Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Stuff I’m Learning This Year: Strength Training Edition

As you know, one of my goals for 2017 was to learn 12 new things – an average of one per month. First, I learned some basic toilet repair. Then I learned how to fold a fitted sheet. In that second posting, I alluded to the fact that I’m learning something else that required a bigger blog posting – well, this is that blog posting!

This goes back to the old time-y days of 2016, when I was injured so bad with bursitis that I had to walk with a cane for 2 weeks and I had to spend all of the dollars on physiotherapy for months so that I could walk again and I haven’t been running since then. When I was walking with a cane, one of my work colleagues told me that the best thing she ever did was after she got injured, when her physiotherapy was completed, she got a personal trainer. A personal trainer was able to help determine which of her muscles were weak and which were compensating for the weak ones and was able to give her an interesting exercise routine (as opposed to the super boring stretches you have to do when rehabbing an injury) that helped her get stronger so she wouldn’t get re-injured. And while I had made doing regular strength training one of my 2017 goals *and* I have a weight room in building in which to do said strength training, I spent the first two months of 2017 never lifting a single weight. And then I remembered that I suck at weight training because I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing when I walk into a gym – I need someone to tell me what to do1. And then I remembered that I don’t really do any exercise unless I have some external motivator2. And I also remembered that I dislike doing exercise if it takes much more than walking out of my front door to do it because I begrudge the time it takes to drive to a place to exercise and then drive back afterwards3 – it’s one of the reasons I like running! So I joined a gym with personal trainers that is about a block from my place. It meets my needs of being super-conveniently located, it has someone telling me what to do, and I’m externally motivated because I’m paying money for it (and I have to show up 3 days a week to follow my plan!). The place is called Strong Side Conditioning4

Strong Side ConditioningBut it wasn’t just the super-convenient location that convinced me to go to this place. I did a free assessment there where I got to learn about the gym and their business model, to go through an assessment and hear what a plan for me would be like, and to meet some of the staff5. The business model of the gym is that it’s sort of halfway between a gym membership and a personal trainer. With a regular gym membership, you would pay less but not have assistance in creating a plan or assistance with your training (like making sure your form is correct or helping you decide when to go up in weight or number of reps). With a regular personal trainer, you get all 1-on-1 training sessions and pay by the hour (and then maybe do some other training sessions totally on your own, following the plan they’ve created for you) – and the hourly rate is not cheap. At Strong Side, they come up with a training plan for you each month and at the start of the month, you get a week’s worth of 1-on-1 sessions to learn your exercises (in my case, I chose 3 days a week, so I got 3 training session to learn my 3 workouts) and after that you have 3 weeks where you drop into the gym at your convenience to do your workouts, but there are a bunch of trainers circulating to help you if needed. You record your workouts and the trainers can see how you are progressing and then they make up a new training plan for the next month and repeat.

I started on March 3, and so far I’ve had my three training sessions, and done four solo sessions. My assessment had shown that I basically use my diaphragm and my quads for everything and all my other muscles don’t do anything. So I’m working on releasing the tension in my ribs and quads and strengthening my everything else so that my everything else will stop being such a bunch of freeloaders. I do exercises with a variety of resistance bands, free weights, kettle bells, machines, risers, sliding thingys, and more, so I’m learning the proper form for all kinds of exercises and what muscles should be doing stuff during those exercises. There are always plenty of trainers around watching during my solos sessions to tell me if my form is right or needs adjusting and I’m already seeing some improvements (in that I can do more reps of some things and squat lower than I could two weeks ago). And the trainers I’ve met, which I think is most of them by now, are all really friendly and helpful and down-to-earth.

The only thing that I can say that I don’t like is that I wish they had longer hours – they open at 6:30 am on weekdays, so if I want to do a morning workout, by the time I get through my workout, go home and shower and get ready, and then head into Vancouver, I’m not getting to my office until about 9:30 am, which is a bit later than I’d like (and on many days, too late as I have meetings at 8 or 9 am). Similarly, they close at 9 pm on weekdays, which means that if I don’t want to have to rush through my workout, I have to get there by 7:30 pm, which can sometimes be difficult for me on a busy day. I get that the hours of operation are constrained by the need to have enough trainers around and it doesn’t make any business sense to have the gym open at 5:30 am and close at 11 pm on the off chance that I might want to be there extra early or extra late once in a while. All in all, having to get to the gym within their set hours is a small price to pay for what I’m getting out of my membership!

Anyhoo, so far so good. I’m sure I’ll blog more about my exciting strength training adventures as the year goes on!

Strong Side Conditioning

  1. Similarly, when I’m running, I always have to be training for a race, because I need a plan to follow as without one, I can’t seem to make a simple decision, like how often I should run or how far should I run on a given day. []
  2. Unless it’s hockey, but that doesn’t count because it’s so fun in and of itself that I don’t even think of it as exercise. []
  3. Again, hockey excepted. []
  4. As always, I haven’t been paid to blog about them, nor have I even talked to them about the fact that I’m writing a blog posting – I am blogging about them because I like them! I’m actually paying lots of money to go there! lol! []
  5. I also did a free assessment with a personal trainer whose gym is literally across the street from my office (Did I mention I need something conveniently located?). He seemed nice and all, but he charges by the hour for training sessions, so it would work out to a lot more than Strong Side (though in the end I’d get less service) – I liked the business model of Strong Side better and I clicked more with the staff. Also, the trainer near my work said he was a Philadelphia Flyers fan and said “I have to have a Canadian team too, so I’m a Leafs fan.” I’m not saying that I decided I couldn’t work with a Flyers/Leafs fan – but I’m not saying that I could. []

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Stuff I Learned This Year: Folding Edition

One ofmy goals for 2017was to learn 12 new things – an average of one per month. In January I learned some basic toilet repair. In February I learned nothing. Ok, I probably did learn some stuff, butjust stuff that I would have learned anyway even without this goal (I learn new stuff at work all the time – it’s sort of the nature of my job). So to make up for it, I’m going to learn two new things in March. I’ve already started on the second thing – it will be a longer blog posting on another day (and it’s way more interesting than the thing I’m about to talk about). But tonight I decided to tackle learning how to fold a fitted bedsheet! Usually I just sort of roll it up and stuff it in apillowcase with the much more nicely folded flat bedsheet (and then leave it on the bed for the cleaning lady to change the sheets). And I usually do this on the morning of the day the cleaning lady is coming (and up until that day, the sheets have been sitting, unfolded, in the “clean” laundry bucket mixed in with all the other laundry I haven’t bothered to fold. Because I have more interesting things to do in life that be a responsible launderer. But then it’s always kind of bugged me that I was being shown up by fitted bedsheets. Surely I could master folding those things right? And on those rare occasions when I actually did fold my laundry, I’d end up with a big lumpy pillowcase in my linen closet. Boo-urns. So tonight I decided to actually just learn how to do it.

I followed these instructions from the Internets and lo and behold, I have folded a fitted sheet! It might not be perfect, but this isthe best folding job I’ve ever done (and probably will ever do!) when it comes to fitted sheets:

I folded a fitted bedsheet

I’m pretty muchMartha freaking Stewart.

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Pokémon – Now In Candy Form

Look what I made!

Pokemon candy making

I’d been dying to make these Pokémon candies since Scott sent me the video of how to make them. Well, it was Cath’s birthday the other day and that seemed like the perfect excuse to try out the recipe!

Really, all you need to make these are some candy melts and silicone half-sphere mould. The former were pretty easy to find (I got them on sale at Michael’s craft store, but later discovered you can also buy them in bulk at the Bulk Barn), whereas the latter were more difficult. We checked every kitchen store in the area, plus Michael’s, Canadian Tire, Winners, and London Drugs and found silicone moulds in every shape other than half sphere. In the end, I had to resort to ordering it from Amazon!

Candy melts

Candy Melts are available in just about any colour you can imagine!

Pokemon candy making

Silicone half sphere mould

Then all you had to do was melt the appropriate colour Candy Melts, coat the mould with it and stick it in the freezer. In ~15 minutes, they popped right out and were all beautiful and shiny!

Pokemon candy making

We made two yellow half spheres to make Pikachu, two blue half spheres to make a Polliwag, and one red & one white half sphere to make the Pokéball! Then we made some ears for Pikachu1 and then, using food safe paint brushes and melted Candy Melts of various different colours, decorated them up. Then you use the remaining melted Candy Melts to glue the two halves together and you are good to go!

Pokemon candy making

The original video shows you how to make them as piñatas, but I didn’t think it would be nice to smash a poor innocent little Pokémon! Well, at least until you are going to eat it.

Pokemon candy making

Pokemon candy making

They are Pokélicious!

  1. Sadly, one of the ears fell off on the way to the party! []

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Books I Read in 2016

I set my goal to read 16 books in 2016 and I started off strong with books I was reading for fun, but the decision to take on teaching a new course meant that come the summer, when I did my course development, the type of book I was reading was predominantly textbook. Also hampering my reading was the launch of PokémonGO, as I used to do a lot of reading on my commute to work, but once I got hooked on trying to catch ‘em all, I ended up spending much of my commute either catching Pokémon or grabbing stuff from PokéStops as I whizzed by them on the bus or train1 or doing my Pokémon inventory management2.

Anyway, I did manage to surpass my goal of 16 books:

I read 21 books in 2015!

The books were:

2016 Books

2016 Books 2

2016 Books 3

This list includes:

  • 4 fiction books
  • 8 non-fiction books
  • 9 textbooks

I think my goal for next year should be to read fewer textbooks!

Looking at the list, the book I most enjoyed this year was the Voodoo Killings, followed by Dear Committee Members, and the books I learned the most from were the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and The Spirit Level. The book I liked the least was Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking3

In terms of stats, I read 7,711 pages of books4 in total, with book lengths ranging for 181 pages to 704 pages.

2016 books - stats

Not surprisingly, the most popular book I read was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the least popular book was the textbook I assigned to my class. Apparently only one other person on all of Goodreads read that textbook, which I’m hoping means none of my students are on Goodreads!

I’m not planning to teach any new courses next year, so I’m hopeful that I’ll be reading more books for fun!

  1. Back before they changed the game so that you can no longer get stuff from Pokéstops when you are travelling at fast speeds. []
  2. For the uninitiated, you only have room for 250 Pokémon in your PokéBox, so once you’ve caught that many, you have to free up space by transferring some of the Pokémon to the professor in exchange for candy. This takes some work, as you need to figure out which Pokémon you have extras of and then figure out which is the lowest value Pokémon so you know which one to get rid of. []
  3. And that includes all the textbooks I read! []
  4. I also read some unholy number of pages of journal articles. I wish there were a site like Good Reads where I could track all my journal article reading! []

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Here’s one for the nerds

As you may recall, I am a huge nerd. As a huge nerd, I love spreadsheets. Tonight, as I was taking a wee snack break from marking assignments, YouTube suggested that I might like this video of standup comedy related to spreadsheets:

You know me so well, YouTube.

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Meta

The first time I learned about the concept of “meta” (though not by that name) was in my undergrad when I was taking first year drama and we studied a play called Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello, which we were taught was “self-reflexive”1 – i.e., it reflected on itself. In the case of Six Characters in Search of an Author, it was a play about a play in which characters, known as The Characters, show up and interact with The Actors and The Director.

Sometimes described as “X about X”, meta means “a prefix added to the name of something that consciously references or comments upon its own subject or features” (Source). So, a play about a play would be a meta-play. (Meta can also be defined as “a prefix added to the name of a subject and designating anothersubject that analyzes the original one but at a more abstract, higher level”, but for this blog posting I’m going with the “X about X” definition.). 

I started noticing a number of things that were meta and once you start thinking about it, you start to see it everywhere! For example, I’ve come across a number of meta things at work:

  • Metadata – data about data
  • Meta-analysis – when you analyze a bunch of studies to combine their results (so, in a sense, you are analyzing the previous analyses)
  • Meta-evaluation – evaluating an evaluation
  • Meta-scope – at work we had a group determining the scope of the project, but we had to determine the scope of what the scope group was going to scope
  • Meta-scrum – in Agile project management, you have something called a scrum meeting (where each working team gets together each day to plan its work) and one person from each scrum team (the scrum master) goes to a meeting of all the scrum masters, called the “scrum of scrums.” ButI liked to call it the “meta-scrum”
  • Meta-checklista checklist about making checklists
  • Meta-cognition/meta-thinking – thinking about how you think

And in things I’ve read lately:

  • Meta-measurement error – measurement error in the measurement of error2
  • Meta-approach – approaching how to approach things3
  • Meta-insurancethis article in the Globe and Mail talks about insurance on insurance and while they call it “re-insurance”, I think it could be called meta-insurance.
  • Meta-engagement – engagement about engagement (see: Pat’s blog)
  • Meta-update – update about updates (see: Pat’s blog again)
  • Meta-skepticism – this article caused a lot of discussion in the skeptical movement and I’m not saying that I think it was a good article; rather, it got me thinking about how you could be skeptical of skepticism and that would be meta-skepticism
  • Meta-passionate – being passionate about being passionate (see: Kalev’s blog)

Going with the arts theme, which is where I first learned of meta, you can have lots of meta-art:

  • Meta-fiction – fiction about fiction
  • Meta-literature – literature about literature
  • Meta-book – a book about books
  • Meta-writing – writing about writing
  • Meta-brochure4 – a brochure about brochures
  • Meta-journalism – journalism about journalism
  • Meta-painting – a painting of someone painting
  • Meta-photography – a photograph of a photograph
  • Meta-drama/meta-theatre/meta-play – a play about a play
  • Meta-film – a film about film
  • Meta-lecture – a lecture about lectures
  • Meta-blogging – blogging about blogging
  • Meta-tweeting – tweeting about tweeting5

And they I started thinking about all kinds of other things you could meta:

  • Meta-review – reviewing a review
  • Meta-monitoring – monitoring your monitoring
  • Meta-reflection – reflecting on reflecting
  • Meta-strategizing – strategizing about strategizing
  • Meta-decision – making decisions about making decisions
  • Metaphilosophy – philosophy about philosophy
  • Metaethics – the ethics of ethics
  • Meta-criticism – criticism of a criticism
  • Meta-data collection – data collection about your data collection
  • Meta-communication – communicating about communicating
  • Meta-planning – planning to plan
  • Meta-trying – trying to try
  • Meta-issue – having an issue with an issue
  • Meta-risk – a risk about risks
  • Meta-reporting – reporting about reporting
  • Meta-meeting – a meeting about meetings
  • Meta-assumptions – assumptions about assumptions
  • Meta-estimates – estimates of estimate
  • Meta-goals – goals about goals
  • Meta-objection – objections about objections
  • Meta-emotion – feelings about feelings
  • Meta-acceleration – accelerating the acceleration of something
  • Meta-pedantry – being a pedant about pedantry
  • Meta-idea – an idea about ideas
  • Meta-interactions – interactions of interactions
  • Meta-iterations – iterations of iterations
  • Meta-workaround – a workaround to get around workarounds
  • Meta-band-aid – a band-aid solution to cover up other band-aid solutions
  • Meta-blister – when a blister gets the blister (those are the worst!)
  • Meta-rabbit hole – when you follow rabbit holes and they have
  • Meta-joke – a joke about jokes
  • Meta-meta – being meta about meta (does this blog posting count as that?)

Although I’m sure there are countless more examples that I could come up with, I feel like I’m all meta’d out. The only other “meta” that pops to mind is metaphysics, which is “is a branch of philosophy investigating the fundamental nature of being and the world that encompasses it” (Source). Which isn’t really physics about physics, is it? I’m not sure why it’s called metaphysics (but if anyone else knows, please enlighten me!)

Also, I can’t figure out why sometimes “meta” is hyphenated (as in meta-analysis), but other times it’s not (as in metadata)6.

  1. Although I see it is described in the Wikipedia entry as “metatheatrical” []
  2. I read about this idea, though not by this name, in a journal article too []
  3. I actually read about this one in a journal article. []
  4. OK, brochures aren’t “art”, but I was thinking about stuff people write. []
  5. And you could go on like this re: any other form of social media []
  6. For any of the words I made up (or that I made up as far as I knowledge), I’ve hyphenated it. []

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Elsewhere

I wrote a posting for the blog of a conference for which I am a co-chair of the program committee. You should totally read it, if you are interested in reading a blog posting about how many people submitted abstracts to that conference. Also, it contains a loathed pie chart, but also an infographic that I made. Hooray for infographics!

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One Week Today….

… I’ll be co-presenting a workshop in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador with my sister! I am very excited about this for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) and in no particular order:

  • the content we are presenting on is very cool and I’m excited to share it with colleagues
  • the conference that we are presenting at is a good one – I always learn a lot, meet great people, and have a lot of fun
  • I get to hang out with my sister
  • Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province I’ve never been to, so when I go there I will have collected the entire set of provinces in my travel history

The one thing I’m not excited about is the weather forecast. St. John’s is going to be cold while we are there:

St. John's forecast

And in the meantime, I’ll be missing out on summer weather in Vancouver:

Vancouver forecast

I’ll have to make sure to pack some warm sweaters and my coat!

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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 programs1. 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 students2. 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 maters3 and I’ve taught at two different post-secondary institutions4. 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 course5. 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 my slides6!

L'il Devil

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

  1. I’m still sticking by my claim that I’m not going to do any more degrees! []
  2. 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! []
  3. 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. []
  4. UBC and the JI []
  5. 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. []
  6. 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! []

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I wish there were more time in a day!

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

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

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

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

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

Leap Second - June 30, 2012.png

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

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

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