Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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It’s time for a bulleted list!

As usual, I have so many things I’d like to blog about and so little time, mostly because all of the aforementioned things taking up all of my time1. So, in the interest of getting all these things out of my brain, I give you this brain dump in the form of a bulleted list:

  • After a year and a half, all the hard work of the organizing committee (of which I was a member as a program co-chair) led to a highly successful Canadian Evaluation Society conference at the start of May. I’ll be writing up more specifics on the conference content on my other blog2, but I do have to say that I am so happy that the conference was extremely well attended and everything went off without a hitch. And also that I’m relieved to have a lot fewer meetings in my calendar going forward!
  • The week before the conference my team and I had to make a surprise move to a temporary new office space3. It’s just four blocks from my old office space, but it’s surprising how many new restaurants there are to discover that I never realized were so close by4! Also, one of my coworkers brought a breakfast sandwich maker to the new office and now I live in heaven.Breakfast sandwich maker
  • The temporary new space in which I’m working lacks a phone, so work is getting me a Blackberry. So now I live in 2006. Even more sadly, Pokémon Go is not available on BB (at least not in a very functional state from what I’ve read) (or else I’d be able to double my productivity when it comes to evolution binges when I have a Lucky Egg!).
  • Speaking of Pokémon, I have caught all of the Pokémon from the initial release in Pokémon Go that are available to catch in North America, plus the Australia-specific one5 + all the babies. The last of the originals that I caught was the one I wanted the most: this Flying Spaghetti Monster Pokémon: Tangela
  • Of course, before I caught all the originals, Niantic released a bunch more Pokémon, so I still haven’t caught them all! I have caught a fair number, including this tree: Pokémon
    This communist6 teddy bear: Pokémon and this thing that really needs to pee (both male and female editions. You can tell she’s a girl because she’s wearing lipstick) UntitledUntitled
  • And one more thing about Pokémon. Among the new group of Pokémon that were release, there were two that allowed me to test the question of “If there were a Pokemon that looked like a spider, would my fear of spiders or my love of catching Pokémon win?”
    Pokémon
    Pokémon Given that I’ve caught 151 Spinaraks and 15 Ariados, I think I have my answer.
  • I took a sewing class with Cath and Stephanie as my thing that I learned in April (towards my goal of learning 12 new things this year). There’s a whole blog posting on that which I have partway written, so stay tuned! I’ve also learned something new in May, so that will be another blog post!
  • I’m co-teaching a class in the summer intersession (read: a 12 week course that’s taught in 6 weeks, so I’m extra glad to be co-teaching it!). I don’t really have anything to say about it, but it’s taking up a bunch of my time, so I thought I should probably include it in this laundry list of random things.
  • I’m still loving Strong Side! I’ve just started my third program. The first program was 5 weeks of building a foundation, then there was 5 weeks of hypertrophy (i.e., building muscle), and my new program is 5 weeks of intensity that is probably going to kill me. I’ve only done the instructional week, where the trainers teach you all the exercises in your new program, but you don’t have to do nearly as many sets as the following four weeks. Thursday is my first day on my own for this program where I will have to do eleventy billion sets of all kinds of things that will surely make me exhausted. But I can really see some significant improvements in strength since I started going there, so I’m going to trust the program!
  • There was a provincial election in BC on May 9 and it ended up in a hung parliament. The BC “Liberals” (which I put in scare quotes because the party that goes by the name “BC Liberals” are not liberal at all – they are conservative) won, on the initial counting of the ballots on election night, 43 seats in the legislature m, which is one seat shy of a majority. However, there are more than 170,000 absentee ballots that weren’t counted on election night and some ridings had very slim margins that could easily flip based on absentee ballots – including one riding where the NDP won by just 9 votes! They’ve started the count of the absentee ballots and the NDP are now up by 101 votes in that riding, but there are still more that have to be counted tomorrow, so it’s still possible that the “Liberals” could win that one. If that flips to the BC “Liberals” and none of the other ridings change hands, there will be a majority government and things will continue on as they were before the election, but with fewer MLAs in the ruling party7. But if everything stays the same as the election night results, or if seats flip to the NDP, we could end up with BC “Liberal” minority or, if more seats flip to the NDP, we could end up with an NDP minority, and in either minority scenario, the Green Party holds the balance of power. Needless to say, we’ll be waiting with baited breath for those absentee ballots to be counted!
  1. In fact, as I’ve sat down to take these notes from my phone, where I’ve been writing this blog posting in bits and pieces on my Skytrain commute, I noticed that I haven’t posted anything March 31 and it’s somehow the end of May now!! []
  2. Which I am sure are far too boring for anyone to want to read! []
  3. I actually have two offices and to clarify, this is for my non-hospital office. []
  4. I bring my lunch to work most days, so it will take me awhile to try all the ones I want to try []
  5. I caught the kangaroo one that you can only catch in Australia when I was there last fall. I did not catch the Asian one when I was in Hong Kong (due to not having a data plan and there being very limited free wifi around) and I haven’t been to Europe since Pokémon Go started. Clearly I need to book a European vacation! []
  6. I keep calling that bear a communist because the crescent on his reminds me of the sickle on the Soviet flag. Scott thinks it’s more of a Turkish teddy bear. []
  7. Unless a BC Liberal MLA dies, crosses the floor, or resigns due to a scandal, and a riding is subsequently lost in a by-election. []

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So apparently there’s a provincial election coming up

When I asked “Does anyone even know we are having a provincial election in a few months” in the office lunch room the other day, I was met with one “I know, right?” and a chorus of “We are?” and “Really?” and one “I did not even know we had elections at the provincial level. I thought they were just appointed.” While that last one is an outlier of a response, the responses of surprise seem to be pretty widespread. This is probably because there’s been almost nothing in the news about it and no one seems to be campaigning whatsoever. I have’t seen a single lawn sign or flyer or anything. I mean, it’s not like I want a years long campaign like they have down in the states, but I feel like at 83 days and counting, I should be hearing something happening.

I just did a quick Google search to find out the exact date of the election (to write that last sentence with the number of days left until the election) and found this article about how the opposition party (the NDP) have only nominated 58 candidates for the election that is, did I mention?, only 83 days away.

Ok, now I’ve done more Googling and apparently the election period usually last only 51 days, so the writ won’t be dropped for another 32 days and I guess that means I’m totally jumping the gun on worrying about the fact that no one knows there’s an election coming up. I guess I’ll just have to sit tight for another month and see what happens.

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Hopeful

Hey remember that time I was despondent over Trump being elected and I sat “staring at an empty screen for a disconcertingly long time, trying to figure out what to write”. So I’ve been experiencing that again. There’s so many horrible things going on in the world right now that I don’t even know where to start to unpack it all. I suppose I can start with the US ban on Muslims entering the country – or should I say the ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries where Trump doesn’t have business dealings? It’s thrown the lives of so many people into chaos, it’s racist, it’s xenophobic, and sadly, it’s something that Trump told everyone he’s going to do and lots of people voted for him anyway.

Then there was the terrorist attack on a mosque in Quebec City, where a far-right extremist white man opened fire and murdered six innocent men and injured many others. The accused in this attack (who I’ve just read probably cannot be charged with terrorism because he had no ties to an organization – even though it’s clearly an act of terrorism) was apparently speaking about the Muslim travel ban – and his belief that only white people should be allowed to immigrate to Canada and Quebec – the day before the attack.

Even closer to home for me, neo-Nazi posters were left near a local church and there was anti-Muslim graffiti written on the wall of the building directly across from mine.

And while there’s been so much chaos related to the US Muslim travel ban – both with it being unconstitutional and racist, and with it being implemented without warning so that the people expected to enforce it, and the people being affected by it, were blindsided – Trump’s slipped in a whole bunch of other actions, including looking at how to remove financial regulations1, delay the implementation of a law that would require financial professionals who advise people on their retirement savings to actually put their clients interests ahead of their own financial gain2, authorize the building of a wall along the US-Mexican border, banning federal funding to groups who provide abortions (or even talk about abortions, really)3, starting the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, reinstating the Keystone pipeline, gagging scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, and, in what might be the biggest oversimplification I’ve ever seen in my life, a rule that says for every regulation that a federal agency introduces, they have to get rid of two other regulations.

But there are some glimmers of hope. People are coming together to protest this bullshit, whether it’s the people who gathered in my city to protest the hate literature and demonstrate that the community will not put up with this, the vigils across Canada to show solidarity with the Muslim community in the wake of the terrorist attack in Quebec City, or the millions worldwide (including all seven continents) who participated in the Women’s March to protest Trump. Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General stood up to Trump, telling Department of Justice lawyers not to defend Trump’s Muslim ban law. She was fired for standing up for what is right, and the fact that she was willing to stand up for what is right is heartening. A March for Science is being planned for April 22 – Earth Day – to protest things like the gagging of scientists; denial of the overwhelming scientific evidence that supports that climate change is, in fact, a thing that exists; and the general shunning of science and facts; to celebrate and support science and the scientific community4.

So while there is a lot to be despondent about, I’m going to go to bed tonight thinking about all the good people coming together to support one another in these dark times. To quote the late, great Jack Layton: “”My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

  1. You may remember insufficient financial regulations being a major player in the financial crisis of 2007/08. Trump wants to disembowel the Dodd-Frank law, which was created to prevent that sort of thing from happening again. []
  2. I mean, heaven forbid that someone who seeks professional advice on their retirement savings would actually get advice that is the most useful to them! []
  3. And not just to prevent money going to these organizations to be used for provide abortion care, but to prevent any money at all going to these organizations for any of the other healthcare (or other) services they provide. []
  4. There has been a lot of talk about the intersection of science (and academia more broadly) and the Muslim travel ban. Academics have been debating if they should boycott conferences in the US, since those from the banned countries are denied the opportunity, or if conferences should relocate outside of the US so that people from the banned countries can attend (except that would mean that anyone from the banned countries who are currently in the US wouldn’t get to go because they wouldn’t be able to get back into the US afterwards. There is also talk of how scientific collaborations are being hampered by the travel ban, as some researchers aren’t able to travel to take part in collaborative work. []

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Also

Another insightful thing to read on this whole situation – this one written by my friend Patrick: Curses 1.

I’ll probably go back to my flippant writing about inanities again tomorrow soon2, but don’t think that I’m not still deeply saddened and horrified (I mean, have you seen the shit that is going on in the US right now?).

  1. He originally posted it on Facebook, so I couldn’t link to it yesterday. But he got a lot of positive feedback on it, so he made it a blog posting. []
  2. Just remembered I have ideas that aren’t actually inane for tomorrow and Saturday’s blog postings. []

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Congratulations Councillor Johnstone

And speaking of things that are long overdue for posting, I have been remiss in writing a congratulatory posting to my friend, Patrick Johnstone, on his recent election to New Westminster City Council. As you may recall from this posting, I was helping out on Pat’s election campaign because I thought he’d make an excellent city councillor and, apparently, other people in New Westminster agreed with me, because Pat was one of 6 people elected to city council, along with a new mayor and 7 school trustees. On election night I actually went to city hall to watch election results roll in, which was a lot more fun than you’d expect from staring at a screen with tiny little font where nothing happened for long periods of time and then the results would pop up from another poll and everyone would start excitedly talking about where in that city the poll was and who got lots of votes from it and what it all meant. After that, a bunch of us headed down to the campaign office and there was a big party!

Incidentally, “participate in a political campaign” is on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, so that means I get to knock that item off the list! Which means I’ve done 15 things from my 101 lists ((3 from my previous list and 12 from my current list) in 2014. Which is far less than my goal of 28 things, so I really better get going, as there’s less than a month left!

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Campaign Curling

On Sunday, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for years1 – I learned how to curl! It was all part of a FUNdraiser for my friend, Patrick Johnstone, who is running for New West City Council in next month’s municipal election.

Ice at the Royal City Curling Club
Ice at the Royal City Curling Club, waiting for us to start our curling lesson!

The event took place the Royal City Curling Club. We got a chance to learn some of the curling basics – how to throw the stone so it goes where you want it to go, how to sweep the ice to get the stone to go further and straighter, how to walk on ice without falling – all the important curling skills2! After practicing all of this stuff – which was far more complicated than one would expect just from watching the game – we got to play two ends, with a little bit of help from a coach (because honestly, I had no idea how to tell if the stone was going fast enough to get where we wanted it to go (and thus we shouldn’t sweep) or if it was going too slow and sweeping was needed). Our game was a close one – my team won 3-1 after the two ends3.

Curling 5 Oct 2017
Group shot of all the curlers for the day.

I have to say, curling is a lot more fun to play than it is to watch and as with many things, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the sport now that I’ve tried it myself4.

After all that, there was delicious food from Re-Up BBQ and beer from Steel & Oak – two fantastic local New West businesses – and a chance to chat with other New Westies.

Untitled
Delicious cake decorated like one of Pat’s campaign buttons

Most importantly of all though, this was a fundraiser, and it was really great to see a sold out event in support of Pat’s campaign for city council. I’ve been helping out on Pat’s campaign5 in the form of door knocking with him6, because I think he’ll make an excellent city councilor. He’s really passionate – and extremely knowledgeable – about New West. And I really like his approach – as we’ve been out door knocking, he’s asking New West residents what their concerns and ideas for the city are. He listens to people and he answers any questions they have for him in a direct and transparent way7 – and when he doesn’t know the answer to a particular question he says “I don’t know, but I will find out for you.” He bases his position on any given subject on reason and evidence – and when there’s not enough evidence available he says “We don’t know enough to make an informed decision. X is the evidence we need to make an informed decision on this and Y is where we’d need to get that information” That’s the kind of approach that I would like to see in my government – receptive to the publics concerns, reasoned and evidence-based decision making, and transparency in the process. Anyway, if you are a New Westie, I encourage you to check out his campaign website for more information on his campaign and to donate!

  1. And which I inexplicably didn’t include on my “101 things to do in 1001 days list”. []
  2. Everyone already know how to yell “HURRY HARD!!!!” – no coaching required on that front. []
  3. No thanks to me, I have to say. I was OK at throwing the stone in practice but sucked pretty badly during the actual game! []
  4. I’m still not going to watch it when it’s on TV and I still think it would be better if there was a 3 second shot clock between when one stone stops and the next one must be thrown – watching people stand around and think for several minutes is SO BORING! – and it also needs 200% more yelling. But I have more appreciation for the skill required having now tried doing it myself. []
  5. Item #57 on my 101 list! []
  6. Though with other tasks still to come! []
  7. I’ve learned a lot about the city just by going around door knocking with him and listening to his answers to people’s questions! []

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Help @TheTyee Go National!

First of all, watch this video:

Canada needs more independent voices from The Tyee on Vimeo.

So, I’m sure you can see why this campaign appeals to me. Facts – I’m a big fan of those. In depth, well-researched investigations into news stories instead of sound bites of 140 characters or less – that sounds pretty cool to me. The world is complicated and nuanced and I appreciate having a news source that gets that. And yeah, maybe there’s a bit of BC pride in there – we’ve got something pretty cool, and it’s time the rest of the country got to join in too. And supporting The Tyee to go national is something where I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.

They are trying to raise $100,000 and are well on their way, but there’s only 14 days to reach their target. I hope you’ll consider support them and/or spreading the word!

And there’s an added bonus for any Canadian politics nerds out there that’s not mentioned in the video, but that you can see if you go to their campaign page: if you sign up to support them at a level of $15/month or more, you get paper dolls of the Canadian political party leaders, complete with multiple outfits. (Spoiler: Yes, the Stephen Harper one comes complete with kittens!)

In related news – expect to see some blog postings featuring those paper dolls here on NTBTWK sometime soon!

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Important Issues in Canadian Politics – Is Canada a Safe Haven for Zombies?

From the Canadian House of Parliament:

Props to Kalev for bringing this important piece of Canadian politics to my attention!

For those who are interested, here’s a link to the CDC’s zombie preparedness plan, as referred to by the Honourable Pat Martin in the video.

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Did You Vote Today?

So it’s municipal election day in British Columbia, the day we get to vote for mayors, city councillors, and school board trustees. And given that I know jack squat about Surrey politics, I decided I should read the candidate statements before I headed off to the polls.  First of all, there about about eleventy billion people running for council, so it took me ages to get through the statements. Secondly, it’s pretty challenging to figure out what everyone is really about from these short statements, especially when so many people, just spew off platitudes. Of course everyone wants to make the city a safer place with good schools, nice parks, better roads, better transit, businesses that succeed, and unicorns covered in pixie dust. But how, exactly, they are going to do that is never mentioned. Is it so much to ask to see some concrete ideas?

What’s particularly galling are the candidates who are making claims they will provide all sorts of things – new stadiums, new schools, new hospitals, more Skytrain, better pay for municipal employees, more teachers in schools, etc., etc. AND no increases in taxes. I mean, seriously, do these individuals have no idea how a government works? Governments get money from taxes. Buying things costs money. It’s not rocket science, people.

And finally, what’s the deal with political parties calling themselves “non-partisan”? Our good friend Wikipedia tells us:

In politics, partisan literally means organized into political parties. The expression “partisan politics” usually refers to fervent, sometimes militant, support of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea.

Presumably these so-called non-partisan parties are trying to distance themselves from the of “fervent, sometimes militant,” connotation of the word, but technically they are saying that they are a political party that is not a political party. Am I the one one who finds this ridiculous?

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Today, It Rains

Jack Layton, Leaders Tour - Tournée du Chef - Jack LaytonI woke up to the news that Jack Layton passed away this morning at the age of 61. This is heart breaking. My heart goes out, first and foremost, to his wife, Olivia Chow, and their children. And it also goes out to our country because we’ve lost a great man today. A man who always fought for what he believed in, who brought so much to politics in Canada. The NDP gained Official Opposition status on the strength of his leadership and vision. He gave so much to this country and, at 61, he had so much left to give. I am deeply, deeply saddened that we will never get to see a Prime Minister Jack Layton.

It seems only appropriate that after a week of sunshine, and before another week of sunshine, today it rains.

P1090627 Tribute For Jack Layton - College Street Bike Lane Toronto

I’m so fucking sick of cancer taking all the good people.

Goodbye, Jack. You will be missed.

Image Credit: