Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

By

Random, Rambling Thoughts

I know I say this every year – even years without pandemics – but how the hell is the year half over? The year seems to be flying by, especially given that March was three years long.


I recently finished teaching a summer intersession course at SFU. “Intersession” is Latin from “cram a 12 week course into 6 weeks”. At least, I think that’s the translation. This course was already planned to be an online course even before The Virus, so I was quite lucky that I’d already created a bunch of online materials (including videos that I filmed using a lightboard which was my favourite thing ever) between Nov and Feb, back when one could do things like go onto campus and be in the same room as a camera person.

I’m not a huge fan of teaching a 12 week course in 6 weeks at the best of times – I feel like it’s really hard for students to absorb the material and have time to apply what they are learning in such a short period of time – and doing it in the middle of a pandemic, like everything one tries to do in the middle of a pandemic, is that much harder. Usually I pair up teams of students with non-profit organizations and they develop an evaluation plan for that non-profit (as it’s such a good experience for students to work with real clients and the non-profit parnters tell me it provides them with useful learning and ideas too). But this year I felt like NPOs had enough on their plates without having to work with a bunch of students on a super tight timeline while everything they usually do is up in the air. So we just made do with working on evaluation plans for programs that students either already were familiar with or that they could find enough information online to work with. Then George Floyd was murdered and there was a global uprising in response, which was a lot for students to process, especially Black, indigenous, and students of colour, on top of everything else. And this was, for many students, on top of working, doing practicum placements, taking care of family, etc.

On my part, I was dealing with trying to figure out how to connect with students in this new remote way, marking stuff for a larger-than-I-expected-class as quickly as I could (which still didn’t feel fast enough), while living in this pandemic world, while also trying to learn more about white privilege and how to be an anti-racist (both personally and within my profession), so that I can contribute to equity and racial justice instead of just benefitting from our white supremacist society and being ignorant of my own complicity1. So I guess maybe that’s why the past six weeks have been a bit of whirlwind for me.


Now that that course is done, and all the side projects I’ve been working on for the past year are also done, and I don’t have any courses to teach until September, I’m in that weird (to me) place where I just have to work my regular workday from Monday to Friday and then I can do whatever I feel like with my evenings and weekends2. It’s such an unusual place for me, and it makes me feel a little bit uneasy, to be honest. But I do have a very long list of books I’ve been wanting to read, and I’m kind of excited to do that.

I also figure I need to take some vacation time at some point. Can’t really go anywhere (thanks COVID), but it would be good to get a bit of a mental break. And maybe do some of the things I’ve been meaning to do around the condo – like get some new (cat-proof) blinds and paint the insides of the closets and purge my filing cabinets of all the many papers that I no longer need. And write all the blog postings that I’ve been meaning to write. I also want to make more jams and pickles this year. Maybe go for some local hikes. Feeling very lucky that I live in a place that is spectacularly beautiful in the summer and where the pandemic is reasonably well under control, so I can do these things.

  1. This is very much an ongoing work-in-progress for me. []
  2. Hence why I’m here writing out a long, rambling blog posting. []

By

Champagne Gymiversary

Beth at the Gym

Three years ago today I became a weightlifter.

I wasn’t particular good at it at the start- the 20 kg barbell was heavy and awkward for me to lift and my abs were never engaged when they should be and my gluts were lazy. I had to learn all the basic movements. I had to learn how to breathe properly.  To breath! Like, the thing I’ve been doing all day, every day since I was born. But, seriously, there are better ways to breathe and less good ways to breathe. Oh, and often when I would lift a weight I’d forget to breath altogether!

But despite it being the basics, I really enjoyed it. I was learning a lot about how my body works – and how I can make it work better. I saw progress from my efforts and not just in the gym, but in life too. From mundane things (it’s easier to carry groceries) to fun things (my hockey game is better (faster skating, harder shot, better able to fight for the puck with players from the other team (who are always bigger than me)).

I remember when I first signed up at this gym (Strong Side), I signed up for 6 months because it was a cheaper monthly price than if I signed up for 3 months (and I am nothing if not a cheap, cheap woman). And I remember thinking “I wonder if I’ll really make it 6 whole months”. And here it is, 3 whole years later, and I’m still loving it.

I started a new program this week and yesterday I got to try my first Olympic style lift : a push jerk. It’s super awkward because there’s so much that you have to do simultaneously, but it’s a super fun challenge. You basically start with the barbell in front of you, holding it on your collarbones, then you do a little dip down and then as you come up, you lift the bar straight up as you squat down low – essentially, you are trying to duck under the bar. It’s hard to describe, but it looks pretty bad ass when you do it right. I’ll take a video of me doing it once I’ve got the pattern down properly.

By

2020 Still Sucks and I Still Hate It

In the continuing saga of 2020 sucks and I hate it:

  • I started off my trip to NYC by losing my belt at security. I took my belt off and put it in the bin with all my other stuff. And when the bin came out the other side, there was no belt. I’m guessing that it must have fallen out of the bin at some point in the process, but I didn’t want to cause a fuss at security, plus it was an old belt and I wasn’t overly attached to it, so I just went without a belt (and had to continually keep pulling up my pants).
  • I got sick on the Thursday night of the NYC trip – I’m talking fever and chills. Like the kind of chills were you have to sit in a hot bath – with a touque on – to not feel like your bones are made of ice. And then you go to bed in multiple layers – t-shirt, hoodie, long pants, socks, and again the touque – and you still feel cold. So I lost Thursday night and the whole day of Friday of my trip where I had to just sleep until my fever subsided.
  • I’ve had a wicked sore throat ever since then (so that’s been 11 days and counting). Like, swollen lymph nodes and it hurts to swallow. Like, it feels like my throat is some combination of on fire but also covered in ulcers that someone also took sandpaper to. And just when it starts to feels a little bit better, the pain comes back with a vengeance. It was so bad that I even went to my doctor because I was worried it was strep throat, but my doctor tested me and the culture came back negative. So basically it’s just something viral and all you can do is treat the symptoms and wait. Basically, the exact same advice as I was given about Crick.
  • And Crick still isn’t fully better from whatever she’s been sick with. Her coughing/sneezing isn’t as frequent or prolonged as it was, but she still sneezes or coughs at least once a day and for the past few days she’s had a runny nose. I wish there was something I could do to make her feel better.
  • More than half my team at work has also been hit by whatever plague has befallen me, which is just adding injury to insult given the super crappy stuff that’s gone on work-wise.
  • Also, I lost my wallet.

So this year sucks and I hate it.

But. I am nothing if not a glass half full person. So on the bright side:

  • Other than getting sick, NYC was fun. We did and saw lots of super fun stuff. If I ever catch up on all my side jobs that I’m hopelessly behind on enough that I can spend some time uploading my photos and writing, I may even do a blog posting about it.
  • When I got a fever in NYC, I was worried that (a) I’d not be able to fly back into Canada due to the COVID-19 epidemic (even though I’d had no exposure to any of the cases of COV-19 in BC and New York had not yet had their first case at that time) and/or (b) I’d get sicker and need to use the American healthcare system, because even though I have travel medical insurance, I’m never confident that it will cover everything. Fortunately, neither of these things happened.
  • None of the credit cards in my lost wallet got used and none of the most important things that could have been in my wallet (driver’s license/health card, main credit card, debit card, Compass Card, passport, Nexus card) were in my wallet. These were all in my cell phone case, except my passport and Nexus card, which were in my backpack. So I canceled the credit cards that were in there and I’m just out a little bit of Canadian cash that was in there, plus a few minor cards that are no big deal. So it could have been much worse.

OK, can 2020 start being nice to me now?

By

2020 Sucks And I Hate It

So far, 2020 has not been the year I expected it to be. I went into it with high hopes – it’s a repdigit year after all! When have numbers ever let me down??

But I got food poisoning. The day before my birthday. Like the kind that hits you suddenly and then you barf on the bus. And then you still have to get on the Skytrain to complete the rest of your journey home, with a little bit of barf on you. And then you have to cancel the massage appointment that you were so looking forward to so that you can lie in bed feeling hella nauseated until you barf more. I managed to get through my birthday party the next day – I felt a lot better after all the barfing on Bethmas Eve – but then after that I continued to have an upset stomach. For weeks. And that’s put me behind on a bunch of side projects I’m working on, because I’ve needed to rest to try to get better. And I hate being behind on things.

Also, Crick has been having sneezing fits for a few weeks. I thought it was just a cold and that it would pass, but it’s still happening, so I took her to the vet on Friday to figure out if it’s something worse than that and/or if there is something we can do about it. But the vet said “It’s probably just an upper respiratory tract infection. There isn’t anything to do but let it run its course. Sometimes that can take weeks. Now give me $90 please!” Ok, she didn’t say it exactly like that, but that was the gist of it.

Then there’s big time crappy stuff going on at work. Stuff I’m not going to get into the details of here, but it’s crappy for a lot of really great people. That stuff is still new and raw and it’s unpleasant and making me sad.

So this year sucks and I hate it.

But. It can turn around, right? (Please tell me it can turn around). I’m trying to remind myself of the good things. Like Crick’s sneezing fits that had me worried are not a big deal and she will be fine. And people at work have been reaching out to me with kindness and offers to help and offers of commiseration, and it reminds me that I have many good people around me. And a friend of mine got a kitten and I got play with it.

Also, I have vacation carry over time from last year that I have to use up, so I have two weeks of vacation starting on Monday. The first week will be used to catch up on the side projects that I’m behind on. The second week, Scott and I are going to NYC. On my previous (and only so far) trip to NYC I had a blast, but it was short and I didn’t get to see and do so many of the things that I wanted to see and do. So I’m excited to go see and do some of those things. Recommendations accepted1!

And wish me luck that the year will get better overall!

  1. So far, at the top of my list are the 9/11 memorial, the Empire State Building, The Top of the Rock, MOMA, the Met, Natural History Museum, and finding a few shows to watch. And food. All the food. []

By

More Than You Probably Care To Hear About My Laptop

Crick standing on my laptop

Once upon a time, I bought a Macbook Pro. Where by “a time” I mean “6 years ago”. I named that computer Daenerys and, much like her namesake, eventually that laptop became somewhat unhinged. Where by “unhinged” I actually mean her hard drive was inexplicably full all the time, though I couldn’t quite figure out with what, so she was running super slow and constantly telling me she couldn’t do stuff because there was no room left on the hard drive. I was on the brink of buying a new one, but my sister and brother-in-common-law said “Why don’t you wipe it and do a factory reset?” And then Kalev got me a 4TB external drive for my birthday (to replace my previous external drive that died of old age), so I backed up my overly full harddrive to that, then saved all the things that I wanted to make doubly sure I didn’t lose (like my Photos library and all my documents), made sure I had the necessary codes to reinstall any of the software I wanted to be able to keep using and then I took a really deep breath and wiped my hard drive clean.

I’ve now reinstalled a fresh version of the operating system, put my Photos library back into Photos, and started downloading the software that I want to use.

Kitties

Prior to this reset, I was using Microsoft Office for Mac 2011. As it turns out, Microsoft doesn’t support software from nearly a decade ago. Who knew? So I decided to try out LibreOffice, which is a free open source product that has equivalents to all of your Microsoft favourites (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). I figure I can try it out for a bit for free, and if it doesn’t meet my needs, I can always pay for MS Office later 1. I believe Microsoft is trying to make everyone use Office 365, which requires you to pay a subscription rather than just buy the product, and I hate software as a subscription (I know I’m probably fighting a losing battle on that front). So wish me luck!

  1. In a pinch, I can always borrow Scott’s computer, as he has Office 365. []

By

The End of A Decade

Hariyama 2019

So 2019 is now in the books and today we start the 2020s! That makes me feel old, in that I remember being a kid, when the year 2000 was “the future” and we all wondered what the world would be like in the future. And 2020 now 20 freaking years in the past! So 2020 should be super futuristic and in many ways it is. We carry around powerful computers in our pockets and can use them to talk to our friends around the world instantly. Also, the Earth is on fire and we are facing a mass extinction event and that’s totally the kind of “the future” that we read about in futuristic dystopian literature.

On a personal level, I guess a lot has happened for me over the last decade. Some highlights – and lowlights – of the decade:

2010

2011

2012

2013

  • went to Ireland
  • pretty much spent all of my time working on my MBA

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

The twentyteens for me saw four different homes in three different cities, five different boyfriends, two different day jobs, and teaching gigs of five different courses (all taught two or more times) at three different post-secondary institutions.

Here’s hoping the twenties holds lots of fun adventure and personal growth!

Untitled

By

I submitted the last of my grades on Friday…

…and just like that, another semester is over.

I mean, I still have all the online courses that I’m developing to work on, but I get a reprieve from prepping lectures, schlepping out to campus to teach once a week (plus schlepping out to a difference campus on two weekends at another university), marking assignments, creating exams and then marking them too. At least for a few weeks until next semester starts!

Next semester shouldn’t be so bad (famous last words, right?) because I’m teaching a course that I just taught this semester so everything is fresh and doesn’t really need to be changed very much and the online stats course that I’ve taught for eleventy billion years (so it pretty much teaches itself). And one of the online courses that I’m developing will be pretty much done.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I have a glorious month of (relative) freedom! Huzzah!

By

Halloween 2019

I was having trouble deciding what to be for Halloween this year and then my office announced that they’d picked a theme for the annual costume contest: horror movies. I figured that would help me as it would narrow down my options. But as I thought about it, most of the iconic horror movie characters are male: Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Pinhead, Chucky, Dracula, Frankenstein, Jack Nicholson in the Shining. The first two female characters that popped to mind were sidekicks to males: Bride of Chucky and Bride of Frankenstein, and I wanted to be something that was more her own character. I did consider Carrie and one of the twin girls from The Shining, but felt the latter was really a costume that required a partner. I started Googling for ideas and saw a movie that came out quite a while ago that I really liked: Corpse Bride. Yes, I realize that she’s also a bride, but at least she wasn’t labeled as the bride of someone – she just happened to have been murdered on her wedding day.

So I set off to the thrift shops to find either a pink prom dress to be Carrie or a wedding-like dress to be Corpse Bride. After going to FOUR different Value Villages, I finally found what I was after. Well, I did find some actual wedding dresses at the first few Value Villages I went to, but they were a bit more expensive than I wanted to spent on a Halloween costume. And also I was creeped out at the thought of buying someone’s actual wedding dress at a Value Village1. As an aside, if anyone is looking for a super cheap wedding dress, you can find them at Value Village in the range of $50-$200, which is pretty cheap for a wedding dress!

I ended up settling on two dresses in fact – there was one dress that had a good top but was too short to be convincing as a wedding dress and another that was long enough (but not too bulky), but the top of it was too small for me – I couldn’t zip it up due to the size of my back and shoulders from my weightlifting. So I just zipped that dress up to the waist and put the other dress on top. As a bonus, the short dress is totally wearable as a summer dress for me – and together they cost me less than $20.

The hard part of the costume was the makeup. I decided to go full on with body paint and do the blue skin and huge cartoon character eyes and paint a skeleton arm because the Corpse Bride has a skeleton arm. She also has a skeleton leg but I didn’t bother to paint that because my long dress would cover it and also just doing the face and arms took long enough.

My sister told me about the unknown-to-me world of makeup tutorials on YouTube (my niece is a teenager, so my sister knows about such things) and I found this video that I followed to do my makeup. And then I found this other video that I used to paint my skeleton arm.

I had to get up at 5:30 am to put on all this makeup – you have to do a few coats and you have to let stuff dry before you can paint other stuff. And there was a whole production about getting my dress on with the minimal amount of damage to my paint. In the end, I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

Corpse Bride at the office
Here I am at my desk at work
Corpse Bride at the office
The skeleton arm was my favourite part.

The worst part was that the makeup crumbled throughout the day, so I had to do some touch ups and I left a trail of makeup crumbs wherever I went. I’m sure the cleaning people weren’t too pleased that evening.

In addition to wearing this to work, I also wore it to the gym, as my gym does a costume contest too. Here I am doing a chinup:

Corpse Bride chinups
Corpse Bride chinups

All in all, I was pretty happy with the costume and I got lots of compliments on both the look and the dedication that it took to wear body paint all day. But I’m pretty sure that I won’t be doing another costume involving body paint for a very long time! I’m trying to convince my team at work that we should do a team costume next year. They seemed pretty enthused by the idea when they saw the costume that one of the other teams at work put together: they dressed up at Costco! The same team the previous year dressed up as the Price is Right. So we are going to come up with some kick ass idea of a team costume for Halloween 2020. If anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears!