Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Mindfulness

Remember that time I said I was going to focus on mindfulness and then promptly forgot about having said that?  Well, fast forward more than a year and I saw an article in the newsletter at work about how they were looking for participants for a study on if mindfulness-based stress reduction affects well-being and ability of people in healthcare to do their jobs. Basically, you get free mindfulness classes for two months1 and fill out some surveys along the way, plus a work colleague fills out some surveys about you too. Since I’ve been interested in learning more about mindfulness (not to mention that I love of being a research guinea pig and getting stuff for free), I signed up. When I received the research consent form, I discovered that the principal investigator for the study is one of my favourite profs from b-school!

I first learned about the concept of mindfulness – if not the name – when I read the book Intuitive Eating, which takes the concept of mindfulness to the practice of putting food in your face. I’m much better about being mindful when it comes to eating and in a few other parts of life, but there are some times when I’m as far from mindful as you can get. I’m a fast walker and often find that I’ve gone from point A to point B without noticing a single thing along the way. I’m very goal-oriented – which I think overall is a great thing, but sometimes can lead to spending a lot of time thinking about the future at the expense of experiencing and appreciating the present. And I’m notoriously bad at remembering names – I’ll forgot the name of the person I’ve just been introduced to before the introduction is even over!

So, on Monday night, I had my first of eight classes on mindfulness. We learned a bit about the concept and did a couple of practices. First, we ate a raisin mindfully. It was an interesting experience – spending time feeling the texture, smelling the raisin, listening to the sound of it as you roll it between your fingers. And then, of course, the taste – so much flavour when you actually pay attention! Of course, you couldn’t eat like that all the time – it took us about 5 minutes to eat a single raisin, but it was a reminder that though I am more mindful when I eat than I used to be, I could still be a lot more mindful than I am.

Our second was a body scan – we spent about half an hour focused on breathing and paying attention close attention to each body part in turn. Since I was still pretty sore from Sunday’s half marathon, it was actually pretty cool do a body scan, as I found that it actually eased the pain in the part I was focused on2.

A big part of mindfulness is paying attention to your thoughts. But not in a judgmental way – just observing them. Being non-judgmental and patient are two of things we are supposed to be practicing, and I found it amusing just my body scan to notice when I was having a judgmental thought and attempting to be nonjudgmental about my judgmentalness3.

During class, the instructor gave us some homework – first we had to pick one thing that we would do mindfully for two minutes per day – I chose petting my kitties. But then she said we are supposed to do a 30 minute body scan every day! I mean, I know that practice is critical to actually getting results, but I was unprepared for an expectation of an additional 3.5 hours per week on top of the 2 hour class! I’m not going to be able to fit that into my schedule every day, but I’m going to attempt to do it more than half the time. I guess we’ll see how that goes!

  1. Which would usually cost several hundred dollars. []
  2. Research has shown mindfulness to be effective for pain relief. []
  3. See also: being patient with my impatience. []

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Half Marathon #12 – Crushed It!

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Me, pre-race.

I’m am *so* glad that I set a three-tiered goal for my BMO Vancouver half marathon because I am genuinely proud of my personal best finish of 2:02:24 (goal 2), despite not quite getting to a sub-2 hr finish (goal 1). In fact, when I thought about it after the race, I realized that I’m much happier with a 2:02 than I would have been with a 2:01 or 2:00:301. 2:02 is far enough away that I can’t kick myself for, say, slowing at too many water stations, but quick enough that I’m legit proud of it.

I started off the race quite strong (the 3 km downhill *really* helped) and was well faster than the pace I needed for a 2 hr finish, which gave me confidence that I would at least a have a shot at it. My strategy was to listen to my body and try to find a balance between pushing myself to do my best but not so hard that I would completely run out of gas or, worse, get injured. I started a mantra of “Run *your* race”, which I repeated to myself whenever I started to feel tired or sore or had to run up a hill or I got distracted by other people passing me. It worked surprisingly well to keep me balanced and keeping my legs pumping. I also would use it as a reminder to pay attention to my running form – stand tall and relaxed, hips over feet, arms pumping.;

I was on pace for the first half, reaching the halfway point at 59:07. But, though I’m in the best shape of my life, it wasn’t quite enough to keep up that pace for another 10.5 km. I started to slow. Muscles started to hurt. First it was a tight right calf. After I managed to loosen that up, it was a tight right glut that made my right knee angry. Then my right calf was all “heeey, don’t forget about meeeee!” Then there was a right shoulder thing, just to keep me in my toes because I’ve had a sore left neck for a few days, so wasn’t expecting right shoulder pain. But every time these things reared their ugly heads, I said “shut up body!” And then I’d refocus on form and say to myself “Run *your* race, Beth. Run your race.”

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Personal best.

As I got closer to the end of the race, I realized that I was slowing at a rate that was not going to allow me to finish in 2 hours. On my last walk break (I do 10 and 1s2 ), I saw that I was at 1 hr 50 mins and I had 2 km to go and I knew I was not capable of a 5 min/km pace, but then I though about my three-tiered goal, because I was able to say to myself “You knew that 2 hours was going to be a stretch – if I were sure that I could do 2 hours, it wouldn’t be a good enough challenge for my top goal. But I am going to make my personal best, as long as I continue to stay focused on giving this my all. And so why don’t I focus on making the best possible personal best that I can make right now.”

As I crossed the finish line, I experienced a roller coaster of emotions. I was glad I could stop running, because I was tired and hurting. I was happy with a personal best, but then as I took my medal from the volunteer, I nearly came to tears because I was sad and disappointed and mad at myself for not breaking two hours. But then I remembered that a personal best is a totally legit goal and this is the best I’d ever done. I gave it my all and that is worth being proud of.

After the race, I did some stretching, ate some post-race food, talked to some friends who I ran into after they finished the race, enjoyed a well-earned cappuccino, and then went to the finish line to watch Daniel finish his full marathon with a personal best 3:18.

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Another medal for the collection!

After a couple of weeks of recovery, I’m going to do a fitness assessment3, which will help me to construct a training plan to go after that elusive sub-2 hour half marathon finish time. I have you in my sights, sub-2 hours, and I’m coming after you in Montreal in September!

  1. Or, heaven forbid, a 2:00:01, which one of my colleagues did last year! []
  2. i.e., 10 min run, 1 min walk, and repeat for 21.1 km. []
  3. VO2max and blood lactate. []

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Watch me run!

Speaking of my upcoming half marathon, if you would like to follow along with my race on Sunday, you can do so through the magic of the internets!

Just go to: http://www.sportstats.ca/display-results.xhtml?raceid=25175 and enter my name.

There are four timing points that should show up in the “results” section of that page as I cross each of the timing mats: Start Line, 5.5km, 10.5km, Finish Line. The half marathon starts at 7 am Pacific Daylight Time, but since I’m in the third corral1, I won’t cross the start line until all the runners from the first (white & yellow) and second (blue) corrals go through.

I thought there was going to be a live video feed of the finish line, like they had at the Victoria marathon, but searching through the race website, I don’t see any mention of that, so you’ll just have to make do with seeing my results!

Or you can always come out and watch the race live. Here’s the route:

2015 BMO Vancouver Half Marathon route

Note the elevation map at the bottom: hooray for that nice long downhill at the start!

  1. The third corral in this particular race is called the “pink” corral. I’m not sure why it’s the “pink” corral, but I guess it at least matches my hideous, hideous running shoes. []

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Running Math

So it’s just 7 days until my next half marathon and I’m really not sure if I’m going to be able to achieve my goal of a sub-2 hour finsih. I’ve been far more diligent in my training since… well, pretty much since the first half marathon I ever ran. I completed all my hill runs. I’m doing my interval training. I did the long Sunday runs with my running club1. I feel strong and I have improved my pace, but I just don’t know if I’ve improved it enough to reach my goal.

I’m hoping to see this (or better) when I cross that finish line next week:

Image Credit: Posted by Adam Fagen on Flickr.

The thing with races, you see, is that you always run way faster on race day than you do when you are doing a training run. You aren’t even really trying to do it – you are just full of adrenaline and the energy of the crowd takes you away and you start running and you don’t feel like you are running that fast but when you check your pace, you are. When I ran the Hollywood Half marathon I was convinced that the 2:15 pace bunny2 was screwing up, because Alicia and I were way ahead of her and I was thinking “there’s no way we are running faster than a 2:15!” And then it turned out that we were – we finished in 2:09:57!

But the question is, just how much faster do you run on a race than during training? For example, the longest distance that I do in training is 20 km and my 20 km training run this time was 14 minutes quicker than my 20 km training run last June for Scotiabank. My finish time for Scotiabank last year was 2:15:05. Which begs the question: will a 14 minute improvement in my 20 km training run translate into a 15 minute improve on race day?

To try to figure this out, I turn to my old friend, Math. As luck would have it3, I have records of my 20 km training times for my last 7 half marathons (plus the finish times for my last 7 half marathons, of course). Now, I once swore to my MBA stats prof that I would always graph my data, so here’s a graph of said data:

The times are shown in seconds per km (rather than minutes:seconds per km) because despite all the awesome things that MS Excel can do, handling time values is not one of them. As you can see, my pace for my 20 km training time is not a good predictor of my pace on race day. On the plus side, my race pace is *always* faster than my training pace, but it has ranged from a mighty 1:15 per km faster (Scotiabank 2011) to a meagre 0:08 per km faster (Edge to Edge Tofino half marathon, of the horrible hills and knee injury infamy). I run an average of 0:46 per km faster on my races than my 20 km training runs, but given the aforementioned wide spread of the data, I wouldn’t take that average to be a good predictor Moreover, I hope it isn’t, because if I run my race next Sunday at 45 seconds faster than my 20 km training run, I’ll finish the half marathon in 2:13, which is despairingly slow.

Just to be sure that the graph wasn’t misleading me, I ran a linear regression analysis and found there is not, in fact, a statistically significant linear relationship between my 20 km training time and my pace time4. I even tried calling the Edge to Edge Tofino half marathon an outlier, so I could remove it from the data set, but there’s still no statistically significant relationship.

So, in conclusion, apparently my 20 km training pace is not a good predictor of how I’ll do next week. There’s just too many other facts at play I guess – whether I was giving ‘er on my training run or not, conditions on race day, whether the race route is insanely hilly à la Edge to Edge or a beautiful net downhill like Scotiabank5.

Something that Daniel taught me that he does with his races is having not just one goal, but a staged series of goals. If you only set a goal that you know you can achieve, then you aren’t going to have to push yourself to achieve it. But if you only set a goal that is really, really hard to achieve, you run the risk of not being able to appreciate what you do achieve because you didn’t reach that single, really tough goal that you set for yourself6. So I’m going to go into this race with three staged goals:

  1. a sub-2 hour half marathon – This is my ultimate goal. As described above, I don’t know if I will achieve this, but I don’t think it’s totally out of the realm of possibility7.
  2. a new personal best. My current PB Is 2:07:23, so I don’t acheive a sub-2 hr but I do better than 2:07:23, I willl be happy.
  3. finish. Even if I don’t set a new PB, it will still be an accomplishment to finish a half marathon. And given that this is my 12th half, I think finishing an even dozen of these races will be an accomplishment to be proud of.

Footnotes:

  1. Except for a few weeks where I have something else going on on Sunday morning, in which case I completed my long runs on my own at another time. []
  2. i.e., the person who runs at the pace that will result in finishing the race in 2 hrs 15 mins. Races have people like this for all sorts of different paces, so if you want to achieve a specific finish time, you can run with the corresponding pace bunny. []
  3. Where by “luck”, I mean, my nerdy habit of keeping records of everything. []
  4. I was hoping, before I started this, that I’d find a statistically significant relationship and then I could use the equation of the line to predict my finish time! Math, you have dashed my hopes! []
  5. Happily, next Sunday’s race route is also net downhill! []
  6. I’ve seen this happen before where someone sets a stretch goal and though they didn’t quite reach it, they really improved over their last race, yet they are sad at the end of the race and can’t enjoy the fact that they set a new personal best or took at a good amount of time off their previous race. []
  7. Unlike the last few times where I started training with a sub-2 hour goal, but wasn’t really diligent in my training and knew by race day that I would not be anywhere near that. []

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National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week

Did you know?

  • In Canada, you are 5-6 times more likely to need a donated organ than be eligible to donate one.
  • An organ donor can save up to 8 lives!
  • 230 Canadians die while waiting for an organ donation every year.
  • Although 91% of Canadians say they support organ donation, but only 44% have signed up to be a donor.

It is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, so I urge you to consider signing up to be an organ donor. When you die, you can’t take your organs with you, but you can prevent up to 8 people from joining you in death by the simple act of registering your intent to be an organ donor.

If I or one of my loved ones ever finds myself in need an organ transplant, I’ll be hoping that other people have made their desire to be an organ donor known. So it only seemed fair that I sign up to be an organ donor myself, in case I end up in the situation where I’m eligible to donate and my organs could save someone’s life.

I have two reasons why I feel personally compelled to spread the word about organ donation. First, when I played in the Longest Game of Hockey for CF, I learned a lot about cystic fibrosis, a disease that often results in the need for organ donation. And I met people who were only alive because someone had donated a set of lungs and I met people who knew that, at some point, they too would need an organ donation to keep them alive. These were all amazing individuals who deserve a chance to live their lives.

The second reason I feel compelled to promote organ donation was because of the comfort it gave to my family when we were able to donate my dad’s eyes after his death. Though my father died in the type of circumstance where he would have been eligible to donate organs (in hospital as a result of Neurological Determination of Death)1 and he had made his desire to be an organ donor know, he was unable to donate any organ other than his eyes because he had metastatic cancer and the risk was too great that the cancer could have spread to his organs.)). But he was eligible to donate his eyes and when we received the phone call from the Trillium Gift of Life Network asking for the donation, it brought us great comfort in a very sad time to know that my dad’s generosity would give three people the ability to see who would otherwise be blind.

In addition to the need for organ donors, there’s a need for blood donors. This is something that I struggle with because while I’m healthy and eligible to give blood, I’m a big baby when it comes to someone putting a needle into my arm and taking my blood. It’s not that I’m afraid of it hurting – I know that it doesn’t actually hurt that much at all. It’s just that as soon as the needle comes near me and I start to think about blood pumping through my veins I get seriously queasy. Like ready-to-vomit, curl-and-in-a-ball queasiness. And I get that even for a routine blood test where they are going to take just a tiny vial. The idea of sitting for an extended period of time while my blood pumps out of me long enough to fill up a giant bag… it really freaks me out. But on the other hand, people need blood! Donating blood is actually on my list of 101 things do do and Daniel has offered to go with me and donate too. National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week has reminded me that I really should get on that!

Sources of data cited in this posting:

  1. Apparently, only 1% of people actually die in the circumstances required to be able to donate. []

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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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Goals for 2015 – check in

A blog posting over on Rick’s blog reminded me that it’s the end of Q1 for 2015 and this a good time to check in on how I’m progressing on my 2015 goals!

My first 4 goals were running related:

  • run 2 half marathons – I’ve registered for (and am actively training for) the BMO half on May 3 and just today I registered for the half at the Rock’n’Roll Montreal in September!
  • run a sub-2 hr half marathon – I’m hoping to achieve this as-of-yet elusive goal at BMO, but if I don’t, I’ll just re-double my training efforts and try to do it in Montreal.
  • run 800 km – So far, I’ve run 236 km – or 29% – of this goal. And we are 25% of the way through the year, so I’m on track for this one.
  • add 5 new medals to my collection – The only races I’m scheduled to do so far are the two halfs, plus I signed up for this “virtual run”, because I’m totally addicted to race medals. I signed up for the Hot Chocolate 5 km and was really excited that I was going to get a hot chocolate-shaped medal… until I discovered that it conflicted with my hockey playoffs! So I gave my bib to a friend1 to run in my place. So I’ve got 3 medals lined up, but I still need to find two more medal-bearing races at some point during this year!

There’s a few goals on which I’ve made no progress (including the 100 pushup challenge, writing a will, applying for a research grant, organizing all my closets2 and losing the last 5 lbs of my MBA weight3.)

I’m well on my way to the goal of “pay off 7.5% of my mortgage principal”4, and I’ve made 14 of the 15 new food/drink items that I aimed to make in 2015! I’ve also completed 3 items from my 101 list (with 2 more items booked to be completed in the next 2 months), so I’ve at least made a dent in trying to knock 15 items off my list. I’m just barely achieving my goal of “Bring lunch to work more often than I buy lunch at work”, with having brought lunch on 53% of my workdays so far this year5. I’ve achieved “set up a new investment plan”, so it’s nice that I have one thing totally completed!

As for my goal of writing 115 blog postings, well, this one will only be my 14th blog posting this year! Yikes! It’s not like I have a lack of ideas of things to write about, but just that I never seem to find the time. Speaking of which, how exactly is it April already??

  1. Who shall remain nameless so as not to implicate said friend in having been a race bandit! []
  2. I didn’t even remember that was a goal until I just did this check in! []
  3. Though I seem to be holding steady where I am and can fit into a pair of jeans I haven’t been able to wear for quite some time! []
  4. I’m at 3.34% of my principal paid off in 2015 so far, and am planning to put my tax return and more of my teaching money towards it, plus the amount of principal I pay off with my regular payments. []
  5. I really need to improve on this one! []

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Watson’s Strange Obsessions

I think someone forgot to tell Watson that he’s a cat, as he is strangely obsessed with eating green vegetables. Cucumber is his absolute favourite, but he also likes lettuce, spinach, green beans, and asparagus. One time I had a container of small tomatoes in a variety of colours and he reached in and grabbed a green one and ran away with it1

Not only does he like these veggies, but he seems to prefer them to actual cat food. If I put out the cats’ dinner and then start making myself a salad, he will abandon his meal to come and beg for lettuce and cucumbers.

He also loves to watch me dry my hair. I’m not sure what he likes about it so much, but any time I dry my hair, he sits just outside the bathroom and watches intently.

His other obsession is with taking these things off my bed frame:

I’m not sure what these things are called, but they are little decorative knobs on the bed frame that are apparently just inserted into little holes in the bedframe:

For some reason, Watson just has to rip these things out of throw them on the floor. Just the other day I found five of them under my armoire2. I still haven’t found all of them, but at least those five are back in place… well, until Watson discovers I put them back and rips them out again. I fear I am fighting a losing battle on this one.

  1. Turned out that he didn’t actually like tomatoes, as he tried a bite but then left its squishy remains uneaten on the floor. []
  2. I went looking for them as there were more missing than I could find on the floor next to the bed. []

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Gimme Sympathy

Yesterday afternoon at work my throat started to get a little bit sore. Being a “walk it off” type of person when it comes to illness1, I had a cup of tea and figured that should fix me up. Went to a board meeting after work and then my salsa dance class.

This morning, I woke up with my throat burning like the fire of 1000 suns. But the thing was, I had a meeting at work where I needed to review some stuff with a governance group and I was on their agenda for 50 mins of their 1 hour meeting. And the only co-worker who could reasonable have covered this for me is away on holidays for spring break. So I dragged my sad little self into the office to do this meeting, update the documents we were reviewing to give back to them, and then came home sick2. On the way home, I stopped in at the grocery store to get some stereotypical sick person groceries:

My sad little grocery order

I ate some soup, drank some OJ, and then went to sleep for several hours. My kitties joined me for this epic nap, because they are such good caregivers. Or possibly because they just nap all day anyway – I’m not usually here during the day, so it’s entirely possible that this is how they normally spend their time.

For anyone who knows me, this is a monumental day, as calling in sick to work goes against ever fibre of my being3. And given how sore my throat is and how tired and weak I am at the moment, I might have to call in sick again tomorrow4. Two sick days in a row for me – I believe that is a sign of the end of times.


Me and my kitty caregivers

  1. A trait I inherited from my Dad, for sure. []
  2. When I mentioned to the meeting chair, who had commented that a few people weren’t at the meeting because they’d called in sick, that I was also sick, she said that something was going around the office, as tonnes of people have been off sick. Which was the first I’d heard about it! I thought everyone was just away for spring break! []
  3. Seriously I have – and I’m not even exaggerating – 6 months work of sick leave accumulated in my sick bank at work because I so very rarely call in sick… and my sick bank has been ported from each of my previous two employers, as all the health authorities in the area have portability of sick time and other things. []
  4. Which will really make me sad, as there is an ethics rounds presentation about a zombie apocalypse that I *really* want to go see at lunch tomorrow! []

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Random Things I’ve Been Thinking About in No Particular Order

Here are some things that are too long to tweet, but too short to make into whole blog postings on their own.

I like to be annoying

One of my favourite things to do when I play hockey is to screen the goalie. I like to get right in her way so she can’t see, which means that when one of my teammates gets the puck, they can take a shot and the goalie will have a hard time seeing it (and I’m also right there to pick up a rebound, should one occur). Obviously goalies don’t like this and they often call their defenceman to come and move me out of the way, which is, to their surprise, difficult, since I’m so little. My little size is misleading though, because they totally think they should be able to move me, but since I have a low centre of gravity, I’m harder to move than you’d think. Which then means there’s both me and the defenceman who is trying to move me screening the goalie. The more the goalie and/or defenceman expresses their frustration, the more I know I’m doing a good job, and so it only encourages me to do it more. Anyway, I recently realized that I have an office equivalent of this – arguing with one of my coworkers for the sake of arguing. Things we’ve argued over recently include (1) this study (which he holds up as a reason to not to go out running – and to warn me that I’m probably going to die when I go out for a run on my lunch (he also enjoys being annoying) and I provide a critique of the methodological issues with the paper that makes me question the conclusions) and (2) what time of day does “evening” start.

The Bus Lane Bandit

One of my other coworkers got his first ever ticket – it was for driving in a bus lane. He was in an area he’d never driven before and he didn’t notice the bus lane sign and he was very offended that the cop didn’t just let him off with a warning. I have now dubbed this coworker “The Bus Lane Bandit” and refer to this incident as his “crime spree.”

Google Translate

I am currently working on the revisions to a journal article for which one of the reviewers suggested a few papers that I might find helpful to refer to in my paper – and one of those articles was in French, which, of course, I can’t actually read (beyond some basic high school French I learned more than 20 years ago). So I put the paper through Google Translate and was mostly able to get the gist of the paper, but there were some obvious errors. One such error was Google’s translation of a subheading in the paper that read: “Rencontres après les entrevues semi-­dirigées”. Based on my understanding of the journal article, this should be translated to “Meeting after the semi-structured interviews”, as that section of the paper talked about a meeting that was held after the researchers conducted semi-structured interviews. Instead, Google translates it to this:

Which has a whole other connotation entirely.

Another error I came across in Google translate is its translation of “I love my cats” into French. If you ask Google to translate just “I love” it gives you the correct “j’aime”. “Je” means “I” and “aime” means love and since “aime” starts with a vowel, you replace the “e” in “je” with an apostrophe to get “j’aime.”

But when you ask Google to translate “I love my cats”, you get “Je aime mes chats”.

Why Google Translate gets it right in the first instance but not in the second instance is a mystery to me. And it doesn’t matter what word you put at the end of the sentence – you can ask it to translate “I love my frogs”, “I love my mom,” or “I love job”, it still gives you the incorrect “Je aime”1. It also gives you “Je te aime” instead of “Je t’aime” for the translation of “I love you.” WTF, Google?

Octopus!

And finally, I saw this over on The Bloggess’ blog and it is the coolest thing in the history of ever:

  1. And I did check this with Daniel, who speaks French, to make sure that this isn’t some weird quirk of the French language – it’s actually that Google is crazy. []