Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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(More Than) Halfway There

It’s mid-March. Which means it is, mercifully, more than half way through the semester for the eighteen billion courses that I’m teaching right now. I mean, I love the classes that I’m teaching – one is statistics, another is data and research management, and a third is program planning & evaluation1 – and my students are awesome. But oh my gawd that is a lot of balls to keep in the air at the same time, along with my regular day job and various other sundry things I do.

Two of the courses run the full semester (one online and one in a weekly night class), but the other one is a half-sized course that runs over two weekends (Friday and half of Saturday one weekend and then three weekends later, half of Saturday and all day Sunday). I taught my first of those weekends on the first weekend of March and it was totally flashback to my MBA, which ran on a similar cadence and occurred in the same venue. And also the feeling of sheer exhaustion.

Right now, every day is go to work, possibly go to the gym or play hockey or teach a class (depending on the day), then spend the night marking assignments/creating assignments/develop course material and activities/making slide decks/reviewing online discussions and responding to students. Unless it’s a Saturday or Sunday, in which case I get to skip the “go to work part”. Every. Single. Day.

But I’m more than halfway there. I’ve completed week 10 of 15 weeks for my two full semester courses and half of my classes for the weekend course. I’ve only marked 6 of 14 assignments/tests, so there’s still a fair bit of work to do on that front, so I guess I’m a bit less than half done on marking and a bit more than half done on teaching.

I am really, really going to enjoy May this year.

  1. Yes, those topics are exciting to me. YMMV. []

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What Have I Been Doing for the Past Month – a bulleted list

So now that I’m done making excuses for my prolonged absence from the blogosphere, here’s a brain dump of all the things I’ve thought “I should blog about that!” in the last month:

  • I did, in fact, have that belated birthday party I talked about having. I decided that since I celebrate Bethmas Eve, Bethmas, and Bething Day, it only makes sense that if I have a party after my actual birthday, it’s Orthodox Bethmas. The party was fantastic, if I do say so myself. I’m so lucky that I have so many wonderful friends and I love it that even though lots of my friends don’t know each other, everyone enjoys chatting and making new friends with my other friends. There’s also some of my friends that only know some of my other friends from having met at my various birthday parties over the years, so they get to catch up – lol! I also discovered that two of my very close friends, each of whom I have known for well over a decade, have never actually met each other! They seem to have just not had their paths cross before – even when they’ve both been able to make it to one of my parties, for example, one of them had come early and the other hadn’t come until later, after the other one had left. 
  • Rather than doing an elaborate house drink for my birthday party, which I often do because I love mixing cocktails, I decided to go with the simple Moscow Mule. This choice may have also been influenced by the fact that I had a bottle of ginger liqueur that I bought in Portland ages ago with the intention of using it to make Moscow Mules but hadn’t. At any rate, they were very popular.
  • Dr. Dan, and his grad student, Nic, visited for a while. It was great to see them, as always (I only wished I could have spent more time hanging out!). They got to come to my birthday, which was awesome, and Dr. Dan even guest lectured in my class at the JI!
  • I completely blew my weightlifting personal record (PR) that I set on my birthday out of the water. As you may recall, on my birthday, I back squatted 77.5 kg (171 lbs). By the time that particular program ended two weeks later, I back squatted 85 kg (187 lbs)! I also set PRs for trapbar deadlift (100 kg or 220 lbs!) and what I think are PRs for bench press (42.5 kg or 94 lbs) and barbell overhead press (26 kg or 57 lbs), but I’d have to look back at all my old programs to be sure.
  • We had a full day planning meeting for the Canadian Evaluation Society BC chapter executive last weekend and I have to say, I’m really lucky to work with such a dedicated and creative group of people. We’ve got lots of exciting plans for this year!
  • Work is crazy, as always. And that’s probably enough said about that!
  • On Thursday, my friend Alicia took me to see a performance of Much Ado About Nothing by an all female cast at the Cultch. It was hilarious! I’ve never seen or read Much Ado About Nothing before, so it was fun to get to see it without knowing what was going to happen. All of the actors were brilliant and the venue is so intimate – it’s quite a different experience than seeing places up on a tradition stage in a big theatre. It’s running until Feb 16 – if you can, I highly recommend you go see it!

How much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!

Leonato, Much Ado About Nothing
  • In nine days, Scott and I head to Palm Springs for week. Given that the forecast for Vancouver for the next two weeks is highs around 0 degrees, I think that the Palm Springs forecast of highs in the teens sound pretty appealing. We are flying Swoop from Abbotsford to Vegas and then driving from there (because cheapness). It will be really nice to get a little bit of break (where by “break” I mean “doing course prep pool side rather than wrapped in blankets in my condo”)

Anyhoo, I guess this has been enough of a break for today – time to get back to my marking!

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A Very Long-Winded Explanation of Why I Haven’t Blogged in Nearly a Month

Hey, remember that time I agreed to teach all of the courses in the universe this semester, in addition to my day job, while saying “this is a terrible idea and I’m going to be so freaking exhausted for the entire four months of this!”? but then also “but they will pay me money and that mortgage doesn’t pay itself!” Well, it turns out that I was right on both of those counts. Since December (when I started working on all of this stuff in earnest), my calendar has been jam packed with course prep, teaching, and marking for three courses:

One course is an online stats course that I’ve been teaching at the Justice Institute since 2011. After having taught it eight times already, I’m pretty happy with the course and only need to make minor tweaks to the course material. The majority of my work for the course is marking assignments – so I put it into my calendar when those are due to make sure that I get through them as quickly as possible.

My second course is also at the Justice Institute – late last year, they asked me if I’d be willing to teach a class on data and research management (using Excel as a tool for managing data and doing some data analysis). This class is on campus – right in my very own town!1 – and it’s a night course – so I actually can teach it despite having a day job. I’m a huge nerd, so this is actually stuff that I really enjoy. Plus, the JI lets sessionals in on the pension plan (which no other school that I teach at does) and I’m down for some extra free money.

And then the opportunity to teach a Program Planning & Evaluation course at UBC over a couple of weekends in March arose. I’ve taught a Program Planning & Evaluation course a few times and while this one I’m teaching in March is shorter (1.5 credits instead of my usual 3 credits) and it’s a different audience (people in leadership roles rather than those earlier in their career), I have all the content I need for the course – I just need to streamline it, create assignments better aligned to the audience and the duration and structure of the course schedule, and devise some learning activities around that content2 – all of which I have underway. The course is at the downtown campus, which is so much more convenient than having to trek out to Point Grey!

Anyhoo, all this to say that this has been me since mid-December and will continue to be me until the about mid-April:

upset-534103

I’m going to also write a quick posting about all the various things that I haven’t posted about in the last month, but I’ll do that as a separate posting because I imagine most people stopped reading this boring posting several paragraphs ago.

Image source: From Pixabay, shared with a “free for commercial use” license: https://pixabay.com/en/upset-sad-confused-figurine-534103/ 

  1. So much better than trekking up Burnaby mountain to teach. []
  2. Active learning is always great, but when teaching half and full days as I will be in this course, it’s a necessity – no one wants to hear me lecture for 8 hours! []

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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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Oh Christmas Trees!

Since knew I was going to be in Ontario for Christmas, we put up the Christmas tree in mid-November to allow me time to enjoy it before I left. But since I was crazy busy up until I left, I haven’t gotten around to blogging about it until now. Though the Christmas tree on its own probably isn’t worth blogging about, as it looks pretty much the same as every other year, except with new ornaments from Hawaii and Scotland. Which I appear not to have taken a photo of before I left. #fail

But then for Scott’s work Christmas party his office went to a ceramics place and painted little ceramic Christmas trees, so now we also have this tree to adorn the condo for the holidays:

Christmas tree

And here’s the big tree:Christmas tree

As per usual, Watson enjoys chewing on the branches, and Crick likes to map on the velvet tree skirt. Happily, Watson hasn’t been interested in knocking ornaments out of the tree or trying to eat light bulbs like he has in the past.

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On the second day of donating…

knowledge should be free

Today’s charity is the Wikimedia Foundation1

To empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.

Wikimedia Foundation mission

I use Wikipedia all. the. time. It’s a wealth of information on a huge number of topics and it’s my go-to place to learn the basics on pretty much anything. And it’s clearly a go-to for many people, as it’s one of the top 10 websites in the world!  And because it’s completely ad-free, you don’t need to worry that information is being spun, censored, or altered to placate advertisers. 

But even for something like Wikipedia that runs primarily with volunteers, there are still costs that need to be covered. Like the cost of servers on which Wikipedia lives, and the cost of software to run it, and legal costs, just to name a few.

And there’s where Wikimedia comes in. It is the nonprofit that supports Wikipedia, as well as other knowledge projects. And the way to ensure that Wikimedia’s work to “give access to knowledge to everyone, for free, forever” succeeds is for those of us can to kick a few dollars their way.

  1. Wikimedia is an American non-profit, so as a Canadian, I can’t get a tax deduction for donating to them, but I think the work they do is important enough that I’m willing to forgo the tax deduction! []

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On the first day of donating…

As I’ve mentioned before, my charitable giving “strategy”, well, doesn’t really exist. I typically end up giving to charity when someone I know is doing a fundraiser, like a fun ride or the Ride to Conquer Cancer. Some years I get a lot of asks and end up donating to a variety of charities. But this year, I haven’t seen any asks like that from family and friends. I’m not sure if people have become tired of fun runs or if everyone is just asking on Facebook instead by email and I’ve missed them all. So in the interest of actually doing some giving, I decided to do my own version of the 12 Days of Christmas, featuring one charity per day that I’ll give some money to.

Today I’m starting with the one ask I’ve actually seen from people that I know – specifically, the trainers at my gym. As I have mentioned before, the people at my gym are the best people ever and here’s yet another example. They encourage gym members to donate to the Purpose Society, which is a social services agency located about a block away from the gym. And the trainers have to lift a kilogram for every dollar that is donated. So if we donate $1000, they have to lift 1000 kg! (Not all at once, of course, but enough reps with enough weight so that they’ve listed the total).

 The Lower Mainland Purpose Society for Youth and Families is “a community-based multi-service organization that delivers a continuum of programs to children, youth and families.”

http://www.purposesociety.org/

They offer a variety of services, including:

  • youth health clinics
  • outreach workers for high risk youth
  • youth groups
  • family therapy
  • early childhood programs
  • parenting groups
  • a rent bank
  • an independent secondary school

…just to name a few!

So that’s my charity for the first day of donating. Check back tomorrow for another instalment!

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30 days to go for my 2018 goals

There are a mere 30 days left in 2018, so I figured I’d check in on how I’m doing on my 2018 goals. When last we checked in, I had achieved 3 of my 2018 goals. I have now achieved two more of my goals:

And I’m nearly done:

  • read 18 books (I’m on book #18 for the year)
  • make 18 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before (I’ve made 14/18 new things this year, but I haven’t yet done my Christmas baking)
  • learn 12 new things – I’ve only blogged about 7, but I have 4 other things that I’ve learned about but haven’t yet blogged. Which means I only have to learn about one more thing (or remember one other thing that I learned but haven’t yet put on my list) – that’s totally do-able

There’s a few others that are within the realm of possibility:

  • write in my journal at least one time per week, on average – I’ve been writing in it lately, though I’d need to check exactly how many times to see how many more I’d need to do to reach 52
  • sew 5 items – I’ve only done 2, but 3 more isn’t that much if I just make the time to do it!
  • apply for a Nexus card – also something that I can do if I dedicate the time to it
  • publish 118 blog postings – so far I’ve done a meagre 47, which means I’d need to do 2-3 postings a day from now until the end of the year to hit this. So not impossible, but would require a lot of time (and would probably annoy the hell out of everyone who follows me on Twitter).
  • publish at least six long form blog postings(minimum of 3000 words) – I’ve done 2 and I expect when I finally do my big recap of my Scotland trip, that will be more than 3000 words, but I’m not sure what else I’d want to write that’s that long. So possible, but I guess we’ll see whether I get it done or not.

So that makes 8/18 that are highly likely to be completed, and I could possibly be as high as 13/18 if I do all of the possible ones. Wish me luck!

 

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Lightning Strike

Lightning 8

This is not the lightning bolt that struck my building. But I’m sure it looked something like this.

I was at a conference on Friday in Vancouver and apparently while I was there, the apocalypse happened in New West. There was torrential rain, hail, rivers of blood, plagues of locusts, and lightning struck my building. Ok, maybe the rivers were just made of rain and there weren’t any actual locusts, but lightning did, in fact, strike my building. And apparently that killed our building’s transformer1, so they had to bring in a generator, which will power the building until they can bring in a portable transformer, which will get us through until they can fix the building’s transformer, which is expected to take 10 weeks. Ten weeks! Fingers crossed that the strata’s insurance will cover all of this!

The power ended up being out for about 12 hours on Friday, so when I got home from the post-conference dinner, I met up with Scott at Waves, as he had an assignment due at midnight and Waves has free wifi, lots of access to electrical outlets, and lets you sit there pretty much forever. When they closed at 10 pm, we went over to the pub2. By about 11 pm I was too tired to stay up anymore3 and it occurred to me that I didn’t actually need electricity to go to sleep. As I was brushing my teeth by the light of a flashlight, the power came on!

Just a few weeks ago, I had bought a stand up freezer, because I was sick of both having to be selective of what frozen foods I could have at any given time since the freezer at the top of my fridge isn’t very big and of having stuff fall out of my freezer at the top of my fridge every time I opened it. So I bought this lovely appliance, and filled it up with a whole bunch of frozen meats and vegetables, homemade veggie stock, homemade waffles, fish that Scott’s dad caught on his most recent fishing excursion, etc.

Freezer Freezer

So of course I was worried that 12 hours of no power was going to have ruined all that food. But lo and behold, this thing must be super well insulated, as after the power came on I opened it up to survey the damage and everything was still frozen solid!

Yesterday afternoon, the power went off again! I had just gotten home from having been out most of the day and was going to try to fix the wifi, which wasn’t working since the first power outage, and the power to the whole building went out again! We got a letter from the strata later telling everyone that the generator they have running cannot provide enough power for everyone to do all the same things they are able to do under normal circumstances, so we need to minimize our electricity use. So don’t, for example, do laundry while cooking dinner and, if possible, cook dinner outside of the peak hours of 4-7 pm. And maybe turn off the lights when you aren’t in a room. Most of this (other than the not eating dinner between 4-7 pm) is stuff we really should be doing anyway, when you think about it, so I’m going to use this as a way of getting myself into the habit of being more energy conscious!

Image Credit: I did a search for a Creative Commons-licensed photo of a lightning bolt on Flickr and one of the first ones to pop up was the above photo, which was taken by Derek Miller. You may recall Derek from his final blog posting. It’s really an incredibly cool photo!

  1. Fun fact: I did not know that my building had a transformer! When you think about it, it makes sense, but I guess I thought the transforming happened somewhere outside, rather than in the building. []
  2. Fun fact: Kelly O’Bryan’s pub has free wifi! You just have to ask for the password! []
  3. In my defence, I’d been at a full day conference at which I gave two presentations, than ran an AGM, and then went to dinner, all after having stayed up late the night before putting the finishing touches on my presentations and making sure I had everything prepared for the AGM! []

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And then I did two!

So I decided that I needed videographic evidence to prove that I can, in fact, do an unassisted chin up, so I asked one of the trainers at the gym to take a video of me doing a chin up. And much to my own surprise, I did two!

Next goals: do five chin ups in a row and do an unassisted pull up!