Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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PhDiversary

Can you believe that it was a decade ago that my PhD was bestowed upon me? A *decade*!!

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I just cannot believe it has been 3,653 days since I walked across the convocation stage in my fancy shoes, my garish pink robe, and my puffy hat and officially became Dr. Beth. A lot has happened in those 10 years. I went from being an unemployed couch surfer with $72K of student debt to a job having, home-owning, cat-owning, student debt-free published author and absent-minded professor(ish) who added five more letters after my name beyond the PhD.

Also, would you believe that in all that time I’ve only once been called “not a real doctor”1 and that was actually just last week? True story.

  1. Not counting times someone said it in jest. []

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A Wild Pidgey Appears

When my dad was young, he and his brothers would go hunting with my grandpa. My dad’s older brother, Bob, used to say that if he died, he would be reincarnated as a duck and then one day when his brothers were out hunting, they would take aim at a duck, but would miss and the duck would laugh at them. My Uncle Bob died in a boating accident when he was 21. And then one day my dad and his brothers were out hunting and they took aim at a duck and were sure they had the duck in their sights, but when they fired, they missed and the duck quacked and quacked in the duck-like way that sounds like a laugh. Personally, I don’t believe in any sort of afterlife or reincarnation, but I always loved that story.

My dad used to raise pigeons for racing and every time I see a pigeon – which is quite often where I live – I think of my dad. In Pokémon Go, the most common Pokémon seems to be Pidgey, the pigeon-like Pokémon. Sometimes when you throw a PokéBall at a Pidgey (which is how you catch a Pokémon) you miss and I would swear that the Pidgey is laughing at me.

Pokemon GO

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One of my favourite Dad stories

When my dad was young, he was in the Sea Cadets1. And when you got in trouble in Sea Cadets – which for my Dad was, apparently, quite frequently – they made you do chores. Now, my dad hated to do the dishes2, so when he was assigned to dish duty, he made a big show of playing with the bubbles and pretending to have lots of fun. “That’s it, Snow! You aren’t getting dish duty anymore!” Unlike dishes, he loved to peel potatoes. So when he got in trouble and was assigned to potato peeling duty, he made a big show of “Aww, man! Not peeling potatoes!!!”, and so henceforth whenever he got in trouble, it was off to peel potatoes that he went. Given that, as previously mentioned, he got in trouble a fair bit, when he got some time off3, he went into town and bought a potato peeler, because they only gave you a knife with which to peel the potatoes. A potato peeler is, of course, much easier on the hands and you lose less of the potato, so you have to peel fewer potatoes – and it takes much less time – when you use a peeler than when you use a knife. So when he was on potato peeling duty, he would take the bag of potatoes up on the ship’s deck, quickly peel all he needed to peel with the potato peeler that he had hidden in his pocket, but he’d put a bunch of the peeled ones in the bag with a few unpeeled one on top to make it look like he was only partway done. And then he would sit and relax in the sun and when his superior came by to check on him, he’d have a knife in his hand and would appear to be peeling the potatoes in the amount of time it should take if one were peeling potatoes with a knife.

Three years ago today, we lost my Dad. Today, I’m thinking of him telling that potato peeling story – which I heard many times during my life – and I’m smiling at his cleverness and how he liked to know that he was sticking it to The Man. I miss you, Daddy, and I think of you every single day, especially when I back into a parking spot4, put on my hockey gear5, or peel a potato.

  1. Or were they called Navy Cadets? []
  2. Clearly, I have inherited my loathing of doing dishes from my paternal DNA. []
  3. I think they called it “shore leave”, but I could be mistaken. []
  4. Which I *always* do. []
  5. And tie my skates really, really tight. []

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Jumpstart

I’ve been watching a lot of the World Juniors Hockey Championship Tournament this year, since for the first time in eleventy billion years I have cable TV1. The games go by pretty fast compared to NHL games, as there are a lot fewer TV timeouts, but when there are commercials, they’ve played a lot of commercials from the Canadian Tire Jumpstart charity ((As per usual, I have no affiliation with this organization – I just think what they are doing is awesome and wanted to share it here on ye old blog)) , which have been totally tugging at my heartstrings. I can’t find any of the current ads online, but here’s one from 2007 that will give you a sense of what they are like:

Obviously, I’m a big fan of sports and I was lucky enough that my family was able to afford to put me into sports when I was a kid – softball, skiing, and swimming were my main ones, but I also played some extracurricular sports at school: volleyball, track & field, and cross country skiing2. And I got a lot of benefit from this – keeping fit (and setting me up for a lifetime of physical activity), mastering skills, and learning about teamwork, for example. So these commercials about how many families can’t afford to put their kids in sports make me sad! I can’t even imagine what it must be like for a kid to want to take swimming lessons or play baseball or join a hockey team and not to be able to because their family can’t afford it. As I said on Twitter, well played Jumpstart! Those commercials definitely convinced me that some of my 2014 charitable donations should go to this organization. And I also wanted to spread the word about them here, in case others are looking for a good organization to donate to.

Also, watching World Juniors makes me think of my dad, as he loved watching that tournament. And my dad was not a big fan of charity as a whole, because he was concerned about how much of the money went to administrators as opposed to the cause you thought you were donating to3. So I was pleasantly surprised when I checked out the Canadian Tire Jumpstart website that 100% of donations go directly to families in need to pay for their kids’ registration fees, equipment, and transportation to their sport, as the Canadian Tire Corporation itself funds the administrative costs of running of the program. So I feel like supporting this charity is a nice way of honouring my dad.

  1. But only because Shaw offered me 6 months of free cable. I’m sure they assume they’ll get me hooked on cable so that I’ll want to keep it after the 6 months are up, but I think they are underestimating my cheapness. []
  2. Ones I was never any good at included badminton (I just could *not* get the serve right), jumping rope (for some strange reason), and, unsurprisingly, basketball. []
  3. My dad was more of a direct action kind of guy – he’d prefer to give his gloves to a person out on the street in the cold who didn’t have any rather than giving money to a charity where he didn’t know what the money would be used for. []

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The Best Thing I Got

The best thing I got on my trip wasn’t even a Christmas present. It was something that my sister gave me when I first got here – my dad’s old French fry cutter.

My Dad's French Fry Cutter

My brother-in-common-law is renovating my mom’s basement and while they were clearing out the old stuff, my sister asked him to save this for me. Apparently, when they got it, it was so rusty that they didn’t think they could save it, but after a lot of hard work scrubbing off the rust, it was, in fact, salvageable. I’d actually been thinking about it just before I came here and I had been assuming that it would have been rusted beyond recognition and would have have been unceremoniously thrown out.

When she gave it to me, honestly, I nearly cried. Not just because I really wanted this French fry cutter, but because it showed that my sister knows me so well that she knew how much it meant to me.

This French fry cutter, which we think my dad got from a restaurant when it closed down, holds a lot of great memories of childhood for me. As you may or may not know, I love French fries. As you also may or may not know, my Dad made the best French fries in the entire world. He had this French fry cutter attached to his work bench in the basement – he’d skin and clean a potato, put it into the cutter, and bring down the handle, and it would slice the potato into the perfect size French fries.

Day 171

I have many a fond memory of the French fries my Dad would make1. At one point, he learned that the guy who ran the local chip wagon used peanut oil in his deep frier, so my dad got peanut oil and omg, those fries were delicious. Sometimes we’d have fries with grilled cheese sandwiches, where the grilled cheese sandwiches were made in the waffle iron. Sometimes we’d have French fry sandwiches, because there is nothing fries need more than to be stuffed between two slices of Wonder bread with Imperial margarine on them. And sometimes we’d just have a basket of fries, with vinegar and salt on them. But no matter how we ate them, I’d always be in heaven.

Thanks, Nancy and Jeff, for this most thoughtful and touching gift.

  1. I also have one scary memory – the time that my dad splashed burning hot oil out of the deep frier into his EYE! He has to wear an eye patch for a while after that while his eye healed. []

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Another Favourite Christmas Tradition

As previously mentioned, my favourite Christmas tradition is Baking Day. But another tradition we had when we were little was getting a new nightgown or PJs for Christmas Eve. I was reminded of this today as my sister and brother-in-common-law braved the icy streets and the even more treacherous mall-two-days-before-Christmas to acquire new PJs for my niece and nephew.

Thinking about this tradition reminded me of one year that, for some reason that no one seems to remember, we didn’t have any new PJs on Christmas Eve. My sister and I were very upset when we discovered this, but my Dad came up with a solution. At the time, he worked from Mack Truck and played on their hockey team. And he just happened to have the team jerseys at our house at the time, so my sister and I wore hockey jerseys to bed that Christmas Eve! We both have very fond memories of that year’s PJs!

And on a bit of a tangent, here’s a picture of me on Christmas morning when I was about five years old wearing my new Christmas housecoat!

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Modern Conveniences

Skype logoHow did students ever get by without the modern conveniences of online journals and Skype and Google Docs? Case in point: I just got off a Skype chat with a group for one of my courses – we are preparing for our class on Thursday
and while on the call, we were brainstorming and then looking up resources to check out some of our ideas – we sent links via the chat function of Skype and emailed articles from online journals in mere moments as we talked.

Google Drive logo

Tomorrow I have a group meeting with another group for another one of my courses – which we’ll be doing by WebEx, so that we can share our computer screens with one another as we talk and we’ll be participating from various places across the Lower Mainland, plus Calgary and Kelowna1. In preparation for that call, we’ve been brainstorming by adding our ideas to a shared Google Doc.

When I was a post-secondary student the first time – i.e., in my undergrad2, Masters3, & PhD years4 – we didn’t have any of this stuff. Want to share a document? You had to print it out on a piece of paper and hand it to the other person! Or, if you wanted to be fancy, you’d save it on a floppy disk!

remember when your whole life fit on a 1.4 megabyte floppy disk?

Group meeting? You had to do that in person! We actually went to the library to work together. But that was OK because you had to go there to photocopy that article you wanted from a giant bound volume of journal issues from the stacks.

We did have email – I got my first email address very early in my first year of undergrad – but the only other people I knew with email addresses were other university students and we all had to go to the computer lab to check email, since we didn’t have Internet access in our rooms. You were likely to see the person to whom you had sent an email in class, in the caf, or in residence before they actually got to the computer lab to see the email. And then when you did get an email, you’d print it out on a dot matrix printer, because it felt like you should probably have a record of that.

Hell, my profs didn’t even start to use PowerPoint until I was in my third or fourth year, and even then it was only the most innovative of profs and they had to have a back up set of slides on acetate because there was a 50/50 chance that the computer and projector wouldn’t actually be able to connect properly.

Now5, my profs post their PowerPoint slides lecture notes in our class Connect site, or in SugarSync or some other such marvel of modern convenience, I meet my classmates virtually, and I have access to virtually any article, website, or other resources in a millisecond. I collaborate on group papers in Google Docs in real time, I submit those papers via email, and my profs mark them using an annotation app on their iPads. And then I blog about it to a world wide audience! When you stand back to think about it, it’s pretty amazing how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time.

Floppy Disk Image Credit: Posted by ehpien on Flickr.

  1. Unless our Kelowna-based group member is working in the field, in which case she’ll join in from wherever the heck she ends up tomorrow evening. []
  2. 1995-1999 – a.k.a., grades 13-16 []
  3. 1999-2000 – a.k.a., grade 17 []
  4. 2000-2006 – a.k.a., grade 18-23 []
  5. I.e., in grade 25. []

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2012 Year-in-Review

Just under a year ago, I wrote my 2011 year-in-review posting about what a great year I had. Little did I know that just 17 days later we would get the news that my dad had a brain tumour and that less than a month after that, he would be gone. Losing my dad has overshadowed everything for me this year – I think about him every single day. As if to highlight death in my life, the universe decided that this year my family should also lose two frogs1, a cat2, and a bunny3. It feels kind of strange to write a blog posting reviewing the year when everything else seems so minor by comparison, but then, life does go on no matter how sad one is.

January marked my return to school, which has taken up a great deal of my time this year. February, my dad died. In March, I moved, I went to Ottawa for a business trip (and added a side trip to visit my family while I was in Ontario), and I got my braces off. In April, my mom, my sister, and my nephew came to visit me. A quick scroll through my blog postings for May revealed that there wasn’t a heck of a lot going on – I’m going to have to guess that means I was super busy at school. June was a month from hell, school-wise, with an insane amount of exams and assignments. July, not unlike, May, was rather unremarkable, but in August I ran from zombies, visited some wineries, and acquired some frogs. September was unremarkable, other than the fact that every single blog posting title that month ended in the word “it“. October marked the completion of my 7th half marathon, and also involved a trip to Montreal and Toronto, and saw me risk my life in the form of the CN Tower Edgewalk. The most important event of November was the completion of the core part of the MBA program, while the highlight of December has to be the fact that I published a freaking textbook!

Other highlights of the year:

Writing this blog posting has reminded me – not that this is much of a surprise – that school has really dominated my life of late, but I haven’t actually written much about it, save for a few blog postings about how much bloody time I spent on school. Being so busy with school hasn’t left me much time to reflect on it and when I did get time, the last thing I’ve felt like doing is thinking about school! But I think I feel a blog posting forming in my mind about my reflections on a year of school. Maybe even before the end of 2012!

Image Credit: Posted on this site with a Creative Commons license.

  1. My frog, Rocky, and my niece’s frog, Bob. []
  2. My sister’s family’s cat, Pakita. []
  3. My mom’s bunny, BB. []

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LG4CF – One Year Later

I'm a PlayerOne year ago today, I started playing a hockey game that didn’t stop for 10 days, 3 hours, and 5 minutes. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since then, but also, as I’m finding always seems to happen with really pivotal events, it also seems a lifetime ago. Even when I was driving home right after the game, I remember thinking, “Did I just dream that?” It seemed so surreal to have played in something so huge, to have pushed myself beyond all reasonable physical limits1, to have had the honour to have raised so much awareness for so worthy a cause as Cystic Fibrosis, not to mention being part of the raising of $171,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

As I reflect back, the things that stand out are not the pain & self-deprivation-induced delirium & weird physiological abnormalities 2 ,3, but the gratitude I feel for all the people who supported me in so many different ways and the pride I feel in having been able to help, even in just a small way, to trying to improve the quality of life of those living with Cystic Fibrosis through raising much needed money for research. I was just reading back over my blog postings from the game 4 and it reminded me of the families who came  to the rink with their kids who have CF to thank us for what we were doing and it was so humbling to hear their stories and their gratitude. It reminded us that the suffering we were endearing in those 10 days pales in comparison to a lifetime with Cystic Fibrosis. I didn’t have any ties to CF before the game, but that experience has made Cystic Fibrosis Canada one of my top charities to support, for life.

The other thing that always comes to mind when I think abou the game is my dad. My dad loved watching the live stream of that hockey game – he had it on running on his computer 24/7 and he had my schedule posted right next to it so he could watch all of my shifts. I’m am so grateful that my dad was around during that time because that was the only time he ever got to see me playing hockey and I know it made him very happy. He was proud of me and he loved the game and that is a part of what I’ll treasure about the experience.

We are going to have a reunion of all the players in September and I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone again!

  1. And lived to tell the tale! []
  2. Which, thankfully, faded over time. []
  3. Though I have heard that some of the other women are still suffering from injuries sustained during the game, so I really am lucky. []
  4. And I’m so glad I have my blog – there were things I’d written there that I forgot about – made me smile. []

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Rolling Up The Rim To Actually Win

Despite my coffee snobbery, I’ve started drinking Tim Horton’s coffees of late. It started when I was in the hospital for my Dad’s surgery. The coffee shop in the hospital1 was a Timmy’s. And my Dad *loved* his Timmy’s, so drinking it makes me think of him. I had one at the airport on the way home from Ontario. And when Devon texted this past weekend when he was on the way over to my place informing me that it is Roll Up The Rim to Win season and offering to pick up coffee, I said “Yes, please!” And when I rolled up the rim on that coffee, I actually won!

Roll up the rim to win

Of course, now that I am 1 for 1 on RUTRTW this season, I’m wondering if I should quit while I’m ahead…

  1. As an aside: the hospital also had a Colonel Sanders Wing. Like as in the Kentucky Fried Chicken guy. Apparently he lived in Mississauga at some point and gave a bunch of cash to the hospital and they named a wing after him. It was called something like “The Colonel Sanders Family Care Wing” or some such. I thought it should have been the Cardiac Care Wing, personally, but perhaps that is a bit too obvious. []