Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

By

My Dissertation Haiku

Three days ago, Darren pointed out this site to me: Dissertation Haiku. On this site, people write a single haiku that summarizes their PhD dissertation.  Since then, I’ve been trying to write a haiku to summarize my dissertation and failing miserably. As it turns out, I suck at haikus. So I did what any self-respecting scientist would do – I hired my statistician to do it for me1.

And now I give you my Dissertation Haiku, written by Dr. Daniel J. Gillis:

Boozing rat mommies
Make baby rat bones so weak
Poor baby rat bones

If you’d like to read the longer version, my dissertation is here.

Incidentally, at this exact moment, Dr. Dan has also posted his own dissertation haiku. Coordinated simultaneous blog postings. Yes, we truly are that cool.

Update: My dissertation haiku is now published on the Dissertation Haiku site! Go there to read it in all its haikuy glory! Also, if you happen to be one of my friends who also has a dissertation, you should submit your own dissertation haiku there too. Submit, I say!

  1. where by “hire” I mean asked him nicely and gave him no money. Not unlike his day job, except for the asking him nicely part []

By

My First Book!

Just received this in the mail the other day1:

IMG_4292

That sounds like an interesting book, yes? I mean, who wouldn’t want to read about prenatal alcohol and bone development?

And wait, what is that there?

IMG_4297

That author’s name looks awfully familiar, doesn’t it?

Yup, that’s my thesis2, in handy book form!

Back in the summer, this publishing company contacted me about publishing my thesis (which they’d found online). At first I thought it was some sort of scam (like they’d require all my banking account and credit card numbers, my passwords, my PINs, my SIN3 and my first born), but I checked into it and it seemed legit. They are a print-on-demand publisher and if anyone buys it4, I get royalties and I also retain the right to publish up to 80% elsewhere5. You can even buy it from Amazon. For the low, low price of $107.53. Seriously.

1Before I left for my trip. I didn’t have time to blog about it, but did have just enough time to snap the pics.
2Technically, it’s my “doctoral dissertation.” I’ve been given hell for referring to it as a thesis before, but I just can’t bring myself to say “dissertation.” It just sounds so snooty.
3for my non-Canadian readers, that means my “Social Insurance Number.”
4Which I am 99% sure won’t happen.
5And since I’ve already published all of my thesis data in scientific journals, I’m not anticipating being able to re-publish anyway.

By

I <3 data clouds

Saw this over on Derek’s blog. Tweetcloud.com will make a data cloud from your Tweets. Here’s mine:

The words “blog” and “posting” are huge because I have my Twitter set up so that my blog postings are automatically set up to appear as Tweets that start with “New blog posting: [title of blog posting]” What I can’t figure out is why the word “new” doesn’t appear in this cloud.

This also reminds me of the cloud I made up from my thesis – I blogged about it here, but you have to go to this link to see the cloud. And you totally should check it out, ‘cuz it’s damn cool.

By

Shout Out to Dave B

In a few hours, Dave B. will be defending his Master’s thesis. Go Dave B! Everyone send him positive thoughts about snow geese at 12:30 p.m. Pacific, k?

By

Thesis Data Cloud

A while back, Darren mentioned wanting to make a data cloud for a presentation he was giving at Northern Voice – he wanted to find a tool that he could enter all the responses he’d gotten on his Why Do You Blog survey to generate a data cloud. This got me thinking about how data clouds are an interesting way of analyzing data – you get a visual representation of how often each word is used in your document. So then I had the bright idea that I wanted to run my thesis through a program like this – I was curious to see what words I used most often. I happened to be chatting with a friend of mine who is all computer savvy and asked if he knew of any tools that could do this (as I could only find one that required that the document in question be pretty small and my thesis may be many things, but small is not one of them). And the next thing I knew, he’d written me a program! We had to do a bit of tweaking (like not including common words such “and” and “then”, not including punctuation and numbers, and, of course, I had to make it use pretty colours). And when all was said and done, it was just so friggin’ pretty! I love my thesis word cloud! You can check out the whole thing here, but I’ve included a bit of it below, just so you can get an idea of how beautiful it is!

binge biochemistry biol biological biology birth births bk black blank blind blinded blindly blood bloom blow blue boat bodies body bone bones bonjour born both bottom bouillon boundaries boundary brain breakdown breaking breed breeding briefly bringing brown bud buds buffer bull bulletin bullock burns but c ca cage cages calcification calcified calcifies calcium calculated calculation calendar caloric calories camera camp can cannot carbohydrates cardiac cardiovascular care cartilage

Seriously, go check out the whole thing here. It’s friggin’ cool.

Update: OK, that looks a little f’d up, since Blogger’s formattin apparently doesn’t work so well with the formatting of the data cloud. I guess you’ll just have to go here to see how it should look.

By

Yes, I’m Still Talking About my Graduation

So, I finally got off my butt and scanned the grad photos that I finally got. I had originally hoped to send my grad photos out with my Christmas cards, thus saving a bunch of $$ on mailing, but when I got the proofs in mid-December, the photographer informed me that it would take 5 WEEKS to print my photos. I’m not sure why I can walk into Shopper’s Drug Mart and print digital photos in a matter of minutes, but it takes these guys 5 WEEKS to print their digital photos, but, hey, I’m not a photographer, right? But, seriously, 5 WEEKS?? No one will even remember, let alone care, that I graduated by 5 WEEKS after the proofs are in… at least as evidenced by the fact that no one wants to hire me. Hmph. Apparently I am in a mood today.

OK, so back to the main point of this posting, which was not, despite all evidence thus far to the contrary, to complain about the slowness of digital printing these days. The point was this: to share with you my two favourite photos from the shoot. I love these photos because of the sheer ridiculousness of them.

First up, we have Beth and the pole.

Why I am standing like this? Am I in love with this pole? Why am I caressing it? Did the photographer actually position my hands like that, since apparently I am incapable of knowing how to hold my hands against a pole? Where does one find such a pole? Why is there no background in this pole-centric location? What am I looking at? What is behind that mysterious smile? Why is my robe so very, very pink? And, of course, what’s the deal with the puffy hat? Clearly, this photo raises more questions than it answers.

Second up, is Beth sitting on a throne-like chair. I’d like to point out (not that it is strictly necessary, as how could you miss it really?) the sheer number of props in this photo. The big leather chair, the book I’m holding, the globe in the background, the puffy hat, the bookcase full of books behind me… and they are *real* books, not a facade and not a pull down screen with a picture of books on it. *Real* books… JUST LIKE THE GREAT GATSBY!! I was highly disappointed when I got this photo back, as the proof had a clock on one of the higher shelves behind me, but it was cropped out in the final print. Because I really feel that this photo needs one more prop. I like to think of the props as each representing something. The books represent the large body of knowledge that I learned over the years and then forgot. The globe represents all the places in the world that I didn’t visit because I was spending all my time and money on school, the book that I’m holding, but clearly not reading represents all the procrastinating that I did. The leather chair represents… um, can someone help me out with what the leather chair represents? And the clock, well the clock represents how friggin‘ long it took me to do the Ph.D. (or, as phrased ever so eloquently by my supervisor, “Don’t you think you are getting a little long in the tooth?). So really, without the clock, it loses the full effect, don’t you think?

By

8 13/16 X 11

UBC‘s degree parchments* suck. They print them out on 8.5″ X 11″ paper**. What the hell good is that? Everyone has 8.5″ X 11″ paper — I’ve got a huge package of it sitting right next to my printer! They use a typeface that they think is elegant and apparently don’t feel the need to have the words “Doctor of Philosophy” any bigger than a 14 point font. I mean, really, why does anyone need to see that this is a Ph.D.? It’s not a big deal or anything. And I am not exaggerating when I say that the certificate I got for taking the one-day Radiation Safety course was just as nice as this one***:


In an attempt to make my degree parchment look more like it represents six years of blood, sweat and tears and less like I printed it out on my bubble jet printer, I purchased myself a fancy frame, complete with a gold medallion with the UBC crest in it. I had a gift certificate**** for the UBC Bookstore that covered half of it, so I can protect my hard-earned PhD parchment in a lovely frame and buy groceries this month! w00t!

So anyhoo, I go to put my parchment in the frame… and they give you a handy grid lined paper to help you centre your parchment. And the grid lines give you two options – 8 5/16” X 10 1/2” or 8 13/16” X 11″. Let me reiterate that for you… I bought a frame at the UBC Bookstore, which contains a UBC crest and which is specifically advertised as being for the UBC degree parchment, and the grid lines they give you to line it up don’t match the UBC degree parchment. I know it’s not a big deal, as the actual matting is the correct size, but still. And what the hell kind of measurements are 8 5/16” X 10 1/2” or 8 13/16” X 11″ anyway? I’m willing to bet that there has never, ever, ever, in the history of humanity, been a document that was 8 13/16” X 11″. I’m sure of it. The upshot of this is that I had to line up my parchment in the frame by eyeballing it. How do you think I did?


*they aren’t actually made of parchment, but that’s what they are apparently called.

**contrast this with my McMaster degree, which measures a respectable 11′ X 14″!

***OK, I’ll admit right now that I was just too damn lazy to rotate this image. In fairness, it would probably take my computer 45 minutes to open Photoshop in order to do that. My computer is fun like that. So just tilt your head to see it, k?

****I won the gift certificate in an online teaching portfolio contest because I made a such a wicked good portfolio. And by “wicked good,” I mean I was one of the three people who actually submitted portfolios by the deadline. But I managed to get a gift cert for something I was planning to make anyway, so it’s all good.

By

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. And a Thousand Pictures are Worth Something Too.

So, a while back I promised to blog some more about my graduation ceremony. And since I took soooo many photos during grad, and during my mom & sister’s trip in general (they were here for my grad, plus a few more days after that), I figured I can do a lot less typing if I just show some pretty pictures. I’m lazy like that.

You already saw a picture of me and my mom at my grad. Here’s one of my & my sister:


This was before the ceremony, where they make you pick up your grad gown an hour and a half before the ceremony, so that you can then stand around in it doing nothing for a long time, before the part where the grads all had to line up in order (i.e., the previously described gong show).

This next one is me walking across the stage during the grad ceremony. Damn, I’m short! Of course, it doesn’t help that the Dean (the guy standing at the podium behind me is about 6’8″ tall!). He was actually one of my supervisory committee members, so it was kind of cool that he was the one reading out our names.


Here I am shaking hands with the President of UBC. He said, “Congratulations, Doctor. All the hard work is done!” and I said, “Ya, thank god!” Which made him laugh. He must get bored saying “congratulations” over and over and over again.


What you may notice in the above picture (if you zoom in really close) is that I have awesome shoes. Let’s take a closer look at those shoes, shall we?


Damn, those are some fine shoes! I bought them at the Salvation Army thrift store. Yes, the same Salvation Army thrift store where the crazies go on Wednesday morning. But these weren’t in the Wednesday window, so I could just hand over my hard earned $6.99 and walk away with the shoes, unscathed.

This next photo is of me with the macebearer. He bears the mace.


Here is a photo of Kalev, me & Danielle. By this point in the night, my hat (which is way too big for me) has really started to weigh down on my head. So it looks even more ridiculous than it did at the start of the event.

Since it was raining pretty hard, we snapped a few quick picks and then I returned my robe so that we could head off to dinner. And forturnately, I remembered my parking level! Go purple turtle*!

We went to Indian Oven for dinner, since Indian is my absolute favourite food. Each graduate only gets 4 tickets to the grad ceremony (so my mom, sister, Danielle & Kalev were able to attend), but I invited a few more people to dinner. As evidenced by this photo:


This picture represents the first picture that Erika and I have where she actually has her eyes opened. Big time red eye from hell, yes, but at least her eyes are open!

After dinner, my sister really, really wanted to try a deep fried Mars bar. So we headed to the Templeton, which is conveniently located next to a sex shop:

And here is the deep friend Mars bar. ‘Cuz nothing says, “I have a PhD in Nutrition” like deep fried chocolate.


Doesn’t that look digusting??

After dessert, my mom, sister & I retired to our room at the Fairmont Waterfront. Here are my sister and I in our luxurious Fairmont robes**.

We spent the next day shopping*** and then went to the Body Worlds exhibit at Science World at Telus World of Science****.

Here are my sister & mom – don’t they look happy to be at Science World at Telus World of Science???

And here’s me. I saw a sign that said “stay off the stage.” So, naturally, I jumped on the stage and said, “Take my picture!!!”


The reason I’m all dressed up in this photo was not that I felt the need to dress up to see dead, plastinated bodies, but because we went to Lumiere for dinner. It was my mom’s 60th bir

thday earlier this month, so we***** wanted to take her somewhere really nice. And since my mom loves celebrity chefs, I thought Lumiere would be perfect. We didn’t tell her we were going there and thought it would be great surprise. When we get there, I’m all excited… and my mom has no idea what Lumiere is. I’m like “Rob Feenie! Iron Chef!!” and she’s like “Nope, never heard of him!******” But the food was unbelievably good, so it didn’t matter. We didn’t take any pictures in Lumiere because it’s mostly rich people in there and we didn’t want to let on that we are poor people in a rich person restaurant*******.

The next day we headed to Victoria, because my mom wanted to go to the Empress for Afternoon Tea. Yes, we drove half an hour to the ferry terminal, took an hour and a half ferry, then drove another half an hour into Victoria… to have a cup of tea. And some sandwiches. And strawberries and pastries. On the plus side, Victoria wasn’t under a boil water advisory like Vancouver was. Of course, we were having tea, so this is rather a moot point.

Here is me, eating some strawberries which had, presumably, been washed in E. coli-free water:

And here are all three of us:

And, for the record, I bought that shirt at the Sally Ann thrift store. They have some really good stuff for cheap (as long as you don’t mind dealing with the crazies there).

Then we went on the ferry back to Vancouver. And it was rush hour. So it took us twice as long to get back to the hotel from the ferry terminal than it did to get there in the morning. And my sister and I went to Tojo’s for dinner. And I got them to make yam tempura rolls for me, even though they weren’t on the menu. Because I am special like that.

And the next day, my mom & my sister flew back home. And it was lucky that their flight was in the a.m., because that night was had a blizzard and flights were delayed/cancelled out of YVR. Because it was my neice’s birthday party in Toronto the next day and it would be highly disappointing if her own mom was stuck in Vancouver!

*We were parked in the Rose Garden parkade. Which evidentally thinks that we need cute cartoony animals to help us remember where we parked. We were in Purple Turtle. Not to be mistakend for Pink Bunny Rabbit, or Blue Hippopotamus. And Yellow Elephant never forgets his parking level!

**Those robes were so not luxurious. Highly disappointing in the luxuriousness department.

***Not very exciting, other than that my mom bought me a new coat (mine had a hole in it), a new purse (as I was, apparently, carrying a summer purse around – the horror, the horror!)

****No, that’s not a typo. That’s actually the real name. I can just see a board room full of suits sitting around saying, “I think we need to include the word “Science” in their twice, so they know it’s science-y… but then we’d also need to include the word “World” in there twice too!”

*****And by “we” I mean, my sister, as I have no money.

******Of course, when she got home and saw a picture of him, she knew who it was.

*******I’m pretty sure they knew.

By

Edumucation and Gradumuation

So I graduated yesterday*! I got to wear the ridiculous puffy hat and hideous pink robe that distinguishes those crazy enough to do a Ph.D. at UBC. And I would LOVE to post some photos of me in said robe and hat, but I’m on my sister’s Mac laptop at the Fairmont Waterfront hotel* and Macs make no sense to me, so I cannot for the life of me figure out how to shrink my photos to a reasonable size in order to upload them on Blogger. So you’ll have to wait until I get home for the photographic evidence. But trust me – pink, hideous.

I’d also like to point out that lining up a bunch of graduates to proceed onto a stage to be granted their degrees was much like trying to line up a bunch of kindergarteners to go into school after recess. There was much “can you re-fold my hood, maam? I dropped it again!” and “we weren’t supposed to bring our coats? wear do I put my coat?” and “What did he say? Where are we supposed to walk? What’s going on??” There was a set of fairly simple instructions… like, (1) go on the stage and hand your name card to the Dean, (2) stand on the X and face the photographer, (3) walk over to the Chancellcor and shake hands when you hear your name announced, (4) take off your hat so the President can put the hood over your head. And there were people looking in the exact opposite direction from the photographer; walking right past the Chancellor (the Chancellor being the dude who actually grants you the degree… you know, the only reason that you are even in the auditorium wearing such a stupid robe in the first place!) or standing next to the President, looking out into the audience like an idiot and wondering why the President isn’t putting the hood over their head…. because they hadn’t taken their hat off!!)

Wait a sec! Just as I was typing this, Blogger finally saw fit to upload my photos! Sweet! Now you will get treated to my photography goodness! Lucky you!!

Other highlights of the day included: our graduation “procession” from the Graduate Student Centre (wear we were robed and lined up) to the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts (where the actual ceremony was held) included a trip through the parkade. Yes, the parkade. Because we didn’t feel ridiculous enough in our “academic regalia” (read: clown suits), we needed to juxtapose these outfits with concrete and exhaust fumes. Also, my hat was too big for my head. Even though they gave me the extra small hat. So most of my photos make me look like a total mushroom head. You know you are jealous.

OK, perhaps I should actually show you this robe at which I scoff. Here is one of the few decent pics of me in my wicked cool regalia, with my mommy:

I would like to point out that I have some smoking hot shoes.

The next picture is to prove that I did, in fact, get my Ph.Dizzle:


And finally, a pose that I have been waiting to do for the past 4 years, even since I saw a photo of a UBC grad who posed this way on their graduation day:

Dr. Beth… she robs from the rich and gives to the poor.
OK, I’d like to tell you more about my action-packed grad day, but I’m super tired and my mom and sister, who refuse to even set their watches from Toronto time to Vancouver time will undoubtedly wake me up at the crack of dawn, so I best get to bed. I’ll tell ya more stories once the fam has gone home. And when I can get the photos from my roommate’s camera… ‘cuz she took to best photos of the day anyway!


LONG LIVE THE PUFFY HAT!!

*You may be wondering why this is the first you have heard about my graduation ceremony, being that this is ostensibly a blog about me writing my thesis. Well, as you may or may not recall, I am a highly superstitious person. I have a fear that if I tell people about something that is supposed to happen, there will be some screw up and it won’t happen, because I’ve jinxed myself (e.g., my defence that got postponed and my job that evaporated). As you can imagine, this makes planning things somewhat problematic for me. But given that so many things have gone wrong for me in this past year, I had this terrible feeling that I’d show up at graduation and they’d say, “Oh, didn’t you get our email? You forgot to fill out the TPS form in triplicate, so you don’t qualify to graduation.” So I avoided mentioning my upcoming grad on here until it was over. And I have my degree. I’m pretty sure they can’t take away now (can they?).

**my mom and sister came to Vancouver for my grad and we staying at the swanky Fairmont Waterfront.

By

(no title)

Once upon a time, I defended a Ph.D. And at that time, some wicked cool awesome people gave me some money to buy myself a digital camera in celebration of said defence. Well, I’ve finally gotten off my butt, done some research and figured out which digicam I wanted. And I bought it on the internets, which was actually cheaper than buying it in a nonline store. Isn’t it beautiful?

And here is the first photo that I took with my new camera*:


Note: I’m still waiting on the high speed memory card that I ordered to go with the camera, so there is a bit of a delay between the time I press the button and the time at which the camera actually takes the picture. Just enough time that one’s roommate might lift her cup of tea up in front of her face, for example.

In other news, I’ve surpassed the 10,000 hit mark on my blog! Now, I know that some of you hit the 10,000 marks AGES ago. Some get 10,000 hits a day. But I’m still happy with my 10,000+ hits and I thought I’d give a shoutout to the lurkers who read my blog but never comment** and to the randoms who stumble onto this blog accidentally… those people who I only know come around here thanks to my trusty StatCounter. Like the person from Nice, France who was googling for “sarah mautalen”… I’m sorry you wasted 24 seconds on my blog, I don’t know who Sarah Mautalen is. To the chap from merry old England who googled “Oilers gong show” – I couldn’t agree more***. And to the person from Nanaimo, BC who was googling “picutres of Leanne Domi,” – yes, she does, in fact, look like Belinda Stronach’s twin… glad I could be of some assistance in your search. To the individual in Switzerland who googled “shoes destroy” – I just don’t even know what to say to you! And to the person from Surrey, BC who wants to know if Taylor Pyatt is married…. he is. He’s married to me and I am having his babies – so back off!

And, finally, I have been remiss!! It is now October 24th and I haven’t yet posted a birthday wish to Therese! And her birthday was October 22nd!! I suck!!! Fortunately, she was off galvanting in England, so hopefully did not notice my remiss-ness. So now, I offer you 30 birthday wishes:

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Happy Birthday, Therese!
Happy Birthday, Therese!

Yay! It was Therese’s Birthday!

Hope you had a great day, EZ-T!



*The popping of my camera’s cherry, if you will.

**You should comment, dammit! All the cool kids are doing it!

***Unless you had googled “Calgary Flames gong show”… then I could agree more!