Another year goes by, another row gets added to my table of nerd stats. The stats for 2016 are up until the time of publishing this (i.e., on the afternoon of Dec 31), because I’m going out for NYE tonight so won’t be sitting around counting up the remaining nerd stats. Except for the # of blog postings – I have included this one plus one more that I’ll post after this for a total of 116 – the exact number of my goal for this year.
Note to self: You started Tweeting in 2008, so you get these totals by simple subtraction, not by some fancy pants program or anything. I hope this helps you when you write your “Nerd Stats 2017″ posting when you think “how the hell did I figure out how many times I tweeted in a given year??” [↩]
I blame the illnesses and injuries that plagued me this year for hampering me on many of my goals, since I set a lot of physically activity related ones. I also didn’t achieve my goal of paying off 16% of my original mortgage principal, but that one was actually a deliberate choice as I’ve diverted money that I would otherwise have put towards mortgage lump sums payments towards a different opportunity #VagueBlogging
Run a sub-1:50 half marathon. My immune system going on holidays for three months prevented me from training and then my sprained ankle and hip bursitis made sure this didn’t happen!
Run/bike/swim 1000 km. See above. I’m cringing just thinking about checking my Runkeeper account to see how few kms I actually covered this year… OK, I looked…418.3 km. I didn’t get out on my bike even one time this year and I haven’t run since August1!
Complete the 100 push up challenge. See above yet one more time!
Bring lunch to work 75% of the time. I actually don’t know if I achieved this or not because I forgot I was to track it after I returned from my trip to Australia. At that time I was at 73.86% of days where I brought my lunch to work. It’s possible that I actually did achieve this goal, as I did bring my lunch a fair bit of time in the remainder of the year, but since I didn’t track it, I can’t be sure so I’ll have to chalk this one up as a failure.
Lose those last 5 lbs that I gained during my MBA. Given my inability to be physically active for most of this year, I had to really pay attention to what I was eating to just not gain weight. So I’m taking the fact that I weigh the same today as I did on this day last year as a success (though not as an accomplishment of the goal, of course).
Pay off 16% of my mortgage principal. As mentioned above, I made a deliberate decision to divert money I was going to use to do this to a different opportunity, so I’m OK with not having achieved this goal. I did manage to pay off 11% of my original principal, or 14% of the principal I had remaining at the start of last year – and I have less than 15 years to go on the mortgage – so that’s pretty reasonable.
Paint a room. Also failed. I still want to do this though. Maybe next year.
The goals I did actually manage to accomplish were:
Submit at least one article for publication. My sister and I submitted a paper together. Now that I think about it, I should probably check in on that as it’s been quite some time and I haven’t heard anything about it. I also have another paper that is 97% done – just needs a few revisions before I can submit it – I must check in with my co-authors on that one in the new year too!
Get screeched in. Success! In related news, screech is terrible, terrible rum.
Make 16 new food or drink items that I’ve never made before. Also a success!
Write 116 blog postings. (Or, I will have once I post this, plus the other two postings that I have half written and intend to finish before I go out for the evening.)
And I’ve just noticed as I”m writing this that I didn’t actually set 16 goals for 2016 like I thought I did. I apparently skipped #9 and #10 in my list, so I only set 14 goals! Gah! If I include my goal of reading at least 16 books in 2016 (which I set on my Goodreads page), I can say I accomplished 5/15. Sad!
I did actually run for the bus last night and it was the first time in forever that I could even run for the bus without it hurting. Hooray for progress! [↩]
On a global scale, the US election makes 2016 the worst. I probably don’t even need to say anymore than that. Also, Brexit. Also also, all the celebrities dying2.
On a personal level, I was sick and/or injured for (and this is not an exaggeration) about 3/4 of 2016. I started the year with a horrible cold that led to the 100 day cough, followed by food poisoning, followed by zombie eyeball disease. I also seemed to have developed seasonal allergies, which I’ve never had before. I was OK from mid-March until mid-June (that was my 3 months of health for the year), when I sprained my left ankle and then got bursitis in my right hip from running on the apparently not fully healed ankle. The bursitis was eleventy billion times worse than the sprained ankle and all the people who told me that I probably shouldn’t run a half marathon on my very tight hip will fortunately never let me forget that I should stop making such poor life choices. And just to put a nice bookend on my year, I caught a cold on my last day in NYC3. My mailbox got smashed, which means I have to go across town to pick up my mail for the next month and my glass shower doors got smashed, which are going to cost me a fortune to replace.
The best of times
This was an outstanding year for me for travel, as I completed my quest to visit all 10 Canadian provinces with a trip to St. John’s in June, I knocked 3 travel-related items off my list of 101 Things to Do, visited two continents that I’ve never been to before and, most impressively if I do say so myself, went somewhere that Dr. Dan has never been before4!! As part of this travel, I got to visit the easternmost points of both North America *and* Australia, I have officially been to both ends of the Trans-Canada Highway, and I visited an above average number of lighthouses.
There’s also been some potential progress recently on three things that I’m not prepared to blog about just yet #VagueBlogging. You’ll either hear about them in my 2017 year-in-review blog posting or they will amount to nothing and I won’t even remember what I’m referring to when I read this posting this time next year.
My hockey team won our divisional championship at the end of the 2015/16 season, which was awesome, but then the team folded for the 2016/17 season because we couldn’t get enough players to come back. Which really seems to sum up the year. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
In conclusion, F – -, would not 2016 again.
OK, it wasn’t actually the “worst” of times. That was hands down 2006. [↩]
Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, George Michael, Prince, David Bowie, Alan Richman, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Leonard Cohen, and Muhammad Ali, to name a few [↩]
On a happy note, while my throat was wicked sore on that last day in New York, it felt substantially better the next day and the cold has persisted as mostly a runny nose, some sneezes, and a slight scratchy throat, which I take to mean that my immune system is actually geared up to be functional for 2017. [↩]
Dr. Dan being one of the most travelled people I know [↩]
It’s been a year and a half since I shared my favourite tweets, so I figured it was time to check out what’s been amusing me in the Twitterverse.
Given the year that was 2016, quite a few of my favourites were related to politics:
For some of the politics ones I feel like I need to provide context, as they might seem quite nonsensical without it. Like this one in response to then-candidate for the Republican nomination Ben Carson’s claim that the Egyptian pyramids were built to store grains, rather than to bury pharaohs:
At the Republican national convention, Melania Trump gave a speech in which she plagiarized a speech by Michelle Obama. When Donald gave his speech, this guy made this pithy remark:
And in probably my favourite of all the political tweets was this one that came during the second presidential debate. Donald Trump, in one of his examples of islamophobia and racism, was ranting about Muslims being terrorists and how Muslims need to report people whose behaviour is suspicious, and, in reference to earlier in the debate when Donald was menacingly standing behind Hillary Clinton on the debate stage, was this brilliant tweet:
Moving on to less political things, there were a few hashtags that amused me, including #scienceamoviequote:
and #HarperAirport (when it was proposed that Calgary airport be re-named after the much loathed former Prime Minister Stephen Harper):
That last one refers to these really terrible radio ads the Conservatives ran during the election that said Justin Trudeau was “just not ready” to be Prime Minister.
This next one refers to Bill C-51, an “anti-terrorism law” that gives the government sweeping powers to invade people’s privacy that was brought in under the Harper government:
A tonne of my favourite tweets over the past year and a half have come from the account “Shit Academics Say”:
A few have a feminism theme::
And several have cats in them:
And then there is a whole bunch of random stuff:
For the record, I have *no* idea what campaign that tweet refers to. Dr. Dan, do you remember?
I quite liked Jen’s response to this tweet of mine (see below):
And this one was fun because my friend Cath was reading the interwebs one day and discovered I was internet famous:
And there’s even a few of my own that I favourited, because I amuse me (and I didn’t want my best tweets to disappear into the bottomless pit that is Twitter and my terrible inability to remember stuff)
First, one that would only appeal to nerdy scientists who also like Pokemon (so, basically, only me and Cath):
Then there’s one I thought hilarious and apparently at least one other person agreed:
And finally one that I tweeted, but was actually a quotation from my sister, so she get the credit of the hilarity of this one:
Aside: I can’t believe Trump had a star and Carrie Fisher didn’t! [↩]
I set a goal to knock 16 items off my 101 things to do in 1001 days list during 2016 and while I failed spectacularly at doing that, most of the 5 things that I did were pretty awesome. In level of increasing awesomeness, they were:
21. Get rid of the fake trees my condo’s previous owner left on my balcony
This one wasn’t awesome, but I am glad to have it done. When I bought my place, the previous owner left these gaudy fake trees in extremely heavy pots on my balcony, claiming they were part of the condo because they were tied with twine to the balcony railing. They were ugly and they took up valuable room on my balcony, but the aforementioned extremely heavy pots stopped me from getting rid of them until I got a message from my strata that they would be power washing all the balconies and everything had to be taking off our balconies during that time.
35. Go for a ride in a float plane
I spent some time on Salt Spring Island this year and on one of the trips, I took the float plane back so that I could spend one extra night there and then just fly into Vancouver for work in the morning. Super fun.
47. Go to Newfoundland
Visiting my 10th of 10 Canadian provinces was a milestone this year. Not that many people can say that! Plus I went to an awesome conference and got to hang out with my sister!
43. Go to NYC
I <3 NY. We had such a good time and now I want to go there again!
37. Present at a conference at an international location (not including USA)
Definitely the highlight of the year was my trip to Australia! The conference was fantastic and I really enjoyed all the places that I went!
So while I didn’t knock a large quantity of items off my list, I’d say that the quality of the ones I did do were A++.
My current 101 things to do in 1001 days is slated to end on April 9, 2017 and I’ve only achieved 34 (!). I should probably take a hard look at the remaining items to see which ones I can feasibly do in the next 3 months. Surely I can do better than 34/101!
Taking up canning this summer helped my cause, as I made three things with my new canning set: 2 successful jams and one failed jam that was re-imagined as a sauce2. I also see a trend of making breaded things, with three different kinds of breaded chicken and one breaded vegetable making the the list.
My favourites of all the things on this list are macarons (super time consuming, but so delicious) and the crushed potatoes.
Why did no one tell me that garlic scapes were a thing before 2016?
Also BBQ’d garlic scapes on June 25, 2016, but didnt’ think it was different enough from sauteed ones to count as a different item. [↩]
Note to self: next summer, try making raspberry and blackberry jam, jalapeño jelly, pickles, and canned spicy green beans! [↩]
I set my goal to read 16 books in 2016 and I started off strong with books I was reading for fun, but the decision to take on teaching a new course meant that come the summer, when I did my course development, the type of book I was reading was predominantly textbook. Also hampering my reading was the launch of PokémonGO, as I used to do a lot of reading on my commute to work, but once I got hooked on trying to catch ‘em all, I ended up spending much of my commute either catching Pokémon or grabbing stuff from PokéStops as I whizzed by them on the bus or train1 or doing my Pokémon inventory management2.
Anyway, I did manage to surpass my goal of 16 books:
The books were:
This list includes:
4 fiction books
8 non-fiction books
I think my goal for next year should be to read fewer textbooks!
Looking at the list, the book I most enjoyed this year was the Voodoo Killings, followed by Dear Committee Members, and the books I learned the most from were the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and The Spirit Level. The book I liked the least was Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking3
In terms of stats, I read 7,711 pages of books4 in total, with book lengths ranging for 181 pages to 704 pages.
Not surprisingly, the most popular book I read was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the least popular book was the textbook I assigned to my class. Apparently only one other person on all of Goodreads read that textbook, which I’m hoping means none of my students are on Goodreads!
I’m not planning to teach any new courses next year, so I’m hopeful that I’ll be reading more books for fun!
Back before they changed the game so that you can no longer get stuff from Pokéstops when you are travelling at fast speeds. [↩]
For the uninitiated, you only have room for 250 Pokémon in your PokéBox, so once you’ve caught that many, you have to free up space by transferring some of the Pokémon to the professor in exchange for candy. This takes some work, as you need to figure out which Pokémon you have extras of and then figure out which is the lowest value Pokémon so you know which one to get rid of. [↩]
The following was written on a plane earlier today.
I’m on my way home from my whirlwind Christmas holidays and realized that I have to do 9 blog postings in the next 2.5 days to achieve my goal of publishing 116 blog postings in 2016. So I figure I better get writing! I have a few year-end blog postings that I typically do that will fill out a number of these, including:
Year in Review
Items I Knocked Off My List of 101 Things To Do List
Books I Read in 2016
New Foods and/or Drinks I Made in 2016
How Did I Do on My 2016 Goals?
Goals for 2017
Nerd Stats 2016
So I just have to write all of those, plus this one, and mission accomplished!
I guess before I get cracking on writing all of those, I can tell you about my whirlwind Christmas holidays! We arrived back at my sister’s after our four days in NYC on the night of Dec 23. Happily, we got in earlier than expected, as we had whizzed through security because we got TSA-Pre clearance so we made it to our gate before the previous fight to Toronto had left and we were able to get three seats on that flight. This meant that we got home before my niece and nephew had gone to bed, so I didn’t have to wait until the next morning to see them!
The next day was Christmas Eve and we woke to pancakes that were made by my nephew, Thomas. He got a cookbook from the school library on the last day of school specifically so he could make those for everyone and they were delicious (I should add that Thomas is 5 and a surprising good cook (and baker) for his age.. with a wee bit of assistance with the stove part). After that, we mostly just lounged around, though I did wrap my presents and about eleventy billion trips were made to the grocery store for various things that we remembered we needed (as the stores would be closed the next day!), each thing being remembered only after the last shopper had returned to the house. I should note that I didn’t make any of those trips because it was cold outside and I am a delicate west coast flower. Christmas Eve dinner was a cornucopia of appies – crackers and breads and spreads and jalapeño poppers and shrimp thingys and chicken fingers and various things wrapped in various pastries and we were all stuff to the gills will deliciousness.
Christmas Day was as Christmas Day should be – awaking early to see what Santa had brought for the kiddies and what everyone had gotten for each other and the biggest winners of the present getting were my niece’s three guinea pigs and my cats. That is not to say that the rest of us were deprived, as we spoiled each other rotten, but the fluffy members of our family got some pretty sweet gifts. My mom made fritattas and a hot potato salad for breakfast (I was supposed to help, but she got up at the crack of dawn while I was still in dreamland1, so my contribution consisted of the sophisticated work of toasting English muffins and crumpets.). My sister made an amazing turkey dinner and for dessert we had individual-sized banoffee pies made by my mother and I (I actually did help make those!) and they might now be on my list of top desserts ever2. There may also have been a PokéWalk3 before dinner for my niece, my nephew, and I, as I figured that I should probably leave the house at least every other day. It was cold, but worth it.
On Boxing Day, we were supposed to go to my Aunt Wendy’s place for an open house, but a combination of icy conditions and that fact that all of us had a pretty nasty cold (that we didn’t really want to give it to the various babies who would be there) kept us away. Boxing Day consisted of lounging, building Lego things, playing various games, and eating our weight in leftovers.
On Dec 27, my mom, sister, and I went to the spa for pedicures (a Christmas present to us from my mom), followed by lunch with my Aunty Eileen and Aunty Lynn. That evening me and Nancy met up with Dr. Dan, Rick, and Rob, another guy we’d all gone to high school with that Dan keeps in regular touch with but who I hadn’t seen in 20 years. We stuffed our faces with Mexican food, drank margaritas the size of our heads4, and then went to another restaurant and stuffed ourselves with more drinks and desserts.
Yesterday Nancy, Jeff, Madeline, Thomas and I went to see Rogue One. I won’t say any spoilers in case you haven’t seen it yet. My mom is not a Star Wars fan, so she stayed back at my sister’s house and made a trip to the bakery, because clearly we hadn’t food shopped enough! That evening, Sarah and Dave and their munchkins came over for dinner. Their munchkins seemed to have a pretty fun time playing with Madeline and Thomas and I had a pretty fun time catching up with Sarah and Dave!
At some point in all of that, Nancy, Jeff, my mom, and I found time to watch the first season (all 10 episodes) of The Man in the High Castle5. Or as we called it “The Man in the High Tower”, “The High Man in the Castle”, “The High Man in the Dark Castle Tower”, and “Professor Plum in the Library with the Candlestick Holder”6. If you haven’t seen it, you are missing out. I can’t wait to watch season 2, which I only just learned existed yesterday.
And now, it what feels like a blink of the eye from when I left, I’m on a plane back home! It’s always so sad to say good-bye to my family, but I am excited to see my kitties. I have a suitcase full of presents for them.
You may notice a trend in this blog posting of my being a lazy SOB on my holidays. [↩]
Alongside chocolate amaretto cheesecake and espresso cupcakes with mascarpone cream. [↩]
Where one goes on a walk for the expressed purpose of catching Pokémon. Yes, I am still playing PokémonGO. [↩]
A TV show on Amazon Prime that is based on a Phillip K. Dick novel, in which the Nazis and Japan won WWII and the story is set in a post-war America in which Germany and Japan control the eastern and western parts of North America, respectively. [↩]
For some reason we kept screwing up the name of the show. It started with someone accidentally calling it “The Man in the High Tower”, and then we all started screwing it up like that and it escalated from there. [↩]
Hey, remember that time I said that my sister and I were going to take our mom to New York City for her birthday? Well, that trip was Dec 20-23 and we had a pretty amazing time! Of course, 4 days is really only enough time to scratch the surface of the Big Apple, so while we had an amazing time, we clearly have to go back because there were so many things we didn’t get to do!
We stayed at the Hudson Hotel, which was lovely and had a decor that I would characterize as lots of textures but barely any light.
On our first night, we had a bite to eat at the Hudson Common (their beer bar) and then went for a walk, whereupon we stumbled upon a Christmas market! Given the recent attack at the Berlin Christmas market, there was high security at the one we stumbled upon, include police vehicles lining the road in front of it and cops with assault rifles guarding the place.
On day 2 we set out to see a show. We’d been told when we got our tickets to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular that we had to arrive an hour in advance of our 11 am show to get through security so we grabbed coffee and a bite to eat on our way and headed to RCMH. We went through the security, which included one person who searched your purse and then another person who searched you with a metal detection wand, and then we got to the guy who scanned your tickets… and it turned out we were there on the wrong day! We actually had our Christmas Spectacular tickets for Dec 22 and for Dec 21 we had tickets to see Wicked at 2 pm2! So we went off for a walk and stumbled upon the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree. I was less than impressed with the tree itself (though perhaps it looks better at night).
But I was impressed with the people soliciting donations for the Salvation Army3, especially these two guys who were really giving ‘er:
I had wanted to go skating at Rockefeller, but the lineup was too long, so I just took this picture instead:
I also saw this:
“Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times”
I felt like I should take a photo of that before it gets taken away, given recent events in US politics.
We stopped in at a pub for lunch:
Then went to see Wicked!
Wicked was fantastic! They had the understudy playing Elphaba (a.k.a., The Wicked Witch) and she was incredible! I didn’t know anything about the play other than that it was a re-telling of the Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the Wicked Witch, who maybe isn’t so wicked after all. It had a cool story, fantastic performances, and the costumes and sets were amazing. Here’s what the stage looked liked before the show started (no photos allowed during the show):
And here we are waiting for the show to start:
That night we went for a pre-dinner drink at Ascent:
My sister had a Manhattan Mule, I had a Rossini Bellini, and my mom had The Trifecta.
and then the most amazing dinner at Porterhouse, where we started with the burrata (we may have dug right into that so fast we forgot to take a photo:
My mom had the Porterhouse Porkchop with a glass of Sancerre:
My sister had the filet mignon with a Malbec:
and I went for the chili rubbed rib eye, also with a Malbec:
On Day 3, we went to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular! We moved expertly through the security line, having done it all the day before, and got inside with plenty of time to spare4
The show was pretty spectacular. The precision with which those dancers dance is amazing! The music was fun and there were a variety of different acts, including, among other things, a very cool instrumental version of the 12 Days of Christmas where the number of Rockettes dancing represented the number of days of Christmas and We Three Kings with actual camels.
After the show, we walked to the MOMA, but the lineup was so long that we weren’t able to actually go in and had to make do with just checking out the gift shops. I bought myself this lovely necklace:
On our way, we passed by Trump Tower:
We were on the opposite side of the street, but anyone who wanted to go right in front of the building had to go through a security screening. And apparently Trump wasn’t even in town – I can’t imagine what it’s like when he’s there.
Next up was dinner at Bar Boulud, including delicious cocktails:
Salmon for my sister:
And my mom and I both had scallops:
After dinner my sister had an Elixir au Chocolate, which she declared the best drink she had ever had:
And we all shared profiteroles for dessert:
On our fourth and final day, we decided to walk to the High Line Park, and along the way we saw Times Square:
and my mom met her favourite snowman, Olaf:
and the New York Times:
and Madison Square Garden:
and the big post office:
and we may have stopped for a treat at Doughnut Plant:
And with that it was time to head back to the hotel to grab our bags and head out to the airport!
As you can see, while we saw quite a few things, there is a tonne of stuff that we didn’t see! Clearly, we need to go back!
We also had truffle and parmesan popcorn, which was amazing! [↩]
Thankfully we didn’t have it mixed up the other way around and show up for a 2 pm show to find out we’d missed an 11 am one! [↩]
I was conflicted about liking this, given that the Salvation Army is an anti-LGBT organization and I also hate that song (which I refer to as the “I love you because you have low self-esteem” song), but it was very entertaining how much they were into it. [↩]
In addition to all the security that we’d seen the previous day, on this day we also saw the bomb sniffing dogs walking through the venue. [↩]