Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Every Step You Take

I got a pedometer last week.  I’ve been thinking that it would be interesting to have one for a while now and then I heard some news stories on studies showing that being inactive for long periods of time (say, sitting at your desk all day) is harmful to your health1, regardless of if you engage in physical activity at other times.  So, while going out for a run  is good for you, you can lose some of that goodness by sitting around all day in between runs.   And I do *a lot* of sitting.  My job primarily involves working at my desk or sitting in my car driving to meetings or focus groups or interviews, where I sit.

The materials that came with the pedometer said that the average person is sedentary, taking somewhere between 1,000-3,000 steps per day.  The recommendation is to aim for about 10,000 steps per day (or about 7 km).  But before trying to do that, it suggests that you spend a few days wearing the pedometer and following your usual routine, to see where you are starting from.  And then try to add more steps gradually, until you are up to 10,000 steps per day.  Easy-peasy, right?

The first day I had it I took only ~4,600 steps during the day – and that was a day where I had an off-site meeting which involved a fair bit of walking.  After going on my 10 km run that evening, I clocked in at 18,342 steps, but it was shocking to me that a workday that involved an above-average amount of walking, I was still taking less than half the recommended 10,000 steps!

The next day I had meetings at different sites – which meant a few rounds of walking to and from my car to meeting locations, plus I went out for dinner with a couple of friends in Vancouver in the evening, and parked a few blocks away and walked.  I still only took 5,884 steps.

The day after that I spent the day in the office and went out to an event in the evening.  I took a total of 4,345 steps.

The day after that was absolutely atrocious.  I had meetings offsite, but spend the whole day in the one location and really only walked from the parking lot to building.  And then stayed in that night.  I only took 2,561 steps in the whole day!

The following day was a Saturday, so I wasn’t in the office.  I ran some errands and went to the Night Market, where we walked around a fair bit.  Total for the day: a much more respectable, though still not sufficient, 8,710 steps.

On the Sunday I forgot to wear my pedometer, but that was because I got up at the crack of dawn to run a half marathon. I’m not worried that I didn’t meet the 10,000 step goal that day!

Monday was a work day where I was out for some meetings, made a point of walking to the corner store during the break and then ran some errands on the way home.  Total for the day: 5,108 steps – just more than half the recommended daily total.

And Tuesday was a day that I spent squirreled away in my office, working feverishly on a report I needed to get done.  I stayed at work 1.5 hrs longer than a normal workday to finish it, so by the time I got home I just wanted to sit on my coach and relax.  Total for the day: 4,399 steps – though I think many of these were added by my dancing around my apartment as I made dinner.

And now, because I cannot possess quantitative data without turning it into a graph, I give you a graph2:


So it’s pretty clear that I need to do more activity during the day!  But I’m struggling with ways to do that.  Some of the most common suggestions for increasing activity throughout the day I either already do3 or cannot do4.  Taking transit is not an option where I work (especially because I so often have to drive to meetings all over the Lower Mainland) and there aren’t really good cycling routes in Surrey as far as I can tell (and again, many days I need my car to drive to meetings in other cities anyway, which rules out cycling to work). This all is a stark reminder of how much more healthy an environment I had when I lived and worked in Vancouver – I walked a few blocks each way between my bus stop and my work, I climbed up 5 flights of stairs to get to my office and back down 5 flights of stairs to leave my office, and I could walk to my grocery and produce stores instead of driving!

Going out for a run, or even a walk, after work is good, but it clearly isn’t enough to maximize health – I need to find ways to be more active during the day.  I would love to be able to get one of those treadmill desks5, but my work doesn’t have the money or the space for such a thing.  I’m thinking right now that my best bet will be to make a concerted effort to take stretch breaks at work – at least this will get the blood flowing and kick my body out of its sit-related lethargy.  And then to make more of an effort to go for a walk or run every day to get that step count up!

Anyone have any other suggestions for increasing activity that would be feasible for a desk jockey who works in the ‘burbs?

  1. notably causing increased blood sugar and decreased HDL (the so-called “good”) cholesterol levels []
  2. the number of steps taken for the half marathon on Sunday were estimated based on those taken to complete the Monday night 10 km run.  There should be “during the day” steps taken on Sunday, but since I forgot to wear the pedometer, I have no idea how many []
  3. e.g., take the stairs.  I always take the stairs instead of the elevator, but I live in a basement and work only on the second floor of my office building, so it doesn’t add all that much []
  4. e.g., park further away.  At my office, we are only allowed to park in the small parking lot directly behind the building.  If we park in any of the adjacent lots, which belong to other businesses, we’ll be towed. And street parking is time-limited, so we can’t park on the street either []
  5. how awesome would that be? []


Public Health Achievement #6: Motor-vehicle safety

March great public health achievement badgeWow, I totally thought I’d done an entry on the public health achievement in June, but when I just went to start my July entry – what with it being mid-July and all – I discovered that I did not, in fact, do one in June.  So here I am back-dating again!

The public health achievement being highlighted by the Canadian Public Health Association’s 100 year anniversary project for the month of June is: motor vehicle safety.

Some random interesting facts about motor vehicle safety:

  • 7 people die every day in Canada from car crashes. This is down from ~16 people per day in the mid-1970s, which has been attributed to things like safer vehicles (e.g., seat belts, airbags, anti-lock brakes), improved roadways (e.g., divided highways, rumble strips), increased traffic law enforcement, more awareness by the public, and better trauma medical treatment.
  • 1921 – “Driving while intoxicated” included in the Criminal Code of Canada.
  • In 1971, a law was introduced that required all new cars to have seat belts.
  • ~93% of Canadians wear their seat belts – though it boggles my mind why the other 7% don’t!
  • 1969 – law passed to make driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 mg/dL or more illegal.
  • Car seats reduce the risk of dying by 71% for kids younger than 1 year old.
  • Kids have to be in booster seats until they are 80 lbs or 9 years old now. When I was a kid, we were out of car seats from a pretty young age, and I don’t remember ever being in booster seats at all.
  • 2003 – Newfoundland and Labrador banned the use of handheld cell phones while driving, the first province to do so.  BC introduced a similar law this year.

Stuff You Can Do:

  • Wear your seat belt and use appropriate child restraint devices for kids.
  • Use transit, cabs, or designated driver’s if you are drinking.
  • Don’t use a handheld device while driving.


Fun With Screenshots

Short on ideas about what to write a blog posting about?  Just start typing something into Google – the auto-complete will usually give you some nice gems to blog about.  Like this one, which I originally typed in to see if I could find out if bugs really do have an affinity for estrogen:

Do bugs...

It’s intriguing to me that so many people are curious about the possibility of bug flatulance.

Then I tried to find out if the 8-legged monsters of my nightmares have an affinity for estrogen and got this:

Do spiders...

And then I was on a roll, so started typing in random beginnings of sentences and found this gem:

Why would...

and this display of geographical incompetence:

Canada is...

Not to mention grammatical incompetence.  I mean, really, enough people queried the incorrect “Canada is apart of what country” to make it the number 2 hit?

And finally, because I couldn’t resist:

Ed Hardy is...

All the red arrows I can understand, but the green one?  You are very much outnumbered, green.  Also, bonus points for the existential “Ed Hardy is.”

And while I’m on screenshots, here’s one I took while watching the new Harry Potter trailer:

appropriate audiences

Uh oh, I watched it even though I think I’m an “inappropriate audience” (based on how many times I’ve been told that I’m being inappropriate).


Red Bull Shouldn’t… What?

I found the fine print on this Red Bull label rather surprising:

Red Bull

I was unaware that anyone consumed Red Bull *without* mixing it with alcohol!


Half Marathon #4 – Complete!

We did it!  My fourth, and Alicia’s second, half marathon is in the books!

All week long I was watching the weather forecast for today and though the forecast for every other day seemed to change hourly, the meteorologists were steadfast on the prediction for Sunday, June 27 – rain. And the only waterproof running jacket I had is quite heavy – it’s lined to keep you nicely dry and warm for fall runs, but way too hot for an 18 degrees and rainy June day.  So I decided to treat myself to a new running jacket – I figured it was a pretty good investment given that it looks like we will not be seeing any sunny days this summer.  Plus, I’ve been very good about not buying clothes so far in 2010 – I’m waaay under what I budgeted for clothes1, so I didn’t even feel guilty buying something that isn’t from a thrift store!  And, I must say, it’s a beautiful jacket – bright white with a bit of reflective stuff on it so I don’t get hit by any cars.  And two convenient pockets.  And super duper light.

And said rain jacket served me well for the ~5 minutes I wore it during the race.  Because, though it was spitting a bit before race, not a single drop fell during the entire 2 hours and 23 minutes in which I was actually racing.  And so pretty early on the race, the jacket got tied around my waist, where it remained until after the post-race brunch, when I felt a little chilled.  I’m reasonably sure that my buying a rain jacket warded off all the rain they were calling for.  You’re welcome, all-the-other-runners in the race.

Here we are, before the race:

Notice my beautiful, rain-preventing jacket! Alicia’s jacket is the same brand as mine – she bought it a few months ago and at that time neither of us had heard Sugoi, but now here we are, all Sugoi-ed up.

The race route was pretty nice – it started at Thunderbird Arena at UBC, we looped around UBC for ~7 km, then we ran around SW Marine, through Kits, over the Burrard Street bridge and into Stanley Park.  And my favourite part: it’s net downhill!  As with our last half, I couldn’t keep up with Alicia and so she ran ahead at about the 17 km mark.  I had her in my sights until the Burrard Street bridge, but then lost her in the crowd.  In the end, Alicia came in at 2:23:22 and I came in at 2:23:53. And, need I remind you, Alicia had a freaking baby five months ago!  Good job, running partner!!

  1. and I haven’t bought a single pair of shoes!  Which anyone who knows me will tell you is pretty much a miracle. []


Hockey Hotties – Fresh Meat 2010

It’s sunny and warm today – just the type of weather that gets one thinking about hockey!  This weekend marks the NHL 2010 Entry Draft, being held at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles.  And, as has become my custom, I’ve done a thorough analysis of the draft picks.

First, what’s up with the names of these kids?  Picks #1 and 2 are Taylor and Tyler? Perhaps this makes me officially old, but when I was a kid, boys had names like John and Scott and Bryan.

Tyler Seguin, left, and Taylor Hall, the top two picks, pose for a photo before the first round of the NHL National Hockey League draft at Staples Center in Los Angeles Friday, June 25, 2010.

Tyler and Taylor.

Now, on to the more important things.  Taylor Hall, a left wing drafted by the Edmonton Oilers, and Tyler Seguin, a centreman heading to Boston, both =”hotties.”  Also, I’m pretty sure Taylor is Val Kilmer’s illegitimate love child.

NHL Draft Hockey

Taylor Hall (top), Val Kilmer (bottom)

The next picks six picks – Erik Gudbranson, Ryan Johansen, Brett Connelly, Jeff Skinner, and Alexander Burmistrov – all belong in the “not” category.

But then comes draft pick #9.  Hello Mikael Granlund, the 5’10” centreman from Finland, drafted by Minnesota:


Rounding out the top 10 is Dylan McIlrath, who doesn’t look half bad in the photo on the NHL draft’s webpage:

but looks extremely not hot in every other photo of him on the interwebs:

So that’s three hotties out of the top 10 drafts picks. Not great, but it could have been worse.


Because I Wasn’t Narcissistic Enough Already

One of the things on my 101 things to do list is:

38. participate in the “365 Day Challenge”<. This involves taking a self-portrait1 every day for 365 days and posting it to the 365 Day Flickr group.

And since I need 365 days in which to do this, I figured I’d better start at it! So far, I’m up to day 4 – and if you are dying to see a new photo of me every day, you can follow my set on my Flickr.

My photos thus far:

Day 1Day 2Day 3IMG_0745

  1. where “self-portrait” includes any photo you take, including ones you line up but use a self-timer for, that include any part of your body in the photo []


The Spider Conspiracy – An Update

I got into my car this morning and started driving to work. And then some movement near the driver’s side visor caught my attention.  Can you guess what it was?  That’s right, it was a freaking *spider*!  A horrible little yellow and black striped one, soulless and vile!  Thankfully, my dad always taught me to take extra napkins from fast food joints and keep them in the glove compartment1, so I was able to pull over, jump out of the car armed with a napkin and then carefully reach in and squash the little bugger to death.

Then, when I got home from work, guess what was hanging from my freaking front door handle?  A big stupid black 8-legged beast! Gah!

All this, of course, just proves that there really is a spider conspiracy going on.  I mean, no sooner did I reveal this spider conspiracy on my blog and they sent not just one, but two assassins after me.

I’m kind of afraid to go to sleep tonight.

  1. has anyone *ever* kept actual gloves in the glove compartment of their car? []


Dear Me Three Months From Now

So I was out at Golden Ears Provincial Park this past weekend and I noticed a weird purple dot on my arm. “It’s a tick bite!” declared my friend, Clayton. Then he said something derogatory about me being a “city girl” and I promptly forgot about it (I probably got distracted by something shiny). Anyway, over the last few days I’ve been watching it and it’s definitely some kind of a bug bite. It’s red, a bit swollen and definitely warm.

The reason I’m mentioning it here is because if it is, in fact, a tick bite and if the offending tick was, in fact, infected with something horrible, the symptoms won’t show up for months, by which time I will have forgotten all about this. So, if a few months from now I’m complaining of fever, headache, a circular skin rash and arthritis1, it’s your job to remind me that I probably got bit by a tick and probably have Lyme disease, k?

In slightly related news, I was told today the bugs (like ticks and their soulless 8-legged cousins who shall remain nameless here) have an affinity for estrogen and thus prefer to bite women2. Bastards.


  1. of course, now I’ve started reading about all the horrible things that can happen to you from a tick bite – like psychosis (!) in later stage infection with Lyme disease or paralysis and gangrene (!) from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, so I’m probably going to end up with Münchausen syndrome []
  2. In the interest of full disclosure, while I was told this by someone that I trust to know what they are talking about, I was unable to find a source to verify this information.  And I looked for, like, 3 whole minutes.  I think it’s a conspiracy.  A spider-based conspiracy.  The spiders don’t want you to know!  Double bastards! []


Did I Ever Mention That I Like Hockey?

A friend of mine made a hockey movie. ’nuff said.