Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Workin’ 9 to 5

I have a tendency to do things the opposite from how other people do things. If most people find something easy, I’ll have trouble with it, but I find the thing that everyone else is confounded by to be simple.  When I was in high school, it never ceased to amaze my then-boyfriend’s family that I could hardly ever answer any of the questions in the first round of Jeopardy correctly, but I cleaned up in the (supposedly more difficult) second round (and don’t even get me started on how good I was at Final Jeopardy).  The other day at the pole dancing lesson, I was a left-turner when every single other person in the room was a right turner.  I just always seem to be Captain Opposite.

Case in point: it’s a recession, unemployment is through the roof and I have too many jobs1.  That’s right – not long after securing the salary for my current job for the next six years through a sucessful grant application (in a really tough competition, I might add), I go and get another job offer.  It’s for a job that I interviewed for back in the middle of March, when I didn’t know if my grant was going to be renewed or not, and I didn’t hear back for awhile, so I sort of thought that they weren’t interested and kind of put it out of mind.  And then we got the good news about the grant, so I got busy planning and working on ramping up my program.  Then, as it turns out, there was merely a delay in the interview process for job #2, but they were actually very interested in me. So much so that they offered me the job!  In keeping with my policy of not revealing what my actual job is here in the blogosphere, I’m going to not reveal what my new job is.  But it does have the word “Specialist” in the title. And you know that makes you jealous.  Unless, of course, your job title also has the word “Specialist” in it, in which case you are all “whatev.”

The job starts at the end of May. Which gives me enough time to prepare to transition my current job to someone new and to buy a car.  But that’s a whole other blog post!

1For the record, I think this runs in my family. My dad works in the auto industry in Ontario2. You know, the auto industry that is completely decimated? The factory he worked in closed down last fall and, seeing as he is 63 years old, that meant an early retirement. But the factory he worked in had to re-open because the factory where all the jobs went, in Mexico, wasn’t able to make the needed parts to the necessary level of quality and in the needed timeframe. And people need their cars to be able to stop. So they re-opened the Canadian factory, which will make parts until the Mexican factory gets running properly and my dad, a worker in the auto industry who really should just be retired, is back on the job.
2Specifically, he makes brake parts. Every time your car stops safely, you should thank him.

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T minus 4 Days To The Half Marathon… And They Need You To Volunteer!

The BMO Vancouver Marathon is looking for volunteers!

From an email I just got:

We are looking for Course Marshals or as we refer to them as “the cheering squad” ~ help lead these runners along the route!

We need some strong people to help at the finish line and always a little help giving these runners some very well deserved food at the end of their big day!

We thank all of those who have given their energy, time and support to this great event! Come be a part of our dynamic volunteer team and create a memory these runners will remember forever!

You can contact our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@vanmarathon.bc.ca

Miss604 mentioned on her blog yesterday that volunteers are desperately needed!

Since I’m one of the people running at this event you can chalk this blog posting up as a little self-serving!  But you know you want to come out on Sunday and cheer me, Alicia and thousands of our fellow runners along.  Or feed us.  It’s especially important that someone is there to feed me after I run 21.1 km!

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The BC Healthy Living Alliance Wants You To Vote Healthy!

Spent the evening going on a lovely walk with some fellow bloggers and some peeps from the BC Healthy Living Alliance (BCHLA).  It was a really neat idea – with an eye to the upcoming provincial election, the BCHLA hosted a blogger walk in their neighbourhood, where they pointed out some features in the ‘hood that facilitate, or are barriers to, a healthy lifestyle – things like whether there’s easily accessible park space for kids to play in, bike lanes, walkable streets, stores that sell fresh produce and affordable childcare spots.  (For that last one, btw, the answer is pretty much “no” – for every five kids under the age of six in BC, there is only one space in regulated child care… and even if you are lucky enough to get that one space, you probably can’t afford it because the cost of childcare is crazy!)

The take home message I took from the walk was that while it’s all well and good to educate people about eating healthy, being physically active and the like, there are often barriers, sometimes things we don’t even really think about, that prevent people from putting what they know into action.

And that’s where the link to the upcoming election comes in.  The BCHLA has a “Vote Healthy” initiative – basically, a top 10 list of things that they feel the government should be working on to promote healthy living and remove barriers that prevent people from being able to make healthy choices… things like making affordable housing more available, increasing access to fruits & veggies, and investing in health promotion/disease prevention.  And they have a bunch of resources – like links to sample questions you might want to ask at an all-candidates meeting or sample letters you can send to politicians – on their website.  You should go check out their website.

So, I’ve now written – and deleted – three different endings to this blog posting.  Somehow I think I’m waaay too tired to compose anything that remotely sounds like a good ending. That is all.

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This Is A Travesty!

I can’t believe what they monkey fighting did to the Monday-to-Friday best line in the bestest freaking movie ever:

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Alicia’s Bachelorette

Yesterday was my friend and running partner Alicia’s bachelorette party!

The first event of the day: a pole dancing lesson at Tantra Fitness:

After that we headed to Alicia’s friend Negar’s place for some refreshments and to change into our evening wear:

IMG_4718 by you.

Then we went to Lux for dinner1. At Lux, Alicia’s friend Wendy gave her this educational book:

IMG_4723 by you.

After dinner, we headed to Bar None where we were on the extra special list2 that got us past the line up.  Line ups are for suckers.

IMG_4739 by you.

I don’t seem to have taken too many photos of Bar None, but Alicia was positively camera happy, so I can’t wait to see hers!

Anyhoo, all this to say that I had an absolute blast of an evening and I can’t wait for the wedding!!

1My review of Lux: Food: crappy. Service: even worse.
2It wasn’t the VIP list, because the people at the front of the VIP line had been waiting an hour by the time we got there, and we got right in. I don’t think the people in the VIP line liked us very much.

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Photos From My Recent Time Travel Adventure

So guess where I was when I saw this yesterday:

IMG_4702 by you.

A Dharma Initiative station? That’s what I thought when I saw it. In actuality, I was in a lecture hall at UBC, where I was invigilating my class’s exam. Seriously. This is what you find in the desk at the front of the room for the lecturer to control the audio-visual system. Let’s have a closer look:

IMG_4703 by you.

Thank goodness we can control the TV, film and slide projectors and the audio tape!  Because I totally love to play cassette tapes in class.  In 2009.

And then I also saw this:

IMG_4701 by you.

That was in the desk at the front of the lecture hall as well. You know, a big red phone with no numbers for dialing. I’m pretty sure this is a direct line to the president. Or Batman.

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You Can Do *Anything* You Want?

I’m involved in a program where scientists go to elementary schools to teach science to the kids. It’s super fun to see how engaged the students get in the experiments, to see them thinking critically and learning that science is fun.  Last week, I went to meet the classes I’m going to be working with this year – grades 3 and 4.  I told them a little bit about my background as a scientist and, after wowing them with the fact that I went to school until I was in grade 23, we got to talking about what university is like. I told them that unlike elementary school, where you have classes in all the different subjects – science and math and English and art and gym and music and history, etc. – when you get to university, you start to specialize, you decide what you like and then you take most of your courses just in that area.  If you decide you like science, then you can specialize in science and take mostly science classes. If you decide you like art, you can specialize in that.  And this one kid’s eyes just go so big and the expression on his faced showed that he’d just had the most amazing revelation.  “You mean you can do *anything* you want?  You get to pick *anything*?”  I think it was the first time he’d ever heard this! “That’s right,” I said,”You can decide to do whatever you want!”

And then today I was talking to one of the students in the university course that I’m teaching, answering some last minute question about tomorrow’s final exam, my student said that even though this is her last term of university, she was really excited by research methods (which is not something you hear very often, by the way. Research methods tends to be something that many students feel they just have to suffer through, something that they won’t ever engage in again).  “It’s really exciting,” she said, “with research, you really can do anything you want!”

And isn’t that a nice thought?  Whether you are a grade 3 student looking to your life ahead or a fourth year university student whose eyes are being opened to the possibilities of research or [insert your own life here] – you can do *anything* you want!

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Running Scared

As you know, I’m training for a half marathon.  And really, I can’t imagine a better city to train in – I actually enjoy running in the rain, so my city’s tendency towards rain is not a problem for me, and it’s much milder here than anywhere else in the country, so you can even train throughout the winter.  Plus, the city is gorgeous – it’s easy to plan runs along the beach, down cherry blossom-filled roads and through the forest.  In fact, I have a particularly favourite 6 km route that I like to run, about half of which is through Pacific Spirit Park, a beautiful 763 hectare forest not far from my house.  Or, I should say, a route I liked to run. Past tense.  About two and a half weeks ago, Wendy Ladner-Beaudry was found murdered in Pacific Spirit Park.  Murdered in this beautiful forest while out for a run in broad daylight.  A run through a forest that sees 1.7 million visitors a year, a place that’s always teeming with people whenever I’ve been there.  A place that many, many people – myself and a few of my friends included – go to run, to walk, to bike. Or used to go.  Because honestly, I’m afraid now.

The logical part of my brain says, “millions of people use this Park and, as far as I know, nothing like this has ever happened before. It should be safe.”  The Pacific Spirit Park Society assures us that “in spite of the recent incident, it remains one of the safest places in Vancouver.” But I just can’t bring myself to run through that forest.  And I didn’t even run on the trails within the forest, the parts where you could be hidden from view of fellow park goers long enough for something to happen – I tended to stick to the main roads around and through the forest – not because I was concerned for my saftey or anything, but rather because with my horrible sense of direction I would (and one time, did) get lost for hours on the winding trails.  But I can’t even feel comfortable doing that anymore.

Today was the first time I’d faced this since Wendy Ladner-Beaudry was found murdered in the Park, as for the last couple of weeks my runs have either been very long runs, which I do with my friend and running buddy, Alicia, or I’ve been downtown and so have been able to do my run along the waterfront, which is very busy and very out in the open.  But today I needed to do a 6 km run when I got home from work. And so I mapped out a new 6 km run, one that kept me far from the forest.  And that makes me sad.  I loved my run by the forest. I loved being lost in my own world, feet pounding, music blaring, surrounded by the splendour of the forest – I find it almost meditative.  But, no, the safety tips from the RCMP suggest that you shouldn’t even wear headphones while out for a run, because you should be more aware of what’s going on around you.  Well, I just couldn’t give up my forest route and my running music.  But as I ran along the busy city streets listening to my music this evening, I was looking around far more than I usually do, constantly paying attention to who was around me and what they were doing and generally being on the lookout for where someone could be hiding along the way.  I don’t want to be that paranoid.  I don’t want to have to be that hypervigilant. I don’t want my runs, which are supposed to be my time for de-stressing, to be a sorce of stress and paranoia and panic.

My heart goes out to Ms. Ladner-Beaudry’s family and friends. I’ve been reading  about her and it seems that she was not only an avid runner and talented athlete, but she was also involved in many projects aimed at breaking down barriers that prevent low income women and children from being involved in sports.  Her husband said that she would be the first “to tell people not to be frightened or cowed, not to become prisoners of our own fear.”  And while I wish I could say that I’m not frightened and I’m not going to be a prisoner of my own fear – I can’t.  For now at least, I’m not going to be running through the forest on my own, I’m going to be a little more on my guard, a little less into my meditative space when I run.  And I hope that the police catch a break in their case and find the person who killed her – first and foremost so that the Ladner and Beaudry families can have even a little bit of peace knowing that the person responsible for this senseless tragedy is brought to justice.  But also so that those of us who love running and sports like she did can feel safe again in our beautiful city.

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Single Transferable Vote

So along with our provincial election, we are having a vote on changing the way in which we elect our provincial politicians.  Currently we use a first-past-the-post system – there are a bunch of candidates in your area (called a “riding”), you vote for one and then the candidate with the most votes wins the seat in that riding.  The problem with this system is that a lot of people’s votes don’t count for anything and a person can (and often do) win their seat even when the majority of people in the riding don’t vote for them.

Take, for example, the riding in which I lived during the last election – Vancouver-Quadra, which just happens to be the riding currently held by the Premier.  This is how many votes each candidate received in that riding in the last election:

  • Gordon Campbell – BC Liberals* 12,498 votes
  • Mel Lehan – BC NDP 10,248 votes
  • Damian Kettlewell – Green Party 4,111 votes
  • Yolanda Perez – Marijuana 138 votes
  • Tom Walker -Work Less Party 126 votes
  • Jeff Monds – Libertarian 44 votes
  • Gudrun Kost – Platnium Party 18 votes

To put it another way:

Votes for Gordon Campbell – 12,498

Votes for NOT Gordon Campbell – 14,685

(Votes for NOT Gordon Campbell if you only look at the 3 major parties – 14,359)

Simply put, more people in the riding didn’t want to see Gordo as their Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) than did.  And yet he won the seat.

The Single Transferable Vote (STV) system allows for more proportional representation.  For example, a party like the Green Party which tends to get a fair percentage of the popular vote (9.17% in the last BC provincial election) but no seats because they don’t get enough votes in any single riding could actually win some seats, meaning that the 9.17% of people who voted for the Green Party could have some representation.  And people like me – a lefty in a heavily righty riding1 – will have a chance for their vote to count.

The clearest explanation of how STV works that I’ve seen has been this little animation on the CBC website2.  There doesn’t seem to be a way to embed that animation here on my blog, but you should definitely click on the link and go watch it, because it explains the whole thing really clearly.  Go and watch it.  I’ll wait.

Did you watch it?  It all makes lots of sense now, right?  Good.

We actually had a referendum on the STV during the last election, but there was very, very little promotion of that fact, so many people showed up at the polls and were all “What? There’s a referendum too?  What the f is STV?” And since, as you saw from the animation that you just watch (you did watch it, right?), it’s not something that can be explained in 30 words or less, those people just tended not to vote in the referendum, which actually got 58% of the votes in favour, but needed 60% to pass.  But because a lot of people felt they weren’t informed enough to vote on it last time, they are having a do-over.  I haven’t really seen many ads or explanations of STV yet (although there are lawn signs, as Cath@VWXYNot? pointed out in her comment on my last blog posting and they were talking about it on CFOX radio this morning).  Anyway, this blog posting is my little attempt to get the word out.  So watch the animation and then vote in the BC-STV referendum, k?

*Not in anyway liberal.
1I’ve actually jumped out of the frying pan into the fire in that respect, having moved from Gordo’s riding into an even more staunchly right-wing riding where the incumbent BC Liberal* candidate won a strong majority of the vote.
2Props to Rebecca who had a link to this on her blog.

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Another reason to love the Canucks

NDP could win big if voters catch Canucks fever

And speaking of the election, I’ve now seen a few lawn signs popping up.  Unfortunately, since I live in the riding of an incumbent, who happens to be a Cabinet minister and it happens to be a pretty well-to-do riding1, so I don’t really have a hope in hell that the NDP will win the seat here. But I have at least seen a NDP lawn sign2,3, so at least I know who my NDP candidate is now.

On a related note, I’m still taking suggestions on creative ways to destroy the BC-in-name-only-Liberals brochures I’ve received in the mail. So far the best suggestions I’ve recevied have been to line a cat litter box with them and to blenderize them.  I’m leaning towards the latter because, although I do have access to a cat, I really like the cat and wouldn’t want to subject him to looking at that icky brochure, even if it is when he’s taking a poop.

1Note that I am a basement dweller and not someone who even dreams of affording one of the well-to-do homes in this ‘hood.
2On my very own block, no less.
3Have yet to see a Green Party sign though.