Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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A Whole New WordPress

I logged into my blog tonight to write a posting and learned that there is a brand new version of WordPress, which is the open source software that I use to publish my blog. And it’s not just a usual little update with a few bug fixes – it’s a big change to how the WordPress editor works. Instead of just writing stuff in one big textbook like I used to, it’s now all down in different types of “blocks”.

So now instead of writing what I was going to write about1, I’m writing a post to play around with the new features2.

Like in this paragraph, I used a “drop cap” to create the giant “L” at the start of the paragraph, like one might see in a fancy book. Unfortunately, it looks totally ridiculous with the font my blog theme uses.

There’s also a new way to insert photos, so I’ve inserted this random photo of Watson & Crick exploring the inside of the dishwasher:

Kitties in the dishwasher
Although it’s a new way to insert a photo, it doesn’t seem like it will look any different when I post it on the blog.


Now I’m using a “quotation” block, just to see what that looks like. (When I preview the post, I can see it’s in italics, which isn’t how it looks in the editor. I think that’s because my theme has itaclics for quotations. But it looks better without the italics, to be honest).

-Dr. Beth Snow

This is a pull quote. I kind of like the look of this in the editor, but again when I preview, it’s in italics. Perhaps it’s time to change my theme?

It was really easy to change the colour on this though!

DR. BETH SNOW

There is also an option called a “cover”, which is a photo with writing on top of it. But it only seems to let  you choose a photo that you’ve uploaded to the same place where you store your blog, whereas I prefer to store all my photos in Flickr and use them from there. So here’s an example of a cover from one of the very few photos that I’ve actually stored with my blog rather than on Flickr:

This is a cover

There’s also a “gallery” where you can add a bunch of photos, but again, I have to store all the photos on the server where I store my blog, but I don’t want to pay to store a bunch of photos there when I already pay to store all my photos on Flickr. 

That button just takes you to my homepage, so it’s not very exciting. And it looks terrible, because the text is picking up the link colour (blue if you haven’t been to my homepage and purple if you have) from my theme – whereas on the editing screen it looks much nicer.3

But think of all the exciting places I could direct you to go, now that I have button creating powers!

There’s a whole bunch of other stuff that I can do with this (including changing the background and text colour in a block, apparently), but it’s getting late so I think I’ll leave that all to another day. Now to click “Publish” and see how this all really looks on the other side (though WP tells  me that it should look very similar to what I’m seeing in the editor screen, but when I previewed it did not!)

  1. I don’t even remember what I was going to write about, to be honest! []
  2.  Basically, what I’m saying is that this post will probably be of interest to no one, so you can save yourself the boredom and stop reading now. Assuming that you read the footnotes. Assuming that my footnotes plugin still works with this brave new WordPress…. oh wait, I just previewed the post and the footnotes do, in fact, appear to work. Hooray! []
  3. Perhaps I need to update my theme? []

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30 days to go for my 2018 goals

There are a mere 30 days left in 2018, so I figured I’d check in on how I’m doing on my 2018 goals. When last we checked in, I had achieved 3 of my 2018 goals. I have now achieved two more of my goals:

And I’m nearly done:

  • read 18 books (I’m on book #18 for the year)
  • make 18 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before (I’ve made 14/18 new things this year, but I haven’t yet done my Christmas baking)
  • learn 12 new things – I’ve only blogged about 7, but I have 4 other things that I’ve learned about but haven’t yet blogged. Which means I only have to learn about one more thing (or remember one other thing that I learned but haven’t yet put on my list) – that’s totally do-able

There’s a few others that are within the realm of possibility:

  • write in my journal at least one time per week, on average – I’ve been writing in it lately, though I’d need to check exactly how many times to see how many more I’d need to do to reach 52
  • sew 5 items – I’ve only done 2, but 3 more isn’t that much if I just make the time to do it!
  • apply for a Nexus card – also something that I can do if I dedicate the time to it
  • publish 118 blog postings – so far I’ve done a meagre 47, which means I’d need to do 2-3 postings a day from now until the end of the year to hit this. So not impossible, but would require a lot of time (and would probably annoy the hell out of everyone who follows me on Twitter).
  • publish at least six long form blog postings(minimum of 3000 words) – I’ve done 2 and I expect when I finally do my big recap of my Scotland trip, that will be more than 3000 words, but I’m not sure what else I’d want to write that’s that long. So possible, but I guess we’ll see whether I get it done or not.

So that makes 8/18 that are highly likely to be completed, and I could possibly be as high as 13/18 if I do all of the possible ones. Wish me luck!

 

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Lightning Strike

Lightning 8

This is not the lightning bolt that struck my building. But I’m sure it looked something like this.

I was at a conference on Friday in Vancouver and apparently while I was there, the apocalypse happened in New West. There was torrential rain, hail, rivers of blood, plagues of locusts, and lightning struck my building. Ok, maybe the rivers were just made of rain and there weren’t any actual locusts, but lightning did, in fact, strike my building. And apparently that killed our building’s transformer1, so they had to bring in a generator, which will power the building until they can bring in a portable transformer, which will get us through until they can fix the building’s transformer, which is expected to take 10 weeks. Ten weeks! Fingers crossed that the strata’s insurance will cover all of this!

The power ended up being out for about 12 hours on Friday, so when I got home from the post-conference dinner, I met up with Scott at Waves, as he had an assignment due at midnight and Waves has free wifi, lots of access to electrical outlets, and lets you sit there pretty much forever. When they closed at 10 pm, we went over to the pub2. By about 11 pm I was too tired to stay up anymore3 and it occurred to me that I didn’t actually need electricity to go to sleep. As I was brushing my teeth by the light of a flashlight, the power came on!

Just a few weeks ago, I had bought a stand up freezer, because I was sick of both having to be selective of what frozen foods I could have at any given time since the freezer at the top of my fridge isn’t very big and of having stuff fall out of my freezer at the top of my fridge every time I opened it. So I bought this lovely appliance, and filled it up with a whole bunch of frozen meats and vegetables, homemade veggie stock, homemade waffles, fish that Scott’s dad caught on his most recent fishing excursion, etc.

Freezer Freezer

So of course I was worried that 12 hours of no power was going to have ruined all that food. But lo and behold, this thing must be super well insulated, as after the power came on I opened it up to survey the damage and everything was still frozen solid!

Yesterday afternoon, the power went off again! I had just gotten home from having been out most of the day and was going to try to fix the wifi, which wasn’t working since the first power outage, and the power to the whole building went out again! We got a letter from the strata later telling everyone that the generator they have running cannot provide enough power for everyone to do all the same things they are able to do under normal circumstances, so we need to minimize our electricity use. So don’t, for example, do laundry while cooking dinner and, if possible, cook dinner outside of the peak hours of 4-7 pm. And maybe turn off the lights when you aren’t in a room. Most of this (other than the not eating dinner between 4-7 pm) is stuff we really should be doing anyway, when you think about it, so I’m going to use this as a way of getting myself into the habit of being more energy conscious!

Image Credit: I did a search for a Creative Commons-licensed photo of a lightning bolt on Flickr and one of the first ones to pop up was the above photo, which was taken by Derek Miller. You may recall Derek from his final blog posting. It’s really an incredibly cool photo!

  1. Fun fact: I did not know that my building had a transformer! When you think about it, it makes sense, but I guess I thought the transforming happened somewhere outside, rather than in the building. []
  2. Fun fact: Kelly O’Bryan’s pub has free wifi! You just have to ask for the password! []
  3. In my defence, I’d been at a full day conference at which I gave two presentations, than ran an AGM, and then went to dinner, all after having stayed up late the night before putting the finishing touches on my presentations and making sure I had everything prepared for the AGM! []

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And then I did two!

So I decided that I needed videographic evidence to prove that I can, in fact, do an unassisted chin up, so I asked one of the trainers at the gym to take a video of me doing a chin up. And much to my own surprise, I did two!

Next goals: do five chin ups in a row and do an unassisted pull up!

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I Did A Chin Up!

The other day, my gym posted on Facebook that one of the trainers, Cindy Lou, had achieved her goal of doing an unassisted chin up. As you may recall, doing an unassisted chin up or pull up1 is also one of my goals and I’ve been working a lot on building up the muscles one needs to do an unassisted chin up2. So the next time I was at the gym, I told Cindy Lou that she was my hero as I was working towards that goal too. And she said, “Give it a try. You’ve been working hard, you might be able to do it now. The trick is not to think. Don’t hang. Just grab on and pull up right away.”

And so I decided to give it a try after the first set of my workout (so that my muscles would have a chance to be activated). I went over to one of the cages, climbed up on a box to reach the bar… and then I thought about it for too long and could barely lift myself two inches. Cindy Lou and I started chatting about it – basically me saying, “I was thinking too much!” and then right in the middle of chatting, I just reached up, grabbed on to the bar, and pulled myself up! The last little bit was a struggle, but I did it! I did a full on chin up, all with my own strength! No assistance3 whatsoever! I have to say, I was pretty chuffed! And there may have been a few high fives in celebration.

The trainer who writes my program, Dee, sent me a congratulatory email when she heard about it the next day. Because that’s the kind of trainers we have at my gym – they are genuinely excited and so proud of you when they’ve seen you work hard and finally achieve that goal you’ve been striving for for so long! She suggested that I now add in a chin up every day that I go to the gym. And when I get used to that, add one before every super set4. And then make it two. And it grows from there!

The next day when I went into the gym, I got lots of high fives from the trainers – like I said, the trainers at my gym are genuinely excited for us when we make progress. And I did another chin up and it felt so much easier than the day before. My first one was a bit shaky, especially at the top, but this one was smooth and I felt so strong! Now I feel like it’s not just that “I did an unassisted chin up”, but “I’m a person who does unassisted chin ups!”

Footnotes:

  1. Chin ups are where you grip the bar with your palms facing you (or you can do a neutral grip with your palms facing together, which requires a chin up bar that has grips facing this way), and a pull up is done with your palms facing away from you. The pull up is harder than the chin up. For the record, the one I did was a neutral grip chin up. []
  2. Chin ups are especially challenging for women, who tend to have less upper body strength compared to men. They have also been increasingly challenging for me as I’ve put on a fair amount of muscle since I started lifting, which means that I have to lift more weight! []
  3. In my training towards getting to this point, I have been doing, among other things, chin ups and pull ups where you tie a resistance band to the bar and you stand in it while you do your chin up or pull up – it takes away a bit of your weight so that you can practice the movement but without having to lift your entire body weight. When I started training, I used several bands and as my training progressed, I used fewer bands, and lighter bands, so that I was lifting more and more of my weight. []
  4. The way our programs are designed, we often have two or three exercises groups together. So say you are doing 3 sets each of exercises A1 and A2 – you’d do A1, A2, A1, A2, A1, A2 – and all that together is called a “super set”). Then you move on to your B exercises, then C, and sometimes also D. []

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Salmon Spawning

Last weekend Scott and I decided to go do something that has been on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days since the second iteration of my list (and I’m currently on my fourth iteration!): watch salmon spawning. We headed out to Maple Ridge, specifically Kanaka Creek, where salmon are knowing to run. Our first stop was the fish fence:

Fish fence

Which they use to count the salmon so they know how many salmon are spawning.

And this is what we saw on the fish fence:

Fish fence

So I knew that salmon die after they spawn, but I didn’t really think about the fact that going to see salmon spawning would mean seeing a bunch of dead fish, and then a few fish that are slowly swimming around on the brink of death.

Salmon Spawning, Kanaka Creek, Nov 2018

I guess I should have been more specific in my list – like “go to see salmon spawning early enough that you see the part where they are jumping up the river, looking strong and determined!” Perhaps I’ll have to add that to my next 101 list!

On the plus side, the dead fish provide a delicious treat for bears1, who later poop in the woods (and also drop bits of salmon remains) and provide nitrogen for the trees, which later provide shade for baby salmon, so it’s the circle of life, as this sign told us:

Salmon are a keystone species

Also, for some reason that sign has a random closing quotation mark after the word fry!, but there’s no opening quotation marks anywhere and it’s kind of driving me crazy.

In conclusion, salmon are cool and I wish I’d seen them in their more lively state! But I did see them, so I’m marking this one off of my 101 list as “complete!”

  1. Thankfully, we did not see any bears! []

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The Etiquette of Bus Wine

WineSo I was on the bus on the way home from work yesterday and two men got on the bus, sat down a few seats away from where I was sitting, and then one of them took a bottle of wine out of his bag, opened it up and took a swig right out of the bottle. But the thing is – it was my favourite wine1. So part of me is like “Oh my god, you can’t drink wine on the bus!” and the other part of me is like “Omg, that is such good wine!” And then after he and his buddy had each taken a drink, he offered it to the guy next to him, who was like “Uh, no.” And again I was torn – part of me was like “why aren’t they offering it to me? It’s my FAVOURITE WINE! Where are your manners??2” but also “Eww, I don’t want to drink wine from a bottle that random strangers have been drinking from.” I already think transit is germy enough!

Image Credit: Posted by Troy Kasper Photography on Flickr with a Creative Commons Licence.

  1. For the record, it is Ogopogo’s Lair, a Pinot Grigio by Prospect Winery. Now, wine snobs may laugh at me, and it’s not like I’m saying it’s the best wine in the world or anything, but as a relatively affordable wine, it’s my fav! Also for the record, I have no affiliation with Prospect Winery; they haven’t paid me to say their wine is delicious, so I am in no way compromised, bribed, or otherwise induced to write anything about their delicious, delicious wine. If someone from Prospect Winery is reading this and would like to send me a case or twelve of their delicious wine to bribe, compromise, or otherwise induce me, I’m not going to say no. I’m just saying. []
  2. Props are due to Dr. Dan for the title of this blog posting, which he suggested after I regaled him with this story in person. []

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Quick Trip Recap: London & Scotland

I’m sure it will be awhile before I get to do some of my usual thorough post-trip blogging of my trip to the UK, what with all the having-to-go-back-to-work-and-teaching-and-catch-up-on-all-the-work-I-missed-while-I-was-galavanting-around-the-UK, but for those of you who just can’t wait, here’s a high level summary of all the fun I had while you were working like a bunch of suckers.

Oct 12

Flew to London. Spent most of the flight marking assignments. I should do more traveling as I am really efficient at marking while on planes1.

Oct 13-15

London. Saw a bunch of London things. Went to the Natural History Museum and couldn’t figure out why nothing there looked familiar since I’d gone there on my previous trip to London. Turns out, I hadn’t. I went to the British Museum in London and the Natural History Museum in Dublin *and* the Natural History Museum in Washington, DC, but never the one in London. As it turns out, I prefer all of those other museums to the NHM in London.

Oct 16

Train trip from London to Glasgow. Had a steak dinner and then went to my favourite of the pubs we visited in the UK (and we visited quite a few): The Pot Still ((Dr. Dan,The Pot Still is like Fet’s Whiskey Kitchen in Vancouver but without the cool ladder but with cool Scottish people instead. I think you would like it there.)).

Oct 17

Glasgow. Glasgow Cathedral and the Glasgow Necropolis are spectacular. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is an interesting mix of a natural history type museum and an art gallery. Did the first of our scotch distillery tours: Clydeside Distillery.

Oct 18

Visited the University of Glasgow – I can’t believe that people get to go to school on such a beautiful campus – those old buildings are amazing! The business school is named after Adam Smith (he was a philosopher professor there) and we proceeded to see his name a lot around Scotland for the rest of our trip. Then we drove to Glencoe, making various stops along the way. Scottish countryside is stunning.

Oct 19

On this day I got to do the thing that had originally prompted me to go to Scotland (but was by no means the only reason I wanted to go) – I visited my Highland Titles Estate! For the uninitiated, the Highland Titles Nature Reserve sells plots of land and when you buy one, you become a Scottish landowner, which means you are allowed to use the title Lady, Lord, or Laird. As you know, I love titles, designations, and anything else I can add to my name, and I like to support nature conservation, so of course I am the Reverend Lady Dr. Mary Elizabeth Snow. It was a rainy day when I visited my vast 1 square foot estate, but visit it I did! After that we drove to the Isle of Skye and took a ferry to the Isle of Raasay, where we stayed in a hotel that is in a distillery – the aptly named Isle of Raasay distillery. We had dinner at the only place on the island to have dinner, Raasay House. The Isle of Skye and the Isle of Raasay are absolutely spectacularly stunning!

Oct 20

Did our second scotch distillery tour – Isle of Raasay Distillery. Then took the ferry back to the Isle of Skye and drove around and looked at various things there. So beautiful.

Oct 21

Looked at more Isle of Skye things and then drove back to Edinburgh. Got a flat tyre2 on our rental car, but the rental car company sent a guy to put the spare tyre on and then we were on our way again. It was dark when we got to Edinburgh but a lot of buildings were lit up and they looked incredibly beautiful in the night.

Oct 22

Squeezed as many things into our half day in Edinburgh as we could: St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, two cemeteries, and a bit of shopping. I got to see where David Hume is buried, so I was pretty chuffed about that. Then it was back to Glasgow, where we had just enough time for a cup of tea and then got onto our train to London.

Oct 23

Flew home.

Also, here’s some random other thoughts/observations:

  • Dairy Milks taste way better in the UK than in Canada. So does butter.
  • Things that you don’t tend to find in the UK: conditioner, salads.
  • Things you find a lot of in the UK: sheep, meat, cemeteries.
  • Three banks in Scotland makes their own banknotes. They are basically equivalent to pounds sterling that are issued by the Bank of England, but they are issued by retail banks. At one store in Scotland, the clerk told us that these banknotes are not accepted in England, but the internet tells me otherwise. I suspect she may have just been trying to get us to spend our money in Scotland instead of England!

More to come, including photos3 once I get myself unburied from all this work I need to catch up on!

  1. I also wrote most of this blog posting on the plane – just didn’t add the links or post it because I’m way too cheap to pay for wifi access on the plane. Hence why I’m posting it now! []
  2. Because that’s how they spell it in the UK! []
  3. I took about 8 million photos. []

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Vote!

Tomorrow is municipal election day in BC and if you are an eligible voter and haven’t yet voted in an advanced poll, then get out there and vote!

A lot of people don’t pay attention to municipal politics, but the municipal government deals with a lot of the things that affect our daily lives: roads, recreation facilities and community centres, development permits, parks, libraries, schools, policing, fire fighting, garbage pickup, and recycling, just to name a few. In my city, New Westminster, the city even runs its own electrical utility! The city can also advocate for things that are important to its residents, but that aren’t wholly within their jurisdiction and/or collaborate with other municipalities and/or other levels of government for projects that require them to work together – thinks like public transit and the much needed Patullo Bridge replacement.

I consider myself lucky that I live in a vibrant city with a real community feel, where the mayor, council, and school board all work hard to make it that way and to keep making improvements where we still have work to do (things like reconciliation with indigenous people, and more inclusive and meaningful engagement with the public).

Since I’m currently over in the UK on holidays, I voted in an advanced poll and based on my Twitter feed, it seems like a lot of other people did too. But tomorrow is e-day, so if you haven’t voted yet, get out there and do it!

Due to the 8 hour time zone difference, I’m probably going to go to sleep tomorrow night before the election results are in. But I’ll be checking those results first thing when I get up on the 21st!

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Stock Images

So I was looking for images to use in slides for the class I’m teaching this semester – I’m a big fan of using striking images in my slides and I also make a point of only using ones that have copyright licenses to allow me to use them for free1. I have a few sites that I go to for such images: Freepik, Unsplash, Pixabay, Free Images, and Flickr (where you can search for Creative Commons licensed photos). I’ve found some pretty good ones and have some slides that I really like this semester, but in the process of searching for images is not always so smooth. Like yesterday when I was searching for an image to represent “causation”. Three sites2 gave me no images and one site gave me 484 images of carnations. #EvaluatorProblems.

I’ve also come across some weird stuff. Like this image3, which is currently haunting my dreams:

hand-2571553

So, um, Happy early Halloween?

Image Credit: Posted by SarahRichterArt ((Be warned: I just went on the page of this photographer and she also has photos with spiders in them. And you know how I feel about spiders! Gah!)) on Pixaby with a Creative Commons license.

  1. I know a lot of people take whatever images they want off the interwebs and use them with impunity, but I choose not to do that. []
  2. Flickr gave me a bunch of unrelated photos plus this photo, which made my head explode, because it’s completely not true. We don’t use correlation to give credit to vaccines for preventing diseases – we know vaccines work to prevent diseases from randomized controlled trials!! #ScientistRant. []
  3. For the record, I was searching for “reports” when I found this abomination! []