Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Happy 9th Birthday, Thomas!

Having a birthday in a pandemic-induced quarantine is probably not anyone’s first choice for a 9th birthday. But that is the situation that we find ourselves in, so for my nephew’s 9th birthday today, we decided to have a group video chat to share birthday cake. My niece baked a tie-dye birthday cake at my sister’s house, my mom baked a cupcake at her house, and I baked a cake at my house, and then we all got on video call, along with my nephew’s other grandparents, aunt, and cousins, to sing “Happy Birthday” and wash our hands eat birthday cake.

In order to build some extra excitement, I made a movie trailer for the event. This may be because I had to fire up the old iMovie to add some intros and outros to some videos I’d made for an online course I’ve been working on and I noticed that iMovie has templates to make movie trailers. Clearly, an online birthday cake eating party warrants an action-movie trailer, right?

I had to improvise a bit with the clip of the cats, as that part of the trailer required a video clip for slow motion, but I don’t have any video clips of my nephew. I also have almost no photos of my and Thomas together, so that’s something that I need to rectify the next time I see him!

Also, here’s the cake I made:

Pokéball birthday cake for my nephew’s 9th birthday

Thomas and I like to play Pokemon Go together, so I though the design was appropriate.

For the record, this cake adds three new things I’ve never made before for this year’s goal of making 20 foods or beverages I’ve never made before1:

  • vanilla buttermilk cake – I usually make cakes from a mix because it’s easy and I’m lazy, but I wanted to make a small cake since it’s only Scott and I here to eat it, so I decided to try a new recipe from scratch rather than using just part of a cake mix.
  • caramel sauce – surprisingly easy to make. Surprisingly easy to ruin as well, but my second batch was perfect. And I needed caramel sauce to make:
  • caramel buttercream icing – this was tasty, but sooooo sweet. I mean, caramel is mostly just melted granulated sugar with a splash of butter and cream, and then buttercream icing just butter and a tonne of icing sugar, so I’m not sure why I’m surprised by this.

So the cake was a vanilla buttermilk cake with caramel buttercream filling. It was decorated with regular buttercream icing because I didn’t want the caramel to mess with my colours. Also, I used a bucketload of gel food colouring to get that vibrant red and black. Totally worth it.

While we were on our video chat, Thomas told us about how his best friend, Jack, and Jack’s little sister and brother drew a birthday cake and wrote Happy Birthday Thomas in sidewalk chalk on the sidewalk outside of my sister’s house. I thought that was really sweet.

Thomas also reminded us that in just 10 years it will be his champagne birthday and we will all be drinking champagne. Here’s hoping we can do it in person!

  1. Which I’ve already surpassed, because what else are you going to do in quarantine? But that is for another blog posting. []

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Cyberbaking – It’s Not Just for Christmas Anymore!

As you may recall, my family and I love to bake. And sometimes at Christmas, if I’m not in Ontario visiting, we cyberbake: I bake in my kitchen in BC and my mom and my sister bake in my sister’s kitchen in Toronto and we videochat while we do said baking1.

Well, I’m really missing my family while everyone is isolating in our own homes during the pandemic. I know it’s kind of silly, because I often only see my family at Christmastime anyway, but (a) before the pandemic hit, I was planning to go to a conference in Ottawa in June and was planning to see my family then (but of course that is now not going to happen), and (b) it’s different when you don’t have a *choice*. Back in the old timey days where we could just hop on a plane whenever we wanted to, I at least had the option to go see my family. Now, since non-essential travel is a no-no, that choice is taken away, so it feels harder. I know it’s important that we all hunker down at this point to manage this pandemic, but I’m still acutely aware of missing my family. AnywayI digress…

A few days ago, I suggested that we all get on our webcams and bake together today. My mom in her house, my sister and her family in their house, and me in my condo. It really is fun to just chit chat and bake and be “together” even though we are apart.

My sister made cinnamon rolls and two loaves of bread shaped like turtles. She also taught my about “parbaking” – where you bake bread to about 80% of the way done and then freeze it. When you want to eat it, you bake it the rest of the way. So that’s a pretty great idea for when you have the urge to bake a bunch of stuff but you are stuck in a condo with just two people who shouldn’t each several loaves of bread in a day. I also realized that since “parbaking” means “partway baking”, that “parboiling” just means “partway boiling”. I would face palm, but touching one’s face is frowned upon these days.

My niece made snickerdoodles and my nephew made chocolate chip cookies. Last Christmas I gave my nephew a “virtual reality” baking set because I knew he likes baking and apparently he only wants to use the measuring cups from his set when he bakes. So nice to see that he likes his present!

My mom made a modified shepherd’s pie, using up some things she had around the house.

I decided to make carrot cake. I’ve never made carrot cake before, so it counts towards my goal of making 20 new foods this year). Plus I have a giant bag of carrots from the last time we went to Costco, so it seemed like a good way to use some of them up! I got my mom to send me my Uncle Stephen’s carrot cake recipe and I have to say, it is delicious.

I posted that before I made the cream cheese icing. Mmmm, cream cheese icing!

As always, the down side of cyberbaking is that you can’t taste what each other are baking! Fortunately, I have a bunch of carrot cake with which to console myself.

  1. As aside: this past December was so busy that I didn’t do any Christmas baking at all. None! That’s the first time in my life that I can remember not doing Christmas baking. I think maybe I upset the balance of the universe and that caused our current apocalypse. If so, sorry about that! []

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#ExtrovertProblems

Those of you who know me in person are probably painfully aware that I am an extreme extrovert. So self-isolation and social distancing are quite a challenge for a social butterfly such as myself. But since lives are literally on the line, I am taking the advice of experts who say to stay the hell away from everyone.

It’s so weird that the best thing we can do from society is literally nothing. Stay at home. So hard to feel like you are doing something important when you feel like you are doing nothing. And yet here we are!

So many things are weird right now. So many things that would be good to do in normal times are the worst things to do now. Like taking public transit instead of cars. Or helping an elderly person cross a street. Or going to the gym. Or visiting a friend or family member who is in the hospital or a long-term care home. Or giving people hugs! The world is topsy turvy.


I’m extremely fortunate that all of my jobs can be done from home. My entire office was put on work-from-home indefinitely starting last Monday. The one face-to-face course that I am teaching this semester was moved to online this past week as well, and my other course was already an online course. I’m developing two other online courses and all of that work can be done from home, so, like I said, I’m very lucky when it comes to work.

In working from home full time for the last week, I’ve noticed that I really miss the little conversations I got to have with my colleagues. Whether it was coming up with a plan to get our work accomplished, or chatting about how our weekends were, or how our families were doing, or sharing recipes for the baked goods that someone brought in to share1, or talking about upcoming vacation plans2 – I always knew that I loved conversations with my colleagues. But I never realized how much I needed them.


In the interest of socializing, I’m making an effort every day to reach out to one or two people I haven’t talked to in awhile to see how they are doing. While we aren’t able to go out for a coffee or go see a movie or anything like that, phone calls, texts, Twitter conversations, and Google Hangouts/Skype/Zoom/FaceTime video call are my lifeline right now. It’s a silver lining that I’m connecting with people I haven’t connected with in a while3.


I also saw on Twitter that some researchers at UBC are doing research on how people are coping with the COVID-19 outbreak ( https://blogs.ubc.ca/coronavirus/ ). So I took their survey and then I signed up for their other study, in which you fill out a morning and evening survey for a week. I think it will be fascinating to see the results of this study, as this situation really is unprecedented and is putting stress on people in so many different ways: worry for ourselves and our loved ones, worry about jobs and being able to pay bills, worry if our healthcare system will collapse under the avalanche of patients that are coming their way, and just the stress that comes from dealing with so much uncertainty (just to name a few).


As I settle into this new way of life that I suspect will be a few months4, I’m trying to do my best to take care of myself, go one step at a time, and make connections with those I care about.

If anyone is up for a call or video chat, hit me up!

  1. Omg, remember the days when you could share food with each other? []
  2. Omg, remember when you used to be able to travel to places?? []
  3. In addition to being an extrovert, I’m also an optimist! []
  4. Oh please, let it only be a few months! []

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Remembering

Speaking of things that suck, it’s been eight years since the day my dad went into the brain surgery that, ultimately, resulted in his death. I know I say it every year, but I can’t believe it’s been that long.

Today when I went to the gym and thought about the weight bench and the weights that my dad had in our basement. I don’t actually remember him using them, but my sister says she remembers. She remembers him telling us that we could look at the weights, but we couldn’t touch because he didn’t want us to get hurt. That definitely sounds like something my dad would say.

Tonight I’m watching the Leafs-Habs game. My dad would have loved watching this – his beloved Leafs against his hated Habs on Hockey Night in Canada. I can just picture him with a bag of chips and Pepsi, yelling at the TV. Right now as I type this, the score is 1-0 for the Leafs, with 8 minutes to go. I hope my dad’s eyes are watching this.

I miss you, Dad.

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Seven Years

UntitledThis pin was my dad’s. I believe it was in recognition of 10 years service at Mack Truck, where he worked for 24 years, until the plant closed down – so he had a lot of service recognition pins. My mom, my sister, and I each wore one to his funeral and I wore mine today, in his honour, as he died seven years ago today.

Also in his honour, I made a big fat lump sum payment on my mortgage today. I know he would be proud of me for being good with my money.

Miss you always and forever, Daddy.

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The answer to the great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything?

Today I turned the-answer-to-the-great-question-of-life-the-universe-and-everything years old. And to be honest, it’s not so bad. Granted, I only feel like I’m 30 and since it’s scientifically proven that feeling 12 years younger than you actually are means you are cognitively superior, I think I’m doing OK.

Also, I’m super freaking strong, as you can see in this video where I back squatted 77.5 kg (or 171 lbs, for those of you prefer the old timey units of measure) – a new personal record for me – today:

Other highlights of the day included, in no particular order:

  • sleeping in1
  • a solid workout at the gym (including the aforementioned back squat PR)
  • going for a walk on the Quay
  • catching two new Pokemon that I didn’t have before
  • perusing a thrift store and finding a skirt with POCKETS! Plus two nice shirts. But mostly POCKETS!
  • playing with the kitties
  • a video chat with my mother, sister, brother-in-common-law, niece, and nephew, who were enjoying a birthday cake and birthday wine (except for my niece and nephew, of course) in my honour! They even sang happy birthday to me and I got to virtually blow out the candle2.

Of course, Bethmas celebrations really started yesterday, on Bethmas Eve, as a friend took me out for lunch, then my team at work took me to dinner at Nuba before we went to the Canucks game, which we’d decided to do as a team building event, since several people on my team had never been to a hockey game before.

Bethmas celebrations continue tonight as Scott and I are going out for a nice steak dinner.

I’m contemplating having a belated birthday party at the end of the month. I was going to skip the birthday party this year, mostly because I’m stupid busy with all the classes I’m teaching this semester (in addition to my day job and my many extracurriculars). But it looks like Dr. Dan will be back for a visit, so I’m thinking maybe a party is in order…

Images sources:

  • 42 is from Wikimedia Commons with a Creative Commons license.
  • Gym video is mine, with James from my gym as videographer.
  • Clip from Hitchhiker’s Guide is from BBC Studios.
  1. I took the day off work because who wants to work on their birthday? Especially if their birthday is on a Friday! []
  2. Apparenlty when my sister and I were kids and our family went to EPCOT Centre there was an exhibit we saw that had a family that virtually celebrated someone’s birthday and there was a hologram cake. I have zero recollection of this – the only thing I remember from that exhibit is the hydroponic lettuce. []

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All the rest of the new foods that I made this year

I’m back dating this posting to yesterday because I had it mostly written but didn’t quite get around to finishing it before I had to leave for a New Year’s Eve party last night.

When I last wrote about the new foods I made this year as part of my goal to make 18 food items or beverages that I have never made before, I’d only made 5 foods. Of course, that was back in February, and I’ve made a lot of things since then. Thirteen things, so be specific.

  1. a saison beer
  2. olive tapenade
  3. beer battered fish tacos
  4. salmon cakes
  5. balsamic vinaigrette
  6. peach-bourbon jam – made this from peaches I got in the Okanagan. And it was a huge hit with those who I shared it with1
  7. mint juleps – made these for my friend Kim and her boyfriend when they came over for dinner with mint from my balcony garden
  8. pickling spice – made this so I could make spicy pickled carrots
  9. spicy pickled carrots
  10. cream of asparagus soup – made this with my sister’s Vitamix for my aunt who came over for lunch when I was at my sister’s place over Christmas
  11. Godfather – a delicious beverages that is made from whiskey & amaretto
  12. sugar pie – made this for Christmas dinner
  13. Irish soda bread – got this recipe from a friend of mine who tweeted their grandmother’s recipe. It is so simple to make and very delicious!

So there you have it – the remaining 13 new things I made this year to complete my goal of making 18 new foods and/or beverages this year. 

And I’m already looking forward to making even more new things in 2019. The list of ideas so far include: sourdough bread, plus sauce, ginger beer, pickled asparagus, and, inspired from our trip to Scotland: Scottish tablet and Cullen skink.

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Merry Atypical Christmas

Typically I spend most of my Christmas break catching up on writing the eleventy thousand blog postings that I was too busy to write during the year, along with reading books for fun and maybe watching some movies, and definitely Christmas baking. But this year has been a bit of an anomaly, mostly because I was asked to teach a couple of new courses next year, so I have spent most of my Christmas break developing course materials rather than doing all of those things. And my family did two different cookie exchanges before I got to Ontario, so my sister’s place was so well stocked with cookies that it was unnecessary to do our usual Christmas baking extravaganza.

In lieu of Christmas baking, I made some chocolate hockey sticks and pucks for friends and colleagues, and today for Christmas dinner dessert I made a sugar pie. Sugar pie is a French Canadian delicacy that I’ve always wanted to try making, so today seemed like a good time to do it.

 
 
 
 
 
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I made Sugar Pie for Christmas dinner dessert.

A post shared by Beth Snow (@drbethsnow) on

In lieu of reading for fun and blogging, I’ve read 1.5 textbooks!

But don’t feel too bad for me – Christmas was spent with my family, eating delicious Christmas dinner, and giving each other a crazy amount of presents (translation: I was spoiled as usual). 

And now I have 14 more days to get the first new course ready to go! Wish me luck!

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Merry Christmas Eve from the Future

My brother-in-common-law got a virtual reality (VR) game system for his and my sister’s family this year. So we’ve spent most of Christmas Eve doing this:

I mean seriously, if you’d told me when I was a kid that someday I’d basically be doing Jedi training in the living room, I would never have believed it! But here we are with computers in our pockets, a digital assistant that can turn up the thermostat with a simple voice command, and VR systems in our living rooms.

Merry Christmas Eve to you, whatever you may be doing tonight!

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73

Two pictures today in honour of what would have been my dad’s 73 birthday. I think both of these things would have made my father proud.

First: me in a recent hockey game. There was a conference in town not to long ago that my workplace was involved with and part of this conference is that they host a pick up game of hockey. Even though I didn’t go to the conference, as it was focused on an area of research that I don’t do research in, I still got to play in the hockey game. I’m the short one in the dark jersey of the left.

CAHR Cup 2018

And, of course, he’s a photo of me flagrantly disobeying a sign:

IMG_8349

I’m feeling sad today, thinking about my dad. Too sad to write anything profound, so the pictures will have to suffice.