Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Social Butterfly

Today’s blog posting shall be brief as it’s past my bedtime and I have to be up early for a 7 a.m. dentist appointment. You know you are jealous.

This week has been, and will continue to be, one of social butterfliedness. For some reason, I seem to have friends in town visiting on Monday and Friday, and then filled up my other evenings with social engagements, thusly:

  • Monday: My friend Therese (who I did my undergraduate with at McMaster1) and her boyfriend, Matt, are in town for a family wedding, so Devon and I had dinner with them at Las Margaritas. So much good conversation and good food. And margaritas!
  • Tuesday: I happened to be at UBC this afternoon, so I met up with Alicia, who works there, and we went for dinner at Indian Oven, which coincidentally is kitty corner to Las Margaritas. Alicia’s baby is due very, very soon, so I was really glad to get to see her before the wee one arrives. Even if she did send me a link to a YouTube video with a *giant* spider in it! Again, so much good conversation and delicious food. But no margaritas this time!
  • Wednesday: A non-exciting evening at the laundromat will be followed by a night-time hockey game!
  • Thursday: Having dinner with my friend, Amy. We have a standing dinner date for the last Thursday of every month, which is all kinds of awesome. I expect there to be so much good conversation and delicious food and beer.
  • Friday: Rachel and Peter are going to be in town, so Devon and I will be meeting up with them for drinks2.
And now, to bed! And tonight I’ll make sure to set my iPhone alarm, since I had a bit of a mishap with my alarm clock this morning!
  1. Also, I would like to brag that McMaster is playing in the Vanier Cup at BC Place this week. Because McMaster is freaking awesome. []
  2. So, unless you are one of my friends that I know in real life, you are probably at this point wondering who Devon is. Remember the time that I said I was looking for a boy who is made of awesome? I found him. []

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It’s Wikipedia Donation Time!

And while we are talking about donating to charities, have you considered donating to Wikipedia? If you’ve used Wikipedia recently1, you have probably noticed the call for donations with the big picture of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales’ face at the top of the screen… I would totally take a screenshot, but even though it was up this morning, it seems to be gone now! Because I am always the last person to blog about anything ever2. But I digress.

Wikipedia. I’m sure you use it all the time. It’s most people’s first place to go when they want to know something quickly. In the past weekend alone, I have used it to look up such varied things as information on candidates in this past weekend’s municipal elections, how many episodes of The Walking Dead have aired this season, and what the origin of the term “French kissing” is. I’ve given assignments to my students where they contribute to a page on Wikipedia, through which they learn a whole host of things, including the necessity of citing their work properly and how to work constructively with feedback from others.

According to Wikipedia’s “hey, you should donate to us” page, Wikipedia is the #5 site on the entire Internets and they do it with a pretty minimal staff and no advertising, because advertising really has no place in a site that’s trying to be a complete and unbiased source of information. So why not throw them a few bucks, eh?

  1. and seriously, who hasn’t? []
  2. For a hilarious take on pointing out the unfortunate placement of Jimmy Wales’ face, see this post by The Oatmeal []

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Send Me Your Chicken!

Someone1 tweeted about this odd promotion by Aeroplan where you email them a picture of a chicken and they will give money to Veterinarians Without Borders:

“Aeroplan will donate $5 to [Veterinarians Without Borders] for each photo or drawing submission we receive of a chicken.  Money raised will help purchase 600 chickens to give to three villages in Laos including  Palai and Dounien.  ($5 purchases 1 chicken)  To enter, please send your drawing or photo to: csr.aeroplan (at) aeroplan.com between November 1st and 30th.”

Since I didn’t have any chickens handy to photograph, I decided to draw one. Also, I’m a terrible artist, but the rules did not say it had to be a *good* picture of a chicken. So I sent them this:

chicken

And now, dear readers, I’m challenging you too to send in a picture of a chicken to Aeroplan so that they’ll give more money to VWB. And then you should send me the picture too and I’ll add it to this blog posting. Because you know you can’t resist all the fame and glory that comes with having your chicken picture on my blog!

  1. I totally don’t remember who it was, so my apologies for not giving credit where credit is due! []

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Did You Vote Today?

So it’s municipal election day in British Columbia, the day we get to vote for mayors, city councillors, and school board trustees. And given that I know jack squat about Surrey politics, I decided I should read the candidate statements before I headed off to the polls.  First of all, there about about eleventy billion people running for council, so it took me ages to get through the statements. Secondly, it’s pretty challenging to figure out what everyone is really about from these short statements, especially when so many people, just spew off platitudes. Of course everyone wants to make the city a safer place with good schools, nice parks, better roads, better transit, businesses that succeed, and unicorns covered in pixie dust. But how, exactly, they are going to do that is never mentioned. Is it so much to ask to see some concrete ideas?

What’s particularly galling are the candidates who are making claims they will provide all sorts of things – new stadiums, new schools, new hospitals, more Skytrain, better pay for municipal employees, more teachers in schools, etc., etc. AND no increases in taxes. I mean, seriously, do these individuals have no idea how a government works? Governments get money from taxes. Buying things costs money. It’s not rocket science, people.

And finally, what’s the deal with political parties calling themselves “non-partisan”? Our good friend Wikipedia tells us:

In politics, partisan literally means organized into political parties. The expression “partisan politics” usually refers to fervent, sometimes militant, support of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea.

Presumably these so-called non-partisan parties are trying to distance themselves from the of “fervent, sometimes militant,” connotation of the word, but technically they are saying that they are a political party that is not a political party. Am I the one one who finds this ridiculous?

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Computers Hate Me

Computers hate me.

First, it was my work computer. It started out when I called I.T. to ask them to figure out why I suddenly couldn’t print to one of the three printers in my office, which are shared among all the staff. It’s my preferred printer to print on, as the other black & white printer1 is at the front where the clerks sit and they often print on labels, so when I send a print job there, it sometimes ends up on a sheet of labels that one of the clerks has just stuck into the paper tray – so wasteful. I.T. told me that it would be simple to fix – the driver was corrupted, so they needed to remove it and replace it with a non-corrupt driver. But when they logged onto my computer remotely, they couldn’t remove it, no matter how hard they tried. A couple of different I.T. people tried, yet the driver would not budge from my computer! They could remove the drivers for the other two printers, but not this one. Clearly, my computer is haunted.

They also noticed that it takes eleventy billion years for my Windows profile to log onto my computer. I usually deal with this by logging on the moment I get into my office, and then taking off my coat, bringing my lunch to put in the fridge in the lunchroom, etc. etc. and by the time I’m done all that, I’m logged on. But the I.T. person said, “Oh, we can fix that.” And then they did a bunch of stuff and it didn’t help at all. In fact, one of the things they did was reset my Windows profile, and the next time I logged on, a whole bunch of files appeared on my desktop. Files that I had deleted A YEAR AGO. Clearly, these files are zombies, returned from the dead to eat my computer’s brains.

So the next step I.T. decided to take was to do a complete reinstall of Windows on my computer, which fixed my printer driver problem, but pooched my qualitative data analysis software, which reinstalled fine, but refused to be activated. Qualitative data analysis software, I might add, which I’m needing for a few of my high priority projects right now! Clearly, my computer is a vampire, sucking the activation-y goodness from my qual software.

Then, just to add insult to injury, the printer at the back – the one that started this all – went on the fritz and we can’t use it right now. I really wish I were making this all up, but alas a truer story has never been told.

So that’s just my work computer. But would you believe that two other computer systems, completely unrelated to each other, and both of which are for Big Important Things I’m working on, both screwed up royally on me? One had a major glitch whereby the work that I did appeared on my end to be submitted back at the end of September but was not received by the people who needed to receive it and I only found this out this week when I emailed them to follow up. The other system first wouldn’t let me enter any of the information I needed to enter at all and then, once I got that fixed, kept giving me error messages that my entry needs to be 1000 characters or fewer, even though my entry is only 995 characters. O. M. G.

How is it possible that this many computer issues could happen to one innocent young lady such as myself? Clearly, this must be some conspiracy of global proportions. I’m pretty sure the spiders are behind it. Or the zombies. Or, god forbid, the zombie spiders.

Image Credit: Comics are by xkcd.com – they are hilarious and shared with a Creative Commons license, because the creator is awesometastic. 

  1. The third printer is a colour printer and I only print on it on the rare occasions that I need to print in colour. Obviously. []

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A plague on both your retinas

I had my annual eye exam yesterday and, happily, everything is exactly the same as it was a year ago. In fact, I just read over my blog posting from last year’s eye exam and I could pretty much copy and paste it and it would be accurate for this year’s exam – my optometrist did all the same tests and said all the same things: my vision is still great, more than two years after my last laser eye surgery, my retinal latticing is still there, but hasn’t changed and she doesn’t really expect it too, but is keeping an eye on just in case. And I took another photo of my dilated pupils:

dilated pupilsMy optometrist showed me the pictures she took of my retinas, where you can just  make out  my retinal latticing – it’s slightly worse in the left eye than the right eye. Oddly, my right eye is also better in terms of vision – it’s 20/20, whereas my left eye is slightly less than 20/20 – even though the retinal latticing and the vision are in no way related. Fortunately, I’m right eye dominant, so if one eye has to be weaker, it’s good that it’s the left.

In related news, since my optometrist’s office is in my old ‘hood on the west side, I popped into Stong’s grocery store to see if they had any of my favourite coffee, as I’m running low. The last few times I’ve been there they didn’t have it in whole bean form, only in ground form, but since I’m running low I figured it was better than nothing. However, to my surprise, they not only had it in whole bean form, but it was on sale for $3 off! And they also had the decaf coffee I like1 on sale for $3 off! Needless to say, I stocked up on as many bags of coffee as I could get. Translation: I spent an unholy amount on coffee beans today, but I save $27 (!) and now have coffee supplies to last me well into next year!

  1. I use it half and half with the regular stuff so as to cut down on the amount of caffeine I consume. []

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Happy 5th PhDiversary To Me!

So I was looking at my transcript the other day, as I was working on an application for something1 and noticed that it said that my PhDizzle was granted on November 16, 2006. The astute among you will note that that would be exactly five years ago today! Zounds! Five years ago is a very, very long time. It hardly seems possible that I have been insisting on people calling me “Dr.” for the last half a decade! It still makes me giggle when someone refers to me as “Dr. Beth” – is that possible after five long years? Well, apparently it is, because here I am giggling after typing it.

However, when I went to write this blog posting, I noticed that all the photos of my convocation ceremony, such as this one:

IMG_0378

are marked as having been taken on November 22, not November 16. “That’s odd,” I thought, “Must have had the wrong date on my camera.” But then I looked at my old blog posting – my blog, of course, being the source of absolute truth – and it confirmed that November 22 was my convocation. And then I had a crisis on my hands: What day do I celebrate as my PhDiversary? And from where did this November 16 date, which, as far as I can tell, bears no relationship to anything, come?

I had a quick email exchange with Dr. Dan and we came to the following conclusion: I should celebrate both dates, plus the date of my PhD defence! Which makes my important nerdy dates thus:

  • August 8 – My Defenciversary
  • November 162- PhDiversary
  • November 22 – Convocativersary

And thus, in celebration of my 5th PhDiversary today, I present you with this Tumblebeast in a UBC PhD hat:

PhD Tumblbeast

I may also eat some chocolate, which we all know is the appropriate way to celebrate everything.

 

  1. More about that in a later blog posting. []
  2. As I’ve been writing this, the thought occurred to me that it might be that November 16 was the date that the Senate voted to approve the list of candidates for the November 22 convocation. I base this on no evidence whatsoever, but it’s the best guess I’ve got, so I’m sticking to it until someone tells me otherwise []

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LG4CF Documentary Teaser Videos

Hey, remember that time I set a world record? I know, how could you forget with it being so epically awesome and all?  Well, I think I mentioned1 that there was a documentary film crew that was following us around before and during the game, capturing the highs and lows and all the various goings on of 40 women who decided to play hockey for 10 days straight to raise money for, and awareness of, Cystic Fibrosis.

Well, the documentarians are hard at work on creating their masterpiece and they are at the point where they have some teaser videos for us to watch. Here’s a 40 second clip:

And here’s a 2 minute preview of the documentary:

1000 points to the first person who correctly identifies the three times that I appear in the second video!

I can’t *wait* until this movie is ready!

  1. I say that I “think” I mentioned because I was kind of delirious from pain and sleep deprivation during most of that game, so I can’t be certain of what I did or did not say during that time. []

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Spruce Beer Float

Spruce beer float

I’m in heaven!

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Montreal

I can’t believe my trip to Montreal is over already!

On Saturday, we started the day with breakfast at Cora’s and then did some more shopping. Did I mention how freaking fashionable everyone in Montreal? We looked at lots of stuff, but didn’t buy a tonne – I only bought a few accessories1, as I didn’t have a lot of room in my suitcase and had to leave room for Christmas presents that my family brought for me so they wouldn’t have to ship them, plus a case of spruce beer, which, as far as I can tell, you can only buy in Quebec. Mmmm, spruce beer. But I’m getting ahead of myself. My mom bought some clothes and my sister got a hat at Ogilvy’s and stuff for my niece for her birthday and a few other things at Forever 212.

Sleeping ThomasMy poor nephew – he was so tired out from all the shopping!

After shopping, we headed out to my mom’s cousin’s Susan’s place in LaSalle, where we got to see my Auntie Maureen, Auntie Barbara, Uncle Michael, and my mom’s other cousin, Leanne. It was great to see them – I haven’t seen my aunts and uncle since my last visit in 2005, my mom’s cousin Leanne in many, many more years than that, and we think I might never have met my mom’s cousin Susan before! If I have, I would have been very little. We had a tonne of fun – had a great time catching up, ate a delicious meal from a Greek restaurant, the name of which I must have asked 16 times but I still can’t remember what it was, and had a super delicious birthday cake that my Auntie Barbara made for my mom. I’d love to show you a picture of it, but my camera batteries died, so we were taking photos with my mom’s camera, but it uses some sort of proprietary Sony card instead of an SD card, so I couldn’t get the photos off the camera. My mom said she’ll get my dad to email them to me when she gets home, so I’ll post them once I get them. In the meantime, picture a cake shaped like a book, with little mini books on top, plus two bookworms in the shape of a “6” and a “5.” Adorable! And did I mention delicious?

While in LaSalle, we also picked up some spruce beer at the grocery store. Spruce beer, for the uninitiated, is a type of pop that, as far as I can tell, you can only get in Quebec. I remember my Grandpa Snow making us spruce beer ice cream floats when we were kids3. It tastes like drinking a spruce tree and I’m sure it’s absolutely disgusting to anyone else but I *love* it so much!

Spruce beer!

The next morning, my mom, sister, and nephew were going to leave mid-morning, as they had a long drive back to Toronto ahead of them. But I may have pointed out that we hadn’t yet had a Montreal smoked meat sandwich and that I’d just go get one by myself before I headed to the airport for my 3 pm flight. And my sister may have taken pity on me and so the stuck around a bit longer! We had a lovely coffee at Cafe Java U and then went to Reuben’s for smoked meat. I have “Have a smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz’s” on my list of 101 things to do because I’d mistakenly thought that Schwartz’s was the place we used to go to get smoked meat when I was a kid. As it turns out, we used to go to Adam’s in LaSalle and Gregory’s in Verdun, neither of which exist anymore. And since the sentiment of the “smoked meat” item on my 101 list was to go to the place we used to go for nostalgia reasons, it makes the Schwartz’s part less important and so I’m counting “having smoked meat in Montreal” as “achieved” on my 101 list!

Beth & her smoked meat sandwichMe and my delicious Montreal smoked meat sandwich.

My smoked meat sandwich was exactly as I remembered them to be. Giant and delicious. The fries were a bit of a disappointment – I remember the fries we used to get with the smoked meat sandwiches when I was a kid were chunky and freshly made, whereas these were thin and clearly from a bag in a freezer – but the sandwich itself more than made up for that. And the coleslaw and the pickle totally completed the meal! My sister ordered a slice of cheesecake which was insanely huge and we shared it, plus she had some left over to take home. Also, freaking delicious.

And after that, it was time to hit the road. My family dropped me off a the airport, which was on their way home to Toronto, and I hopped onto my plane, which also happened to be going to Toronto, as I had to catch a connecting flight to Vancouver from there. And I nearly missed my plane in Toronto, because there were so many people with too much carry on luggage4 that the flight attendants took a good 15 minutes to figure out where to put it all and I only had a 45 minute turnaround time at YYZ! I ran from the gate where my Montreal flight landed to the gate where my Vancouver flight was leaving from and, happily, arrived just as the last of the passengers were boarding. We had the same issue of too much carry on luggage on this flight, so we were delayed about 10 minutes while everyone tried to stuff their luggage in to the overhead compartments, so I hope that gave my checked bag enough time to make it’s way on this plane! (Oh yes, I’m writing this on my flight from Toronto to Vancouver and will post it when I get home)

Anyhoo, I’m home now and I’m freaking tired! I’ve been fully adapted to Ontario time (i.e., living in the future) since I got to Ottawa and went to bed super duper early, so it feels like it’s three hours later than it is here in Pacific time (a.k.a., the past). I’m hoping that being on Ontario’s future time will help make it easier for me to get up early in the morning!

Other random stuff:

  • There’s a place in Montreal called “Club Super Sexe.” True story. Here’s a picture to prove it:
    Club Super Sexe, Montreal
  • Did I mention how fashionable everyone is in Montreal?
  • Did I mention how excited I am to drink my spruce beer?
  • I did, in fact, convince my mom to have a Caesar so that I could try it. Verdict: delicious!
  • I really do love Montreal, even in spite of its frigid temperatures. I hope I don’t have to wait another six years before I go back!

Aunt Beth & Thomas Thomas and I came prepared for the cold Montreal weather with our matching hats!

  1. Two pairs of earrings, two bras, and two headbands, to be exact []
  2. Yes, we realize that they have Forever 21 in both Toronto and Vancouver. Minor details []
  3. Both my parents grew up in Montreal and we have relatives from both sides of my family who still live there, so whenever someone would go back to Montreal to visit, they’d bring back spruce beer []
  4. Which ticks me off, because I had to leave behind some of the Christmas presents my sister brought for me because I couldn’t fit them in my bag, what with all the spruce beer and the other Christmas presents. But if I’d known they’d let me walk on with three giant carry on bags despite the rules saying you only get two carry on bags, like I saw another lady do, I’d have done that too! []