Maybe next year.

The goals I did actually manage to accomplish were:

  • Submit at least one article for publication. My sister and I submitted a paper together. Now that I think about it, I should probably check in on that as it’s been quite some time and I haven’t heard anything about it. I also have another paper that is 97% done – just needs a few revisions before I can submit it – I must check in with my co-authors on that one in the new year too!
  • Get screeched in. Success! In related news, screech is terrible, terrible rum.
  • Make 16 new food or drink items that I’ve never made before. Also a success!
  • Write 116 blog postings. (Or, I will have once I post this, plus the other two postings that I have half written and intend to finish before I go out for the evening.)

And I’ve just noticed as I”m writing this that I didn’t actually set 16 goals for 2016 like I thought I did. I apparently skipped #9 and #10 in my list, so I only set 14 goals! Gah! If I include my goal of reading at least 16 books in 2016 (which I set on my Goodreads page), I can say I accomplished 5/15. Sad!

  1. I did actually run for the bus last night and it was the first time in forever that I could even run for the bus without it hurting. Hooray for progress! []

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Year in Review 2016

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was mostly the worst of times, but there was some good stuff in there too.

The worst of times1

On a global scale, the US election makes 2016 the worst. I probably don’t even need to say anymore than that. Also, Brexit. Also also, all the celebrities dying2.

On a personal level, I was sick and/or injured for (and this is not an exaggeration) about 3/4 of 2016. I started the year with a horrible cold that led to the 100 day cough, followed by food poisoning, followed by zombie eyeball disease. I also seemed to have developed seasonal allergies, which I’ve never had before. I was OK from mid-March until mid-June (that was my 3 months of health for the year), when I sprained my left ankle and then got bursitis in my right hip from running on the apparently not fully healed ankle. The bursitis was eleventy billion times worse than the sprained ankle and all the people who told me that I probably shouldn’t run a half marathon on my very tight hip will fortunately never let me forget that I should stop making such poor life choices. And just to put a nice bookend on my year, I caught a cold on my last day in NYC3. My mailbox got smashed, which means I have to go across town to pick up my mail for the next month and my glass shower doors got smashed, which are going to cost me a fortune to replace.

The best of times

This was an outstanding year for me for travel, as I completed my quest to visit all 10 Canadian provinces with a trip to St. John’s in June, I knocked 3 travel-related items off my list of 101 Things to Do, visited two continents that I’ve never been to before and, most impressively if I do say so myself, went somewhere that Dr. Dan has never been before4!! As part of this travel, I got to visit the easternmost points of both North America *and* Australia, I have officially been to both ends of the Trans-Canada Highway, and I visited an above average number of lighthouses.

My mom and my niece visited me in June, which was pretty super fantastic.

There’s also been some potential progress recently on three things that I’m not prepared to blog about just yet #VagueBlogging. You’ll either hear about them in my 2017 year-in-review blog posting or they will amount to nothing and I won’t even remember what I’m referring to when I read this posting this time next year.

My hockey team won our divisional championship at the end of the 2015/16 season, which was awesome, but then the team folded for the 2016/17 season because we couldn’t get enough players to come back. Which really seems to sum up the year. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

In conclusion, F – -, would not 2016 again.

  1. OK, it wasn’t actually the “worst” of times. That was hands down 2006. []
  2. Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, George Michael, Prince, David Bowie, Alan Richman, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Leonard Cohen, and Muhammad Ali, to name a few []
  3. On a happy note, while my throat was wicked sore on that last day in New York, it felt substantially better the next day and the cold has persisted as mostly a runny nose, some sneezes, and a slight scratchy throat, which I take to mean that my immune system is actually geared up to be functional for 2017. []
  4. Dr. Dan being one of the most travelled people I know []

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What’s Been Amusing Me in the Twittervese Lately

It’s been a year and a half since I shared my favourite tweets, so I figured it was time to check out what’s been amusing me in the Twitterverse.

Given the year that was 2016, quite a few of my favourites were related to politics:

NDT

Trump's scientific paper

Trump trauma

$900M debt

comparison

Qualifications aren't a thing

For some of the politics ones I feel like I need to provide context, as they might seem quite nonsensical without it. Like this one in response to then-candidate for the Republican nomination Ben Carson’s claim that the Egyptian pyramids were built to store grains, rather than to bury pharaohs:

Pyramids

At the Republican national convention, Melania Trump gave a speech in which she plagiarized a speech by Michelle Obama. When Donald gave his speech, this guy made this pithy remark:

plagiarism software

The next two are related to people’s responses to Trump’s misogynistic comments related to how he can sexually assault women and they just let him because he’s famous; many politicians and pundits said things like “as a father of a daughter, I am offended” or “as a husband of a strong women, I am appalled”:

Women are people

This next one collides politics with another thing that happened in 2016: the fact that there were a reboot of the Ghostbusters movie with all female leads (and people got all pissed off about that):

Rebooting the Clinton administration

Shortly before the election, someone smashed Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame1 and this was George Takei’s response:

Horcuxes

In response to Russia’s interference in the US election:

Russian election hacking

And in probably my favourite of all the political tweets was this one that came during the second presidential debate. Donald Trump, in one of his examples of islamophobia and racism, was ranting about Muslims being terrorists and how Muslims need to report people whose behaviour is suspicious, and, in reference to earlier in the debate when Donald was menacingly standing behind Hillary Clinton on the debate stage, was this brilliant tweet:

report

Moving on to less political things, there were a few hashtags that amused me, including #scienceamoviequote:

#scienceamoviequote 5
#scienceamoviequote 4
#scienceamoviequote 3
#scienceamoviequote 2
#scienceamoviequote 1

and #HarperAirport (when it was proposed that Calgary airport be re-named after the much loathed former Prime Minister Stephen Harper):

#HarperAirport

That last one refers to these really terrible radio ads the Conservatives ran during the election that said Justin Trudeau was “just not ready” to be Prime Minister.

This next one refers to Bill C-51, an “anti-terrorism law” that gives the government sweeping powers to invade people’s privacy that was brought in under the Harper government:
#HarperAirport 2

A tonne of my favourite tweets over the past year and a half have come from the account “Shit Academics Say”:

preetenure

Shit Academics Say 5

Shit Acadmics Say 3

Don't bring anecdote to a data fight

Shit Academics Say 2

Don't bring anecdote to a data fight

to err

Shit Academics Say

A few have a feminism theme::

Female ghostbuster

So lucky

And several have cats in them:

helper cat

Drunk Pickles

bread tag kitty

Hockey cats

Kitty

Office cat

And then there is a whole bunch of random stuff:

stress reduction

wrong park

fully support

For the record, I have *no* idea what campaign that tweet refers to. Dr. Dan, do you remember?

bacteria-free

There is no cloud

80s playlist

10,000 characters

cheques
spanx

the new

Twitter expansion

Email filter

Assertive

meeting fail

muffins v cupcakes

1 v 0.78

science

Cat video calls

White chocolate

Calling her bluff

Life imitates art

Microsoft Edge browser

Proportional lineups

Outrage

Cat kisses

I quite liked Jen’s response to this tweet of mine (see below):

Luna Park

Luna Park reaction

Video calling software

Safe does not equal comfortable

Cistrionics

Mr. Pepper

Flu shot

Homeopathy

Neuroscientist's dread

economics

And this one was fun because my friend Cath was reading the interwebs one day and discovered I was internet famous:

My quokka buddy and I are famous

And there’s even a few of my own that I favourited, because I amuse me (and I didn’t want my best tweets to disappear into the bottomless pit that is Twitter and my terrible inability to remember stuff)

First, one that would only appeal to nerdy scientists who also like Pokemon (so, basically, only me and Cath):

Schrodinger's Pokemon

Then there’s one I thought hilarious and apparently at least one other person agreed:

BMDK

And finally one that I tweeted, but was actually a quotation from my sister, so she get the credit of the hilarity of this one:

Hockey as described by my sister

  1. Aside: I can’t believe Trump had a star and Carrie Fisher didn’t! []

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Items I Knocked Off My List of 101 Things To Do List

I set a goal to knock 16 items off my 101 things to do in 1001 days list during 2016 and while I failed spectacularly at doing that, most of the 5 things that I did were pretty awesome. In level of increasing awesomeness, they were:

21. Get rid of the fake trees my condo’s previous owner left on my balcony

This one wasn’t awesome, but I am glad to have it done. When I bought my place, the previous owner left these gaudy fake trees in extremely heavy pots on my balcony, claiming they were part of the condo because they were tied with twine to the balcony railing. They were ugly and they took up valuable room on my balcony, but the aforementioned extremely heavy pots stopped me from getting rid of them until I got a message from my strata that they would be power washing all the balconies and everything had to be taking off our balconies during that time.

35. Go for a ride in a float plane

I spent some time on Salt Spring Island this year and on one of the trips, I took the float plane back so that I could spend one extra night there and then just fly into Vancouver for work in the morning. Super fun.

47. Go to Newfoundland

Visiting my 10th of 10 Canadian provinces was a milestone this year. Not that many people can say that! Plus I went to an awesome conference and got to hang out with my sister!

43. Go to NYC

I <3 NY. We had such a good time and now I want to go there again!

37. Present at a conference at an international location (not including USA)

Definitely the highlight of the year was my trip to Australia! The conference was fantastic and I really enjoyed all the places that I went!

So while I didn’t knock a large quantity of items off my list, I’d say that the quality of the ones I did do were A++.

My current 101 things to do in 1001 days is slated to end on April 9, 2017 and I’ve only achieved 34 (!). I should probably take a hard look at the remaining items to see which ones I can feasibly do in the next 3 months. Surely I can do better than 34/101!

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New Foods I Made in 2016

Like my book goal, I managed to achieve my goal of making 16 new food items that I’d never made before – in fact, I surpassed my goal by 1 item.

1 Cream puffs 28-Feb-2016
2 rice krispie easter nests 24 Mar 2016
3 Asparagus and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts 14-Apr-2016
4 breaded zucchini 9-May-2016
5 macroons 14-May-2016
6 macarons 23-May-2016
7 sauteed garlic scapes1 16-Jun-2016
8 crushed salt & vinegar potatoes 17-Jun-2016
9 BBQ’d country style pork ribs 25-Jun-2016
10 grilled zucchini, green onion, and lemon salad 25-Jun-2016
11 fig sauce 24-Jul-2016
12 blueberry jam 24-Jul-2016
13 apricot jam 24-Jul-2016
14 garlic parmesan breaded chicken breasts 24-Jul-2016
15 chirizo stuffed zucchini 1-Aug-2016
16 chicken schnitzel 10-Oct-2016
17 banoffee pie 25 Dec 2016

Taking up canning this summer helped my cause, as I made three things with my new canning set: 2 successful jams and one failed jam that was re-imagined as a sauce2. I also see a trend of making breaded things, with three different kinds of breaded chicken and one breaded vegetable making the the list.

My favourites of all the things on this list are macarons (super time consuming, but so delicious) and the crushed potatoes.

Garlic scape

Why did no one tell me that garlic scapes were a thing before 2016?

  1. Also BBQ’d garlic scapes on June 25, 2016, but didnt’ think it was different enough from sauteed ones to count as a different item. []
  2. Note to self: next summer, try making raspberry and blackberry jam, jalapeño jelly, pickles, and canned spicy green beans! []