Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese



Living in Metro Vancouver, I tend to think of February as springtime, because often, at least by the end of February, it’s all cherry blossoms and spring temperatures. Or perhaps it’s not so much “often” as it “it’s happened enough times in the 17 years I’ve lived here that I’ve decided that’s what I’m considering normal”. But I digress. The point is that I think of February as not-winter. This year has proven me wrong, what with it being late February and us digging out from yet another blizzard (where by “blizzard” I mean “snow fell and didn’t immediately melt when it hit the ground). Here’s some photos from today:Untitled





So that makes it seem like we made a pretty good call to book a trip to Hawaii right about now, right? Except here’s the forecast for Honolulu (red box = days we’ll be there):

Honolulu Weather

Honolulu forecast

Not exactly the sunshine I was hoping for! But I guess it won’t matter that much if it is raining when we are surfing – we’ll already be wet, right? And the high 20s sounds a lot better than the single digits that it will be back home:

Vancouver Weather

Vancouver forecast

Here’s hoping all that snow is gone by the time we get back!


Six Years Now

Each week in the newsletter at work, they do a short profile of someone working on the project. Just a few questions, like “What’s the last book you read?”, “What’s your favourite place you’ve ever visited?”, and “If you could have dinner with someone, alive or dead, who would it be?” A few weeks ago, they did my profile and my answer to that last question came to me immediately: My dad. He’s been gone six years now, and I really wonder what he’d think of all the things going on in the world these days. I wonder what he’d have gotten up to in his retirement years.

He’s been gone six years now, and I still think of him all the time. When I was fixing something around the condo, I was thinking about how he taught me how to use a screwdriver; when I shot two pucks just over the net in my game on Wednesday, I just wanted to call to tell him about it because I know he’d understand the mixture of pride (I lifted the puck that high!) and frustration (so close to scoring, but yet so far!); when I avoided a collision the other day on the way home from work when someone tried to change lanes without looking at their blind spot and so just swerved right at me, I thought both about how he’d taught me to drive *and* that I was screaming at the other driver just like he would have been.

Six years gone now, but never forgotten and always loved.


My dad and two of his brothers (Bob and Greg).


Five New Foods, Two Books, and One Hell of a Deadlift

After last year’s pathetic display of accomplishing so few of my goals, I’ve decided to come out of the 2018 gate strong. In fact, I’ve already made 5 new foods/beverages that I’ve never made before (of my goal to make 18 new things year), finished 2 books (of my goal of 18), and deadlifted my body weight!

The foods are:

  • chicken florentine – I had a bunch of spinach I needed to use up, so I picked this recipe.
  • grog – this was the house drink at my birthday party. It was pretty tasty!
  • slow cooker lasagna – made this for my birthday party. I’ve made lasagna a million times before, but never in a slow cooker.
  • kale salad from a recipe from Savio Volpe – Scott took me to Savio Volpe for my birthday and since the reservation said it was my birthday, there was a birthday card waiting on the table and in that card was a recipe for their kale salad. Which is delicious. And which I’ve made several times since then!
  • herbed goat cheese-stuffed chicken thighs – I had a bunch of goat cheese, leftover from my birthday party, that I needed to use up (do you see the trend?), so I google “goat cheese recipes” and found one for stuffing chicken breast with goat cheese that you’ve mixed with herbs. But I did it with chicken thighs. Pretty good stuff.
Making slow cooker lasagna

Making lasagna in the slow cooker

Kale salad

Kale salad

The two books I’ve finished so far in 2018 were:

  • The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker – I started reading this massive tome last year and it took me about eleventy billion years to get through it, but I finally did. The gist of the book is that violence has decreased over human history and Pinker puts forward his theory as to why. Often people think that we are living in particularly dangerous times – probably at least in part because we hear about violent events on the news on the time, but that’s actually a skewed perception, as the news covers the most sensational events (If it bleeds, it leads). Overall we are at much less at risk of being a victim of violence than in any other time in human history1 There’s a tonne of data illustrating the decline in violence and we can see it also in what is considered acceptable – e.g., it used to be legal and considered acceptable by society for people to keep slaves, for a man to rape his wife, for parents to beat their children, to people to brutalize animals, for example2. Pinker presents a pretty extensive theory as to why violence has declined and I’m not even going to try to get into describing it all. You’ll just have to read the 800+ pages to find out for yourself!
  • Ready Player One: A Novel by Ernest Cline – {SPOILER ALERT – Don’t read this if you don’t want the book to be spoiled for you!} After reading such a long, dense book, I decided I needed to have a quick and easy read as a bit of a palate cleanser for my brain, and Ready Player One fit the bill. Plus, there’s a movie version of it coming out this year and so I figured I should read it in case I decided to see the movie. I know a lot of people *love* this book, but I thought it was just OK. I mean, I enjoyed reading it but I got the exact same feeling from reading it as I did when I read the DaVinci Code – I was compelled enough by wanting to see how the various puzzles would be solved to keep reading, but the writing is so flat3 that it was kind of a painful, if easy, read. He does a tonne of name dropping of 80s games (game dropping?), movies, and music. Having grown up in the 80s, most of these were familiar to me (especially the movies and music), but the excitement of “hey, I remember that” gets pretty old pretty quick and then it just becomes annoying. And most egregiously, the Deus ex machina of Og showing up to give them a completely impenetrable fortress from which to complete the end of the game was just too much.

And then the one that I’m most excited about: I deadlifted more than my body weight! One of the challenges to doing this was that my body weight has increased due to the muscle mass I’ve put on from all the weight training4. I’d thought I’d lifted my body weight one time last year but then when I got home and weighed myself to confirm, I found that I’d been just shy of my weight.

In this month’s training program, one of my exercises was to do bar bell deadlifts where you start with a weight you can lift for 12 reps, then you up the weight and do 9 reps, then you up the weight again and do 6 reps. Then you start over at 12 reps, but with the weight you used for 9 reps the first time through, then you do 9 reps with the weight you did for 6 reps the first time through, then you do 6 reps at a higher weight. As you can see from my record sheet, on Jan 30, 2018, I did 6 reps of 67.5 kg!


Since I’m of the generation of Canadians that still thinks of our body weight in pounds instead of kg, I had to do the conversion to confirm that this was, in fact, more than my body weight:Untitled

And I do, in fact, weight less than 148 lbs, so hooray for me – goal achieved!

  1. Of course, this is not to say that there is no violence or that the violence that does happen is not horrific. []
  2. Again, this is not to say that these things don’t still happen or that they aren’t legal in some societies still today. But they are legal or accepted in far fewer societies today than in the past. []
  3. Full disclosure: I saw the description of the writing in this book as “flat” in a GoodReads review and it totally fit with the feeling I had about the writing that I couldn’t find the right word for, so I totally stole the word! []
  4. Also, it’s kind of cool that after several years of setting, and failing to achieve, a goal of losing the 15 lbs I put on during my MBA (I’d get part way there from half marathon training, but never quite lost it all), I’m now actually happier with my body size despite weighing the most I’ve ever weighed, because it’s all been muscle mass gain. Don’t get me wrong, I still have some fat mass I’d like to lose, but I’ve got some kickass muscles that I’ve never had before! []


One Month From Today…

…Scott and I will be in the tropical wonderland known as the state of Hawaii. And because I’ve learned that the first question anyone asks when you say you are going to Hawaii is “which island?”, I feel obliged to let you know that it’s Oahu. I’ve never been before, so I wasn’t too particular about which island to go to. I feel like I could equally enjoy the tourist-y scene of Honolulu or one of the more secluded locations on some of the other islands. All I really care about it that I can lounge on a beach and do some surfing1 And since I’m nothing if not a cheap, cheap woman, we just looked for the best deal, which turned out to be booking through Costco. Because did you know you can book travel through freaking Costco. I’m already slowly moving towards a Costco-based wardrobe, so why not just buy all the things from there?

Anyway, here are some random thoughts about Hawaii:

  • My sister went swimming with sharks when she was there. I totes want to do that!
  • Dr. Dan got his Harry Potter-esque lightning bolt-shaped scar when he was there do to an unfortunate yoga accident. I totes do not want to do that.
  • When I used to run a research training program, one of the students in the program transferred to the University of Hawaii. Why the hell didn’t I do that??
  • I am not going to be able to hear the word “lei” without giggling.

Anyway. One month from today. SO. EXCITED!

  1. And since I’m a novice surfer, I don’t even need to go to the *best* surf place. Just one where I can rent some gear and get a few lessons. []


Happy 4th Cativersary, Watson & Crick!

Can you believe I’ve had my kitties for FOUR YEARS? I totally thought it was just three, but when I went to get the link to the blog posting from when I got them, I saw that it was FOUR YEARS AGO! So I’ve had these little fuzzballs for more than half their lives. Well, if you count in conventional years. If you count in cat years, I’ve not had them that long, because according to the Internets, cat years work like this: their first two years of their life = 25 years, and every year after that = 4 years. When I got them, they were 2.25 people years, which is the equivalent of 26 years old in cat years. And in the 4 people years since then, they’ve only aged 16 cat years. Cat math is weird.

At any rate, every day I’ve had these cats has been the best. They are so loving and so funny, and even though Watson can be an asshole sometimes and Crick will claw the shit out of you if you piss her off, I wouldn’t change a thing about them. Best. Cats. Ever. I mean, look at these guys:

Watson & Crick in bed


Me & Crick

Watson & Crick






Cat line up

Watson & Crick on a pizza box

I love you, my little muffins!


101 Things To Do in the Next 1001 Days – 4th Edition

And speaking of things I meant to do ages ago, but just finally got around to doing: here’s my next 101 things to do in 1001 days list!

As you may recall, my last 101 list ended way back in the old time-y days of April 20171. I’ve been slowly adding things to the list since then2; and some are brand new (to me) ideas of things I’d like to accomplish.

Also like last time, I’ve put my list into a Google Spreadsheet, but this time I categorized them and have sorted the list by category, in alphabetical order: Adventure, Crafts, Finances, Fitness, Food, Home, Learning, Personal, Professional, and Travel.

Start date: Sunday, January 14, 2018

End date: Monday, October 11, 2020

Wish me luck!

  1. Though I didn’t get around to blogging it until June! []
  2. And I would like to note that there were two things that were on my list but I completed them before I actually finished compiling the list! For the record, they were: “Go to a New Westminster Salmonbellies lacrosse game” (which I did on July 13, 2017 [thank you Linda & Casey for the tickets!]) and “Get my will signed by two witnesses” (which I did on July 29, 2017 [thank you, Scott and Kalev!]), but somehow nine months went by before I actually completed it. But I’ve now come up with 101 things to attempt to do in the next 1001 days! Like last time, some of the items are things that I didn’t accomplish on my previous list, but that I still want to do; some are things I blatantly stole from Dr. Dan’s Not-So-Bucket List; some are from my goals for this year ((Hopefully I’ll get those ones finished in much less than 1001 days! []


Stuff I Learned This Year: Home Repair Edition

Hey remember that time more than four months ago when my kitchen cabinet door fell off? I *finally* got around to fixing it. I was really gung-ho to fix it when it broke, going so far as to buy replacement hinges at Home Depot right away. But then I got busy and somehow four months went by before I got around to trying to actually attach the new hinges to the cabinet and, as it turns out, the hinges I got were not the right ones. I’d bought ones that looked like the old ones, but when Scott and I attached them, the door wouldn’t close – it was off by like half an inch. My friend Heather’s husband Dwayne came over to help out and discovered what the problem was – the hinges I had gotten from Home Depot were made by Blum, but the hinges in all my cabinets are Ferrari. And apparently there is no standardization among different manufacturers, so you can’t just use a Blum hinge to replace a Ferrari one. After running around town, I managed to find someone who could sell me the right hinges, which Scott and I used to fix the cabinet yesterday and now I am the proud owner of a kitchen in which all the cabinets have doors on them!

And while we were in a fix it kind of mood, we also tightened the toilet seat, which was starting to become a bit loose. For this, we went to YouTube and found a video that showed us how very easy peasy this is to do:

So now not only can I successfully hide the contents of my kitchen cabinet with a fully functioning door, but I also will not slide off my toilet due to a loose seat. Hooray!


Smart-ish Home

Amazon Echo and Google HomeA few weeks before Christmas, Scott came to my place with an Amazon Echo as an early Christmas present for us. Then I got a Google Home from my sister and brother-in-common-law for Christmas! And then Scott got me a starter kit of wifi-enabled light bulbs that can be controlled by the Echo and/or the Home. So (a) I was spoiled at Christmas and (b) I can now walk around my condo speaking various commands and having things happen and I feel vaguely like I’m in Star Trek. Except that what these “smart home” devices can do is far more limited than all the things I want them to do. As one of my colleagues at work, who also has a Google Home, said, “I’m not too worried about the robots taking over yet.”

Things that I can get my smart home devices to do just by saying words aloud:

  • turn on my wifi-enabled light bulbs ((Which are currently in the lamps in my bedroom, living room, and office.)), either individually or collectively
    • I especially like being able to say “turn off all the lights” when I’m either going to bed or leaving the condo, rather than having to go around and turn off each one individually like a sucker
  • dim, brighten, or change the “colour temperature” of the light1
  • hear the news2, the weather forecast, or the score in the Canucks game
  • turn on the radio
  • find out the hours for a business I want to go to3
  • how long it will take me to get somewhere by transit or driving
  • write a voice memo4
  • add stuff to my shopping list
  • set an alarm or a timer

I’ve also set up my bedroom lamp to slowly come on in the morning to simulate a sunrise, in the hopes that it will ease me into waking up.

Stuff my smart home devices do, but poorly:

  • Google Home can add an event to my Google calendar5, but it seems to struggle with translating my words correctly, so I usually have to go in and fix it. And I have trouble getting out all the words that it wants6 in the way it wants to hear them, though I suppose I will get used to that.
  • Give me information that I ask it for – sometimes it gets what I’m asking it for, but often it just gives an “I don’t understand” response.

Stuff my smart home devices won’t do that I want them to do:

  • control the thermostat (because I don’t yet have a smart thermostat)
  • make my coffee
  • do the dishes or the laundry
  • feed the cats
  • clean the litter box
  • take more than one command at a time!

That last one is irritating, because sometime you want to do something like: turn on the lights, set them to cool white, turn on the music and set the volume to 50%. But the Echo or the Home won’t respond to all those commands if you issue them in one sentence – it will only do the first thing. You have to say each thing individually and you have to say “Hey Google” or “Alexa” before each one. Similarly, I can’t get Google Home to add more than one thing to my shopping list at a time. I read online that if you pause between each item, it will add them as separate items, but that didn’t work for me. When I tried, it only managed to separate out one item:

Unsuccessful attempt to get Google Home to add multiple items to my shopping list at the same time

I tried say “comma” in between each word, but it listed everything as one item with commas:

Unsuccessful attempt to get Google Home to add multiple items to my shopping list at the same time

And I tried saying semicolon, but then it just wrote out the word “semicolon”!

Unsuccessful attempt to get Google Home to add multiple items to my shopping list at the same time

Also, it irritates me that I can’t change the default voice on either device. I changed the voice of Siri on my iPhone to a British male ages ago because I don’t like that digital assistants default to use female voices and reinforce stereotypes of female subservience, but neither the Amazon Echo nor the Google Home will let you do that7.

Anyway I’m sure these things we get smarter as more and more people use them (and yes, I know that I now have two giant corporations listening to everything I say). For now, I think I’m going to get myself a few more my wifi-enabled light bulbs so that I can use my voice to control all the lights that are a pain in the butt to switch on and off right now and some “smart” outlets to control a few other devices. Now if only they would invent a wifi-enabled self-cleaning litter box!

  1. I don’t have the light bulbs that have all the different colours, because I can’t imagine I’d often want red, blue, green, etc. lights, but the bulbs I do have can vary from a cool to a warm light, depending on the mood you want. []
  2. I like to get my morning “news briefing” as I’m getting ready for work in the morning. []
  3. E.g., what time does the Safeway close today? []
  4. I use an IFTTT applet that records all the memos that I say to it throughout the day and then emails them to me at 10 pm []
  5. Using an IFTTT applet. []
  6. The event name, date, time, and the right trigger words to get it into the right calendar (as I have several different calendars in my Google calendar (e.g., a work calendar, a personal calendar, a teaching calendar, a sports calendar, etc.) []
  7. Apparently you can switch the voice of the the Google Home assistant to male in the US, but not yet in Canada. []


Goals for 2018

Since I performed abysmally on my goals for the past two years, I’ve decided to shake up how I’m writing my goals this year. As I was googling to get some inspiration for goals for this year, I saw some articles with tips on how to write better goals. One of those tips was something that I know very well from my work-life – making SMART goals!

  • Specific – it should be clear exactly what you are trying to achieve (e.g., rather than say “eat healthier”, you need to specify in way, like “eat more vegetables” or “consume less sugar”)
  • Measurable – it should have an indication of how you will measure if you achieved it (e.g., eat a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables at least 4 days a week)
  • Achievable – it should be something that is within your control1 and realistic enough to achieve2 – though you don’t want to make it too easy to achieve – it should be somewhat of a challenge so you have to work to achieve it.
  • Relevant – it should be something that matters to you, otherwise you won’t be motivated to work towards it.
  • Time-bound – it should have a date associated with it so that it’s not just an open-ended “well, I haven’t achieved it yet, but maybe someday it will happen!).

All of my yearly goals are, by definition, time-bound since they are to be completed within the year and I’m usually good at making them measurable and specific, but I’ve done a double check on this year’s goals to make sure they met all the elements of SMART.

The other idea that I saw was to phrase the goals as if they were already achieved – a technique that I’m familiar with from writing vision statements and learning objectives. So I’m going to give that a try!

By December 31, 2018:

Health-related goals

  1. I have deadlifted more than my own body weight. I’m close to having done this, but never quite got to my own body weight (I thought I had, but then went home and weighed myself and discovered that I’d put on my weight than I’d realized due to building up all this muscle from strength training!)
  2. I have done a chin-up or pull-up without the help of any resistance bands. I’ve had some training programs where I’ve been doing chin ups or pulls up, but I’m not yet able to lift my own body weight, so I stand in resistance bands that are hung from the bar, which takes a bit of my weight. I started with three different resistance bands and now I’m down to one or two. I think within 12 months I can get to doing them all on my own3
  3. I meditate at least once per week.
  4. I have written in my journal at least one time per week, on average. – I think I set my journal writing goal too high in 2017 and then got discouraged when I got so far behind that it felt like I’d never catch up! One a year seems more realistic.
  5. I have brought my lunch to work at least 75% of the time.

Personal growth-related goals:

  1. I learned 12 new things and wrote a blog posting about each of them.
  2. I read 18 books – and written a review of each. I failed miserably at my book reading goal in 2016, but I’m hoping that my work team gets moved to the new location we are supposed to be moving to – which is transit accessible – soon in the new year, so that I’ll be taking the Skytrain and bus more, which will provide me with more time for reading! Also, my book club is getting a reboot4, so that will help motivate me too!

Crafty goals:

  1. I’ve sewn 5 items. I really enjoyed the sewing classes I did last year and want to do more sewing. I’d like to take the zippered pouch class and perhaps make a few more tote bags.
  2. I’ve made 18 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before – and blogged about each of them. I have ideas for some things I want to try making and I’m sure I’ll be inspired with other ideas throughout the year.

Professional goals:

  1. I’ve submitted 3 papers for publication. I have one that is almost ready to be submitted and ideas for two others and I’m really need to dedicate the time to sit down and write them!
  2. I’ve set up and implemented a performance planning and review system for my team at work. Now that I have a team (that is more than just me and one other person), I think it’s high time I set this up.

Getting organized goals:

  1. I’ve applied for a Nexus card.
  2. I’ve finished Konmaring my condo
  3. I’ve painted my condo.
  4. I’ve bought a freezer. I currently only have the small freezer on the top of my fridge and I feel so limited by it. I want to be able to make big batches of things (like lasagna or chili) and then freezer them to have for lunches. So my plan is to clean up my office enough to

Miscellaneous other goals:

  1. I’ve donated blood twice.
  2. I’ve published 118 blog postings. That’s just a little more than one every 3 days, on average, or about 10 per month.
  3. Of those blog postings, I’ve published at least six that are long form (minimum of 3000 words). I feel like I should write some more thoughtful pieces, so I’m going to give it a try.
  1. Of course, sometimes things happen that make something that was achievable no longer so – such as if you set a goal to run a marathon but then got injury. But it shouldn’t be something that is clearly outside of your control or you can’t work towards achieving it. []
  2. I mean, as much as I’d like to make $1 billion this year, it’s pretty damn unlikely to happen, so then you are just setting yourself up for failure! []
  3. Some people at the gym do chin ups or pull ups while wearing a heavy chain – or a chain with weights attached! – that’s going to be a longer-term goal for me. []
  4. Thanks to Cath for rebooting us! []


Nerd Stats 2017

Another year goes by, another row gets added to my table of nerd stats. .

Blog postings Tweets1 Visits to my blog Average number of blog visits per day Busiest day on my blog
2008 423 2,227 32,410 93 Sept 26, 2008 (460 views)
2009 357 1,815 45,153 126 July 25, 2009 (1,181 views)
2010 344 2,302 44,689 122 Feb 9, 2010 (233 views)
2011 380 3,625 60,560 166 Oct 10, 2011 (374 views)
2012 201 875 63,844 175 Feb 13, 2012 (350 views)
2013 213 945 46,665 128 Sept 4, 2013 (721 views)
2014 91 910 33,948 93 Mar 7, 2014 (208 views)
2015 118 800 34,930 96 Nov 23, 2015 (512 views)
2016 116  812  51,549  141 Jan 29, 2016 (13,968 views)
2017 92 449 20,691 57 not sure2.
% change from 2016 -21% -45% -60% -60% N/A

So I was down across the board on my social media involvement in 2017, which is probably reflective of the fact that I feel like I didn’t really do anything in 2017. I was thinking of writing my usual “year in review” blog postings yesterday, but then I realized that I didn’t really do anything! I mean, I went to Washington, DC for the first time, which was cool, but other than that it pretty much just usual every day stuff: going to work, going to the gym (though I really, really do love the gym), playing hockey, and repeat. No epic trips, no epic accomplishments. I definitely have to step things up for 2018!

  1. Note to self: You started Tweeting in 2008, so you get these totals by simple subtraction, not by some fancy pants program or anything. I hope this helps you when you write your “Nerd Stats 2018″ posting when you think “how the hell did I figure out how many times I tweeted in a given year??” []
  2. I used to get this from a “Your 2015 year in blogging” email that Jetpack (the thing I used to track my blog stats) used to send. They stopped sending that in 2015 and the only reason I knew the most popular day in 2016 was because it was my most popular day ever, which Jetpack does provide on its dashboard. Since I didn’t surpass that day this year, it still stands as the most popular day ever and there’s no easy way to find my most popular day for 2017 []