Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese


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And while I’m complaining about lousy customer service, let me tell you about my experience at UBC Library today. I had to drop off some overdue library books and pay the related overdue fines. Apparently some of my library books were due at the beginning of the month but I somehow didn’t get the email notice reminding me they were due. Instead, I got the second reminder notice yesterday saying “hey, this is your second reminder and also you owe us a crapload of money!”  Crap.  So while I was Vancouver for my Saturday seawall walk with Jen, I dropped by the Hamber library branch, located at Women’s & Children’s Hospital. I drop off the books and say I’d like to pay my fine. As it turns out, they don’t take credit or debit cards, or even cheques – cash only. But they only have student assistants working on the weekend and student assistants aren’t allowed to sign receipts. “Usually what I do is just put the money aside and the librarian can do it on Monday,” said the girl behind the counter.  So I’m supposed to hand over a bunch of cash, but I can’t get a receipt to prove I gave it to them. Um, yeah right. Now, I’m not saying that I think the student is going to steal my cash, but the thought of handing over unmarked bills that will just be put in an unsecured drawer until Monday – no way. So I ask if I can pay my fee online and she says “Oh yeah, you can just log into the Student Services Centre and go to the Financial Section.”  Then she looks down at my Faculty card that I’d given her to look up my account. Turns out students can pay their library fines online but faculty members, at least as far as I can tell, cannot. “Can you come during the day when the librarian is here?” asks the girl behind the counter.  “No,” I say, “I work out in Surrey.”  “Well,” she tells me, “Can you get out to UBC Campus during the week?” Not sure how that’s supposed to be helpful, since UBC campus is *farther* away from Surrey that Women’s & Children’s is.  So, basically, I want to pay my overdue fines1 but they won’t take my money. Awesome. I’m going to try calling them on Monday to see if they can charge my credit card to pay for it, because I hate owing money for things. Wish me luck!

  1. well, I mean, I don’t really *want* to, but I’m trying to since I owe it to them []


Boo DHL, Yay Kalev!

Now, I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this and I won’t be the last, but holy crap DHL Express is the crappiest delivery company ever. You see, Kalev bought me some birthday presents from ThinkGeek and had them shipped to me.  Or at least, he tried to have them shipped to me. But the shipping company used was DHL Express.  Since the package was coming from the US, there was customs owing on it and so I came home on Friday last week to a notice saying that they’d tried to deliver my package, but I wasn’t there to pay up, so why don’t I give them a call?  So I call the number on the notice and end up talking to some guy from the the deep Southern US, who tells me I should call during the day, as apparently the 1-800 on the notice goes to the US if you call at night.  Um, OK. So I call the next day and another American call person tells me I should call the Canadian number.  There’s a Canadian number? I tell her that I called the number on the notice that was left for me and the guy I talked to the day before said if I called during the day I’d get a Canadian office. She tells me that there’s an actual Canadian number I can call1. Of course, it’s a 905 number – long distance. I have Skype, so long distance doesn’t cost me and so I call it. And I get a voicemail. “This is DHL Express, leave a message after the beep” kind of thing. Except after the beep I get “This mailbox is full.”  Seriously DHL Express? You don’t answer your phones on evenings or weekends – and your voicemail is full? WTF??

Anyway. I call on Monday and find out that my package can be picked up between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the week in Burnaby. Because that’s not inconvenient at all. And just to top things off, when I did get out to Burnaby yesterday to pick up my package, I nearly got run over by a reckless DHL truck driver who tore into the parking lot like he was in the Indy 500.

Also amusing was that when I picked the package, there was a letter sealed up in a plastic pouch that was attached to the box:


The letter:

Day 213

The letter tells me where I need to go to pick up my package and that if I don’t pick it up by Jan 28th, they’ll ship it back to the sender.  Of course, the letter is ATTACHED TO THE PACKAGE. How, exactly, is a letter detailing where I need to go to pick up my package in any way useful when it is attached to said package??  You suck in so many ways, DHL Express. And not even one of those ways are the good way.

But it was all made better when I opened the package, because OMG THESE ARE THE BEST PRESENTS EVER!

First up, there are my new Like & Dislike stamps:


Now I can bring Facebook to life by “Liking” and “Disliking” things – and people – in real life. Expect to be stamped by me soon.

Then there are these awesome stuffed microbes:

The clap

You may recall that I already had cold, flu, & Ebola viruses, plus brain cells. These microbes, however, are gonorrhea. So I sent Kalev an email to thank him for giving me the clap!

And then there were three awesome t-shirts2:

There's science to do Not that kind of doctor I became the mayor of Your Mom

Look at me at me still blogging when there’s science to do. And your mom.

  1. as it turns out, the 1-800 would have directed to me the Canadian office if I’d called from my cell, but I was calling from Skype and so it wasn’t able to tell that I was in Canada []
  2. that last one is very funny if you know Foursquare []



So many things I want to blog about, but I’m so freaking tired that I think I’m going to phone this one in and go to bed. Hopefully I will be able to catch up on some much needed sleep this weekend (since last weekend was full of way too much fun to be worried about such things as sleeping!). And this week I’ve been super busy at work trying to get a bunch of writing done as next week I have 24.5 hrs of meetings (eep!), so won’t have much time to get actual work done. And I do have *a lot* of work I need to get done this weekend – including getting going on a rather important funding application and writing seven reference letters for students1! But I expect that despite the work, my weekly Seawall walk with Jen on Saturday and my hockey game on Sunday, I will still find some time for some sleeping. At least I hope I will!

  1. though it’s seven letters, thankfully they are for just three students – each student is applying to more than one program – so I’ll be able to do repeat the same stuff when I’m writing the second (and third) reference letter for a given student []


That’s What She Said

Show Package Contents


Coffee Teepee

Coffee Drive-Thru Teepee

When I was doing my month of hot yoga, every day on the way from the yoga studio to work I woud pass a teepee where they sell coffee. Seriously, there’s this little building that looks like a teepee on King George Boulevard (of Broken Dreams)1  and with a sign that says they sell organic coffee. And I’d always think, “I wonder if their coffee is any good.” Today I decided to find out. On the way from my morning yoga class to the office, I drove up and purchased a large coffee for $2.25.

Day 212

For the record – the coffee is pretty decent.

  1. King George Boulevard used to be, until quite recently, called King George Highway. When they renamed it to a Boulevard, Kalev and I found it quite amusing, since it really doesn’t have that “boulevard” kind of feel to it, and when he came to Surrey to embark on our Seattle road trip this summer, we started calling it the “King George Boulevard (of Broken Dreams)” and I can’t stop calling it that! []


Chocolate Vodka

This blog posting is loooooong overdue.  Remember way back in 2010 when I went to Ontario for Christmas?  Well, one of the many, many awesome things that I did that I totally meant to blog about but then didn’t blog about because I was having way too much fun doing awesome things to be blogging was making chocolate vodka with Dr. Dan and Jeff. Seriously. Chocolate vodka.  How does one make chocolate vodka, you ask?  Well, basically, you melt 5 Mars bars and mix them with a bottle of vodka. And then you are supposed to chill it for 24 hours, but who can wait 24 hours because OH MY GOD CHOCOLATE VODKA?!!!

The recipe, in the all the intricate details, can be found at:

Here is Dr. Dan, carefully attending to the melting and the mixing:

Dan making chocolate vodka

Close up of the melting and the mixing:

Chocolate vodka in progress

Dr. Dan & Dr. Beth enjoying their chocolate vodka:

Day 184

For the record, I was coming down with what turned out to be the longest-lasting cold I’d ever had on this night – I could actually feel myself getting sicker and weaker as I made dinner while Dr. Dan and Jeff made the vodka – so I’m actually much more happy about the chocolate vodka than this picture would lead you to believe.

Chocolate vodka

Chocolate and vodka, together at last!


Bethmas Celebrations!

So last night was my big Bethmas celebration. I mean, I celebrated my Bethday in a variety of ways throughout the week – like with cupcakes and Indian buffet dinner on my actual Bethday and by buying myself a wicked pairs of boots. But last night was the big party, what with it being a weekend night and all. Carefully planned to be on a day there wasn’t a Canucks game, I got a group of friends to come out the Nuba, a Lebanese restaurant. I’d never been there before, but a few friends have been raving about it lately, and they were able to take a reservation for a big group on a Saturday night, so Nuba it was. And what a great choice!  Because it was a big group, they said we had to do a set menu, so I went with the vegetarian menu – I figured that (a) it’s my birthday, so I can be selfish, (b) about a third of my guests were vegetarians anyway, and (c) it’s my birthday, so I can be selfish.  The food was outstanding and really reasonably priced – it was only $15 a head and they gave us SO. MUCH. FOOD1! And the service was great too. I’ll definitely be going back there!

Doing a birthday dinner in a big group like that is always hard, because no matter who you are talking to, you always feel like you are neglecting everyone you aren’t talking to at that moment. For me this is compounded by the fact that most of my friends don’t know most of my other friends2, so I feel like I should be making sure that I’m paying attention to everyone who doesn’t know anyone else. Thankfully, all my friends are super awesome (if I do say so myself), so it seemed like everyone had some good conversations going even if they didn’t know the people they were sitting near when they first got there!

After dinner, a select few3 of us went dancing at Canvas. My friend Patrice works there and since she was working last night, I decided that it would be a good club to go to. And what a great choice!  As with Nuba, I’ve been to Canvas before, but it was awesome. The music was awesome and the dance floor was filled with oh so many hotties! Once we got up on the dance floor, we danced and danced and danced until it was late late late. And then we went for pizza. And then I slept the sleep of the just in the hotel room I’d booked downtown so I could not drink because I didn’t need to drive home. Happy Bethday to me!

Thanks to all my friends who came out to celebrate with me – I have the best friends in the whole world4 And special thanks to Shalu, Deepak, and Raul for buying me drinks and dinner and to Patrice for cover/drink at Canvas. And Cath, my Aquarius friend who bears alcohol instead of water! I managed to get sufficiently fed and sufficiently drunk5 and at the end of the night I realized I hadn’t spent a penny! So. Spoiled!

  1. as usual, I’m going to point out that I have no relationship with Nuba – I’m truly just raving about it ‘cuz it was awesome []
  2. a few friends do know each other – like my grad school friends know each other and my science outreach friends know each other, etc., but I only had a few friends from each “group,” so that translated into not many people knowing each other []
  3. and by “select few,” I mean the four of us who selected ourselves to go out dancing! []
  4. and thanks to those who wanted to celebrate with me but couldn’t make it due to sick pets, personal issues, previous engagements and vast geographical distances. I love you all too! []
  5. but not nearly the 12 Bars level of drunk, thank the FSM []


The Best Cupcakes I Have Ever Made

A long time ago, I saw this picture of a cupcake:

chocolate-coffee cupcake with mocha ganache and mascarpone cream

A mocha cupcake with mocha ganache and mascarpone cream. And I decided that I must make that cupcake. But it’s quite an involved cupcake, one that I needed a worthy occasion.  Clearly, my birthday was just such an occasion. So, on Monday night I embarked on an epic journey of cupcake, ganache and mascarpone cream making. It took me most of the night – no doubt this was not helped by the fact that I was chatting online at the same time – and I had a near catastrophe when I put the first batch1 of cupcakes into the oven before the oven was preheated. Thankfully, the cupcakes baked just fine, despite their premature entry into the oven.

In the picture that I’d originally seen (above), the cupcakes were baked espresso cups – the idea being that it would look like a coffee with foam on top. Very cute.  But could I find little paper espresso cups ANYWHERE??  No, of course not. So I decided to just make mine regular cupcake style2

Day 205

Since I love to bake and I work in an office with people who love to eat, I often bring my baked goods to work, which allows me to enjoy baking without having to eat 30 cupcakes in one sitting. And generally when I bring baked goods to work, I get a lot of compliments. But the reaction to these cupcakes was above and beyond anything I’ve seen before.  You know that thing that people do when they are eating exquisitely delicious food and they instinctively close their eyes to savour it?  They were doing that. People were raving about these cupcakes for *days*. A few people told me that I should open a bakery. And several people asked for the recipe and then after I gave it to them, they said, “oh my god, these are complicated!”

For those interested, you can find the recipe for these cupcakes here. You should note that the recipe made about twice as much mascarpone cream than I needed for thirty cupcakes – which, if I’d thought about it, should have been obvious. I mean, two cups of mascarpone cheese plus two cups of whipping cream (that’s two cups *before* it’s even whipped!) was obviously going to make a hell of a lot of cream!  In fact, I still have a container full of it in my fridge! So I’d recommend only making about half of what it calls for. And given that mascarpone cream is ungodly expensive, so only having to buy half as much = win!

Image Credit: First picture of the cupcake was posted by chotda on Flickr. The other picture is by me!

  1. the recipe makes 30 cupcakes and I only have 24 cupcakes worth of space in my muffin tins, so I had to bake them in two batches []
  2. if anyone knows where I can buy little paper espresso cups in the Greater Vancouver area, let me know! These cupcakes were such a hit I will definitely be making them again. []


Apparently It’s Delurking Day

I have completely stolen this from Sarah’s blog.  Apparently today is National Delurking Day1, so all y’all who read my blog but don’t usually comment are legally required to comment today, lest this cartoon character flash you. As is my understanding of the rules of National Delurking Day.

  1. not sure which nation, truth be told []



So this is what Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car looks like under a foot of snow:


After crying “SNOWMAGGEDON!” several times this month, the meteorologists were finally right and we got a big dump of snow on the night of my birthday. Thankfully it waited until after I got home from the Indian buffet I went to with a few friends to celebrate my being born1, because I hate, hate, hate driving in the snow.

Also, yesterday I learned that my dashboard flashes a warning light when my car starts to slide on ice/snow.  In case you don’t notice, you know, that your car is sliding. Guess the bag of hockey pucks I keep in my car in the winter was not sufficient to weigh down Zaphod and prevent sliding. Fortunately, it was only the side streets that were slippery – the main roads were completely clear by the time I left for work yesterday and now even the side streets are mostly clear. And the forecast is calling for rain and 7-8 degrees C for the next week or so. W00t!

  1. this was just a low key dinner on my birthday. I’m having a big birthday bash on Saturday, since my actual birthday was on a school night, but I like to do something special on the actual day []