Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese


Nerd Stats 2009

And one final round-up for the year end. My nerd stats!

2008 2009 % change
Blog postings: 423 357 -16%
Tweets: 2,227 1,8151 -19%
Visits to my blog in 2008 32,410 45,153((at the time of writing this blog posting)) +40%
Average number of blog visits per day 932. 1263,4 +35%
Busiest day on my blog: Sept 26, 2008 (460 views)5 July 25, 2009 (1,181 views)6 +156%

Analysis of above stats:

  • I talked less, but more people listened!

Other nerdery highlights of ’09 include:

Books read this year7, in no particular order:

  • The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman
  • The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman 8.
  • Blink by by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Tipping Point by by Malcolm Gladwell
  • What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy
  • Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen
  • One Minute Millionaire by Mark V. Hansen and Richard G. Allen
  • Work Less, Make More by Jennifer White9
  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tollee
  • 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense by Michael Brooks10
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  • The Shangri-La Diet by Seth Roberts
  • Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • The Toyota Way to Healthcare Excellence by John Black with David Miller11
  • What Projects Should We Manage? by Bill Bates
  • Utilization-Focused Evaluation (3rd edition) by Michael Quinn Patton12.
  • God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens
  • 50 Success Classics by Tom Butler-Bowdon
  • Rich Women: A Book on Investing for Women by Kim Kiyosaki
  • The Now Habit by Neil Fiore

Happy New Year everyone!

  1. at the time of writing this blog posting and including the tweet that will result from me blogging this []
  2. not sure why this value is not equal to the number of visits to my blog divided by 365 days. Probably some some of rounding error []
  3. ibid []
  4. at the time of writing this blog posting []
  5. thanks to the Hockey Hotties posting []
  6. thanks to the Blogathon! []
  7. undoubtedly there were more that I’m forgetting. This list is based on ones that (a) I can actually remember without prompting, (b) appeared on my blog and so I saw them when I went through my blog to write my year in review summary, and (c) I still have out of the library, so I saw them when I checked what books I have out of the library. []
  8. which I’m *almost* done []
  9. just starting this one []
  10. didn’t finish before it was due back at the library. But it was really good – need to get it out again to finish it! []
  11. partway through []
  12. partyway through. This is like the bible of evaluation []


Goals For 2010

In keeping with my desire to be a year-end cliché, here are my goals for the new year (in no particular order):

  • Sleep.  Sleep is always the first thing I sacrifice when I take on too many jobs, which I do a lot.  I’m going to take advantage of the fact that I’m not teaching any courses this term, nor working any extra contracts at the moment, to get a proper night’s sleep at least four nights a week.
  • Tackle 40 of my 101 things to do in 1001 days list.  Since I have 83 things left to do and only 650 days left to do them, I think getting 40 done in the next year would be reasonable.
  • Reattempt the 100 pushups/200 situps/200 squats program, at which I was a spectacular failure. I think part of the problem was that, following my “Go Big or Go Home” philosophy of life, I tried to do all three programs at once, found it took a lot of time that I couldn’t quite fit into my day, and then bailed.  This time I will do each program separately.  And I’m not going to start until after I get back from vacation.
  • Get back to running. I’ve already registered to run the 8 km race at Vancouver International and I’m planning to run the Scotiabank Half Marathon in June. And again, without the extra jobs, I’ll have more time to focus on this.
  • Do a 30-day yoga challenge. Apparently one is coming up at February at my local Moksha Studio.
  • Focus on fruits and veg. You’d think as a vegetarian I’d get lots of fresh fruit and veggies, but lately I’ve been a total slacker about getting groceries and my diet hasn’t been all that great.
  • Lose 15 lbs.  My tagline lately has been: “Working in Public Health is making me fat!”  It’s not actually the job (though the constant supply of cakes and cookies at my office has not helped) – it’s more the owning of the car1, having an office on a second floor instead of a six floor2 and having a 1.5 hr commute each day3.  The above mentioned getting proper sleep4, running, yoga, and fresh fruit and veggie eating should all help with this.
  • Do a great purge!  Again, since I’m not teaching this term, I will have some time to prune my wardrobe5 and my paper files6
  • Hit a net worth of $0.  Thanks to my crushing student loan debts, my net worth is negative. Since both DreamBank and my “rampant begging” link on the sidebar of this blog have been uberFAIL at helping me pay off that student debt, I’ve had to do it the old fashion way- through my own cheapness frugal and responsible nature.  Due to my pension, RRSPs, TFSAs, and other savings, I’m on target to hit a net worth of $0 sometime in 2010, which I think is pretty awesome.
  • Make $100,000. Now, I should say that my salary is *not* even close to $100,000 and this year, even with salary + several teaching gigs + contract work, I did not make $100,000. And I have no teaching nor contracts lined up for 2010. But I’ve decided I want to hit a six-figure income this year. I just need to figure out how to do it. Go big or go home, I always say.
  • Invest 10% of my earnings. I keep reading that this is what you are “supposed” to do. And while I make payments to my pension and RRSPs every paycheque, right now I don’t know what percentage of my income I’m investing. So step 1 is to sit down and crunch my numbers and see what percentage I’m investing right now. Step 2 is to make any necessary adjustments. Step 3 – consider additional ways of investing.
  • And, of course, what list of goals would be complete without my stalwart goal? In 2010, I’m going to blog every day!
  1. whereas I used to walk several blocks to bus stops every day – all those little bits add up! []
  2. I’m a stair walker and, again, little bits do add up []
  3. =1.5 fewer hours to do any sort of activity []
  4. research shows an association between getting less sleep and being overweight []
  5. i.e., bring any clothes I don’t wear anymore for donation to a thrift store []
  6. I have papers that I can most definitely get rid of!  Journal articles from my thesis research, I’m looking in your direction! []


Something I Wrote Somewhere Else

A few months ago I was approached to write for CurioCity, a e-zine for teens about science that is produced by the science outreach organization I used to volunteer with. The articles are geared at teens and focus on science in everyday life. Since I’m totally missing the science outreach work I used to do, I thought it would be fun.

Here’s my first article!


Malaria Mondays!

In preparation for my upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic, I went to the Travel Clinic to see what sort of delightful diseases I might come into contact with in the DR.  I came away from the appointment with:

  • hepatitis A vaccination – since I haven’t done much traveling, I’ve not been in the position to get this one before. This shot isn’t covered by public funding1, so I had to pay $65 for this one and will have to go back in a year (I think) for the second shot (another $45)2.
  • polio vaccination – apparently there have been cases of polio in Haiti, so this vaccination is offered to people going to the DR.  And it’s free! 3.
  • ciprofloxacin – an antibiotic to use in the case of travellers’ diarrhea
  • chloroquine phosphate – an antimalarial drug.  This drug has to be taken once a week, starting the week before the trip, continuing for the duration of the trip and for four weeks after your return.  The travel clinic doctor suggesting starting my regimen today, which will make it easier to remember to take my pills on “Malaria Mondays”!  4.

In addition, there are recommendations about not using the tap water, even to brush your teeth and even if the resort says the water is purified, and to use DEET-containing mosquito repellent (even with the antimalarials, it’s still better not to get bitten by the mosquitoes, especially given that dengue virus, which is also passed on by mosquitoes and for which there isn’t a vaccination or drug to prevent it, is also a possibility in the DR).

Upon telling my mother about all this, she thinks we are crazy for going on this trip!  But I’m thinking a relaxing week on the beach will make it all worth while!

  1. With the exception of, I believe, when someone who works in food preparation is found to have hep A – in that case, there is a hep A vaccination clinic for those who ate the food that person prepared.  I remember a few years ago this happened when a local grocery store had one of these clinics after it was found that a person who made some salad dressing there has the disease []
  2. And this on top of the $40 consultation fee required to talk to the doc []
  3. My mom told me afterward that I had this one as a kid, but I couldn’t remember so I figured it was better to get it again rather than not get it and find out that I hadn’t had it before []
  4. My extended medical doesn’t cover vaccinations, but it does the drugs, so that’s good []


Decade in Review

I saw this over on Laura’s blog and thought it was a pretty cool idea, so I’m stealing it leveraging some OPI1 and do my own summary of the first decade of the 21st century!

In 2000 I rang in the new millennium atop what Ontarians called a “mountain,” (but British Columbians would refer to as a “bump”) – my then-husband and I decided we wanted to do something memorable for New Year’s Eve 1999, so we hiked up the Niagara Escapement just before midnight and from that vantage point we watched the fireworks from a few different towns at the same time. That year also saw me graduate from the University of Guelph with my Masters of Science (Human Biology & Nutritional Science) and move across the country to start my PhD at UBC. So, yeah, 2000 was a pretty big year.

In 2001 I started coordinating a science outreach program at UBC, a position I would hold for five years. Doing that was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made, as it introduced me to a lot of amazing people with whom I’m still good friends today; as well, I used it to develop a lot of useful skills2 that have helped me immensely in the career path I’ve since chosen to follow.

In 2002 I taught my first every university course (as the course instructor, not just a TA) – not too bad for a 25 year old! I also received my first ever grant (just a small one; it funded the first ever Western regional conference for that science outreach program I ran, as well as a bit of cash to buy some supplies). Other than that, it was a pretty average year – well into the swing of being a grad student, but the end was still a long way off.

In 2003 I received my first teaching award; I do pride myself on being a good instructor, so it was pretty awesome to be recognized for this work. As well, I was nominated for a research award based on the first poster I ever presented at a conference; upon seeing the two other nominees in my category, learned that “it’s an honour just to be nominated” is not just a saying!

In 2004 I got to be in the one and only wedding party that I’ve ever been in – I was a bridesmaid at Sarah & Dave‘s wedding. Sarah and the rest of the bridal party came out to Vancouver for a bachelorette weekend in June, at which time we dubbed ourselves “The Coalition of the Wedding”3. In November, my niece was born and in early December I flew out to Toronto on the cheapest flight ever4 to meet her – did I ever mention that she’s the most amazing kid ever? 2004 was also the year I started feeling like the PhD was taking forever, because they tell you when you start that it should take four years to finish5 and the end was still nowhere to be seen!

2005 started out OK – I received two more grants (both for the science outreach program). Then I won a prestigious6 award for my research and got to present my work at the conference of the group granting the award. I also had my first two papers published. And then my world came crashing down around me when my then-husband confessed to having affairs.

2006 was pretty much the worst year I could imagine. In addition to my own divorce, there was the breakup my sister’s marriage, a complete clusterf#$% with my first scheduled PhD defense, and the completely unexpected disappearance of the postdoc position I had secured at Stanford University due to funding falling through7, which I found out about just five days before my actual PhD defense8. The one shining moment in the year two thousand and suck was that I did, in fact, get my PhD, but it lacked some of the luster one would have liked it to have had given that (a) the stress of everything made my performance at my defense a whole lot crappier than it would have been had I been in top form and (b) it precipitated a six month period of unemployment, the only time I’ve been unemployed since I got my first paper route at age eight. Despite all the suck, 2006 was also the year I learned the most about myself and where I truly learned what amazing friends I have.

2007, mercifully, was a *much* better year than 2006. I actually enjoyed my period of “funemployment,” punctuated by brief freelance jobs here and there to keep me afloat, which was also helped along by the fact that my friend Danielle let me share her basement suite, making our rent amazingly cheap9. I was also dating10 for the first time in my adult life, since I’d been married since age 20. I also turned 30 in 2007 and celebrated by getting a bunch of friends together to go surfing in Tofino! I had three papers published. I completed two half marathons. I got my first big girl job in March. And at the end of the year, I met Tod. So, yeah, 2007 was a pretty good year!

In 2008, was the first year where I really got to do any reasonable amount of travel: I visited my first territory as part of a contract to do some work in Yellowknife, as well as going to Calgary, Vegas, San Fran, and Mexico. I spent the better part of the year focused on writing a grant application to continue the program I worked for (i.e., to continue to fund my salary). I also finally got the laser eye surgery that I’ve wanted for so long. At the end of the year, we lost my Granny.

In 2009 I started my new job, which I’ve absolutely been loving! I made my first trip to the east coast since I was a kid, visiting New Brunswick for a conference. I did my first11 24 hour Blogathon. And I did another half marathon, though my having what, in retrospect, was probably H1N1 hampered my performance. Also, this year seems to have been a year for buying stuff – my Smart car, my MacBook Pro and my iPhone were all 2009 purchases. For friends, it was a year for babies (Sarah & Dave‘s had Teddy, Clayton & Jodelene had Mason, and Alicia & Paul have their first baby on the way (though he/she will be a 2010 kid)).

And now we are sitting on the cusp of 2010. I find it so hard to believe – I remember being a kid where saying “2000” meant “the future” and now that’s A DECADE ago. I have a good feeling about 2010 though… and my early January trip to the Dominican Republic and then tickets to some Olympic hockey games for February sound like a good start!

  1. I’m reading a supercheezy audiobook right now called “The One Minute Millionaire” where they talk about all the things you can leverage, like other people’s money (OPM), other people’s time (OPT), other people’s work (OPW) and other people’s ideas (OPI). And I decided that from now on I will refer to stealing other people’s ideas as “leveraging some OPI” []
  2. e.g., managing people and budgets []
  3. it was a topical joke for 2004 []
  4. back in the old Jetsgo days! []
  5. despite the fact that the average time to complete a PhD is SIX years, not four []
  6. if I do say so myself! []
  7. I position for which I’d turned down a postdoc position at McGill University, btw []
  8. which, let me tell you, is that last freaking thing you need to be dealing with during a PhD defence in the middle of the worst year of your life []
  9. this was part of the “learned what amazing friends I have” in the latter part of ’06 []
  10. or as my friend Ziba refers to it: “when Beth was crazy” []
  11. and likely only []


Another 101 in 1001 update

I’ve decided to go totally cliché this year.  I’m talking New Year’s resolutions and swearing that I’ll get back to exercising and eating well and losing that 15 lbs that’s been plauguing me.  So, keeping with my transformation into a cliché,  I figure the week after Christmas is a good time to take stock.  Like checking in on how I’m doing on my 101 things to do in 1001 days list.  Here’s the update:

# days elapsed 349
# days remaining 652
# items completed 18
# items remaining 83

So that’s not really that good.  I’m 35% through the 1001 days, but I’ve only done 18% of the tasks.  There are a few items that I’m partway through, so I think I’ll tackle those to get a few more under my belt.  Numbers 72 and 83, I’m looking in your direction!


Merry Christmas!

Hope y’all are having a lovely Christmas. I’m full up of delicious Christmas dinner and delighted with my many Christmas presents. Because I’m a spoiled, spoiled girl! Hope Santa brought you everything you wanted!


Sparkling Cranberries

Rounding out this year’s Christmas baking, I decided to try making these sparkling cranberries.  Mine don’t look quite as uniformly coated as those in the photo on that site (the sugar is a bit clumpy on mine), but then again I didn’t use the slightly chunkier sugar that they recommended.  Hopefully, as with meringue, I’ll get better at making these too.I still think they look pretty good:

Sparking cranberries

Sparkling cranberries in a jar

I have to say that this recipe wastes *a lot* of sugar, both in the form of the sugar water that you soak the cranberries in and in sugar that falls off the berries by the end of the drying period.  But they are so Christmas-y!


On holidays!

Today was the first day of my Christmas holidays!  The way that vacation works at my job you have to accumulate your vacation entitlement from July to June for a given calendar year (e.g., you accumulate vacation time to be used during 2009 from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009 )1).  Since I only started working there at the end of May, I only had about a month to accumulate vacation time for 2009 – hence, I only have a bit less than two days of vacay in 2009 – so I had to work a few hours this morning, but now I’m off until next Tuesday, with Friday being the Christmas stat and Monday being in lieu of Boxing Day.  Then it’s three days back at work next week and then I’m off ’til Jan 14!  w00t!

My plans for the Christmas holidays include:

  • eating
  • reading
  • general merriment and hanging out
  • making these2
  • geeking3
  • consuming large volumes of Diet Pepsi

Not necessarily in that order.

Hope you all are4 enjoying your holidays too!

  1. I can’t really complain though, because we do get a really good amount of vacation time (four years to start, plus options for two more weeks with flex time and “corp” time []
  2. the cranberries are currently sitting in the sugary goodness in the fridge []
  3. e.g., blogging, watching crap on the Internet []
  4. or soon will be []


What Is This Thing Called?

As per Krista Lee’s request, here’s a photo of my “piping dohickey”:

It’s totally awesome for decorating cakes or cookies, as I find that it is much easier on your hands to push the plunger to dispense the icing than it is to squeeze a decorator bag, particularly when you are decorating a huge cake or a tonne of cookies.

The drawback to this thingamabob is that it holds a small volume, so if you are trying to make, say, meringues, you spend a lot of time refilling the dohickey, because they require a much larger volume of mix than when you are just using it to decorate. I think I may need to get myself a proper decorating bag for my newfound love of making meringues!