Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Meet Your Second Wife

On the weekend, while falling down the rabbit hole that is the “Recommended” video section on YouTube, I came across this old SNL video that made me laugh harder than I have in a really long time. And I laugh all the time, so that’s saying something. At any rate, I’m posting it here to share the joy.

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Stuff I Learned This Year: Excel Edition

I <3 spreadsheetsI like to think of myself as rather proficient in using Microsoft Excel.1. I use it for everything from keeping simple lists to advanced data analysis. I love pivot tables and conditional formatting and even have a favourite Excel function2 The other day at work I taught a bunch of colleagues, who are all very well versed in the use of Excel3 that you can copy something from one cell down a whole column by double clicking on the bottom right corner of the cell you want to copy. Most of them knew that you can grab that bottom right corner and drag it down as far as you’d like to copy, but they were all suitable stunned with the double clicking trick – which comes in especially handy if you have hundreds or thousands of rows of data – that’s a lot of scrolling if you are using the drag method instead.

Which brings me to the new thing I learned about Excel. It has a limitation that I’ve never run into before, but which is now an issue for me. Specifically, that limit is the number of rows you can have in a single worksheet. That number: 1,048,576 4,5. And I learned this as a particular set of data that I’m working with had more than a million rows of data! Our makeshift solution is to have multiple worksheets in a workbook, though now that we have almost filled our our *second* worksheet, it really slows down the old laptop!

Clearly, the next thing I have on my “things to learn this year” list is database management!

Image Credit: Posted by Crishna Simmons on Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

  1. One of the things that I do in the statistics course that I teach over at the Justice League is make sure that everyone who takes my class can use Excel properly – it’s probably one of the most useful thing they use in the course, to be honest []
  2. CONCATENATE. Mostly because the word is always. I probably use “Text to columns” more often, but I love to say “concatenate”! []
  3. Including one who I’d say is the best Excel user I know. []
  4. Source: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/excel-specifications-and-limits-1672b34d-7043-467e-8e27-269d656771c3 []
  5. It also has a limit of 16,384 columns, but I haven’t run up against that particular limitation yet. []

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Stuff I Learned This Year: Hammer Drill Edition

Remember many moons ago when I bought a shiny new bike? I haven’t enjoyed said shiny new bike as much as I would like of late, and I blame it squarely on the fact that I had to keep my bike in my storage locker, as my building has no bike room and we aren’t allowed to bring bikes into our suites in my building. But my storage locker is an oddly shaped little concrete room in the parkade with a door that opens into the locker (thus rendering a big swath of the floor space unusable for storing things). Which meant that it was difficult to get my bike in and out of said storage locker, which meant that I haven’t been riding my bike that much.

At one point I got the brilliant idea that I should install a bike hook on the wall in my storage locker, so that my bike could be stored off the ground so (a) it wouldn’t take up floor space and (b) it would be easier to access since I could just lift it off the bike hook over all the other stuff in there to take it out (it’s very light, so it would be totally doable). I even went so far as to ask my strata if I was allowed to do it and they said it was fine. And then… I just didn’t get around to it. And then a couple of years went by and I still didn’t do it and I barely rode my bike.

When Scott moved in recently, we had to figure out how to combine all of his stuff with all of my stuff into a 700 square foot condo. And one of his stuffs was also a bike! So we reconsidered my installing bike hooks in my storage locker, but then came up with an even better idea. Several parking spots in my parkade have bike hooks in the wall of the parking spot. So we decided that it made more sense to store our bikes on hooks in my parking spot, which would free up more room in the storage locker for all our other various stuff and things. So I asked my strata if that was allowed and they said it was – and so off we went to Home Depot to rent a hammer drill!

“A hammer drill (or hammering drill) is a rotary drill with a hammering action. The hammering action provides a short, rapid hammer thrust to pulverize relatively brittle material and provide quicker drilling with less effort.” (Source: Wikipedia)

I don’t think that the woman at the rental desk at Home Depot had much faith in us when we asked to rent a hammer drill. “Have you used one before?” she asked. “No,” we replied. She gave us a skeptical look, then showed us how to use it, then gave us another skeptical look. She asked what we were using it for and when we told her, she said, skeptically, “Does your strata allow that?” I said that I had asked them and it was allowed, and she said, “Mmm hmm,” in a tone that suggested she remained skeptical.

At any rate, using a hammer drill is pretty much like using a regular drill. We drill holes into the concrete and then put in these little metal tube looking things (seen at the bottom of this photo of all the things we used for this project):

Equipment

You stick the tube-looking things into the hole that you drilled and then you screw in the big hook – as you screw the hook in, it gradually opens up the tube-looking thing so that the tube-looking thing takes up all the space in the hole you made and it anchors the hook to the wall. Easy-peasy.

We also installed the gray loop thingy on the left side of the photo into the wall (we used the hammer drill to make smaller holes into which we could screw that gray thing) so that we can look our bikes to that thing. Even though my parking spot is behind two gates in a parkade with various security features, you can never be too safe!

Anyway, here’s what my parking spot looked like before we started:

Parking spot

Here’s a picture of me working the hammer drill:

Beth with a hammer drill

And here’s the finished product:

Bikes on bike hooksSo much more convenient!

Then, since we had the hammer drill, Scott was all “where else can we drill holes into concrete while we have this thing?” and the answer, of course, was my storage locker. I already had the strata’s OK to drill hooks in there, so we decided to put up some hooks in the walls of the storage locker so that we can hang stuff, thus making use of all the wasted space in my very tall storage locker. So Scott drilled some holes to screw in some pieces of wood – that way we can add as many hooks as we want at our leisure. And voila:

Hooks in the storage closet

Hooks in the storage closet

Those hooks, combined with the fact that we also put a shelving unit in there, means my storage locker now holds twice as much stuff, but it is also so much more accessible than when it was just boxes and buckets piled up on top of each other. This makes me a happy camper!

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The Return of High Garden

One of my favourite things about summer is growing food on my balcony – I like to refer to my little balcony oasis as High Garden (as my condo is on the 10th floor and I’m a Game of Thrones fan.)

And my garden seems to get bigger and better every year. This year we actually are fertilizing on the regular and, who knew?, fertilizing really helps the plants grow1.

This year we decided to plant a few vegetables:

  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • onions
  • potatoes
  • spinach

and some herbs:

  • rosemary
  • chives
  • thyme
  • marjoram
  • savory
  • mint
  • oregano
  • dill
  • parsley

and, of course, the cat garden:

  • cat grass
  • cat mint
  • cat nip

Planted on May 15, 2018:

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

June 16:

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

June 26:

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

Starting to see some flowers on the cucumber plant

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

Potato and tomato plants looking quite full of leaves!

June 28:Savory & Oregano

Cucumber flowers

Cucumber flowers

Potato flowers

Flowers on the potato plant

We’ve been eating herbs all throughout the summer – I use them in homemade salad dressing, scrambled eggs, with various meats on the BBQ, etc. We managed to get enough dill to make a delicious dill dip, but then the dill plant died. The savoury plant looked pretty grim from the time we planted it and never really took. The parsley, which I planted from seed (all the rest were seedlings), didn’t grow at all.

The cucumber plant ended up only yielding two cucumbers, but they were big:

Cucumber that grew in High Garden!

The spinach plants yielded enough to make a small spinach salad for each of us (I’m not convinced it was more than the amount of spinach leaves on the seedlings we originally planted!):

Spinach salad - made with spinach from High Garden!

Last week when my friend Kim and her boyfriend Tad came over for dinner, we made mint juleps with mint from High Garden:

Mint juleps
Yes, I realize that those are Moscow mule mugs, not mint julep cups. I don’t have any mint julep cups, so the mule mugs had to suffice! And suffice they did – they were pretty darn tasty – a very refreshing drink on a hot day!

Tonight’s dinner included these three potatoes (which popped up above the surface – there are still more to harvest):

Potatoes

and this onion was sautéed to go with our steaks:

Onion

All in all, I’d say it was a successful growing season for High Garden. I’m kind of sad that summer is coming to an end though (as evidenced by leaves on trees changing colour and Halloween candy appearing in the local grocery stores) – I’ll have to enjoy the last bit of my garden while I can!

  1. The answer is everybody. Everybody knew. []

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Slightly past the halfway mark – Goals 2018 check-in

So somehow it is the end of August (!) and I have no idea where the year has gone! And since we are well past the halfway point of 20181, I figured it was time for a quick check in on my 2018 goals.

Achieved:

  • deadlifted my own body weight
  • set up and implemented a performance planning and review system for my team at work
  • painted my condo – totally need to blog about this, but it has been done!

On my way:

  • do a chin-up or pull-up without the help of a resistance band – I’ve been working really hard at the gym on this one and I’ve gotten to the point that I’ve been able to do the top part of a chin (from elbows bent at 90 degrees to chin all the way up) 1-2 x completely unassisted before I need an assist. I feel like I have a good shot of achieving this goal by the end of the year.
  • write in my journal at least one time per week, on average – I haven’t counted how many entries I’ve made this year, but I’ve done a bit. Need to go and count them to see how far off I am.
  • sew 5 items – I’ve sewn two zipped pouches, so I’m a bit behind with only 2/5 of this goal done. I do want to take some more sewing classes, but likely won’t do that until the fall, as the weather has been so nice, I don’t want to be inside sewing right now.
  • make 18 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before – I’ve made 12, which is 66.7% of my goal, so I’m slightly ahead of schedule on this one!
  • finish Konmaring my condo– I’ve done a lot of work on this one. Not sure if I can get through everything, but I’m going to try!
  • buy a freezer – we’ve been talking about this one and looking at them, but we have yet to pull the trigger
  • learned 12 new things – I’ve learned, according to the list I’m keeping, 9 new things this year, though I’ve only blogged about 4 of them. Which means I’m 50% done the learning and 22% done the blogging – so I’m behind, but it’s definitely within the realm of catching up!
  • read 18 books – I’ve read 11 books (or 61.1% of my goal – so I’m on track for this one). And I just started reading two new books and have a few of textbooks that I’m about to read too!

Might be salvageable:

  • meditating once a week – I did a few sessions using the Headspace app, but then I sort of dropped off. I’ve been more working on being mindful throughout my day, but I just finished reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris and it’s motivated me to dedicate some time to actually doing meditation again. So this one might be doable (as an average over the whole year) if I get into a routine.
  • submitted 3 papers for publication – I’ve submitted one, but don’t really foresee there being much time to dedicate to writing two more2. But perhaps I’ll get inspired in the next few months!
  • applying for a Nexus card – this is a thing I could do
  • donated blood twice – this is also a thing I could do
  • published 118 blog postings – when I hit publish on this one, I will have published 25. So I have a ways to go to catch up – but it’s not impossible. To publish 93 blog postings by the end of the year, I just need to publish 4.65 blog postings per week3.
  • publish at least six are long form blog postings (minimum of 3000 words) – so far I’ve done 2, so I just need to do 4 more.

Beyond all hope:

  • bringing my lunch to work at least 75% of the timework got so crazy that not only did I not bring my lunch to work very often, I stopped even recording it, so now I have no idea how often I did or did not bring my lunch to work. 🙁

So there you have it:

  • 3/18 (17%) complete
  • 8/18 (44%) that I have a decent shot of achieving
  • 6/18 (33%) that I could do if I set my mind to it
  • 1/8 (6%) that ain’t gonna happen

Guess I should be adding some of those “I could do if I set my mind to it” ones to my “to do” list!

  1. In fact, we are 63.3% of the way through the year! []
  2. Honestly, I can’t even remember what the second of the “two others” that I mentioned having ideas for when I wrote my goals up back in January even was! []
  3. Of course, it’s far more likely that I will continue to publish just a few per month and then I’ll hit November and try to post a blog posting per day for NaBloPoMo, and then try to do the rest over my Christmas holidays. This is not my first rodeo. []