Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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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!

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I Did A Chin Up!

The other day, my gym posted on Facebook that one of the trainers, Cindy Lou, had achieved her goal of doing an unassisted chin up. As you may recall, doing an unassisted chin up or pull up1 is also one of my goals and I’ve been working a lot on building up the muscles one needs to do an unassisted chin up2. So the next time I was at the gym, I told Cindy Lou that she was my hero as I was working towards that goal too. And she said, “Give it a try. You’ve been working hard, you might be able to do it now. The trick is not to think. Don’t hang. Just grab on and pull up right away.”

And so I decided to give it a try after the first set of my workout (so that my muscles would have a chance to be activated). I went over to one of the cages, climbed up on a box to reach the bar… and then I thought about it for too long and could barely lift myself two inches. Cindy Lou and I started chatting about it – basically me saying, “I was thinking too much!” and then right in the middle of chatting, I just reached up, grabbed on to the bar, and pulled myself up! The last little bit was a struggle, but I did it! I did a full on chin up, all with my own strength! No assistance3 whatsoever! I have to say, I was pretty chuffed! And there may have been a few high fives in celebration.

The trainer who writes my program, Dee, sent me a congratulatory email when she heard about it the next day. Because that’s the kind of trainers we have at my gym – they are genuinely excited and so proud of you when they’ve seen you work hard and finally achieve that goal you’ve been striving for for so long! She suggested that I now add in a chin up every day that I go to the gym. And when I get used to that, add one before every super set4. And then make it two. And it grows from there!

The next day when I went into the gym, I got lots of high fives from the trainers – like I said, the trainers at my gym are genuinely excited for us when we make progress. And I did another chin up and it felt so much easier than the day before. My first one was a bit shaky, especially at the top, but this one was smooth and I felt so strong! Now I feel like it’s not just that “I did an unassisted chin up”, but “I’m a person who does unassisted chin ups!”

Footnotes:

  1. Chin ups are where you grip the bar with your palms facing you (or you can do a neutral grip with your palms facing together, which requires a chin up bar that has grips facing this way), and a pull up is done with your palms facing away from you. The pull up is harder than the chin up. For the record, the one I did was a neutral grip chin up. []
  2. Chin ups are especially challenging for women, who tend to have less upper body strength compared to men. They have also been increasingly challenging for me as I’ve put on a fair amount of muscle since I started lifting, which means that I have to lift more weight! []
  3. In my training towards getting to this point, I have been doing, among other things, chin ups and pull ups where you tie a resistance band to the bar and you stand in it while you do your chin up or pull up – it takes away a bit of your weight so that you can practice the movement but without having to lift your entire body weight. When I started training, I used several bands and as my training progressed, I used fewer bands, and lighter bands, so that I was lifting more and more of my weight. []
  4. The way our programs are designed, we often have two or three exercises groups together. So say you are doing 3 sets each of exercises A1 and A2 – you’d do A1, A2, A1, A2, A1, A2 – and all that together is called a “super set”). Then you move on to your B exercises, then C, and sometimes also D. []

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Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving weekend was a busy one this year, including but not limited to (and in no particular order):

  • working on Saturday morning (due to the project I’m working on requiring some data daily for a few weeks, so everyone on my team has taken on some weekend shifts)
  • lifting weights up and putting them back down again, on two separate days this weekend
  • playing hockey – and winning in overtime!
  • watching the traditional Thanksgiving movie, Venom
  • battling for a mythical Pokémon
  • getting a massage
  • snuggling my cats
  • buying a new heater for the frog tank, since the old one didn’t seem to be working
  • recording a guest appearance on a podcast1
  • working on the course I’m teaching this semester (a combo of marking assignments and preparing slides for this week’s class)
  • writing alt-text for the images in my textbook so that the book can be a little more accessible for people with visual impairments
  • cooking Thanksgiving dinner2
  • more importantly – eating Thanksgiving dinner!
  • packing up all the leftovers so that I will have delicious lunches all this week

Anyhoo, since it’s Thanksgiving I should probably be blogging about things that I’m thankful for rather than just listing all sorts of things that I’ve done this weekend! So here’s a list, in no particular order and definitely not an exhaustive list, of some things that I’m thankful for:

  • I’m thankful that my family and I are all healthy.
  • I’m thankful for Scott, particularly his kindness and generosity and willingness to put up with me doing all the things all the time.
  • I’m thankful for my cats and my frog3.
  • I’m thankful that I have a roof over my head and food on my table.
  • I’m thankful that I have an amazing team at work – we have lots of fun while working hard and producing high quality and useful information to help inform decisions that are important to the health care system.
  • I’m thankful for all of my wonderful friends.
  • I’m thankful that I’m playing hockey better than I ever have before – and for that, I owe thanks to my amazing trainers at the gym. They’ve coached me to be stronger and more powerful than I ever have before.
  • I’m thankful that I live, work, and play in a safe and beautiful place, and I acknowledge that I do this on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and QayQayt Nations.
  • I’m thankful that I have some upcoming vacation and that I have the means to do some travelling for my vacation.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sources:

Footnotes:

  1. More about that to come later, when it’s released! []
  2. It was a bit of an unorthodox dinner, as we roasted a chicken instead of a turkey. This may or may not have been due to the fact that I was too disorganized to order a turkey and so the only available turkeys at my butcher shop were ones that way eleventy thousand pounds, which is a wee bit too much for just Scott and I, so I decided to get a chicken instead. We had all the other fixings: mashed potatoes, stuffing, and several kinds of veggies! []
  3. Sadly, we lost some frogs over the summer and are down to just one frog: Copernicus the Third. He’s looking a lot less energetic than he used to, but he’s still with us. []

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We are three weeks into my hockey season…

… and I’m leading my division in points. For reals. Here’s proof:Division Leader for Points, Sept 22, 2018

I’m really just recording this here because I know it won’t last for long1! I mean, last year I only had three points in the entire SEASON in this division, and right now I’m leading the division with four points in four games – and two of them have been goals! And one of those goals was a really nice goal, too! Like, my first goal was me firing it hard, but just right along the ice (like I didn’t even manage to lift it like 1 mm off the ice), towards the net as I crossed the blue line, just to try to get the puck in deep as two defence were coming at me – thinking maybe if I were lucky, I’d get a rebound for my linemate. But instead it just slid through the 5-hole! But my second goal was a beaut – I was standing at the back door and my linemate passed it from the corner, right through the crease and I actually managed to (a) receive the puck (can’t say that I always manage to take a pass well), (b) paused long enough to look at what my options were (instead of my usual move, which is to panic, and shoot the puck right at the goalie), (c) notice that there was some available net just over the goalie’s right shoulder, and (d) actually lift the puck right in that spot. Lifting the puck is somewhat new to me – it’s probably thanks to the combination of taking a hockey camp a couple of summers ago, getting a better stick, and actually working out so I have some power – so I was pretty chuffed. Also, it ended up being the game winning goal, so that made it all the more sweet!

Anyhoo, as I said, I don’t expect to be on the top of this list for very long, so I’m basking in the glory of leading the second from the bottom division in beer league hockey while I can!

  1. Probably by the end of tonight it will have changed. []

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Happy 4th condo-versary to me!

Hey remember that time I bought a condo? Would you believe that was FOUR years ago? Where does the time go?

My mortgage broker sent me an (automated, I’m sure) “happy anniversary of having bought your condo” email, which is what reminded me that tomorrow is 4 years since I took possession of my humble abode. So I looked at my trusty mortgage countdown spreadsheet (because of course I have a spreadsheet) and according to my calculations, I have paid off 53% of my mortgage principal in 4 years. Not too bad, if I do say so myself. Of course, I ridiculously lucked out when I bought this place – the price was very good1, plus I have a few different source of income in addition to my day job, so I have had the luxury of being able to make lump sum payments. Also, I’ve had very little in the way of additional expenses, as my unit has been very well taken care of and the strata does an excellent job of maintaining the building.

Given that the Greater Vancouver real estate market continued to rise at an insane rate since I bought, I’m actually in the position where I own an even bigger proportion of the place than I would otherwise. When I bought the place, I made a 25% downpayment, meaning the bank technically owned 75% of my place. If the price of the place had stayed the same over the past four years, I would now own 65% of my place and the bank would own 35%. But since the value of the place has gone up, I now own 77% of the place if we use the most recent assessed value (which is what the province assessed my place as being worth as of July 1, 2017). If we use the average amount that units in my building that are identical to mine have sold for in the past few months2 (assuming that I could sell my place for that price), I currently own a whopping 82% of my place and the bank owns a mere 18%. It’s a weird situation – I like to remind myself that the “value” of my place is really all just theoretical given that I’m not planning to sell anytime soon. But it does give me the opportunity to do some fun math! #nerdery

Anyway, my next hurdle is that I’ll have to renegotiate my mortgage next year, as my mortgage was a 5 year term. The interest rates are higher now than they were 4 years ago, so I’ll have to pay a higher interest rate. Boo-urns. I guess I have a year to figure out how all that works.

  1. In the context of the time and place in which I bought it. It was an absolutely insane price if you compare it to just about anywhere else in the world. []
  2. Which is almost double what I paid. []

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I guess this is what it must feel like to be a whale, if a whale lived in a vast ocean of work instead of water

Illustrator whaleI feel like I’m coming up for a short breath after being submerged for a really long time, knowing that I’m shortly going to dive back down. I guess this is what it must feel like to be a whale, if a whale lived in a vast ocean of work instead of water.

The things under which I’ve been submerged recently include, in no particular order:

  • finishing up the course I was teaching this semester, including grading all the final assignments, calculating participation grades for the semester, and submitting final grades to the school
  • completing revisions for the new edition of my textbook1, including proofing all the revisions we did
  • submitting a grant application2
  • working on another grant application that is due May 1
  • my presidential duties
  • my actual day job, which is getting crazy busy as a Really Big Thing is about to happen and we have to be ready for it

But the textbook revisions and the marking are all done now, and those were two really time-consuming things that I was having to fit into my weekends and evenings, and the time available for working in the evenings and on the weekends were abbreviated due to the fact that I’m dedicated to doing my three days a week at the gym (which really is a big part of what helps me decompress when I’m so busy!) and I’ve been working longer than normal hours at my actual day job, due to all the work of preparing for the aforementioned Really Big Thing. So now I feel like I have a few days where I can actually breathe. By which I mean “write a blog post about how busy I’ve been”.

Of course, this is just a short reprieve, as I’m about to dive back down into the deep ocean that is work craziness. As, I mentioned above there is a Really Big Thing happening at work soon. This Really Big Thing will involve my team (a) providing data to monitor the progress and/or outcomes (good or bad) of said Really Big Thing (translation: lots of people will be wanting to see the data we produce daily) and (b) having to provide support 12 hours a day, 7 days a week until such time as the Really Big Thing settles down into just a Big Thing and we can go back to our regular work days and hours. Which means that I’ll be working some early mornings and some weekends and also, since I’m the lead of the team, should any crises happen, I could potentially be called even when I’m not on site. All that stuff happens starting April 28th.

Also, I’m going to have some house guests around this same time! Dr. Dan and one of his students will be staying with me from May 2-8, as they will be in town for important work things, and then from May 8-13, my mom and my Aunt Wendy will be staying with me as my Aunt has an important conference to attend and my mom is coming along to visit. I’m very excited to see all of them, as I think it will be good for me to get some quality time with family & friends to keep me grounded when I’m not at the hospital doing my Really Big Things.

Sperm whale starting a dive #2

Image Credit: Whale illustration posted by Steve on Flickr with a Creative Commons license and whale tail photo posted by Vilmos Vincze on Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

  1. I don’t think I’ve mentioned here that we are putting out a new edition. The original came out in 2012, which is like a million years ago in textbook years, so it was due. Nutrition is still a pretty young field, so there were a fair amount of things to update! It should be ready by the end of the month and everyone should buy a copy or 12. []
  2. Which I was just a co-investigator on, so I’m not saying I did the most work on it; was it was a team effort of a bunch of people and lead by someone else, but it still took up some time. []