Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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#26 – Past The Halfway Point!

I’m 26/49ths1 of the way through this Blogathon, to be exact.  And I have to say that this is even harder than I thought it would be!  I mean, I didn’t expect it to be a walk in the park to publish a blog posting every half hour, but I’m feel far more drained than I would have expected for just more than halfway through! Seriously, I just had to stop for a full two seconds to think about if “through” or “threw” was the correct word in the first sentence and that’s not the kind of thing that I normally have problems with.  Directions, yes. Spider phobia, definitely. But the difference between “threw” and “through,” not usually one of my problems.  I also almost called Sarah viscous in one of my comments and I honest to FSM had to go to the dictionary to find the correct spelling of vicious.  Because it’s much nicer to call your friend vicious than to say she’s of high viscosity, right?

Mercifully, I have a few guest postings lined up, which gives me enough time to actually breath in between blog postings. Because, for the most part, I’m knocking these babies out with just enough time to reply to comments, answer emails, take the odd photo for an upcoming posting & upload it to Flickr, and then knock the next one out!

And a big shout out to those who have commented, because it really does help to know you guys are out there reading this stuff and to have a chance to chat in the comments section, and to those who have donated to OPT.  The Blogathon.org page says I have 8 pledges totalling $217.46, but when I add up all the donations in my list, it’s actually $252, so I’m not sure how that all shakes out.  But my tired brain is waaaay to tired to even think about attempting to think about attempting to think about their calculation.

1Or I will be as soon as I click “publish” on this posting.

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#25 – And More Cloned Cats!

Speaking of clone cats, this is my sister’s old cat, Rhino:

Rhino (June 2005) by you.

And this is Tod’s cat, Taiko:

IMGP0049 by you.

I’m pretty sure they were separated at birth!

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#24 – Attack of the Clone Cats

So, remember how my my couch cloned a pen and then my office cloned a highlighter?  Well it seems that the cloning has now moved onto the next stage: living creatures.

There’s this adorable little orange kitty that lives in my neighbourhood and who will run right up to you if she’s around when you leave your house or arrive home.  She *loves* to be petted and she’s so soft!  I call her Six Toe because, well, she has six toes1.  The other day I was walking out to my car and Six Toe was outside and she came over for a quick pet and then ran over to the neighbour’s car and peaked around the tire. I couldn’t figure out what she was doing, so I walked around the car and saw she was looking at her clone! Seriously, they were nose-to-nose, just as if they were looking in a mirror. I didn’t get my phone out quick enough to capture a picture of that, but I did get this picture:

Photo_070209_001 by you.

And here’s the thing: Six Toe’s clone doesn’t have six toes.  Also, she has a collar on, whereas Six Toe does not.  Shortly after I took this photo, they both came over for some pets, practically falling all over each other to get the one that got petted.

Basically, what this means is that there were two different cats that were coming up to me for attention at different times and I thought they were the same cat!

1Creative, I know.

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#23 – Guest Posting: Stuff Books Taught Me – War is Hell

Here’s a guest posting from the lovely Sarah, my Resident Historian and Chief Political Correspondent.

Stuff Books Taught Me – War is Hell

File:Rilla of Ingleside.jpg

That title is a bit sensationalistic, and not entirely accurate. But I’m going to be writing about the first book that haunted me, that made me bawl, that really stimulated my interest in Canadian history (especially the First World War). Surprisingly – it’s Rilla of Ingleside, the last book in the Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery.

WARNING: I am about to spoil the plot of this book. It was published almost 90 years ago, though, so you’ve had your chance to read it. Plus, certain plot points are vital to the life lesson the book imparted. You have been warned.

RoI is the 8th book in the series chronologically, though the 6th one written (Maud wrote the 4th and 6th books – Anne of Windy Poplars and Anne of Ingleside, respectively – during the 1930s due to pressure from her publisher. They fill in gaps in the Anne narrative). It focuses on Anne and Gilbert’s youngest daughter, Bertha Marilla Blythe, who is 15 as the novel opens in August of 1914. It follows the Blythes through the entire war until beyond the Armistice, ending in early 1919 when Rilla is about to turn 20. It is far more serious in tone than any of the other books in the series and is painstakingly accurate with respect to dates and battles of WWI. This tone shift and accuracy are deliberate; I’ve since read Maud’s published personal diaries and she not only recorded these events with the focus of an archivist, she also mined her personal writings for components of the novel.

RoI is the only Canadian novel about WWI on the homefront written by a contemporary author. And is it ever sad. All the boys you’ve grown to love in the previous novels head off to war. Virtually all are injured or worse. It’s horribly realistic, and that’s the worst part. And Anne’s son Walter, the beautiful dreamer who is the best friend and older brother of the protagonist, is killed in the Battle of the Somme.

So, it’s the summer of 1987. I’m nearly 10, and I am flying through the Anne series. I catch a reference to a grave marker in the 6th book (the last one written) but it makes no sense at the time. Into Rilla I plod. She’s flighty and 15 and a bit boy-crazy; she’s not so much older or different than I am. She idolizes her older brothers has a crush on one of their friends. She, and all those around her, have no idea of the emotional upheaval that will be contained in the subsequent four years.

Walter, one of her older brothers, has just survived a horrible case of Scarlet Fever and is unable to enlist. He has taken a leave of absence from University (he’s an author and he’s becoming successful) to convalesce and over this time Rilla and he (and the reader) become close. Circumstances and his influence transform self-indulgent Rilla into a sensitive and selfless woman. Walter, an old soul with an incredible imagination, harbours no belief in the glory of war. He knows that it’ll be hell on earth and he’s TERRIFIED. He’s also thankful that he’s unable to fight and is shamed at the admission. But, as time goes on and the war continues, he realizes that he must enlist. Rilla (and the reader) spend the novel hoping that he won’t have to, hoping he won’t go, then hoping he’ll be alright. All of this is shattered in the summer of 1916 when he is killed. Then, Rilla receives a letter from him, written the night before his final battle; he’d sensed that the next day would be his last. Dude. DUDE. I am getting choked up just thinking about it, over 20 years since the first time I read it.

This was the first time a character I’d loved had died (well, besides Matthew in AoGG, but he was old). A character with whom I’d identified, one who had such amazing potential and, had he lived, who would have gone on to do incredible things. I remember being gobsmacked when I first read those chapters, then absolutely bawling. It took me a good day or so before I could steel myself to pick up the book and go on.

The rest of the book is excellent; Rilla’s transformation is a triumph. It’s filled with moments of humour and happiness, and I have read it more times than I can count. But Maud’s intention – to make the horrors and loss of war real to readers – sure resonated with me. The death of fictional Walter represented the all too real loss of tens of thousands of other young Canadians, full of potential and greatly loved. What a cruel, vicious waste. Reading about WWI is still terribly painful for me, but I feel compelled to do so in order to pay tribute to these kids. And kids they were – when I visited Ypres at the age of 24, NOT ONE person in the Ramparts cemetery was older than me when they died.

Other books have affected me, have made me sob (HPatDH, I’m looking at you for a recent example) but every time one does I think back to Rilla. And say a little prayer for all the Walters lost on both sides of conflicts.

Image source: Wikipedia

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#22 – All My Stuffed Animals

This is one of the those postings that have been floating around in my head for ages. I even took the photos for it back in December, and have been adding stuff to it here and there, but I haven’t gotten around to putting the whole posting together. Until now.  (And yes, it is a bit long and I didn’t actually write it all in the last 30 minutes… but I did assemble it and get it out today, so I think it’s fair game).

Sure I’m 32 years old.  And yes I have a bunch of stuff animals.  Your point?

This is Bunny:

IMG_3063 by you.

I received Bunny as a Christmas present when like 3 or 4 years old, from my Grampa on my mom’s side1. Which makes Bunny like 29 years old. Her ears, nose and dress are all torn to shreds, but I still love her.

This is Froggy:

IMG_3066 by you.

Froggy was a gift from my Aunt Wendy and Uncle Harry2 when I was about 6 months old. I was born with developmental dysplasia3 and, as an infant, I had to have surgery, then spend some time in a cast called a “frog leg cast” because, well, it held my legs in a frog leg configuration which apparently is what is required for the hip joint to heal properly after that surgery. Hence, the stuffed frog.

This is Puppy:

IMG_3061 by you.

He’s a Pound Puppy that I got for Christmas one year when I was a kid. I originally named him Prince, and he has a little dogtag with that printed on it as proof, but I ended up just referring to him as “Puppy.” Well, in truth, it was my Cabbage Patch Kids that referred to him as Puppy, not me, because, you know, my CPKs had a mind of their own.

This is Pavelle:

IMG_3058 by you.

She’s a pink kitten. I got her in high school from the man who would later become my ex-husband4 and I named her Pavelle after the man who would later become an ex-Canuck, Pavel Bure.

This is Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber:

IMG_3059 by you.

I found Bob in a grocery store in Hamilton back when I used to live there. As a vegetarian, how could I pass up an adorable little tomato like that? I would later discover that Bob is actually a frontveggie5 for a Christian animated series6. But not until after I had also acquired Larry the Cucumber. Bob seemed like he needed a friend, what with being a vegetable in a family full of animals, so on a subsequent trip to the same grocery store in Hamilton, the name of which I am desperately trying to remember with no luck7, I picked up Larry. But, by the time I found out about their work in the frontveggie-for-Christian-animated-series field, they had already been exposed to my heathen family of unoriginally named animals. They are now fallen vegetables.

My third and final grocery store adoption was Jordan the Penguin:

IMG_3057 by you.

I found Jordan sitting in the freezer case, in amongst the frozen juices, in a grocery store in Burnaby. I think someone saw him sitting in the pile of penguins that I would later see in another part of the grocery store and thought it would be funny to put the little guy, with his little toque, into the freezer case. He just looked so cute and so cold that I knew I needed to take him home, where the rest of the animals and vegetables in my ever growing family could keep him warm. Oh yes, his name was from a very short-lived character on the Young & the Restless – a punk kid who was selling ecstasy to the teenagers of Genoa City and was killed off once his storyline had come to completion. And he always wore a touque.

Another case of me being suckered in by a stuffed animal that looked extra cute by virtue of it being placed in the wrong department in a store is my pillow-shaped-like-a-rhinoceros, Paradox:

IMG_3056 by you.

I was walking through Zellers having a conversation about paradoxes and I saw this little guy sitting in the picture frame department. He looked so alone that I just had to buy him and I named him Paradox before I even got to the checkout line.

In my previous apartment, my landlords owned a dog named Inti. He was a super friendly yellow Labrador Retriever and he spent most of the day out in the backyard while his owners were at work. Which meant that when I came home from school, Inti would be waiting in the backyard to greet me. I’d usually bring him inside with me and we’d take a nap on the couch until the landlords got home, at which point he’d go batshit insane with excitement, jumping about two feet in the air by my front door to tell me to let him out so he could go upstairs8. Since I was too poor to have my own real live dog, I got a stuffed one that looked a lot like Inti. He ended up named Monty because when I first moved into that apartment I was telling my mom about the dog and when I said his name was “Inti” she said, “What? Monty?”

IMG_3065 by you.

This is Fuzzy Bear:

IMG_3062 by you.

Fuzzy was given to me by my former mother-in-law (back when she was my then-MIL), as she had about a million of these bears at the time.  With Fuzzy I went back to my inabilty-to-come-up-with-a-decent-name roots.

Sam (short for Sample9) was a Christmas present I received while in grad school:

IMG_3067 by you.

I’m pretty sure that there is a law that all rat researchers must possess at least one cute stuffed rat to make us feel guilty.  One of my other rat researcher friends has a stuffed Ratatoulle.

I also have this white rat but, sadly, she doesn’t have a name. If anyone has any ideas, feel free to provide suggestions! Oh wait, I’ve got one! Her name will be Samantha:

IMG_3071 by you.

Cold virus, Ebola virus, and Flu virus were given to me by my sister. Because she is awesome!

IMG_3068 by you.IMG_3069 by you.IMG_3070 by you.

They are from the Giant Microbes collection10. I one brought these guys to a science event for kids where we had microscopes that the kids could use to look at all sorts of fun things on slides.  I figured that a few stuffed viruses would make the display table a bit more fun.  One kid took some playdough they’d made at one of the craft-type tables and made their very own Ebola virus. Another kid looked at me and said, with a totally straight face, “Viruses don’t have eyes.”

Later on, Giant Microbes added body cells to their collection and I got Neuron, which I discovered at the San Francisco airport.  I bought one for me and one for Tod:

Aren’t they cute together?

When I graduated with my Ph.D., my parents gave me this guy:

IMG_3060 by you.

I named him Dr. Stephen J. Toope, the Elephant after the then-new president of UBC.  Who is not an elephant.

Knowing of my fondness for the sasquatch from the mysterious forests of Canada, Kalev gave me Quatchi for Christmas one year:

IMG_3055 by you.

That year I also gave a Quatchi to my neice!

This little cutie was a gift from Tod:

IMG_5016 by you.

We were chain smoking the first four (or was it five?) seasons of Lost at the time, so I named him Mr. Eko.

Another gift from Tod is Santo from the Chateau Frontenac, which he brought back from a recent trip to Quebec:

IMG_5017 by you.

You can actually borrow the real Santo if you are a guest at the hotel!

1I was about to write “Grampa {mom’s maiden name}, which is how I always referred to him, but then realized that {mom’s maiden name} is often used as a password and I wouldn’t want y’all to be able to log into my important accounts, such as the Canucks Inside Edge fan club site or ClubZone.com
2OK, so this is a total tangent – when I was little, all my aunts and uncles on my dad’s side of the family (the side we saw all the time) were married except for my dad’s youngest sister (Wendy) and youngest brother (Harry). Uncle Greg was married to Aunt Dale, Aunt Gwen was married to Uncle Dennis, etc. And since everyone else was paired up, my sister and I thought for a long time that Aunt Wendy and Uncle Harry were married to each other, rather than being brother and sister. They were the only adults who weren’t paired up at family functions and one was a girl and one was a boy – it made perfect sense to us. We figured it out eventually and it wasn’t until years later that we clued into how twisted that was!
3a.k.a. congenital dislocated hip
4For the record, I’ve totally stolen this joke from Tod.
5I didn’t make that word up. Seriously, that’s what he was called on Wikipedia.
6Which is why my sister refers to them as “religi-tables.”
7It wasn’t A&P or Loblaws, which were the two main grocery stores in Ontario. It was in the same shopping complex at “The Barn,” which was where I used to buy my produce. How I can remember all that, but not the name of the actual store, I’ll never know.
8That dog was totally using me.
9“Sample” was a euphemism we used in the lab, because it was much nicer than saying “kill.”
10OMG, I just Googled them to put that link and discovered that they now have a stuffed SWINE FLU!

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#21 – Nail Polish

So, whenever I have to write for long periods of time, I always make sure to put on nail polish. Usually in some crazy colour.  Turquoise. Bright shiny red. Metallic purple.  Because, believe it or not, I actually find it entertaining to look down when I’m typing and see colourful nails.  Wow, when I type it out like that, it sounds really, really pathetic.  But when you are typing up, say, a thesis, it helps.  Keep in mind, I was usually writing late, late into the night for weeks and months on end.

So, anyway, for today’s Blogathon, I decided to go with silver:

IMGP0048 by you.

You can also see in the photo (a) I also painted my toenails silver (because you gotta match, right?) and (b) I now have a sticky note covering up my computer’s clock, because it hasn’t stopped being a bitch.

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#20 – Plants That Tweet

And speaking of things on the Interent, apparently your plants are the next target audience for Twitter.

Botanicalls Kits let plants reach out for human help! They offer a connection to your leafy pal via online Twitter status updates to your mobile phone. When your plant needs water, it will post to let you know, and send its thanks when you show it love.

Reprogramming the Botanicalls by jazzmasterson.

Seriously, you plant tweets at you when it needs water.  It’s official – every possible product has now been thought of!

Image credit: Posted by Josh DiMauro on Flickr.

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#19 – Population Health & the BC Paraplegic Association

And speaking of health, I’ve been meaning to share a few videos with you that I saw at a conference recently.

First, a video on Population Health.  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to embed it1, so you have to go here to see it.  It’s nice to see that people are really starting to appreciate the importance of the social determinants of health in addition to the biological ones.

Second, a video about the BC Paraplegic Association’s Peer Program2:

I found this one very inspiring!  It makes me happy to see people doing such important and meaningful work!

1I tried to use VodPod, but it only seemed to get the upper left hand corner.
2It’s on YouTube, so it’s embedalicious.

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#18 – I have blog title writer’s block!

So I wrote this whole posting assuming that as I wrote a title would come to me (as they usual do).  But no so much.

The BC Healthy Living Alliance, who you may remember from such blog postings as this one, tweeted about this article the other day:

Focus on people, firms told
Vital to invest in workers’ health, expert says

Basically, it’s talking about how companies should make small changes in the workplace to promote employee health because not only will it help people be healthier (which probably isn’t of concern to many companies), but it will also save them money (which is probably more what they care about).

In particular, I thought this was pretty interesting:

CIBC saved 2,500 days of employee absences and $1.5 million in productivity costs in its first year of introducing and funding its child-care centre for employees in 2002.

Despite the fact that I don’t have any kids myself, I’ve long lamented the lack of child care spaces in Canada.  Just talk to anyone with small kids and they will tell you about how hard it is to find day care spaces (I’ve even heard of people being on day care wait lists *before* they get pregnant because the wait list is longer than the nine months of pregnancy + one year mat leave). And even if you are lucky enough to get a spot, it costs the lion share of your salary to pay for the daycare, making you start to wonder why you are working at all.  Have a second or a third kid and you can conceivably be *losing* money by going to work!

I wonder if more companies would funding childcare centres if they heard about things like $1.5 million in savings!

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#17 – OK, I can’t believe I forgot to blog about this!

So yesterday I got home after work and noticed an odd noise in my apartment.  I seemed like *a lot* of water running really fast.  My first thought was “didn’t the landlords already water the grass on the past two days in a row? Why are they watering it again?”  And then I realized it was awfully loud to be the hose running in the backyard.  “Maybe it’s the neighbours watering their lawn and it’s closer to my side window?” I thought. But no, that doesn’t make any sense.

At this point I should remind you that I live in a basement. I think you can see where this is going.

Water was gushing – and I do mean gushing – from the water heater.  Which is, you know, in a little enclosed area between my kitchen and my living room!  Water was just pouring out of the top of the heater in all directions!  It must have *just* started before I got home because there was only a small puddle at this point and I managed to turn the water off and run upstairs to tell my landlords.  The neighbour was chatting in the backyard with them, so he came down to look at it (as my landlords are older and it’s getting hard for them to get down the stairs – plus the landlord had fallen and banged up his knee pretty bad a few days earlier so he isn’t able to do much more than sit in his chair and keep an ice pack on his knee at the moment).  And it turns out that the tank was pretty rusted and had basically just disintegrated at the top, so that the water was jetting out where the tank integrity was lost.  I was thankful it hadn’t rusted through at the bottom, because then the entire tankful of water would have flooded my apartment!  Anyway, the water to the tank is now shut off and hopefully a new tank will be arriving soon.

And is it bad that one of the first things I thought about while all this was happening was: “well, at least it will make for an interesting blog posting!”