Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Happy 5th Workiversary To Me!

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There have been a few times in my life when I decided to do something and then, as the thing approached I thought “What have I done? This is too big and too scary and too hard and I’m totally not going to be able to handle this!”. Moving across the country to do a PhD. Play in a hockey game that lasts for 10 days. Do an MBA part-time while still working full-time. Accepting my current job. As it turned out, all of these were things that I could handle and are things of which, as it turns out, I’m extremely proud! It’s almost like being scared that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew is a sign that I’m about to do something awesome.

My job prior to my current job was fun and I learned a lot and I met some great people, some of whom I’m still good friends with (Hi Heather!). But after 5 years in that job, I’d hit a pay ceiling, I’d learned all that I could learn, and so I wasn’t feeling challenged any more. And then a co-worker of mine told me about a job posting she’d seen that she thought I might be interested in. It was a job doing the same type of work (evaluation in healthcare), but taking it to the next level. A leadership position where I’d get to run a team of evaluators to conduct an evaluation of a massive, multi-organization, multi-year project that has the chance to change the face of healthcare in the region. I was excited by the possibilities this job entailed, so I applied and I got the job. And a few days after I handed in my resignation at my old job I thought “Oh my god, what have I done? I know how to do my old job really well. But there’s so much I don’t know about this new job – I have to learn a whole new area of healthcare AND I’ll be the boss of people and that’s a whole new ballgame for me. What if I can’t do it?” What I should have realized then was, just like the PhD, just like the Longest Game, and just like my MBA, that fear was a sign of a great challenge and I’d shown over and over again that I can rise to a challenge.

The last five years have been really interesting. I’ve learned a tonne about health informatics, about applying complexity concepts to the evaluation of an ever changing project, about governance, about managing people, about managing data when you have a large group of people creating and using a huge dataset, and that’s not even getting into what I’ve learned in terms of the findings of the evaluation so far!

I’ve had the opportunity to collect data from 13 healthcare facilities and counting, I’ve built my team up from 2 to 11 evaluators (all of whom are pretty fantastic, I must say), and I’ve presented my work across Canada, as well as in the US and Australia.

And even after five years, I’m not bored. I honestly feel like we are just getting things rolling and we are improving our processes at every step, and I’m learning so much from all the amazing people on my team, and we are producing information that is actually getting used by decision makers. And there’s so much more still to come.

This is not to say that it’s been easy, or that I will be easy going forward. In a recent presentation I gave about the project at the Canadian Evaluation Society conference, I used this image to represent my experience:

I also often reference that MC Escher painting where the stairs are going up but also going down at the same time as representing what it’s like to work on the project I’m working on. (I can’t put the image here on the blog because I don’t have copyright permission, but here’s a link to the Wikipedia page on it where you can see the image)

But honestly, it’s kind of OK with me. The real world is messy and things don’t always work out how you planned them, but you learn a lot by going along for the ride.

Image sources:

Cross posted on my other blog.

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Deep Into Darkness

On Friday, my friend Alicia and I went to the theatre. But it wasn’t just your average play. Described as an “immersive theatre experience” going into the mind of Edgar Allan Poe, Deep Into Darkness starts with some instructions from cast members in the area of the theatre where you’d usually gather during intermission:

  • audience members all wear white masks while in the theatre and must remain silent
  • once inside, you can roam around the theatre, exploring any room you like (except for any door that says “Do Not Enter)
  • you can touch anything you want – and are encouraged to riffle through drawers, read books, open containers – as long as you leave everything exactly where you found it
  • crew members wear black masks and if they touch you on the shoulder and move you from where you are, follow their instructions (because basically you are going to be in the way of something an actor is about to do)
  • a performer may extend their hand to invite you into a scene with them – you can accept the offer if you like, or cross your hands over your chest to signify that you would like to be left alone

And then you enter the theatre and your experience begins.

Creepy white mask

The logistics of the experience are pretty easy to explain (as above), but trying to explain the show is… difficult. There are a number of different rooms that all have a gothic sort of feel to them. One room is a bar that looks like a brawl has taken place. Another is a living room, another has a dining table. There’s a nursery, a bedroom, an outdoor shed, and various other creepy settings in rooms and hallways throughout the building. The performers move about these various spaces performing various scenes. You are free to follow a character around, or just go exploring to see what scene is happening in another place. It’s hard to really explain what the scenes were – some were fights, some were erotic, some were both, and some were quite mundane – like a woman giving a man a shave, or a women very, very slowly tearing a piece of paper. I honestly don’t know who all the characters were supposed to be and there’s no clear narrative. Also, none of the actors say a word – although they do groan, scream, and laugh maniacally. I read a few reviews to see if there was some obvious plot that I was missing, but there was not. The term “fever dream” was probably the best descriptor I’ve seen used to describe the show.

And while not having a plot, dialogue, or any real sense of who the characters were might make it sound pointless, it actually was a very cool experience. To me, I think the show was more about the feelings you got as an audience member experiencing a performance in a very different way. Some of my take homes from this were:

  • No two audience members saw the same show. Because while you were in one scene, several other scenes were happening in other rooms that you weren’t seeing. There were characters I saw over and over again in different scenes, but then like an hour and a half into the show I’d see a new character and think “who is that?” But they would have been doing scenes all evening in different rooms that I didn’t happen to be in.
  • There was an entire section of that I never saw and only found out about after the show when I talked to Alicia. “Did you go in the basement with all the tiny rooms?” she asked. I never even saw the stairway to the basement! It was kind of miffed that I missed out on seeing that part, but I had also been thinking about how you have to accept that there was no way you could have seen everything, because you can’t be in all the places at once!
  • There was an intimacy between the actors and the audience in a way that you don’t usually get at the theatre. At one point, an actor sat down at a writing desk to write in a book and I stood right behind him and looked over his shoulder to see what he was writing. Later another man sat at the same desk, wrote on a piece of paper, tore it in half and handed half to me and half to another audience member.
  • There was another scene in a very narrow hallway where there were audience members on both sides of the actors and everyone was crowded around to see – it was almost claustrophobic it was so tight.
  • Other audience members also became part of the performance, whether because an actor engaged them in some way or because they just walked through a scene you were watching. At various point, audience members just sat down on a couch or chair that was right in a middle of a scene to watch it, so if you were watching from the side of the room, you would be watching them too.
  • At one point an actor took an audience member by the hand and led her into a room with a crucifix on the door and closed the door. When the audience member’s friend tried to follow, a crew member blocked the door and wouldn’t let them in. They were in the room for like 5 minutes – I’m super curious about what happened in there!

All in all, I’d have to say that I quite enjoyed the show. But I’m like the worst theatre reviewer ever, because the show ends tomorrow so unless you happen to already have a ticket, you won’t get to see it. #WorstTheatreReviewerEver

Also, before the show, Alicia and I were chatting with a couple whose daughter was one of the performers. The man suggested that we should read about Poe’s life, as he was totally crazy (Poe, not the man we were chatting with). But he also said he thought Poe was writing in the 1960s and I was like “I think more like the 1860s”, so then I totally decided to look it up after the show. According to Wikipedia, Poe was born in 1809 and died when he was only 40 years old! Other interesting facts include:

  • he was born Edgar Poe but was taken in by John and Frances Allan when he was two, as his father had abandoned the family the year after he was born and his mom died the next year
  • he married his 13 year old cousin when he was 27; she died of tuberculous 11 years later
  • the cause of Poe’s death is a mystery. Apparently he was found delirious, walking the streets of Baltimore. He was “not coherent enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. He is said to have repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring.” (source). He was taken to the hospital, and died there a few days later. All the medical records of this, including his death certificate, were lost.

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How Is It The Middle of August Already??

As Albert Einstein once didn’t say, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Here are some examples from my life of this phenomenon:


Me, during the school year: I’m so busy with all the courses I’m teaching, I just don’t have time to organize my stuff/Konmari my condo/do that renovation project. I’ll do it once the semester is over.

Me, during the summer: It’s sunny out and I just want to take advantage of the beautiful weather before it’s gone! I don’t want to be inside. I’m organize my stuff/Konmari my condo/do that renovation project in the fall.

And repeat.


Me, exhausted at the end of the semester: I’m going to make all my edits to my course now, so that it will be ready to go and I’ll be totally organized and not stressed when I teach this class next year.

Also me, exhausted at the end of the semester: I shouldn’t teach so many courses when I’m already working a full-time job.

Me, a few weeks into summer: Sure university administrator, I’ll totally teach that class in the fall. I’ve got all summer to prep it.

Me, in the last week of August: WTF? How is it the last week of August already????

And repeat.


Me, in the evening: I’ve got to be at 5:30 am tomorrow, so I’m going to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Me, at 11:45pm: *still reading stuff on the Internet* WTF? How is it 11:45 pm already?

Me, at 12:30 am: *finally getting into bed* I’m totally going to go to bed early tomorrow.

And repeat.

Source (Creative Commons license): https://xkcd.com/1657/

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Why Do My Cats Never Sit On My Head Like This?

While searching for Creative Commons licensed images to use for various things (like lecture notes, conference presentations, or blog postings), I occasionally come across an image that has nothing to do with what I was actually searching, but which strikes my fancy. This is one such image:

Illustration Friday - Influence

This image was posted on Flickr by Caroline using a Creative Commons license.

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That Time We Totally Made Dinner

Hot off the heels of our skydiving adventure, Dr. Dan and I decided that we should tackle another thing that is on our list of very important goals: make a meal that we haven’t made before. I mean, he has a goal for 2019 to cook things he hasn’t cooked before. I have a goal for 2019 to cook things I haven’t cooked before. And he’s visiting this week. And we need to eat dinner. So what could be better than making some delicious dish that is new to both of us?

At least, that was This-Morning-Beth and This-Morning-Dan’s plan. But those guys are always making plans and expecting This-Evening-Beth and This-Evening_Dan to do all the work. Screw those guys.

Instead, we decided to follow the time-tested recipe of (1) order pizza, (2) let someone else deliver said pizza, (3) enjoy!

Untitled

I highly recommend you try this recipe sometime.

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I jumped out of a f&^*ing plane!

So yesterday I jumped out of a plane. Because that seems like a reasonable thing for a person who is afraid of heights to do, right?

Long time readers may recall that time that I hung off the side of the CN Tower. It was terrifying and I was sure I was going to die and I’ve been pretty afraid of heights ever since then. Walking across the Harbour Bridge is Sydney terrified me. Walking across the Patullo Bridge terrified me1. Even walking across the bridge that people were bungee jumping from to get to the viewing area to watch my friends bungee jump was terrifying. And yet I had a strong desire to jump out of plane and plummet rapidly towards the ground.

In part this was because Dr. Dan told me that the CN Tower Edgewalk was way scarier than skydiving because when you are on the CN Tower, your brain can perceive the distance and it’s thinking “if I fall off of here, I’m going to splatter”. But when you are at 10,000 ft, you are so high up, your brain just cannot process that kind of distance, so you don’t feel that fear. I took those words to heart and decided that skydiving was something that I really wanted to try. And I’m really, really glad I did!

Since Dr. Dan is in town, we decided that yesterday would be a good day to jump out of a plane. Two of his students – Nic and Marshall – were also up for the adventure. We didn’t book the excursion in advance because the not insubstantial fee is nonrefundable and whether or not you can skydive at a given date and time is very weather dependent. If you book in advance and then the weather is not conducive to jumping, you have to reschedule for another day and since Dan is only in town for the week that didn’t really work for us.

So we called yesterday morning to see if the weather would allow us to jump and they said things weren’t looking great but we should call back at about 1:30 pm to see if the situation had improved. We did and they said the weather still wasn’t right, but to call back at 4 pm to check again. When we called back at 4 pm, I think we were prepared for them to say “today is just not a good day to jump “and we would try again the next day2, but much to our surprise they said “Yeah, it looks good now. How soon can you get here?” We were at my place New West and we had to get to Abbotsford, which is where the skydiving placs is, and we had to pick up Marhsall, who was in Maple Ridge, on the way. And since my wee Smart Car can’t fit four brave, soon-to-be skydivers, we had to grab a Modo car share for the trip. So we jumped into action, booking the car, running around trying to find the car after I misinterpreted the description of where the car was, and then off we went!

We arrived a bit later than we’d hoped and skydiving people were waiting for us, so it was a whirlwind of activity: signing the waiver, getting on our jumpsuits, people were strapping us into our harnesses as an instructor explained the procedure of what we need to do. We all got a chance to demonstrate that we listened to the procedure we needed to follow: cross your hands across your chest, and cross your feet when you jump out of the plane, then when your instructor (who you are attached to during the jump) taps your shoulder, you raise your arms up. That’s really all you need to do, because in a tandem jump, the instructor does all the actual work. Then we each met our respective instructors to whom we were going to be attached to – mine was a friendly guy named Jess – and they did the double check to make sure all the straps and hooks were strapped and hooked so that we would not plummet to our deaths. After that we walked toward the plane feeling like something out of Top Gun. Well, I would have felt more Top Gun if they hadn’t given me a pink jumpsuit (*barf*). Dr. Dan got the cool army green one, so he looked the most Top Gun-ish, imho.

Dan, Marshall, me, and Nic after skydiving
Dr. Dan, Marshall, Dr. Beth, Nic (from left to right)

And then it was into the plane and we took off – it all happened so fast I barely had time to think, let alone be scared. I set my Fitbit to record my heart rate for the trip, because at all times I’m a nerd and I was dying to see how my heart would react to all of this.

The plane climbed and climbed and I honestly could not wipe the smile off my face. I was so happy to be doing this and when I realized that I had such a big smile on my face, I was even more happy that I was genuinely happy and not scared!

I looked out the window as the beautiful scenery – the lush green farmland and river below us, the mountains off in the distance, a few pretty clouds, and amazing sunshine – and all I felt was excitement. At one point Jess said “We are halfway up” and I felt my stomach leap a little bit as a thought “omg, we are going twice this high?”, but as quickly as I thought that, it was replaced with “omg, it’s so beautiful”.

My heart took another leap when the plane levelled off because I knew that meant it was go time. Marshall was up first and I was after him. Both our instructors, who has tightened our harasses and attached us to themselves, got up to open up the door on the side of the plane and in an instant, Marshall and his instructor vanished out the door. Jess moved us to the door and, being attached to him and all, before I knew it, I was standing at the edge of the plane looking at the 10,000 ft to the ground. I think I said something like “oh my god, this is really happening” and then he jumped. I remembered to cross my hands over my chest but honestly do not know if I crossed my feet like instructed.

I feel one second of sheer terror and screamed, and then instantly I felt completely at peace. My brain was just like “we are totally fine. We are totally safe.” We were head down, free falling towards the earth3, but because you are so far up, you can’t actually tell that you are moving – the ground doesn’t look like it’s getting any closer. So it actually just feels like you are sitting still in the sky but with a great wind coming up at you. It was exhilarating. According to the skydiving log they gave me afterwards, we were in free fall for 40 seconds, but it felt like 10 seconds – just like your brain can’t make sense of the height you are at, I don’t think it can comprehend time properly while trying to process this completely surreal experience.

Skydiving
Free fall!

My instructor tapped me on the shoulder, and I put my arms up like we’d been told me – we were now free falling in the belly down position and then it felt like we were being pulled back up into the sky. I knew that this meant he’d pulled the parachute and we’d slowed down a lot – and now we were heads up and it honestly felt like I was just sitting on a swing and floating in the sky. It was an unbelievable feeling.

And only then did I get a chance to look around and take in the incredible sights. We spun around and got to see the world from a vantage point like no other. You know how when you look out the window of a plane and it’s so cool to see the world from up so high? Imagine that you aren’t looking at that through a tiny window while sitting in a uncomfortable plane seat – but you are getting a 360 view of that while freely floating in the sky. The fields were so green. The river was kind of brown, but I marvelled at the fact that if I could follow that river, I’d end up back at my home in New West. The mountains were amazing off in the distance, and there were a few fluffy clouds in the same sky as I now sat.

Skydiving
The hat they make you wear is not very flattering and my face is squished by the googles, but don’t I look so happy?

As I looked around, I saw two other parachutes off in the distance, but both below me and I remember being a bit confused because I was sure that I was the second person to jump, so how could there be two people below me? But my brain wasn’t able to process it, so I just continued to look around and enjoy the surreal experience. As it turned out, Dr. Dan’s instructor seemed to have be a bit speedier than the other instructors in getting to the ground, so he actually was below me despite having jumped after I did.

We floated around for a bit, going here and there over the land, and I was chattering about the experience the whole time. I am an external processor, so when I thought about it later, I realized that I was talking as a way of comprehending what was happening. It was a very interesting experience to see my brain trying to understand what was going on – the experience is so unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced.

Coming in for a landing
Coming in for a landing!

And all too soon, the jump was over. We came to a gentle landing on the grass and I reunited with my friends to excitedly talk about our jumps. We had all chosen to get the video package where the instructor wears a video camera on their wrist – for me, Nic, and Marshall, it was our first times and we needed to have it documented. We had to wait for a bit while they edited our videos, which was OK because I think we also needed a bit of time to come down from the adrenaline rush.

While we were waiting, I decided to check out my heart rate from the jump. This is what my heart rate was from the time we got on the plane until the time I landed:

Heart rate while skydiving

I was delighted to see that my heart rate mirrored my subjective experience – you can my heart rate actually lowering as we sat on the plane, a small jump which I think was when the plane levelled off and and I realized it was go time, a spike which I’m sure was the moment we stood up and then jumped, resulting in my one second of terror, and then an immediate drop as my brain said “actually, this isn’t scary. It’s amazing!)

As we waited for our videos, Jess came over and said “I’ve got good news and bad news. When we jumped, the camera malfunctioned – the screen just went blank – so while we were in free fall, I had to reboot it. I only got the last few seconds of free fall and then the rest of the time. So we are going to refund your money, but we will give you the footage we did get.” My reply: “If anything was going to go wrong during the jump, I’m glad it was just the camera.”

As it turned out, I think the video is just fine. I don’t mind that it missed the jumping part – that is the part where I was freaking out and screaming anyway! And I got it for free, which makes this cheap, cheap woman happy.

I can’t upload the video to YouTube because it’s set to music (which YouTube would flag as a copyright violation). And the file is too big for me to upload directly to my blog4. So if you want to see it, you’ll just have to ask me to show it to you the next time I see you!

In conclusion, skydiving was amazing and I want to do it again. I want to skydiving over all sorts of different scenery. Imagine skydiving over the desert! Or a lush tropical landscape! Or the Arctic! Anyone up for skydiving on every continent with me?

  1. In fairness, the Patullo Bridge does seem like it’s about to collapse at any moment, so that fear is somewhat justified. []
  2. Although the price is more expensive on weekends and I’m a cheap, cheap woman. []
  3. I looked it up and in the head down position, terminal velocity is about 200 mph! and when you switch to belly down, it’s about 120 mph! []
  4. I tried. []

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A bunch of stuff I cooked

Ever since I posted about my progress on my goals for 2019 (or lack thereof), I’ve been on the look out for new foods to make. Last weekend I made:

German red cabbage:

German cabbage

Roasted cabbage wedges:

Roasted cabbage

And this weekend I decided that I should make something to use up the some of the fresh herbs that are growing my balcony because they are growing like crazy:

High Garden 2019
High Garden 2019 is doing quite well
High Garden 2019
More of High Garden 2019

So I posted on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, asking my tweeps, FB friends and, (um, what’s the demonym for people on Instagram?) for recipe suggestions. And they did not disappoint!

My friend Karen suggested this recipe: Smashed potatoes with herb vinaigrette. Smashed potatoes are one of my go-to recipes, but I usually put apple cider vinegar with salt and pepper on them. So I was intrigued by this recipe, where you make a vinaigrette with a tonne of fresh, along with olive oil, lemon juice, chili peppers, and Dijon mustard.

Here’s the smashed potatoes, prior to the vinaigrette (basically, boil little potatoes until you can stick a fork in them, put them on a cookie sheet, smash, drizzle with oil, and bake):

Smashed Potatoes

And I found this recipe by the power of Googling: Fresh Herbs With Corn, Asparagus, and Chickpeas Recipe. Though this recipe called for a slightly different mix of herbs than the other recipe, I’m lazy, so I just chopped up a big bowl of thyme, parsley, mint, and oregano1, mix it with olive oil and lemon juice, and then split it in half and used it with both recipes (with the addition of the Dijon and chili peppers for the potatoes).

Bunch of herbs
Big bowl o’herbs

Smashed potatoes with herb vinaigrette:

Smashed Potato Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

Fresh Herbs With Corn, Asparagus, and Chickpeas Recipe:

Fresh Herbs With Corn, Asparagus, and Chickpeas Recipe

And those two dishes comprised my dinner tonight. Super delicious.

Also, while uploading these photos, I discovered a photo of avocado toast that I made on June 25. I’d never made avocado toast before, so that totally counts as a new thing!

Avocado toast:

Avocado toast

So that brings me to a total of 10 new things that I’ve made this year (out of a goal of 19 new things), and since it’s July, that’s about right on track. I’ve also tentatively invited a couple of people over for dinners (for my goal of having people over for dinner 5 times – pending me sorting out my calendar to figure out when such dinners could occur), so that will be an opportunity to make new things too.

Also, I’m going to put the other suggestions I got from people about things I can make with my herbs here, because right now they are scattered between Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram replies and I’m totally going to forget what they all are and they’ll get lost down the memory hole that is social media if I don’t post them here.

From my friend, Linda:

  • a zucchini, lemon and herb pasta to use up random herbs – saute some zucchini with thinly sliced garlic (use olive oil, salt and peper), add in cooked pasta (penne/rotini etc, not long noodles), zest of one lemon, a bunch of random chopped herbs and some parmesan cheese. Dill, chives, parsley and mint would be good choices from your garden. Add lemon juice plus salt and pepper to taste.
  •  freeze your rosemary whole and use it to roast stuff in the future.
  • Make herb butter and freeze it for future use – dill butter is delicious on fish, rosemary and chive would be yummy on potatoes, etc. [This sounds amazing and I’m totally going to do this]
  • salad with parsley and mint (and chickpeas, cucumber, onion, maybe some chives, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and zatar).
  • Make Greek salad with your oregano and thyme. [we do this all the time because I’m slightly obsessed with Greek salads]
  • heat up some sage until it is crispy and top what ever you want, it’s yummy!
  • Make taboouli with your parsley and mint (I usually do it with couscous – much quicker and easier than using bulgar).

From my high school drama teacher (because Facebook):

  • Make herb packets, dry them, grind some bigger leaves and put in small cheesecloth packets. Drop in soups, stews etc and when ready scoop out packets and toss.

From my friend Paul:

  • Makes for great flavour with new potatoes bbqed with butter in tin foil packets. Make sure to boil or steam them first. Cuts down cooking time on the bbq. Me being the neanderthal man that I am I went straight for the fire and had to wait a long time.

From my friend Stephanie:

  • Mix chives, oregano, thyme, parsley with feta or other cheese and use to stuff mini-peppers (cut in half lengthwise). Bake at 375 for 25 minutes until peppers are roasted and cheese melted. This is summer potluck go-to recipe for 2019.

From my friend Cath:

  • I’ve been making tea from my mint, with a little thyme and rosemary thrown in. Excellent hot or cold

From my friend Nancy:

  • I literally just cut mine , put in baggies & freeze them.

So I’ll think I’ll be just fine for using up those herbs!

  1. My savory had weird white spots on it, so I didn’t use it. []

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Frogs & Snails

So I finally got some new frogs and, being a delinquent frog mom, I haven’t even blogged about it! I just had to look back through my credit card statement to find out when I bought them – turns out it was April 30!

I bought five frogs – though sadly one of them was found floating in the tank a couple of days ago. Here’s a photo of the fraggle of frogs from July 5, before the tragedy:

Frogs!

We have struggled to come up with names for them, but have come up with 3 names so far:

  • Copernicus the Fourth1
  • Arya2
  • Webster3 

We still need a fourth name – and we are taking suggestions, so let me know if you have a good frog name idea.

In addition to frogs, we also got some snails because snails eat algae and the frog tank often fills up with algae. And they do a really good job of it. Here you can see a snail trail where the snail travelled along the top of the tank, eating up all the algae:

Snail trail

And here’s another cool photo – I think this snail is growing a new shell (the wider stripes) to replace its older shell (the smaller stripes):

This snail is growing a new shell under its old shell - you can see that it's a different pattern

For some reason, the snail names came easier than frog names:

  • Turbo
  • Whiplash
  • Tyrion Snailister (the littlest of the 3 snails – obviously)

So there you have it – frogs and snails, living in harmony!

  1. Obviously. []
  2. We came up with this one from having recently watched the Battle of Winterfell. []
  3. This one was named by my friend Patricia, who will inherit the frogs and their accoutrement, in the event of my death. []

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Half Way Goals Check-In

So, the year is half over. I know that every year I, like most people, marvel at how fast the year is going by, this year it’s way worse than previous years. Like, the year is half over and I haven’t really done anything… and I haven’t even planned stuff.

Anyhoo, I thought that maybe I’d do a check in on how my goals for 2019 are going since the year is half freaking over, but honestly doing this just made me feel like I really have done nothing with the first half of the year! Correction: this has motivated me to get going on my goals!

Anyhoo again, of my 19 goals, I’ve completed a grand total of 1. So yeah, I’m a wee bit behind. But the one that I did complete was monumental:

I DEADLIFTED 100 KG!

The goal was actually just to deadlift 90 kg, and I did for 2 reps of a 90 kg trap bar deadlift on Jan 13, and then again for 2 reps on Jan 20, and then I did a single rep of 100 kg. For those of you who prefer to think of weight in pounds, that’s 220.5 lbs.

I came close to one of my other weightlifting goals: I back squatted 85 kg on Jan 24, just 5 kg shy of my goal of 90 kg (i.e., 198 lbs).

I have made some progress on a few other goals. For the goal of making 19 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before, I’ve made 5:

So I’m 26% done that goal – behind schedule, but I can definitely catch up.

For the goal of read 20 books, I’ve read 7 (5 of which I’ve already blogged about), and I’m in the process of reading 5 other books right now. So I feel like I’m on my way with this goal, although I wonder if I should focus my reading to get some of these books done, rather than sporadically reading from all 5 of them, just to make myself feel like I’m accomplishing something! I should also try to pick a few shorter books – most of the books I’m currently reading are quite long, which doesn’t help in the feeling-like-I’ve-accomplished-something department.

A number of my things on my list are home improvement-y/organization-y, so I probably should just make a plan to get some of those done, as some are the type of thing I can get done in a weekend here or there.

I haven’t sewn anything and I have a goal to sew 5 things, so I really should decide what I want to sew and get cracking on it. I have a goal of sleeping an average of 7 hours per night and though my Fitbit tracks my sleep for me, I can figure out how to find out what my average since Jan 1 has been. Looking at the graphs by month, I can see that I haven’t hit the 7 hour mark for any single month, so I know I’m not meeting the goal, but I guess I’ll have to download the data to calculate the yearly average myself. I have a goal to write in my journal once a week and I have written 23 entries, so I’m 44% done that goal. And I have a goal to have people over for dinner 5 times, and I’ve only hosted one dinner, so I should do some planning for that (anyone interested in coming over for dinner? Hit me up!)

As for my blogging goal, which was a *very* modest 78 blog postings, as soon as I hit “publish” on this one, I’ll have published 23 for the year (or 29.5%). Perhaps another thing I can spend a bit of time on!

 

By

Happy 5th Condo-versary To Me!

Mortgage

Five years ago today, I got the keys to my condo. And since five years was the length of my mortgage term, it meant I recently had to renegotiate my mortgage. Last year at this time, I was concerned because mortgage interest rates were higher than what I’ve been paying and I figured I’d end up with a higher rate when I renegotiated this year. As it turns out, mortgage interest rates dropped and I managed to get myself the same interest I’ve been paying for the past five years, which makes me happy because (a) it’s a low interest rate and (b) I have a spreadsheet where I track my mortgage payments, including “prepayments” (i.e., lump sums I pay in order to pay off my mortgage quicker),  to calculate how much I’ve saved in interest rates by doing so1 and the spreadsheet doesn’t have an easy way to change the interest rate mid-way through the mortgage, so I’d have had to have figure out some spreadsheet kung fu to have made the spreadsheet calculations continue to work and now I don’t have to. I probably should be happier about (a), but honestly (b) makes me quite delighted.

Stock Photography - Canadian Coins

Also, for the record, I have officially paid off 71% of my original principal (up from 53% last year). Which means I own 78% of my condo – based on the price I paid when I bought it. If I use the most recent assessed value, I own 88% of my condo. My new principal is less than 1/3 of my original principle. Math is fun!

If I make no more lump sums, I will be done with my mortgage in July 2024, making it 10 years to pay off the mortgage (rather than the 25 years that was my original amortization). The earliest I could pay it off without any penalty (i.e., if I paid the maximum allowable lump sums per year as early as possible in each mortgage year), I could be done by Jan 11, 2021 (i.e., 1.5 years from now – and on my birthday, no less!). Given the low interest rate, that doesn’t make the best financial sense (i.e., I could make more by investing any extra money I have than the interest rate I’m currently paying on the mortgage). But it’s still fun to do the math!

 

Image source:

  • Mortgage image was posted on Flickr with a Creative Commons license requiring a link to Got Credit.
  • Coin image was posted on Flickr with a Creative Commons license
  1. And also some scenarios to compare having bought the condo compared to if I’d continued to rent instead. []