Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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#mayhealth

Where the hell did April go1? It seems that tomorrow is the last day of the fourth month of the year. Which means that we are just one day away from the May Health Challenge!

As you may recall2, last year some fine Guelphites put out a challenge to anyone who is awesome enough to take up said challenge. And that challenge is to set a small, but challenging, health-related goal for the month of May. And then tell people about it – because research shows that publicly stating your goals makes it more likely that you’ll stick to them. Last year, my challenges were to (a) eat breakfast every day3 and (b) do some kind of exercise every day4, as those were two things I’d found I’d fallen out of the habit of doing when I turned my life all topsy-turvy by taking on a part-time MBA program in addition to my full-time job. I’m happy to report that those habits seem to have stuck with me, as I am in a routine of eating breakfast most days and am actually on day 121 of consecutive days of doing some kind of physical activity5!.

For this year’s May Health Challenge, I decided to again look at what bad habits I’ve fallen into lately – and thus come up with an area where I can work on re-establishing a healthy routine6 and one thing immediately came to mind: I haven’t been making dinners at home very much recently. And when I do, they have more often than not been of the quick – and not quite as healthy – variety. In fact, reading Mark’s7 blog posting about his May Health Challenge, I saw this statement which pretty much sums up my dining of late:

I eat out because of convenience (laziness), a perceived lack of time (poor planning), or as a social event (I have good friends).

The thing is – I actually love to cook! I love to take fresh ingredients, chop them, mix them, season them, and make them into a feast of deliciousness! I like to put on some music and dance around the kitchen as I do so. On occasion, I even do so with a nice glass of wine. But lately I’ve just not been that organized, so even if I do feel like cooking something, I don’t have any of the things I need to cook something wonderful – and that is if I can come up with an idea of what I want to cook. When I’m busy – as I have been at work and school for more months now than I can even count – I tend to feel overwhelmed by end of the day that making even the smallest choice seems impossible. What should I have for dinner? I have no idea. I’ve already made 100,000 decisions today and I’m all out of decision-making capacity!

Happily, I know exactly the fix for this problem of mine: meal planning. If I actually sit down on, say, Sunday evening, and plan out my meals for the week, I can then (a) not have to make last minute dinner decisions and (b) plan out my grocery shopping accordingly, so I have everything I need when I need it, thus resulting in a less stressed out and more healthily fed Dr. Beth.

Here’s my plan for this week – since May 1 is Wednesday, I figured I’d get a head start and include this whole week:

Meal planning - Week of 29 April 2013

Friday I’ve marked in a “school night”, since I have class on Friday and will go out for dinner with classmates8. My challenge isn’t that I have to cook for myself every day, just that I have to have planned my meals. I think that even just being more thoughtful about making a conscious decision about what I’m doing for my meals will help me be a little more aware of what I’m eating, rather than just kind of going along not paying much attention and suddenly realizing I’ve eaten at restaurants more than half the days in a month.

You’ve probably also noticed that I haven’t made a plan for Sunday just yet. I actually just sat down and planned out the other nights tonight, in preparation for this blog posting, and kind of ran out of steam. I’m taking suggestions if anyone has any good ideas!

For my second May Health Challenge, I’m going to do something that doesn’t, at first glance, sound like it has anything to do with health. I’m going to pick my outfits for the week on Sunday night, when I do my meal planning. “But what could this possibly have to do with health?” you ask? For me, it’s about my mental health. I find that on weeks when I pick out my outfits for the week and line them up in my closet so that each morning I can just grab an outfit and put it on, I feel so much better than weeks when every day I get up in the morning, am completely indecisive about what I want to wear, scramble around to find a shirt that goes with the skirt I finally picked, then am not able to find the sweater that goes with that outfit9, and on it goes. When I can just grab and outfit and go, I find I get to work feeling more relaxed/less frazzled and ready to take on the day!

So there you have it – my May Health Challenges! What are you going to challenge yourself to do this May?

  1. Not to mention January through March. []
  2. “May” recall! Get it?? I slay me! []
  3. Which I accomplished. []
  4. Which I managed to do 26 out of the 30 days of the challenge – as the 31st was reserved for celebrating! []
  5. As part of 101 things to do list to do some kind of physical activity every day for a year! []
  6. This is actually a good time to set up a new routine, as I recently broke up with boyfriend, so all my routines that I’d established over the last ~a year we’d been living together are gone anyway. Yeah, I just revealed my breakup in a footnote. I’m a heartless bastard. Or one who doesn’t like talking about this stuff on my blog. The jury is still out. []
  7. Mark being one of the aforementioned Guelphites. []
  8. Going out for meals on class weekends is actually something that I really enjoy – it’s a chance to socialize with my classmates. And in an intense program like ours, the support and camaraderie really does help you get through. []
  9. My office is freezing, so I always have to have a sweater. []

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Why Is There No Collective Term for Nieces and Nephews?

I have one niece and one nephew. Why is there no word in the English language that would allow for me to refer to them together?

If you have a brother (or brothers) and a sister (or sisters), you can call them your siblings. If you have a mom and a dad, you can call them your parents. There’s lots of words to refer to your son(s) and daughter(s) collectively – they can be called your children, your kids, your offspring, your progeny, or your spawn1. But there’s nothing for “nieces and nephews”2!

I went to the all-knowing Google with this important question, and it turns out that (a) I’m not the only person pondering this deficiency of the English language, and (b) there’s been a word coined for this, though it doesn’t seem to have yet caught on: “niblings” (based on “sibling”).

I can’t decide if I like this word. I mean, it conveniently sums up what I want to sum up – a collection of at least one niece and one nephew – but it also sounds like you want to have them for a snack. Thoughts?

  1. Apparently you can also call them your scions (thank you, thesaurus!), but I’m pretty sure if you did no one would know what the hell you were talking about! []
  2. Similarly, there’s no collective word for “aunts and uncles”. []

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A House Without Frogs Is Not A Home

Even since the death of poor Copernicus, things just haven’t been the same at my house. Every time I’d walk into the living room, I’d automatically walk towards the frog tank to check on the frogs… and then I’d remember that there were no more frogs. And then I would have a sad. And no one wants a sad Beth!

I tried putting my stuffed frog, the aptly named Froggy1, into the tank, but it just wasn’t the same:

Frogs

So, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, I now have a new fraggle of aquatic dwarf frogs!

So far, only three of the five froggies have names.

This is Copernicus the Second:

Frogs

He is the tiniest little frog I’ve ever seen, but he’s very spunky. He inherits the Twitter account of his namesake, Copernicus the First (rest his little froggy soul).

This is Froggymodo:
Frogs

And this is Apricot:

Frogs

Apricot is actually quite easy to distinguish from the other frogs, as she’s not only larger, but also she’s got a more yellow skin tone, compared to the darker green of the others, and she also has much darker eyes.

This guy doesn’t have a name yet:

Frogs

And neither does this one:

Frogs

I’m taking suggestions, in case you have any good ideas for frog names. Speak now or forever hold your peace.

Also, Froggy has now returned to his post next to my laptop, where he belongs:

FrogsAnd all is right with the world.

 

  1. I’ve had froggy since I was about 6 months old. I was born with a dislocated hip and part of the treatment for that involves being put into a half-body cast known as a “frog leg cast“, so when I was in the hospital, my Aunty Wendy and Uncle Harry gave me this stuffed frog, which I’ve had ever since! []

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Half Marathon #8 – I Have My Eye On You!

Edge to Edge marathon logoI put it on my list of goals for 2013 and, after much procrastinating and hemming and hawing, I have finally registered myself for the half marathon at the Edge to Edge in Tofino/Ucluelet in June, along with my friend Alicia! I started a bit late on my training and I have really only been doing about one run per week – but I’ve managed to do the scheduled long runs for the past 4 weeks. It’s week 11 of the 17 week training plan that I usually follow1, and I figure that now that I’ve registered I’ll be sufficiently scared motivated to do another run or two per week, in addition to the long runs.

This will be my first time doing the Edge-to-Edge and I’m really starting to look forward to it. For the uninitiated, Tofino/Ucluelet2 are on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which will mean the route will provide beautiful views of beaches and the Pacific ocean!

Here’s the description of the half marathon route:

It will be a Half Marathon filled with incredible scenery – crashing waves, beautiful views, beaches, and wildlife… expect it all!

This course will wind its way through the seaside village of Ucluelet with a portion of the course running on the spectacular Wild Pacific Trail! The trail is hard-packed and nicely graded with the most amazing views of the Pacific Ocean — absolutely breathtaking!

The course will start on the road and paved bike path for the first 15km of the race and then slip onto the Wild Pacific Trail for approximately 4km and then a 500m stretch along Big Beach (gravel path). Then it’s back on to the road thought the streets of Ucluelet for the final 2 km!

Now to find a place to stay in Ucluelet. Any suggestions?

  1. Where by “follow” I mean “I do varying levels of the proposed runs in said plan, but always the long runs. []
  2. You may remember Tofino from my 30th birthday surfing trip. I actually have not been back there since then! []

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The Most First World of First World Problems

So I realized that this is the most first world of first world problems, so if you don’t enjoy people whining about how they are being given money, but not in the way that they want to be given money, you should probably stop reading right now. I’ve been meaning to blog it for a while, but was recently reminded about it when I took my giant pile of papers to my accountant to file my taxes. Why did I have a giant pile of papers, you ask? Well, a big chunk of these papers were from my scholarship, and they were completely unnecessary. As you may recall, I have a scholarship that pays for the lion’s share of my tuition fees. The scholarship is sent from the funding agency to my university. I would like for the university to just keep the money for my tuition and then I can just pay the part of my tuition fee isn’t covered by said scholarship. Basically, what I want to happen is this:

What I Want To Happen

What I want to happen

But apparently the department that receives the cheque from the funding agency cannot, does not, or will not talk to the department that takes money for tuition, so instead they think the best idea is to send me a cheque every month, along with a tax form for that instalment (as opposed to, you know, a single tax form at the end of the year). They will do this every month for two years, and then I have to take each of those monthly cheques to the bank to cash, and then I used that pay my tuition fees, which have been split into 7 installments over the two years. So what happens is this:

What Actually Happens

What is actually happening. You don’t need to be an MBA student to see that this is much less efficient.

That’s 24 cheques, 24 tax forms, 24 envelopes, 24 postage stamps, and 24 trips to the bank – all completely unnecessary, because I’m just giving all the money (and then some) back to the university anyway. Now, I realize that Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable are separate departments and I’m very well acquainted with different departments having computer systems that don’t talk to each other, but really? Surely the people there could do transfers between the departments. And at the very least, I could get one tax form per year instead of 12.

This reminds me of the time in grad school that I had a departmental scholarship and then, partway through the year, I was informed that I had won a university-level scholarship worth $0.00. Upon further investigation, it turned out that they had more university-level scholarship money than originally anticipated, and I was next in line to get some, but they saw that I had a department scholarship, so they weren’t going to give me the university-level money, but wanted me to be aware that I had earned a higher level scholarship. Of course, my department wanted me to get the university money so that the money they had given me could go to someone else from our department, and the university’s reply was that I should give back the department scholarship and then they would give me the university-level scholarship. Midway through the year. Like as if I hadn’t already spent my scholarship money on tuition fees and rent! I’m not sure exactly what the university thinks people do with scholarship money, but I think it’s safe to say that most of us spend it on going to school and living expenses! In the end, my department secretary was able to convince the university to just transfer money to the department, since obviously I didn’t have that money any more, and it made no sense for me to give them money so that they could then send me a cheque for the amount I would have just given them. I haven’t had as much luck in getting the different departments to talk to each other with my current scholarship, so it looks like the monthly trips to the bank will continue through 2013 for me!

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Goodnight, Sweet Frog

All my froggies are dead. Even my beloved Copernicus! =(

The babies started dropping off, one by one, just like the last time. First, I found Loki floating one day, but unlike his previous floating that tricked me into thinking that he was dead, he actually was dead. =( Several days later, Balboa was found leaning up against the side of the tank and looking directly upwards. That pose isn’t all that abnormal and neither is holding the same position for a long time – the frogs tend to do that for a few minutes, but eventually they swim away. But when I saw that he was actually swaying with the water current, I knew it wasn’t good. Another frog down =(

At that point, there were just two frogs left – Fonzie and Copernicus. But one day at feeding time, I tapped on the glass and only Copernicus came swimming out to get his food. I searched everywhere – including taking the castle out of the tank in case Fonzie was hiding there, but no luck. Fonzie was gone =(

I suspect the Copernicus might have eaten him – he looked a little pudgy and he got really lethargic and started spending a lot of time floating. At one point, I even saw him swimming as hard as he could towards the bottom, but he just couldn’t manage to stay down – whenever he stopped swimming for even a second, he would float right back up to the top. It looked very frustrating. He spent the next several days floating most of the day, though every so often he would manage to make his way down to the bottom of the tank and I’d think “Thank god, he’s pulled through again!” And then he’d go back to floating some more. He was also moulting but the skin wasn’t coming off, which made him look extra sickly. Normally, when they moult, they either pull the skin off themselves (or pull most of it off and the rest comes off when they swim quickly across the tank), or another frog pulls it off them to eat it1, but he seemed to be too lethargic to do the former and there were no frogs around to the latter. Then one day he was floating upside down (!), which makes you think he’s a goner for sure, but upon attempting to scoop him out with the net… the moment the net touched him, he swam away!

Then, two days ago, I came home to see Copernicus sitting on the bottom of the tank, all peaceful and relaxed, looking out through the front wall of the tank. And I thought yet again, “Oh good, he’s feeling better!” But, being that I’m super paranoid because I’d been so worried about him for so many days, I tapped the front of the tank, which usually gets him to swim over to see me. Nothing. Then I picked up the glass water bottle next to the tank and set it down loudly, which usually startles the frogs… nothing. And I knew that he was gone. Poor little Copernicus. I can only hope that he died as peacefully as he looked and that he didn’t suffer. I miss him.

In a sad coincidence, I had just that day brought some frog cupcakes to my work potluck and I was all excited to do a blog posting about them. Now the photo just makes me sad.

Frog Cupcakes

Frog cupcakes. They were delicious.

  1. Gross. []

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Show You My Teeth

First of all, you should listen to this song as you read this blog posting. Now that you all have that song stuck in your head, let me tell you about my teeth.

Today was the day where I spent 5 hours in the dentist’s chair getting 3 crowns, a veneer, and some bonding done. The appointment went pretty much as the dentist said it would – I had a blanket and my headphones on so I could listen to podcasts1 and while I couldn’t fall asleep like I was hoping2 to, it was pretty much relaxed as it could be given that I had one billion giant needles stuck in my gums3 and then giant portions of my dead teeth shaved down to stumps on which my crowns were placed.

Speaking of which, I have a horrifying photo of myself in the middle of my appointment where my tooth stumps are exposed, before they put the temporary crowns on. Generally, I’m not one to put horrifying photos of myself on the interwebs, but this one is just too fascinating to not share with you. See how much I care about you, blog reader?

Now, before you look at it, please appreciate that I’m (a) not wearing any makeup, (b) sitting at a terrible angle for photo taking, (c) unable to move my face due to the aforementioned one billion needles, (d) covered in various dental apparatus, and (e) only showing you this for educational purposes and will never be seen with such teeth stumps ever again.

Teeth

HORRIFYING!!

OK, so now that you have a Lady Gaga song stuck in your head AND you are emotionally scarred for life from having seen that photo, let’s move on to what I actually look like now. And, in fact, I would like your advice. The teeth you are about to see are my temporary crowns – I get to test drive them for a week to see how I like them and then once I get them how I want them, they’ll make them up as permanent crowns.

Now, you have to ignore the colour of these, as the temporary crowns are just made to test out length and shape, as they don’t have as many colours available in the acrylic that they make the temps out of as they do the porcelain that they’ll make the permanent ones out of. Also, pay not attention to my bruised gums – that’s from all the work they did in my mouth today, not from some horrible degenerative gum disease or anything. So ignore the fact that the teeth are blindingly white and don’t match my other teeth, and ignore my blackened gums, and just focus on the shape:

Teeth

What do you think?

Personally, I don’t like the gap in the middle of the two front teeth at the bottom. The model that they showed me that I originally agreed to do not have this gap, so I’m not sure why that was done (I also didn’t really get a good look at them until I was home, as I was a bit too freaked out by the fact that, in the light of the dentist’s office, you can actually kind of see through the acrylic to the stumps underneath, to really closely examine the shape of the crowns). I also don’t like the waviness of bottom of the two front teeth – I want it to be flat straight across, like the bottom ones (and like they were in the original model they showed me).

They also put the points back on my canines4 and I think those look OK.

But what do you think? Does anyone have any suggestions of anything else I should change about these? I have an appointment in one week to bring my feedback to my dentist.

Also, as an added bonus for reading through all this, here’s the first photo of me in forever where I’m smiling and you can actually see my teeth:

Teeth

Don’t mind my messy hair – I’d just come back from a post-dentist 13 km run and was too lazy to dry my hair after my shower, so it air dried all haphazard like – or the bags under my eyes, which are entirely school’s fault.

  1. Coincidentally, I happened to listen to a few episodes of the Savage Lovecast and one of the callers was calling in to ask advice about her fetish for going to the dentist. And I’m sitting in the dentist chair thinking, “To each their own and all… but I really cannot imagine being excited about sitting in a dentist chair!” []
  2. But not really expecting []
  3. After the needles, most of which I couldn’t even feel because freezing from the needle for one tooth spreads far enough to freeze the place where the next needle goes in, I was totally shaky and my heart was racing. So it appears my needle phobia is still with me. []
  4. I seriously considered Dave’s suggestion that I get retractable fangs, but in the end decided that it just wasn’t worth the extra cost. []

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Welcome to Twitter, Copernicus!

The things that frogs get up to when you aren’t looking! It appears that Copernicus has joined Twitter. Here’s his first tweet:

Copernicus' first tweet

You can follow all his froggy tweets @CopernicusSnow.

Copernicus the Frog

Copernicus, contemplating what his next tweet should say.

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Debt Free

Yesterday, I paid off my car loan. Which makes me 100% debt free!

While not quite as thrilling as the time I paid off my student loans, as my car loan was less than a quarter of my student loans, it still feel pretty good to have that monkey off my back.

Look how pretty this is:

Car Loan Paid Off!

And now I own my shiny Smart car outright. Huzzah!

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Farm to Fork Needs Your Help

So the fine people over at Farm to Fork are in need of your help. Farm to Fork, for the uninitiated:

… began with a simple question: in a culture that wastes nearly 40% of all food produced, how do we connect the people who have fresh food to give to those who need it most?

The Farm To Fork website is part of the solution. Designed to facilitate communication between donors and emergency food service providers, the website aims to increase the quality and quantity of fresh food donated to local food banks and food pantries.

The project involved a bunch of students at the University of Guelph – one of my alma maters – along with my friend, Dr. Dan, and his friend Danny – building prototypes and other such computer-y things to make this project a reality. Now they need your help to take this thing to the next level. They are crowdsourcing funding for beta testing by undergrad students over the summer, some necessary hardware, and to send the undergrad developers to the Community University Expo to spread the word and share their knowledge. Supporting this project means providing quality summer employment for undergraduate students, helping get a really beneficial product to its launch (which will ultimately mean getting more nutritious food to people who need it), and a warm feeling in the cockles of your heart. True story.

So check out the Farm to Fork project and consider making a donation! Do it for your heart cockles.