Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Prince George

So I’m up in Prince George this week for work. My team needed to do data collection here and in Victoria, so we split up with half the team coming north and the other half crossing the Narrow Sea Georgia Strait to Essos Victoria. I’ve been to Victoria before – and I’m sure I’ll go again – so I jumped at the chance to come to PG, as I’ve never been here before and don’t imagine I’ll choose it as a vacation spot anytime soon. And I do like going to places I’ve never been before.

I have to say it’s quite pretty here and the people are unbelievably friendly. The people we are working with here are hosting a pub night at a local brewery for us on Wednesday and are making us lunch on Thursday. They’ve been so considerate and accommodating and friendly to us. And so has pretty much everyone else we’ve met. It’s very chill.

It’s also quite spread out here – it’s about a 20 minute walk from our hotel to the site we are working at and another 15 past that to get to where all the good restaurants are. (We went to the Copper Pig for BBQ for dinner – the food was amazing!). I’ve seen bus stops around, but I’ve yet to see a bus. Definitely a place that one would need to have a car (which we don’t).

Sadly, the forest fire season has started early – there wasn’t much precipitation over the winter – and they’ve already had to evacuate areas due to fire and it’s May! That doesn’t bode well for the summer – and we thought last summer’s forest fires were bad. 🙁

Some fun facts about PG:

  • while I tend to think of PG as in the “north”, when you look on a map you can see that it’s not even half way to the top of the province
  • population: 79,000 (just a bit bigger than New West’s 71,000)
  • was “Canada’s most dangerous city” from 2010-2012. But 2016, it was Canada’s 4th most dangerous city1
  1. I should have looked that up before I volunteered to come here! []

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5 Books I’ve Read This Year

So it appears that 2019 is one-third over and, as I expected given that I was teaching all the classes this past semester, I am way behind on my goals for 2019!

One goal that I’m only a little bit behind on, however, is my goal to read 20 books this year. I’ve read 6 – or 30% of my goal. Here’s a rundown of 5 of them – the 6th one deserves its own blog posting, so that will come later.

Here there be spoilers

Read no further if you’ve not yet read these books and don’t want things in them to be spoiled:

Belinda Blinked 2
Belinda blinked 3
american gods
The crazy game
split tooth

As mentioned last year, I’m listening to the podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno, in which a man is reading terribly written erotic novels that his father wrote, completely skewering it with a couple of his friends. But since he reads an entire book each season, I think it’s only fair that I get to count them as books I’ve read, much like I would an audiobook. I’ve finished off two more seasons of the podcast, which means I’ve read:

Belinda Blinked; 2: The continuing story of, dripping sex, passion and big business deals. Keep following the sexiest sales girl in business as she earns her huge bonus by removing her silk blouse. Even just that title is ludicrous. Nothing in the book makes sense and the sex is pretty much always the least sexy people having the least erotic experiences possible. And it’s absolutely hilarious.

and

Belinda Blinked; 3: The continuing erotic story of sexual activity, dripping action and even bigger business deals as Belinda relentlessly continues to earn her huge bonus. This book had a bombshell in that, at the very end of the book, an actual plot emerged for the first time in the series! I was flabbergasted! I’m listening to season 4 now and while in some chapters it seems like the author has forgotten about this plot, it does come up a few times and I’m hopeful that there will actually be a resolution because book 4 is the last one in the series.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

Cath recommended this one and since I absolutely loved Good Omens, which is also by Neil Gaiman, I figured I’d give it try. There are a bunch of characters who are various types of gods that have been brought to America from other countries over the centuries as people immigrated, bringing their conceptions of gods with them. There are figures from indigenous, Norse, Slavic, Ghanaian, Egyptian, and various other mythologies. But gods need to be worshipped to have strength and since not many people think about these old gods anymore, they are not faring that well. And then there are the new gods – the things people worship today, like the media and technology. I won’t get into the plot, but suffice it to say that I quite enjoyed it and I think I’ll watch the TV series version.

The Crazy Game: How I Survived in the Crease and Beyond by Clint Malarchuk

(Trigger warning: this section mentions a suicide attempt and trauma). I remember seeing an interview with Clint Malarchuk when this book came out. He is best known for being the NHL goalie who has his necked sliced by a skate in a game and nearly bled to death live on television. He ended up with PTSD from the experience and he also deals with OCD and alcoholism. In the book he talks about growing up, his hockey career, and dealing with his mental health issues (like how he challenged the obsessiveness that comes with OCD into his training as a goalie and his experiences in rehab). He also talks about his suicide attempt, where he put a gun to his chin and pulled the trigger in front of his wife saying “Look what you made me do!”). On the one hand, I think it’s really good that people are talking more about mental health, especially in an industry like professional hockey where men are expected to be “tough” and talking about mental health is seen as “weak”. On the other hand, parts of this book were difficult to read – Malarchuk was verbally and psychologically abusive to his wives1 and I found reading about the way he would gaslight his wife brought up stuff from my past that was somewhat triggering for me. I also found that in the next hockey game I played after reading about the skate blade incident, I was very aware of my neck2.

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq

This book was recommended by Dr. Dan and it was a phenomenal read. It was very different than anything I’ve read before. Parts of it are memoir of growing up in Nunavut, parts are fiction and mythology, and parts are poetry. She moves among these in such a way that I wasn’t always sure what I was reading and then she’d take your breath away with a description of violence she experienced, or a scene of surreal beauty. It’s really hard to describe – you must read it for yourself!


So there are 5 of the 6 books that I’ve read this year. I’ll have to find some time to sit down and write a full blog posting about the 6th book that I’ve read, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. As a teaser, I’ll say that (a) you should read this book for yourself because there is no way I can do it justice, and (b) a major takeaway from this book is that not only do we have to do more than learn how to talk about race, we need to take action to support social justice for all people, if we really care about justice.

Also as a teaser, here are some of the other books that I’m currently reading (which I’ve just realized as I wrote out this list are all textbooks!):

Perhaps I should start a new fiction book too!
  1. In the book, he only refers to his current wife, Joan, by her name – the others are just “my first wife,” “my second wife”, and “my third wife”… at least, I think he had four wives – it was a little while ago now that I read the book, so maybe it was just three. It’s possible that he doesn’t include the names of his other wives out of respect for their privacy, but when reading it I felt like it came across as if they didn’t matter. []
  2. I always wear a neck guard when I play, in large part from having seen videos like the one of Malarchuk with blood spraying from his neck. But also because I’ve taken a few sticks and pucks to the throat and those hurt even with a neck guard on – I can’t imagine how bad they’d be without! []

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The Browser Tab Effect

You know that thing where you get up to go to another room to get something, and then when you get there, you forgot why you went there? Psychologists call it the “doorway effect” (as in you forget stuff when you walk through a doorway). It’s totally a known thing that happens with human memory (this BBC article explain why).

I have the modern day equivalent of that: I call it the browser tab effect. I’ll be working on something in say, a Word document or a spreadsheet and I’ll think “I need to look up X”. So I flip to another application – often my internet browser, to look up X and then… what was I looking for? Often this compounded by the fact that when I flip over to my Internet browser, I see the last tab I was on and it reminds of the incomplete task I had related to that tab because I went off to some other application on my computer to do some other thing.

It also doesn’t help that my browser usually looks something like this:

all the tabs

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The rumours of Ogopogo’s death have been greatly exaggerated

I’m here to issue a first ever Not To Be Trusted With Knives correction! After I posted about how the city of Kelowna tore down the statue of Ogopogo that I love to visit , my friend Sandra emailed to let me know that it was actually a *different* Ogopogo statue – a giant Ogopogo head, in fact – that was part of a waterpark elsewhere in Kelowna. My beloved Ogopogo is still standing!

And there was much rejoicing!

Long live the Ogopogo!

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Farewell, Sweet Lake Monster

So I’m pretty sad that the city of Kelowna smashed up the Ogopogo statue. I first met the illustrious Ogopogo on my first trip to Kelowna, when I went there with a band of travelling scientists. True story. 

Ogopogo

Me and a band of traveling scientists, sitting on a lake monster. As one does.

Whenever I went to Kelowna after that, I’d always go see the Ogopogo and it always made me smile. And I didn’t even realize that the last time I was there would be the last time I would see dear Ogo.

IMG_3798

This photo is not actually the last time I saw the Ogopogo, as I didn’t take a photo the last time I was there. What was I thinking??

Apparently Kelowna decided that they want to put some sort of a water park there for kids and that it’s too dangerous for kids to climb on things and so they smashed the poor, innocent, unsuspecting lake monster to smithereens. 

Goodbye, sweet lake monster. You are missed.

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RIP Scarlett

At work on Friday, I dropped my phone, much like I have done a countless times before. But this time when it landed, it made a horrible crunching sound and I knew that couldn’t be good. I picked it up, flipped it over, and saw this:

shattered iPhone screen

My phone, affectionately named Scarlett, is a few weeks shy of three years old, which is 978,237,923,302 in phone years. I had just gotten her battery replaced in Dec (since there was a discount on battery replacements and my battery was absolute crap), so I was hoping to get another year out of her. Clearly, that is not meant to be.

I started debating whether I should stick with iPhone – the new ones are more than $1000 and I’m really not too keen on dropping a grand on a phone – or jump ship and get an Android. But then I was talking to a colleague about the bad day I was having (in addition to the phone smashing, a few other things weren’t going my way on Thursday), and she said, “Do you want my iPhone? It’s an 8 and I’ve only had it for year and I’m getting rid of it. I got it as a gift, so I wouldn’t feel right selling it, but I don’t like it and am switching back to my Android phone this weekend and if you don’t take it, it’s just going to sit there on a shelf.”

I was in complete disbelief that someone would be so generous, but she was insistent that she couldn’t sell it and if I didn’t take it, it would just sit there and she’d feel bad about it being wasted. So I just have to make it through this weekend with a phone on which I can’t read anything in the top right corner of the screen and that feels totally weird when you touch the screen.

In related news, I find it super weird that the touch screen works despite being smashed to bits.

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It’s Not Fun to Have a Sprained M-C-L. It’s Not Fun to Have a Sprained M-C-L.

Yes, the title of this blog posting should be sung to the tune of YMCA.

An image of the ligaments of the knee. There are many ligaments that attach the various bones of the upper and lower leg together.On Wednesday night at hockey, I twisted my knee. I’d like to say that it was in some heroic act, like scoring the game winning goal in overtime, but alas it was by running into my own defencewomen in a playoff game that we would ultimately go on to lose, thus being eliminated from the playoffs. I went flying one way and my knee went flying the other way and now I’m pretty sure I have a grade 1 sprain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL). 

As far as knee injuries go, this is one of the better ones to have. If you twist your knee and hear a popping sound and if your knee can’t bear weight after that, you’ve likely damaged your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and that can require surgery. A torn meniscus, or an actual tear in the MCL or its partner from the other side of the knee, the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), or a tear in the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), or a fractured patella (a.k.a., knee cap) are all other ways one could injure their knee in worse ways than this.

I happened to already have a massage appointment booked yesterday, and I also talked to one of the trainers at my gym, and both agreed with my self-diagnosis that a grade 1 sprain of the MCL is likely what I have. It’s a A diagram showing muscles in the hip and thigh, including a number of adductor muscles in the inner thigh.stiff knee and some pain on the medial (inside) of the knee, most bothersome when going down stairs (as you load the weight onto the knee in such a way that that ligament bears a lot of your weight). The recommendation for a sprained MCL is to keep the knee moving, but take it easy1. And it should get better in a week or two2. The massage therapist also worked on the muscles around that knee that are working overtime to compensate for the MCL, especially this one muscle in the back of the knee (the popliteus) and my adductor muscles that were insanely tight. So once the knee feels better, adductor stretches are going to be added into my workout warm ups and cool downs for sure!

Image credits:

  1. And to be careful to avoid limping. And since I’m well aware of the dangers of limping around on an injury I am being very deliberate in planting my foot with every step and walking as normally as I can. []
  2. So the silver lining to both of my teams getting knocked out of the playoffs on Wednesday night is that I know have a few weeks off from hockey so that my knee can heal before the start of summer season. []

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So Many Plans!

So, 2019 is more than one quarter of the way done. I’d say “where has the time gone?” but I know exactly where it has gone – it’s gone into the teaching of the way too many courses that I’ve been whining about. Happily, all I have left of that is to mark the final assignment for one course, the final exam for another course, and mark the two final assignments for the third course. So really, I’m practically done!

Which means I can soon turn my sights to doing stuff around the condo that I’ve been itching to do (and which makes up like half of my list of goals for 2019). There is painting and building and installing and organizing on the horizon and it’s going to make me SO HAPPY! Also, if anyone has any tips for painting and building and organizing, I’m all ears!

I am also excited to set up my balcony herb garden again (and I’m sure the kitties will be delighted to have fresh catnip back on the menu). And also I need to clean out the frog tank and re-stock it with new frogs, because all the previous frogs passed away. So if anyone has suggestions for frog names, I’m all ears for that too!

I also want to do something creative – perhaps more sewing classes? Or jewellery making? I really, really want to take a stand up comedy class, but the next offering of the course I want to take starts when I’ll be in Halifax for a conference, so I’ll have to wait until the summer for that one.

And then I guess Scott and I need to figure out what our next trip is going to be1. We’ve been talking about wanting to go to Japan, but haven’t made any concrete plans. Any suggestions (for either a Japan trip or suggestions of other trips we might want to consider), I’m all ears for that too! 

  1. Hopefully I will actually get around to blogging about our Scotland trip and our Palm Springs trip before our next trip! []

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Elevators

Elevator buttonsThe elevators in my office building are very, very slow. It’s only a 7 storey building, so I’m not sure why it takes eleventy hours to get from the ground floor to the floor on which my office is located but it does. You often have to wait several minutes for the elevator and it’s super annoying when you just want to get to work – or you just want to leave! The other day, as I walked up to the elevator and the doors were closing, I pressed the button to get the doors to re-open, knowing that if I didn’t it catch it, I would be stuck there waiting for several minutes. Someone from my office was in the elevator, saw me press the button and *pushed* the “close door” button. I mean, the doors were closing, I pushed the button and they started to open again, and she pushed the freaking “close door” button and the doors started to close again! So I pushed the button again, and the doors opened and I got in. And this person does this big exaggerated sigh at me. I was stunned. So I said, “I really didn’t want to have to wait 5 minutes for the elevator to come back.” And she’s like “Well, I just wanted to get going.” Seriously. She didn’t want to be delayed by 12 seconds, so I should have to be delayed for 5 minutes! I figured I won that round, because she actually ended up costing herself more time by not just letting me get in the elevator the first time I pressed the button.


Elevator ButtonOne of the two elevators in my condo is broken, with just a sign telling us “We are waiting for parts to be shipped to us to fix the elevator and we have no idea when they will arrive.” So there’s also a bit of a wait for the elevator when I’m at home. But funnily enough, I’ve not had anyone try to close the door on me. What’s more, I’ve had some variation of this conversation several times since the one elevator broke down:

Me: Thanks for holding the elevator! I can’t believe what a big difference in wait time it makes having just one working elevator.

Other Person: Yeah, it really does. On the plus side, I’ve met so many more of neighbours because it seems like there’s alway someone else in the elevator with you!

“I get to meet more of my neighbours!” is *such* a New West thing to say.


Elevator ButtonsSo I wrote the above two parts a few days ago and hadn’t had a chance to post them… and then the elevator situation at work got weirder. Yesterday, the elevators would not come to the floor my office is on. They would go to all the other floors, but not mine. I may have been listening to too much of the SAYER podcast, but I’m pretty sure I have offended the elevators – probably by complaining about how slow they are – and now they are plotting against me! And then today the office admin person sent around an email saying that they were aware of the broken door handle on the first aid room and maintenance had been called to come and fix it. So basically the elevators are out to get me and they’ve sabotaged the first aid room so that when said elevators attack, there will be no way to save me.

 

Yes. I’ve definitely been listening to too much of the SAYER podcast

  • First photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/raeallen/8049027193/ 
  • Second photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/phelix/3148944/ 
  • Third photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aloha75/16275579257
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    (More Than) Halfway There

    It’s mid-March. Which means it is, mercifully, more than half way through the semester for the eighteen billion courses that I’m teaching right now. I mean, I love the classes that I’m teaching – one is statistics, another is data and research management, and a third is program planning & evaluation1 – and my students are awesome. But oh my gawd that is a lot of balls to keep in the air at the same time, along with my regular day job and various other sundry things I do.

    Two of the courses run the full semester (one online and one in a weekly night class), but the other one is a half-sized course that runs over two weekends (Friday and half of Saturday one weekend and then three weekends later, half of Saturday and all day Sunday). I taught my first of those weekends on the first weekend of March and it was totally flashback to my MBA, which ran on a similar cadence and occurred in the same venue. And also the feeling of sheer exhaustion.

    Right now, every day is go to work, possibly go to the gym or play hockey or teach a class (depending on the day), then spend the night marking assignments/creating assignments/develop course material and activities/making slide decks/reviewing online discussions and responding to students. Unless it’s a Saturday or Sunday, in which case I get to skip the “go to work part”. Every. Single. Day.

    But I’m more than halfway there. I’ve completed week 10 of 15 weeks for my two full semester courses and half of my classes for the weekend course. I’ve only marked 6 of 14 assignments/tests, so there’s still a fair bit of work to do on that front, so I guess I’m a bit less than half done on marking and a bit more than half done on teaching.

    I am really, really going to enjoy May this year.

    1. Yes, those topics are exciting to me. YMMV. []