Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Goals for 2018

Since I performed abysmally on my goals for the past two years, I’ve decided to shake up how I’m writing my goals this year. As I was googling to get some inspiration for goals for this year, I saw some articles with tips on how to write better goals. One of those tips was something that I know very well from my work-life – making SMART goals!

  • Specific – it should be clear exactly what you are trying to achieve (e.g., rather than say “eat healthier”, you need to specify in way, like “eat more vegetables” or “consume less sugar”)
  • Measurable – it should have an indication of how you will measure if you achieved it (e.g., eat a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables at least 4 days a week)
  • Achievable – it should be something that is within your control1 and realistic enough to achieve2 – though you don’t want to make it too easy to achieve – it should be somewhat of a challenge so you have to work to achieve it.
  • Relevant – it should be something that matters to you, otherwise you won’t be motivated to work towards it.
  • Time-bound – it should have a date associated with it so that it’s not just an open-ended “well, I haven’t achieved it yet, but maybe someday it will happen!).

All of my yearly goals are, by definition, time-bound since they are to be completed within the year and I’m usually good at making them measurable and specific, but I’ve done a double check on this year’s goals to make sure they met all the elements of SMART.

The other idea that I saw was to phrase the goals as if they were already achieved – a technique that I’m familiar with from writing vision statements and learning objectives. So I’m going to give that a try!

By December 31, 2018:

Health-related goals

  1. I have deadlifted more than my own body weight. I’m close to having done this, but never quite got to my own body weight (I thought I had, but then went home and weighed myself and discovered that I’d put on my weight than I’d realized due to building up all this muscle from strength training!)
  2. I have done a chin-up or pull-up without the help of any resistance bands. I’ve had some training programs where I’ve been doing chin ups or pulls up, but I’m not yet able to lift my own body weight, so I stand in resistance bands that are hung from the bar, which takes a bit of my weight. I started with three different resistance bands and now I’m down to one or two. I think within 12 months I can get to doing them all on my own3
  3. I meditate at least once per week.
  4. I have written in my journal at least one time per week, on average. – I think I set my journal writing goal too high in 2017 and then got discouraged when I got so far behind that it felt like I’d never catch up! One a year seems more realistic.
  5. I have brought my lunch to work at least 75% of the time.

Personal growth-related goals:

  1. I learned 12 new things and wrote a blog posting about each of them.
  2. I read 18 books – and written a review of each. I failed miserably at my book reading goal in 2016, but I’m hoping that my work team gets moved to the new location we are supposed to be moving to – which is transit accessible – soon in the new year, so that I’ll be taking the Skytrain and bus more, which will provide me with more time for reading! Also, my book club is getting a reboot4, so that will help motivate me too!

Crafty goals:

  1. I’ve sewn 5 items. I really enjoyed the sewing classes I did last year and want to do more sewing. I’d like to take the zippered pouch class and perhaps make a few more tote bags.
  2. I’ve made 18 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before – and blogged about each of them. I have ideas for some things I want to try making and I’m sure I’ll be inspired with other ideas throughout the year.

Professional goals:

  1. I’ve submitted 3 papers for publication. I have one that is almost ready to be submitted and ideas for two others and I’m really need to dedicate the time to sit down and write them!
  2. I’ve set up and implemented a performance planning and review system for my team at work. Now that I have a team (that is more than just me and one other person), I think it’s high time I set this up.

Getting organized goals:

  1. I’ve applied for a Nexus card.
  2. I’ve finished Konmaring my condo
  3. I’ve painted my condo.
  4. I’ve bought a freezer. I currently only have the small freezer on the top of my fridge and I feel so limited by it. I want to be able to make big batches of things (like lasagna or chili) and then freezer them to have for lunches. So my plan is to clean up my office enough to

Miscellaneous other goals:

  1. I’ve donated blood twice.
  2. I’ve published 118 blog postings. That’s just a little more than one every 3 days, on average, or about 10 per month.
  3. Of those blog postings, I’ve published at least six that are long form (minimum of 3000 words). I feel like I should write some more thoughtful pieces, so I’m going to give it a try.
  1. Of course, sometimes things happen that make something that was achievable no longer so – such as if you set a goal to run a marathon but then got injury. But it shouldn’t be something that is clearly outside of your control or you can’t work towards achieving it. []
  2. I mean, as much as I’d like to make $1 billion this year, it’s pretty damn unlikely to happen, so then you are just setting yourself up for failure! []
  3. Some people at the gym do chin ups or pull ups while wearing a heavy chain – or a chain with weights attached! – that’s going to be a longer-term goal for me. []
  4. Thanks to Cath for rebooting us! []

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Nerd Stats 2017

Another year goes by, another row gets added to my table of nerd stats. .

Blog postings Tweets1 Visits to my blog Average number of blog visits per day Busiest day on my blog
2008 423 2,227 32,410 93 Sept 26, 2008 (460 views)
2009 357 1,815 45,153 126 July 25, 2009 (1,181 views)
2010 344 2,302 44,689 122 Feb 9, 2010 (233 views)
2011 380 3,625 60,560 166 Oct 10, 2011 (374 views)
2012 201 875 63,844 175 Feb 13, 2012 (350 views)
2013 213 945 46,665 128 Sept 4, 2013 (721 views)
2014 91 910 33,948 93 Mar 7, 2014 (208 views)
2015 118 800 34,930 96 Nov 23, 2015 (512 views)
2016 116  812  51,549  141 Jan 29, 2016 (13,968 views)
2017 92 449 20,691 57 not sure2.
% change from 2016 -21% -45% -60% -60% N/A

So I was down across the board on my social media involvement in 2017, which is probably reflective of the fact that I feel like I didn’t really do anything in 2017. I was thinking of writing my usual “year in review” blog postings yesterday, but then I realized that I didn’t really do anything! I mean, I went to Washington, DC for the first time, which was cool, but other than that it pretty much just usual every day stuff: going to work, going to the gym (though I really, really do love the gym), playing hockey, and repeat. No epic trips, no epic accomplishments. I definitely have to step things up for 2018!

  1. Note to self: You started Tweeting in 2008, so you get these totals by simple subtraction, not by some fancy pants program or anything. I hope this helps you when you write your “Nerd Stats 2018″ posting when you think “how the hell did I figure out how many times I tweeted in a given year??” []
  2. I used to get this from a “Your 2015 year in blogging” email that Jetpack (the thing I used to track my blog stats) used to send. They stopped sending that in 2015 and the only reason I knew the most popular day in 2016 was because it was my most popular day ever, which Jetpack does provide on its dashboard. Since I didn’t surpass that day this year, it still stands as the most popular day ever and there’s no easy way to find my most popular day for 2017 []

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Apologies in advance for deluge of tweets my blog is about to unleash!

So I’m about to post a bunch of blog postings today in my typical year-end fashion. And my blog auto-tweets all my postings (since I know that most people don’t typically go to blogs anymore unless they see it mentioned elsewhere, such as in Twitter)- and all my tweets automatically show up on Facebook (since I know that not everyone that reads my blog goes on Twitter). So apologies in advance for deluge of tweets my blog is about to unleash! You have been warned!

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Mindfulness and the Gym

Dumbells at Strong Side Conditioning

So remember like eleventy billion years ago when I did that mindfulness course? I haven’t really done any mindfulness practice since then, but it’s always been in the back of my mind that I probably should1.

Well, it sort of hit me one day when I was at the gym that doing strength training is a mindful practice. Being mindful is all about being present in the moment and being aware of your sensations, thoughts, and emotions. When you are doing strength training – if you are doing it right, that is – you are paying very careful attention to your body in the moment. You are setting your stance just so – maybe it’s shoulders packed down, abs and gluts engaged, knees slightly bent, and then you are doing a very deliberate action – lifting in a certain way, focusing on feeling it in a particular muscle(s), focusing on breathing out as you do a particular movement. Sometimes as you go through your sets, you start to get a little lazy with your form – in my case, it’s often that my shoulders start to creep up and/or that I forget to breath. But then you’ll notice that you’ve slipped away and bring yourself back into the right form (or start breathing again!) and it’s much like when you are doing a meditation and notice your mind start to wander, so you come back to your focus on the present.

Dumbells at Strong Side ConditioningI’d been going to the gym for a few months when I realized how mindful this practice was. My focus was very squarely in the present moment – very aware of my body and not really thinking of anything else. I wasn’t worried about the future or dwelling on this past. I was just there, just being, just breathing, just lifting. And I wasn’t even trying to be mindful – it just happened. I remembered the times that I’ve done meditation and how extremely difficult it is some days to quite the mind and just pay attention. I still think it would be useful for me to do some other forms of meditation as well, as there is benefit to the act of being still and observing your thoughts as they arrive, but I think that becoming aware of the mindful nature of my strength training has not only been beneficial in and of itself, but also because it’s reminded me about being mindful. It’s made me more mindful of mindfulness.

There is a link between physical activity and mental health. Mindfulness practice has also been shown to be beneficial to mental health. While there are likely many mechanisms for how physical activity improves mental health, I wonder if any of the benefits of physical activity on mental health are linked to it being an easy way to become more mindful?

  1. Which is quite possibly the least mindful thing a person has ever said! It’s in the back of my mind that I should do that at some point in the future! []

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Lights At Lafarge Lake

On the weekend, Scott and I decided to check out the Christmas lights at Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam.Scott and Beth enjoying the lights at Lafarge Lake

We’d heard they go pretty all out with the lights and I have to say, they did not disappoint! We didn’t get many pictures, choosing instead to just enjoy the walk around the lake –  to do it justice you really have to go see them yourself. They have lights in the shapes of birds and squirrels and flowers and maple leafs and reindeer and all sorts of other things.

We did get a photo of these cool swans floating on the lake:Cool Swan Lights at Lafarge Lake

And naturally I had to get my photo taken with this lit up hockey net and goalie stick1:

Beth the goalie - Lights at Lafarge Lake

Anyhoo, next up will be checking out the lights at Stanley Park!

  1. And no, this does not mean I’m going to take up playing in net. Playing defence was more than enough pressure for me! []

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Books

So speaking of books, I have been absolutely pathetic at reading this year. I just looked on Good Reads to see how close to my goal of reading 17 books this year and discovered to my dismay that I have read a mere *two* books this year. TWO! I mean, I feel like I must have read more books than that, but I can’t for the life of me think of what they would be.

I blame my lack of reading in large part on the fact that partway through the year, my work team and I were moved to an office that is not easily accessible by transit and so I’ve been driving to work. Given that I do the lion share of my reading when I’m on the Skytrain or bus, this really cut into the amount of time I spent reading1. In addition, I didn’t really go on any vacations where I could do a bunch of reading and my kobo died and it took a little while before I bought a new one.

Also hampering my total is the fact that I started reading The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker, which 800+ pages long. I mean, it’s no Infinite Jest, but it’s still been taking me a looooong time to read it.

I do have a few books that I’ve read parts of, varying from almost all of the book to just a chapter, including2:

I should probably finish some of them just to get my numbers up!

Plus I have a few that I have lined up to read, including:

Fortunately, I only have one week left of work for 2017 and then I’m on holidays and I’m really hoping I can get in some pleasure reading3.

  1. On the flip side, I listened to way more podcast, as I typically listen to podcasts when I’m driving. []
  2. Full disclosure: All the things in this posting are Amazon affiliate links. That means if you click on them and then buy something, I get some cash. So you should totes do that because I like when I get cash! Seriously though, you should totally buy Introducing Epigenetics: A Graphic Guide by Dr. Cath Ennis because (a) it’s a very interesting book (from what I’ve read so far), (b) my friend Cath wrote it! But mostly because of (a)! []
  3. I also have some serious vacationing planned for 2018, so hopefully I’ll get a strong start on my 2018 book reading goal! []

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Advent Calendar

Early in November, my mom and sister sent me a present in the mail, but they said I couldn’t open it until December 1. So that present sat on a shelf until I put up my Christmas tree, at which time I put it under the said tree and it has been sitting there taunting me ever since then!

Advent calendar

But finally today was the day and I got to open it! And it turned out to be…. an Advent calendar with make-up!

Advent calendar

Advent calendar
Advent calendar

And today’s present was… eye shadow!

Advent calendar

Advent calendar

So first of all, I love the little tiny size! You actually aren’t supposed to keep makeup for very long after you open it because bacteria can get it in ruin it – but I end up keeping my make up for quite a while because packages contain so much and there’s usually so much left by the time you are supposed to through it away. With small packages, you might actually have a chance to use it all up!

Secondly, that little package has a magnet on the back, so you could actually attach all these little packages to a wall if you had a metal surface on which to attach them. I”ll havee to see what I can find – otherwise I’m going to be storing my makeup on the side of my fridge!

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NaBloPoMo Day 4 – That Time I Was Acknowledged for Contributions To A Museum Exhibit

True story:

Untitled

The exhibit in question, “Bottoms Up: The Cultures of Drink in the Royal City” is on from now until March at the New Westminster Museum and Archives from now until March 25, 2018. You should check it out!

Untitled

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NaBloPoMo Day 3 – I always remember that I have a bad memory

I read an article the other day about how if you have memory problems, but you know that you have memory problems, you probably aren’t developing dementia. Rather, your memory problems are probably due to something else, like depression or sleep deprivation. If you have memory problems but you aren’t aware that you are forgetting things – like, for example, your spouse/children/caregiver are noticing that you keep forgetting things, but you don’t see it, that’s a situation that is more likely to develop into dementia. This article was quite a relief, as I’m well aware that my memory is terrible, so I’m in the clear!

I would link to the article, but for the life of me I can’t remember where I read it…

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Halloween 2017

This year’s Halloween costume, being immortalized here on ye old blog:

Cersei Halloween costume

To put this photo in context, my gym had a costume contest: show up at the gym in your costume, take a photo, and post it on Instagram. Best photo wins a prize! Hence why I am holding a dumbbell in the photo – but in true Cersei fashion, I did not put down my wine goblet, even to workout! Props to my fellow gym goer for suggesting that I put up a weight bench to use as my throne!

Just like the year I dressed up as Daenerys, I am surprised by how many people I came across today who do not watch Game of Thrones. I mean, isn’t it the most watched show in the history of television? I thought for sure that in the intervening two years since I dressed up as Daenerys, including carrying around three dragons all day, and repeatedly got “Are you Elsa from Frozen?”, surely enough additional people would have started watching GOT that everyone would know I was Cersei. But alas, I got a fair number of blanks stares and upon asking “Do you watch Game of Thrones?” and hearing “No,” I’d reply “Well, I’m Cersei from Game of Thrones”, and they’d said, “Oh, is she good?” Ha! She’s only like the most evil character to ever have eviled!

The fact that there are so surprisingly many non-GOT fans out there did allow me to have this fantastic conversation:

Me: I’ll have a grande no room Americano.

Starbuck Barista: OK. What’s your name?

Me [with a straight face]: Cersei.

Starbuck Barista [with a confused look]: Sorry? What?

Me [continuing to have a straight face]: Cersei. C-E-R-S-E-I

She still managed to spell my name incorrectly on the cup:

Cersei Halloween costume

Cersei Halloween costume

Sadly, my gym photo is the only full length photo I managed to get of myself! I was teaching tonight and I wore my costume to class, because I’ll be damned if I’ll let a little academic responsibility get in the way of my wearing a costume on Halloween. A couple of students asked me for a photo, but I didn’t get a copy of those and totally forgot to snap one on my own phone. (I also wore my costume to work during the day, but also neglected to get a proper photo1.) Here are some photos of my failed attempt to take a decent photo when I got “home” tonight (where “home” = the hotel I’m staying in as I’m working offsite to collect some data):

Cersei Halloween costume

Cersei Halloween costume

Cersei Halloween costume

And also an OK photo of my hairstyle:

Cersei Halloween costume

When I bought my costume, I was looking at the wigs in the Halloween store to see if they had a Cersei one (which they didn’t). I didn’t clue into the fact that I already have long blonde hair until I got home. D’oh!

  1. A colleague did take a photo of me working intently on my computer in my costume, but (a) it wasn’t full length and (b) I look terrible in it. []