Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Bunch of Random Stuff

Here’s a bunch of random stuff that each aren’t long enough to make a blog posting on their own, but collectively make up a bunch of random stuff.

  • Some very cool people are getting honourary doctorates at UBC1 this year, including satirist Rick Mercer, author Douglas Coupland, and astronaut Julie Payette. Also getting a UBC HonDoc is the person with the worst French language skills on the planet, John Furlong2.  One name on the list that really caught my eye was Dr. Nora Volkow – she’s the Director of the US National Institute of Drug Addiction3. You can see her in this HBO documentary on addiction, where she does an amazing job explaining the science of addiction. Her work as a neuroscientist has gone a long way to show that addiction involves a pathophysiology of the brain – so addiction isn’t about strength of will or moral character, it’s a disease.
  • Here’s some interesting information about how larger plates are making us fatter.  I’ve read quite a few studies recently on how portion sizes have increased over the years – both at restaurants and at homes.  Further, studies show that bigger portion size actually results in people taking bigger bites of food.
  • I have a date for the Polar Bear Swim on January 1, 2011.  My friend Krista has agreed to join me!  And, as she says, we’ve said it on the intertubes, so now we *have* to do it!
  • For some unknown reason, WordPress has stopped emailing me comments that are made on my blog. I have it set up to do so, as seen here, but I don’t get emails.  So if I’m slower at replying to comments than I used to be, blame WordPress.  I’m innocent.
  • Today, my friend Dr. Jen officially became Dr. Jen.  Technically, you aren’t allowed to use the PhD behind your name, or call yourself “Dr.,” until after your convocation4. Even though once you’ve handed the final copy of your thesis into the Faculty of Graduate Studies, you’ve done all you need to do. But until the degree is actually granted on convocation day, you technically don’t have it.  Not like that stops anyone from calling themselves “Dr.” right from the moment the committee at the defence says “I’m pleased to inform you…” though. Congratulations, Dr. Jen!!
  1. I hope to get an HonDoc some day. Because I have a fascination with collecting letters to put behind my name. []
  2. seriously, I have better French than that guys AND I DON’T EVEN SPEAK FRENCH []
  3. an aside: I was just perusing Dr. Volkow’s Wikipedia page and apparently she’s the great granddaughter of Trotsky! []
  4. same is technically true of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, but since you don’t change your honorific with those degrees, it’s not such a big deal []

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BC Premier #22 – John Hart

So, yeah, remember like a million years ago when I was writing a series of postings on BC Premiers – one posting every Sunday – as an excuse to learn a bit about BC history?  And then I kind of just didn’t do it for the last eight months?  Well, I’ve decided to start doing it again.  And I’m really going to stick to it this time! No, really.  Anyway, here goes!

The 22nd Premier of the Province of British Columbia – John Hart.  Not to be mistaken for John Hart, John Hart, Johnny Hart, John Hart, or any of the other fourteen John Harts that are notable enough to have Wikipedia pages written about them.

Name John Hart
Born: March 31, 1879 in Mohill, County Leitrim, Ireland
Died: April 7, 1957 in Victoria, British Columbia
Party: Liberal
Held Office: December 9, 1941 – December 29, 1947
  • 1916 – elected as MLA for Victoria City
  • 1917-1924 and  1933-1947 – served as Minister of Finance
  • 1941 – the Liberals failed to win a majority government and then leader Thomas Dufferin Patullo refused to for a coaltion government, so he was ousted and Hart, who was willing to form a coaltion, became the premier.  He lead the government through the WWII years and couldn’t really do much in terms of government projects, which were postponed because of the lack of money due to the war
  • 1945 –  re-elected as the leader of the Liberal-Conservative parties, which ran under the same banner for the first time.  Making up for those postponed government, Hart embarked on ambituous projects, like “rural electrification, hydroelectric and highway construction.”
  • He established the BC Power Commission, the predecessor to the current BC Hydro
  • Dec 1947 – retired from politics and returned to the business world from whence he came
  • Things named after Hart:
    • the John Hart Highway between Prince George and Dawson Creek
    • the Hart Highlands neighbourhood of Prince George, BC
    • the John Hart Dam in Campbell River, BC

In summary, John Hart was one of the few BC premiers who didn’t leave office in either defeat or disgrace. Which probably explains why the only information I can find about him online is a Wikipedia page with no references.

Image credits: From Wikipedia. In the public domizzle. w00t!

References:
Wikipedia, the reference of champions

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Thanks for Nothing, Telus

I received this text message yesterday:

Thanks for nothing, Telus

First of all, my birthday is not on May 30.  Second, May 30 is a Sunday and my cell phone plan comes with unlimited evenings and weekends.  So yeah, thanks for nothing, Telus!

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1/2 way to 1001

OK, so I’m actually slight more than halfway to the 1001 days alluded to in the blog posting “101 in 1001 for my 1000th post.” Halfway was actually a day and half ago – it’s been 502 days since I published my list of 101 things I intended to do in the subsequent 1001 days.  So I figured now was as good a time as any to see how I’m doing.

And… I’m not doing so well, actually. I’ve only managed to accomplish 22 of the 101 things, even though I’m halfway through! Yikes!  Since my last update, which was in December, I’ve only managed to accomplish 4 items!

If you’d like to know the nitty gritty, I’ve been keeping notes on items on the original list.  But if you, you know, have somewhat of a life and don’t want to bore yourself with my ramblings, I’ll just provide some of my thoughts on some of the items here:

2. leave the continent – I was hoping to get to go to a conference in Prague in the fall, but there is currently a ban on international travel for my work (oh the curse of being fiscally responsible!), so leaving the continent on someone else’s dime looks unlikely.  However, I would manage to achieve #2 if I also went for:

32. visit Macchu Picchu – Trying to convince my sister that this would be a good vacation location!

3. live above ground – This was something I considered in my recent having to move out of my basement apartment, but my cheapness fiscally responsible nature won out and I’m still an underground dweller1.

38. participate in the “365 Day Challenge”. I really better get a move on this one.  I only have 499 days left to try!

71. find out my credit rating. I need your advice on this one – I’ve obtained a copy of my credit report from Equifax (and have ordered one from Transunion that I’m still waiting for). But I’m wondering if I really need get the credit report, which costs money.  Any thoughts?

86. write a blog posting about the Car Co-op – I kind of got unmotivated to do this one after I bought my own car, but I could do a comparison of the costs of owning vs. using the C0-op in both my old situation (where I only used it for driving to hockey) and my new situation (as a commuter).

95. bake at least one thing per month for 12 months in a row, without baking the same thing two months in a row – I started this one, but then missed a month. I think I should put together a bit of a plan to keep myself on track.  If you have any suggestions of interesting things I could bake, have at ‘er in the comments!

97. make homemade vegetarian marshmallows – Now that I have a spacious kitchen, I really should invite a couple of my friends (with whom I discussed doing this) over for a veggie marshmallow making extravaganza!

98. go on a polar bear swim – Yikes, I only have one possible New Year’s on which to do this in the next 499 days.  Anyone wanna take a dip in the ocean with me on Jan 1, 2011?

101. publish a blog posting for each of the next 1001 days! [Note: this one is now impossible, given that I have missed some days of blogging, but I’m going to try to see if I can at least get 1001 blog postings in during this 1001 period, as some days I post more than one posting.] As soon as I click “publish” on this post, I’ll have published 486 postings in these 502 days.  So not great, but certainly doable to have a total of 1001 postings in the 1001 days. Just a matter of making the time to get all the ideas that pop into my head to actually see the light of day.

Ones that should be relatively easy to do, if I just got off my butt and did them:

18, 19, 20 – Skiing at Whistler, Big White, and Grouse Mountain.  It’s actually embarrassing that I haven’t managed to do these yet!

21. try snowboarding – Seriously, how have I not done this yet?

53, 54, 55 – visit Galiano Island, Salt Spring Island, and Bowen Island. I think I need some tourists to come and visit me, because this is totally the type of thing you’d do with tourists.

31. read something by Salman Rushdie.

34. read The Last Spike.

I should probably knock off a few of the easy ones in order to get some momentum going.  Hmm, where have I heard that before?

  1. not unlike the C.H.U.D. Except for the cannibalism part []

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Steve Jobs Has Unforsaken Me. Wait, is that a word? Maybe, Steve Jobs Has Saken Me.

thumbs up

Remember how back in January I was bitching that I Steve Jobs had forsaken me as evidenced by the fact that I couldn’t use my iTunes gift card to buy iPhone apps because I’m in Canada?   Well, guess what, boys and girls??  That little issue has now be rectified1!



So the $50 iTunes gift card that I got for Christmas has now been reduced to:

itunes gift card

And I’m sure you are dying to know what app I purchased with this newfound wealth of iPhone app-buying potential.  Well, of late I’ve been hemming and hawing over whether or not to spend the whopping $1.99 plus tax for the 100 pushups app. Because I’ve been meaning to attempt the 100 pushups program again. And it seems like that would be easier if I had an app to remind me of how many pushups I need to do each day and time my rest breaks for me, rather than having a piece of paper that I constantly lose and then I have to go to their website and look up the amount of pushups and have to time my own rest breaks like a sucker.  Also, it keeps a log of your pushups and makes a graph. A graph, people!  How is a girl supposed to resist a graph?  But on the other hand, that’s $2!  Anyway, this is basically the argument that I’ve been having with myself for the last week or so, so when I heard that I can now buy apps with that gift card that’s been burning a virtual hole in my virtual pocket, the decision was made!  I think I’ll stay my 100 pushups quest on the weekend!

Image Credit: Since Dave thought it was hilarious that I went to Flickr for the “thumbs down” photo that I used on my previous post about this, I decided to defend my honour by taking a “thumbs up” photo of my own for this one. But now that I look at it I realize that my nail polish is quite chipped and I appear to have a cut on my finger that I had no knowledge of up until this point and also now that I’ve been examining this photo for so long I feel like my hand is grotesquely misshapen, with a ginormous thumb.  Way to go, Dave

  1. props to Kalev for bringing this to my attention []

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Happy Workivesary To Me!

Today was my one year workiversary! One year ago today I stepped into the role of “evaluation specialist,” excited to meet my new colleagues, learn some new things and take on some new challenges. And I have to say that it’s been a pretty fun year!  The people I work with are very nice1, and the work I do is interesting, challenging and, most importantly, makes a difference. I like going to work knowing that I’m going to learn some new things and do some work that will make people’s lives better.

IMGP0736

As you can see from my messy desk, I’m right at home in my office.

Also, I would like to brag point out that the plant I received one year and one day ago as a parting gift from my trainees at my last job is STILL ALIVE:

IMGP0738

And not only is it still alive, but it actually has new leaves sprouting!  Sorry the photo is kind of dark, but if you look below the big leaves, you can see the new little leaves.  Considering that (a) I kill most plants on contact and (b) I have no window in my office, I’d say that’s quite an accomplishment!

  1. and bring waaaay too many treats to the office! I gained about 10 lbs after I started working here []

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Pet Taxi?

IMG_0547

I hate to break it to you lady, but you have just paid an exorbitant price to put your cat in a duffel bag.

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The Blog Spammers Made Me Do it

For a while there, a lot of blog comment spam was getting through my spam filters.  Some were getting through the filters completely and showing up on my blog and more were showing up in the “hmm, we aren’t sure if this is spam or not, so please moderate” folder.  I’m talking 5, sometimes 10 or 12 spam comments PER DAY. I know for big time bloggers this seems like small potatoes, but considering that I get about 5 actual blog comments PER WEEK – on a good week – well, it’s a rather ridiculous amount of spam for me.  And super annoying to have to deal with.  Having to sift through comments every day trying to find the real stuff in the midst of all the viagra and piano spam1 was driving me nuts!

Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t share the ridiculousness of some of these blog comments with you:

First off, blog comment spammers think that if they compliment you, you won’t be able to tell that it’s spam. You know, despite the horrific typos and grammar errors and the fact that they include a link to cheap places to get V1agra.

Case in point: “How you can write this great post by your mind, This is a best post I can see in this year, Thank for great post and I will see more your post in next time.”

Or how about “Nice looking blog you have here. The theme is awesome, great color combination.” Yes, because no one has *ever* thought of putting red and white together before.

Of course, since they are spammers, they haven’t actually read any postings and so sometimes they end up out on a limb with their comments. For example, I received this comment on my blog posting about my Junk Drawer: “Nice fill someone in on and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you for your information. ” Because colleges are totally giving out assignment about how I store my sundry items.

Another comment about my Junk Drawer: “Hey there! Excellent thought, but could this actually function?” Why yes, I do believe that a drawer filled with junk can function as a “junk drawer.”

My posting asking for recommendations for a good moisturizer elicited this response: “You are soooo talented in writing. God is really using you in miraculous methods.” I always thought I was a miracle.

Apparently my blog posting about moving to Surrey contains ” :O So mush Info :O” As well, someone else commented on that posting declared: “I’ve been lurking on all sides this forum in perspicacity to the sink of a while – so I figured I’d be addicted up forwards and gesticulation up. How is everyone?” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

In response to my whining about my spam infestation problem on The Twitter, several people suggested I try out the reCAPTCHA plugin.  reCAPTCHA is one of those annoying features where you have to type in the fuzzy words you see on your screen to prove you are not a robot before you are allowed to comment on my blog.  And I know that it’s annoying to have to do that, but apparently I’d rather you be annoyed by having to type in the reCAPTCHA than me being annoyed by having spam comments all over my blog.  If it makes you feel any better, though, every time you type a reCAPTCHA, you are helping to digitize books, newspapers and old timey radio play scripts2.  Seriously.  By filling in those reCAPTCHA things, you are adding to the digital archive of human knowledge!  Plus, reCAPTCHA has the potential to provide such amusement as:

committed anus reCAPTCHA

So, yeah, I’m sorry that I’m making you type in reCAPTCHAs to comment on my blog.  But the blog spammers made me do it!

Image Credit: Hilarious reCAPTCHA imaged posted by sermoa on Flickr.

  1. Seriously. I get a lot of piano selling spam.  Yeah, I have no idea why either []
  2. I heart old timey radio plays.  The Shadow FTW!! []

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Public Health Achievement #5: Recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard

The May great public health achievement badge public health achievement being highlighted by the Canadian Public Health Association’s 100 year anniversary project for the month of May is: the recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard.

When I was a teenager, I worked in a donut shop1.  At the time (the early 1990s), smoking was allowed in restaurants and coffee shops in Ontario (where I grew up) and I remember there was a non-smoking “section,” which consisted of about three stools at a bar and a couple of tables, while the rest of the place was the “smoking” section.  There was nothing separating the non-smoking section from the smoking section and it seemed so ridiculous to me that they’d even bother putting the “no smoking” signs on those few tables and the bar – what, like the smoke was going to stop floating through the air at that imaginary boundary? Of course, laws have changed quite a bit since then and not only are you not allowed to smoke in restaurants anymore (at least in Ontario, where I was then, and BC, where I am now), but in Vancouver you also can’t smoke on restaurant patios, within 6 ft of doorways, building air intake and openable windows, and, starting Sept 1, 2010, at any public parks or beaches.

Some random interesting facts about tobacco as a health hazard:

  • 1 Canadian dies every 11 minutes from the effects of tobacco.  That’s more than 47,000 people every year!
  • More than 1000 non-smokers die every year in Canada from the effects of second-hand smoke.
  • Nicotine is as physically addictive as heroin or cocaine.
  • Good news: The overall rate of current smoking (Canadians aged 15+ years) declined from 25% to 18% between 1999 and 2008.
  • Bad news: Every 10 minutes, two Canadian teenagers start smoking.

Want to quit smoking?  Here are some resources2 :

  • Top 10 reasons to quit smoking (English PDF 100 KB) (Inuktitut PDF 100 KB)
  • Planning for My Quit Day Checklist (English PDF 40 KB) (Inuktitut PDF 40 KB)
  • I Quit! Contract and I Support You! Contract (English PDF 60 KB) (Inuktitut PDF 60 KB)
  • 8 Things to Do When You Quit Smoking (English PDF 170 KB)
  1. zomg, I can’t believe there’s a Wikipedia page on that donut shop chain!  Even if it is just a Wikipedia stub with no references!! []
  2. taken directly from the CPHA 100 website []

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Over 8 Coupons! Or, You Know, 9.

Over 8 coupons! Or, you know, 9.

Get Over Eight Coupons