Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Summertime

Summer is here! After a few rainy days last week, it was all sunshine and 28 degrees on Saturday and Sunday! Things I enjoyed this weekend, in no particular order:

  • sitting on my balcony where my herb garden is growing like gangbusters, drinking coffee and doing some writing
  • walking along the New West Quay, where I may or may not have bought some things from some of the vendors at New West Craft, who were set up along the quay1

It’s a beautiful day to check out New West Craft on the Quay!

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  • kayaking in Deep Cove
  • finally getting around to watching Solo: A Star Wars Movie
  • this sunset, as viewed from my balcony:

The view from my balcony tonight. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.

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Starting next week, I’ll be on holidays for a few weeks, but it will be mostly a stay-cation (though we might take a road trip for a few days somewhere, possibly the Sunshine Coast, since I haven’t been there before). If anyone else has time off in the next few weeks and is interested in going hiking during the week, hit me up!

  1. I may or may not have also been catching Pokemon. Shut up – lots of people were doing it, including an adorable elderly couple! []

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Bathroom Door – Open or Closed?

The office that I’m currently working in is a house that’s been converted to office space1. Yesterday at work we had a discussion about whether the bathroom door in said house should be open or closed when no one is in it. Whenever I see the bathroom door closed, I assume someone is in it so find myself going to another floor of the house to use a bathroom because I think someone is using the bathroom but then it turns out there isn’t anyone using it. But others in the office say that they always close the door to an empty bathroom because they think it’s weird to have an open bathroom door and/or that is the norm in their culture. So then we got into a discussion about it. My bathroom at home actually has two doors – that opens into the hallway and one that opens into my bedroom2. It’s actually a great design, because it means I have an en suite bathroom but also that guests don’t have to go into my bedroom to access the bathroom.)). The main reason that I keep the doors to the bathroom open when it’s not in use is actually because the cats like to do laps around the condo and that includes walking through the bedroom into the bathroom and then into the hallway (or vice versa) (I refer to this as “the cat highway.). One of my coworkers said she leaves her bathroom door open for airflow. So I said, “I leave my bathroom door open for cat flow!” It ended up being a mixed bag, with some of us who leave our bathroom doors open when the bathroom is unoccupied and some keeping it closed and also some discussion of couples where one person always leaves it open and the other person always closes it. And now I’m wondering which is more common, or is this something that people are pretty split on? Thoughts?

This is what I see when I open the bathroom door>

  1. Don’t ask. It’s a long story. []
  2. Technically it opens to my bedroom closest, which is a walk-through closet into my bedroom. []

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It’s time for a bulleted list!

As usual, I have so many things I’d like to blog about and so little time, mostly because all of the aforementioned things taking up all of my time1. So, in the interest of getting all these things out of my brain, I give you this brain dump in the form of a bulleted list:

  • After a year and a half, all the hard work of the organizing committee (of which I was a member as a program co-chair) led to a highly successful Canadian Evaluation Society conference at the start of May. I’ll be writing up more specifics on the conference content on my other blog2, but I do have to say that I am so happy that the conference was extremely well attended and everything went off without a hitch. And also that I’m relieved to have a lot fewer meetings in my calendar going forward!
  • The week before the conference my team and I had to make a surprise move to a temporary new office space3. It’s just four blocks from my old office space, but it’s surprising how many new restaurants there are to discover that I never realized were so close by4! Also, one of my coworkers brought a breakfast sandwich maker to the new office and now I live in heaven.Breakfast sandwich maker
  • The temporary new space in which I’m working lacks a phone, so work is getting me a Blackberry. So now I live in 2006. Even more sadly, Pokémon Go is not available on BB (at least not in a very functional state from what I’ve read) (or else I’d be able to double my productivity when it comes to evolution binges when I have a Lucky Egg!).
  • Speaking of Pokémon, I have caught all of the Pokémon from the initial release in Pokémon Go that are available to catch in North America, plus the Australia-specific one5 + all the babies. The last of the originals that I caught was the one I wanted the most: this Flying Spaghetti Monster Pokémon: Tangela
  • Of course, before I caught all the originals, Niantic released a bunch more Pokémon, so I still haven’t caught them all! I have caught a fair number, including this tree: Pokémon
    This communist6 teddy bear: Pokémon and this thing that really needs to pee (both male and female editions. You can tell she’s a girl because she’s wearing lipstick) UntitledUntitled
  • And one more thing about Pokémon. Among the new group of Pokémon that were release, there were two that allowed me to test the question of “If there were a Pokemon that looked like a spider, would my fear of spiders or my love of catching Pokémon win?”
    Pokémon
    Pokémon Given that I’ve caught 151 Spinaraks and 15 Ariados, I think I have my answer.
  • I took a sewing class with Cath and Stephanie as my thing that I learned in April (towards my goal of learning 12 new things this year). There’s a whole blog posting on that which I have partway written, so stay tuned! I’ve also learned something new in May, so that will be another blog post!
  • I’m co-teaching a class in the summer intersession (read: a 12 week course that’s taught in 6 weeks, so I’m extra glad to be co-teaching it!). I don’t really have anything to say about it, but it’s taking up a bunch of my time, so I thought I should probably include it in this laundry list of random things.
  • I’m still loving Strong Side! I’ve just started my third program. The first program was 5 weeks of building a foundation, then there was 5 weeks of hypertrophy (i.e., building muscle), and my new program is 5 weeks of intensity that is probably going to kill me. I’ve only done the instructional week, where the trainers teach you all the exercises in your new program, but you don’t have to do nearly as many sets as the following four weeks. Thursday is my first day on my own for this program where I will have to do eleventy billion sets of all kinds of things that will surely make me exhausted. But I can really see some significant improvements in strength since I started going there, so I’m going to trust the program!
  • There was a provincial election in BC on May 9 and it ended up in a hung parliament. The BC “Liberals” (which I put in scare quotes because the party that goes by the name “BC Liberals” are not liberal at all – they are conservative) won, on the initial counting of the ballots on election night, 43 seats in the legislature m, which is one seat shy of a majority. However, there are more than 170,000 absentee ballots that weren’t counted on election night and some ridings had very slim margins that could easily flip based on absentee ballots – including one riding where the NDP won by just 9 votes! They’ve started the count of the absentee ballots and the NDP are now up by 101 votes in that riding, but there are still more that have to be counted tomorrow, so it’s still possible that the “Liberals” could win that one. If that flips to the BC “Liberals” and none of the other ridings change hands, there will be a majority government and things will continue on as they were before the election, but with fewer MLAs in the ruling party7. But if everything stays the same as the election night results, or if seats flip to the NDP, we could end up with BC “Liberal” minority or, if more seats flip to the NDP, we could end up with an NDP minority, and in either minority scenario, the Green Party holds the balance of power. Needless to say, we’ll be waiting with baited breath for those absentee ballots to be counted!
  1. In fact, as I’ve sat down to take these notes from my phone, where I’ve been writing this blog posting in bits and pieces on my Skytrain commute, I noticed that I haven’t posted anything March 31 and it’s somehow the end of May now!! []
  2. Which I am sure are far too boring for anyone to want to read! []
  3. I actually have two offices and to clarify, this is for my non-hospital office. []
  4. I bring my lunch to work most days, so it will take me awhile to try all the ones I want to try []
  5. I caught the kangaroo one that you can only catch in Australia when I was there last fall. I did not catch the Asian one when I was in Hong Kong (due to not having a data plan and there being very limited free wifi around) and I haven’t been to Europe since Pokémon Go started. Clearly I need to book a European vacation! []
  6. I keep calling that bear a communist because the crescent on his reminds me of the sickle on the Soviet flag. Scott thinks it’s more of a Turkish teddy bear. []
  7. Unless a BC Liberal MLA dies, crosses the floor, or resigns due to a scandal, and a riding is subsequently lost in a by-election. []

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Things I Did On My Long Weekend, in No Particular Order

  • attended a Canada Day event at the Gallery in Queen’s Park as part of board of the Arts Council of New Westminster
  • watched some horses running around a track
  • did not bet on said horses
  • but did enjoy a dinner paid for with the winnings of someone who did bet on said horses1
  • enjoyed some free jazz
  • BBQ’d some steaks
  • reviewed textbooks for the course I’m going to teach in September
  • watched a terrible movie on Netflix
  • tried to watch a better movie on Netflix, but fell asleep during said movie
  • wore this awesome compression sock2 to keep the swelling of my ankle down:

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    • cleaned the frogs’ tank:

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    • played with my kitties
    • read my book club book ((So far I’m *really* enjoying it, but I absolutely *hate* the protagonist’s name.)) in a park
    • read my book club book at the New West Pier Park:

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  • booked a ticket for a trip on a float plane from Salt Spring Island3
  1. I realized that given that the odds of gambling are ever in the house’s favour (and not the gambler’s), the “joy” of betting, imho, is in giving you a horse to cheer for (since one is more likely to experience the sadness of losing their money rather than the joy of winning it). So I just cheer for the horse of whoever I’m hanging out with. All the fun of cheering, no risk of losing any of my money! #Cheap []
  2. My options were this, solid black, or leopard print. I think I made the right choice. []
  3. Taking a ride on a float plane just so happens to be #35 on my list of 101 things to do! []

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Quarantine: Day 1

So I’ve been in quarantine for more than a full day now and I have to say: quarantine is not for extroverts. I’m pretty sure I’ve got cabin fever, which, happily does not involve an actual fever but, sadly, does not involve a cabin. I kind of wish I was at a cabin. Anyhoo, here’s some random thoughts I had today, in handy bullet list format.

  • Last night I decided to make pasta for dinner, with homemade pasta sauce. Figured it would be soft on my sore throat and full of healthy veggies. Didn’t think through the part about how the first thing I do when I make homemade pasta sauce is chop onions. Did not feel good on my zombie eyeballs.
  • Being home alone is very boring when it is forced upon you.
  • I can’t believe I am bored when I own several devices that are capable of accessing all of human knowledge and entertainment. Yet here I am.
  • Some have suggested that I’m having all the illnesses right now because for the first time in a long time, my stress level is low, so my adrenaline & cortisol levels have come down, allowing infectious agents to take over. Last semester was super busy and stressful because I was teaching a new course that I’d never taught before and then right at the end of the semester I went through an unexpected relationship break up that was really hard on me. I’d just sort of recovered from all that stress when my immune system decided to go on vacation, leaving me undefended. The lesson here is: never be not stressed.
  • I do not like the sensation of squirting saline up my nostrils, but I’m doing it in the hopes that it really will help make my sore throat and cough go away.
  • Things I have missed out on – or will be missing out on – due to my illnesses:
    • two hockey games
    • Arts Council fundraiser
    • movie with Kalev
    • book club
    • strata AGM
    • my boss’s birthday tea (for which I bake cupcakes that have now gone to waste)
    • massage appointment
    • cleaning person coming over to clean my place (I had to tell her she can’t come on her usual day because I’ll be here, being all highly infectious)
  • I also had to reschedule two important work meetings that could not be conducted without me there in person (Not going to lie – that does make me feel a wee bit special!)
  • I’m choked that I bought a monthly transit pass for March. You need to take transit most weekdays out of a month to make it a good deal and since I’m being forced to stay home four days this week, plus I stayed home sick two days last week, I would have been better just paying per trip.

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I went for a float and it wasn’t of the root beer variety

I-sopod Flotation Tank.jpg

This isn’t the tank that I floated in, but I forgot to take a photo of it when I was there, so I got this picture from Wikipedia to give you the general idea.

My friend Alicia took me for a float for my birthday. For the uninitiated, a float (a.k.a., floatation therapy or sensory deprivation tank) is where you get into a big tank with water that has about 1000 lbs of Epsom salt in it so that you can lie in and, as the name suggests, float. You wear earplugs and you close the lid of the tank so that it’s pitch black. The water and the air are skin temperature, so the idea is that you don’t feel anything. And you just float there – ideally clearing your mind of any thoughts – for 90 minutes. It’s supposed to help you relax and is supposed to be good for stress relief, reducing muscle tension, and all sorts of other things1.

My experience

When we got to the float place, they had me watch a little video on what you need to do. You have to take a shower to make sure you won’t get anything icky in the tank (like hair gel or makeup), then you put in the earplugs, and make sure your face is completely dry. You have to be careful not to get any of the tank water in your eyes because there’s 1000 lbs of Epsom salt in there and omg, that would sting like hell. Then you get in the tank, close the lid, and float! They suggested that you could try different postures – like arms down at your sides, arms up above your head – and that while you didn’t have to worry about your head sinking because of all that Epsom salt in the water, there was a pool noodle that you could put under your neck if it made you feel more comfortable.

When I first stepped in the tank, and before I closed the lid, the thought that sprung into my mind was “This would be a perfect setting for a death in the next Final Destination movie!” But then I thought that visions of the tank rapidly filling up while I panickedly scratched at the door which would inexplicably not open – all with my eyes stinging like a mofo – wouldn’t really lend itself to relaxation, so I dropped the thought.

The actual floating experience was quite interesting. It felt like I was floating in zero gravity (or what I imagine that would feel like, since I’ve never actually floated in zero gravity) and at one point when I tried putting my hands under my head, it actually felt like I was tumbling head over heels2!

Somehow, the time in the tank felt both long and short. My mind was flipping around from thinking about one random thing to another, so I tried using my mindfulness training, which seemed like a logical thing to do on such an occasion. I found that focusing on my breathing was the most effective way to help me clear my mind of thoughts. In the end, I think I fell asleep, as I remember thinking about something and then the next thing I knew it felt like time had passed and I was hearing the music that they play to inform you that your time is up.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience. I mean, I won’t be getting a membership and going on a regular basis or anything – I think I get better meditation through running and massage is still my preferred method of working out muscle tension – but I’d probably go back for another float again.

Image Credit:

I-sopod Flotation Tank” by FloatguruOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Footnotes:

  1. According to the Wikipedia page – the neutrality of which is disputed because it totally sounds like someone who runs a float tank shop wrote it – research has shown that it also helps improve creativity and performance in a variety of sports. []
  2. Even though I knew I wasn’t because (a) physics, and (b) my face would have gotten wet and I could feel that it wasn’t! []

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Decorating

Day 2 in my quest to respond to all of the “daily blogging prompts” for December (as part of trying to reach my goal of publishing 115 blog postings this year).

Do you decorate for the winter holidays? Tell us about your decorations.

I feel like I’ve blogged about this before: here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and also here.

Come on, daily blogging prompts, give me something new to talk about!

 

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Dream

dreams and wishes. 62/365Last night I had a dream that I was running a half marathon on the Simon Fraser University campus. A spectator yelled that I was doing great and I looked at my running watch and saw that I’d been running for 1 hr and 45 mins and I was only at 12 kilometres… “Doing great?” I thought, “That’s terrible! I’m so slow!” But then I realized that my watch was showing my distance in miles, not kilometres. 12 miles. I only had 1 mile to go and as long as I could run it in less than 15 minutes, I would achieve my elusive goal of running a sub-2 hour half marathon! I finished that last mile and felt triumphant as I crossed the finish line… only to look down and see that I had no race bib and no timing chip. I wasn’t registered for this race and so there would be no official record of my sub-2 hour half marathon. So deflating!

I take this dream to mean:

Image Credit: Posted by Nicole Pierce on Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

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My brain is tired

The blogging dilemma – when you have no time to write, the ideas about what to write about come at every moment, but when you have time to write, you have writer’s block. Right now, I’m deeply in the former situation. And so I find myself typing this on my phone as I Skytrain to work, and even then it’s only because I didn’t get a seat on the train this morning so I can’t read the journal articles that I intended to read. 

The reason for my extreme lack of time these days is the new course I’m teaching, which is taking up my every waking moment. Don’t get me wrong – I’m having an absolute blast teaching, but it is *a lot* of work to teach a class you’ve never taught before. There are lesson plans to create, lecture notes and slide decks to prepare, which means a *tonne of reading*1 (because, despite the fact that I’m teaching a topic that I’m an expert in, it’s important to be up-to-date on the literature, to read different ways that people present the same material so as to have a few ways to explain things because everyone learns differently, to think of different in-class activities that you can do because no one wants to listen to me drone on for three hours on a Wednesday night), guest lectures to book, emails to answer, and the marking. Omg the marking. During my MBA program I was reminded how annoying it is to hand in an assignment and then not get a mark back for several weeks and I vowed to improve my marking turnaround time2. And to be honest, I enjoy reading student papers and providing feedback. But actually giving a number grade on an assignment is not my cup of tea. I want to ensure that the grades are a fair representation of what the student has achieved, are fair across the different students, and are transparent to the students as to why they got the grade they did. And that’s a lot of work!
And all of this is on top of the fact that things are super busy at work, which means both long days and a tired brain by the time I get home and am able to work on my lecture notes and my marking. 

Anyway, the point of this posting was not to whine about how busy I am3. The purpose was actually to jot down a bunch of ideas for future blog postings so that when I get through this crazy busy period and have some time to write, I’ll have ideas to write about. But now my Skytrain ride is up and it’s time to get to my day job. I guess that list will have to wait ’til next time. Which at this rate will probably be December :S

  1. Hence the aforementioned journal articles I wanted to read on the Skytrain this morning. []
  2. Which I’m happy to report I managed to significantly improve in the stats course that I teach in the January semester. []
  3. Or, at least, that wasn’t the purpose when I started writing it. []

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I *Never* Run Into People I Know

When my mom and sister were visiting, I said  “I *never* run into people I know”, which I always find surprising because I feel like I know a lot of people1 And, of course, about 3 minutes after I said that, as we were walking across Pacific Boulevard, a driver stopped at the light starts yelling my name. It was a former coworker of mine who just happened to be driving by. “So, what’s that about never running into people you know?” my sister said.

Since that time, I’ve been constantly running into people I know. This includes, in no particular order:

  • a former colleague from my previous job, who also has a new job in the same area of Vancouver as me, who happened to be on the 84 bus when I was taking the 84 bus
  • another former colleague who was walking down 8th Ave while I was walking the other direction on 8th Ave
  • a friend of a friend who was running west along the seawall by Olympic Village as I was running east
  • my friend Alicia who was sitting outside of Whole Foods while I was walking past on my way from work to Canada Line2
  • a professional colleague who was walking past a restaurant patio I was sitting on while having a beer with a friend
  • my boyfriend’s brother-in-law’s aunt, who I met at a recent family function, while taking the elevator at work3
  • two of my MBA classmates, who were in a pub that I was in with some friends before our book club meeting

That’s 9 people4 in less than 5 weeks! I don’t know how often other people randomly run into people they know, but I feel like I probably didn’t randomly run into 9 people that I know in the previous 5 years!

Extremely tangentially related: This song just popped into my head and now I can’t get it out.

  1. I have friends and acquaintances from 6 years of PhD school – including tonnes of people I met through the science outreach that I did – plus from 8 years of working in three different health organizations and from several hockey teams – and from playing in the 10-day long hockey game (where there were 40 players and dozens upon dozens of volunteers) – and a surprising number of people from blogging and then the 49 other people who I did my MBA with (plus profs and staff at the b-school) and then I know a bunch of friends groups of some of my friends. I’m one of the most extroverted extroverts who ever extroverted. []
  2. What was extra funny about that was that I hadn’t seen in her ages until the day before this, when we had gone paddle boarding. So it was funny to run into her the very next day! []
  3. This one wasn’t super surprising, as we’d discovered that we work in the same building while chatting at said family function; really, the surprising part was when we discovered we work in the same building. []
  4. And I feel like there might be more that I’m forgetting! []