Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese


It’s Time to Renew

I got this in the mail before the holidays:

Time to Renew Your Driver's License

and promptly decided this was much too boring to worry about over the holidays. But now is solidly “after the holidays” and it’s time to deal with such mundane things as making sure that I continue to be licensed to drive.

The annoying thing about having to renew my driver’s license by this Friday – well, other than the actual renewing of the license part – is that the BC government recently announced that they are going to be amalgamating the current BC driver’s license and the BC Care Card1 into a single “BC Services Card”. But they aren’t starting that until Feb 15 – one month and 4 days *after* I need to renew my license. And since license renewals last for 5 years, I won’t get one of these swanky new BC Services Cards – and thus will be carrying around two cards like a sucker! – until 2018!!!

More of a travesty, however, is that I will have to give up my pretty driver’s license card – the old school one with the nice water and mountains in the background – for the new ugly one2.

The other thing that this whole issue reminds us – and probably this is the most important part – is that it’s only two days until Bethmas!

  1. I.e., the card that you use to get your wonderfully free universal socialized medical care in the province []
  2. Although there is some consolation in the fact that the new BC Services Card are also ugly. So I’m not missing out on card beauty by being one month and 4 days too early to get a BC Services Card. []


Journal of Universal Rejection

While scrolling through my old emails to write my blog posting about letters the other day, I came across an email where a friend of mine brought this site to my attention:


It’s an academic journal that is absolutely guaranteed to reject your submission, no matter what. In fact, they’ve never had an issue with any articles because they reject all articles.

Is it strange that I find this idea hilariously enticing? I think it’s the notion of the complete certainty of the situation – which is perverse, because the certainty is that you will get the result that you absolutely don’t want. Yet it seems less scary than the uncertainty of, say, submitting to a journal that *might* accept your work for publication.

Even more perverse: I want to submit something to this journal, but I can’t decide *what* to submit!


Cornish Hen

One of my goals for this year is to “make 10 meals that I’ve never made before.” First up on the list, which I made last night, was the Cornish hen. I’d bought it awhile ago at the farmer’s market and have had in my freezer ever since. Cornish hen is not only something that I’ve never made before, it’s something that I’ve never even eaten before!

I found a recipe online, that I tweaked a bit – it was basically putting a mix of lemon rind, rosemary, salt & pepper under the skin of the breast, putting a couple of lemon wedges inside the hen, and then brushing the whole thing with butter. Cooking pro tip: you can never go wrong with “brushing the whole thing with butter.”

Here’s the result:

Cornish hen

It was tender and lemony. Verdict: success!

The meal also included some lemon roasted potatoes and the peaches for dessert. There was supposed to be a veg with the meal, but somebody forgot to pick up some veg and then, to my horror, I discovered we are completely out of canned peas and corn, which are my fall back for days when I don’t have any fresh veg to cook and when it is icky and rainy out and we don’t want to run out to the store. I found some edamame in the back of the freezer, which totally don’t go with Cornish hens, but which I steamed anyway. Sadly, they turned out to be freezer burned beyond all redemption, so the meal was vegetable-less. Hence the peaches for dessert.

So that’s one new meal that I’ve never made before down, 9 to go. Some ideas I’ve had of things I’d like to trymaking include:

  • eggplant parmesan
  • ribs
  • pulled pork
  • roast beef

Any other recommendations of things I might want to try?


Always A Bridesmaid…

For the THIRD year running, I came in second in VWXYNot? Readers’ Choice Comment of the Year Award. I’m the Susan Lucci1 of VWXYNot!

Or perhaps coming in second is just my thing. I declare that second is the new first.

  1. For the initiated, Susan Lucci was nominated 18 times for a Daytime Emmy before she finally won one. So there may be hope for me yet, assuming Cath continues to run her contest for 15 more years. []


The Letters of Dr. Beth

Earlier today, Cath posted a link to an article 1 in the latest issue of Nature about the importance to science history of archiving correspondence between scientists and how since everyone communicates by emails, and Tweets, and IMs, and texts, and Facebook messages these days (as opposed to the handwritten letters in the old-time-y days of yore), no one thinks to preserve these. The article talked about how scientists should work with archivists to determine which documents – both paper and virtual – should be archived for historians to be able to work with someday and that this archiving needs to be funded. As the author put it: “We want our scholarly successors to be able to follow the twists and turns of the scientific, political and personal pathways” related to important scientific discoveries.

Now I realize that I haven’t stumbled upon a groundbreaking scientific discovery… yet. But perhaps some of my correspondence with my colleagues should be preserved for history just in case. To that end, I give you just a smattering of examples of my daily correspondence with colleagues. The names of other parties have been changed to protect the innocent – “OP” in these transcripts stands for the “other person”:

Email exchanges with a colleague who works in my building:

Me: I noticed the ½ price tea lattes on the white board at lunch today and got all excited about the “½ price” aspect… but then I realized I’ve never had a tea latte. Have you ever had one?


OP: I don’t know! I really like tea, and lattes, so I don’t see where they could go wrong. But that is a question we will probably have to answer by experience.


Me: Ah, yes, experience is the answer. I like your evidence-based line of thinking


OP: Yes, it’s hard, but we must do the field work!


Me: My shoulder hurts, my computer is being slow and I hate MS Word. Care to go get a coffee?


OP: That is a really sad story! I think we must get coffee. 10 minutesÉ Nuts, it happened again… my keyboard switches to Spanish almost every afternoon and suddenly I have É instead of a question mark, and è instead of a single quotation. Every. Single. Afternoon…


Me: Clearly your account is possessed by the ghost of a Spanish-speaking individual who was murdered in the afternoon and now returns to haunt computers from beyond the grave. 10 minutes sounds good. Shall I meet you at the front?


OP: Yes, clearly! I hadnèt though of that. I need to grab my jacket so ièll grab you in the process. (ahhhhh)


Me: Do we need free coffee2 today?


OP: Yup, uh huh, yes.


Me:  Excellent. I like that you provided a second and third opinion on this matter. Very efficient!



Me: Thanks for the feedback! I’ll make those changes ASAP! And coffee at 2 pm sounds delightful! You can tell me all about your conversation with [name redacted]!

I like exclamation points!


OP:  Yes! Me! Too!!!


Email exchange with a colleague who lives on the other side of the country:

OP: I’m currently working on a Google document with 3 other people simultaneously. This shit is awesome.
I’m so living in the future right now.
Me: I was on a webinar with people from all over North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa this morning. Now I’m on a webinar with, among others, peeps from the Institute of Medicine in the US, learning about how they are working on Obamacare re: determining what things actually need to be covered by mandatory health care. And I’m doing all this in my pyjamas!

The future indeed.


Email exchange with a colleague with whom I was collaborating on writing a grant application:

OP: Hey Beth,

How does one modify page numbers? I need mine to start at 11, and Microsoft word is a giant bitch. Have I mentioned how much I hate this program?
In other news, I’m almost done everything. 😉
Me: W00t to almost done everything!

As for page numbers, you just have to do the following:
Insert –> Page numbers — then click “Format”  – then click the circle next to “Start at” and type the page number you want to start your numbering from. And presto! You have the glorious page number!
OP: Ya, that’s the weird thing. I don’t have “Format” or a “start at” circle. I HATE WORD SO MUCH.

No worries. I’ve just created another document with 10 blank pages. I’ll let Adobe fix it for me. W00t!
In terms of the rest of the numbering though – how do we make sure that everything is numbered consecutively? Or do we? I mean, my CV apparently goes first, which would make all the numbering on your CV out of whack. Or do we care about this?
Me: I think the numbering of the CVs is separate for each CV. At least, that’s how I’ve always done it because it would be an insane exercise to get the numbering right when you have multiple applicants. [Name of computer system from granting agency] generates page numbers for the pages it produces, but sometimes it makes pages like 10a, 10b just to fuck with you. Because [Name of computer system from granting agency], like MS Word, is evil. And probably run by spiders. I think the best thing to do is to generate the pdf of all the crap that you put into [Name of computer system from granting agency] to see what page numbers it gives you and then we can number our two documents (“Research Proposal” and “Summary of Research Proposal”) based on whatever the last page of the [Name of computer system from granting agency]-generated pdf is.

I hope that makes sense. Because my brain is so tired right now! So tired!
OP: It does. This grant writing crap deserves a punch in the head. Fortunately I’m going to quiet my demons by feeding them beer in exactly 2 hours.

Science without beer is just torture.
Me: Why can’t we just come up with an idea and then [Granting Agency] & [Other Granting Agency] just give us a bunch of money based on our brilliant idea, without making us do stupid things like sort out page numbers on pdfs? Just give us money and beer and let us get to the sciencing!


  1. Link only works if you have a subscription to Nature though. Sorry about that. []
  2. This exchanged happened on a day when McDonald’s was giving out free coffee. McDonald’s coffee, as it turns out, is not half bad. And when free, doubly so. []


Feeling Organized

Tonight marks the end of my holidays – for tomorrow I head back to work. My clothes for work tomorrow are selected and hang waiting for me to put them on in the morning. My lunch1 is packed and waiting for me to bring to work. I’ve laid out a bowl and spoon on the kitchen table to remind me to actually eat breakfast – cottage cheese, fruit, and a hard-boiled egg (the  latter of which I made along with a few extras for the next couple of days).

I’ve set up my physical activity tracking spreadsheet for the new year2 and scheduled in this week’s planned physical activities on my calendar. I’ve successful completed three days in a row where I actually did some physical activity! I’ve also decided on the 101 list item I want to tackle for January: #78 – “sort through my many boxes of papers (most of which contain papers from my thesis), recycling the papers I don’t need and filing the ones I do need”3. I also managed to get a few nagging tasks completed – just little things that I’d been meaning to do since forever that I finally did.

My white board has been wiped clean of last year’s to-do list and stands ready with the few items I have pending – a paper to complete the last module4 I took before the holidays and the first readings for the course I start on Monday5. There’s lots of white space on the board now – which I’m sure will fill up in due time.

I’m feeling very organized at the moment and very thankful that I had such a restful holiday. I really needed the time to rest, relax, recharge, and get organized for the new year. Here’s hoping I can maintain this whole organization thing for more than a few days!

And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to get to bed at a decent hour!

  1. Leftover lasagna, made with homemade sauce that is chalk chock-full of vegetables. []
  2. One that Dr. Dan generously shared with me last year and that I updated for my planned activities for 2013. []
  3. I’ve already completed a fair bit of this compared to when I came up with that item, and figure that I really should just bite the bullet and get the rest done! []
  4. The topic of the module was Managing Patient Flow and the paper requires that I choose a journal article that focuses on operations research and write about how I could relate that to my own work. []
  5. Public Health Leadership. []