Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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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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The Etiquette of Bus Wine

WineSo I was on the bus on the way home from work yesterday and two men got on the bus, sat down a few seats away from where I was sitting, and then one of them took a bottle of wine out of his bag, opened it up and took a swig right out of the bottle. But the thing is – it was my favourite wine1. So part of me is like “Oh my god, you can’t drink wine on the bus!” and the other part of me is like “Omg, that is such good wine!” And then after he and his buddy had each taken a drink, he offered it to the guy next to him, who was like “Uh, no.” And again I was torn – part of me was like “why aren’t they offering it to me? It’s my FAVOURITE WINE! Where are your manners??2” but also “Eww, I don’t want to drink wine from a bottle that random strangers have been drinking from.” I already think transit is germy enough!

Image Credit: Posted by Troy Kasper Photography on Flickr with a Creative Commons Licence.

  1. For the record, it is Ogopogo’s Lair, a Pinot Grigio by Prospect Winery. Now, wine snobs may laugh at me, and it’s not like I’m saying it’s the best wine in the world or anything, but as a relatively affordable wine, it’s my fav! Also for the record, I have no affiliation with Prospect Winery; they haven’t paid me to say their wine is delicious, so I am in no way compromised, bribed, or otherwise induced to write anything about their delicious, delicious wine. If someone from Prospect Winery is reading this and would like to send me a case or twelve of their delicious wine to bribe, compromise, or otherwise induce me, I’m not going to say no. I’m just saying. []
  2. Props are due to Dr. Dan for the title of this blog posting, which he suggested after I regaled him with this story in person. []

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Stock Images

So I was looking for images to use in slides for the class I’m teaching this semester – I’m a big fan of using striking images in my slides and I also make a point of only using ones that have copyright licenses to allow me to use them for free1. I have a few sites that I go to for such images: Freepik, Unsplash, Pixabay, Free Images, and Flickr (where you can search for Creative Commons licensed photos). I’ve found some pretty good ones and have some slides that I really like this semester, but in the process of searching for images is not always so smooth. Like yesterday when I was searching for an image to represent “causation”. Three sites2 gave me no images and one site gave me 484 images of carnations. #EvaluatorProblems.

I’ve also come across some weird stuff. Like this image3, which is currently haunting my dreams:

hand-2571553

So, um, Happy early Halloween?

Image Credit: Posted by SarahRichterArt ((Be warned: I just went on the page of this photographer and she also has photos with spiders in them. And you know how I feel about spiders! Gah!)) on Pixaby with a Creative Commons license.

  1. I know a lot of people take whatever images they want off the interwebs and use them with impunity, but I choose not to do that. []
  2. Flickr gave me a bunch of unrelated photos plus this photo, which made my head explode, because it’s completely not true. We don’t use correlation to give credit to vaccines for preventing diseases – we know vaccines work to prevent diseases from randomized controlled trials!! #ScientistRant. []
  3. For the record, I was searching for “reports” when I found this abomination! []

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Work-work-work-life balance

Recently, some colleagues at work and I were discussing how Vancouver is so expensive (and our salaries are, relatively speaking, so low), it’s not just that households need two incomes – you kind of need like 3 or 4 incomes to have the kind of standard of living that previous generations had with a 1-2 income household. Now, I realize that I’m not in nearly as hard a position as many, many other people, who actually need multiple incomes per adult in the family just to keep a roof over their head and food on the table and who have children and/or elderly parents to take care of. But even as someone in a relatively privileged position, I have relied on multiple incomes to pay off my massive student debt, buy myself a place to call home, save something for retirement so that I don’t have to eat cat food to survive, and do at least a little bit of traveling. This year, for example, in addition to my day job, I’ve taught one post-secondary course (Jan to Apr) and will be teaching another one this semester1, and I’ve put out a new edition of my textbook2 to help ensure that it continues to sell3.

And then in addition to the work-work-work balance, I try to have some semblance of a life – play some hockey, lift some weights, see my friends once in a while, read books for pleasure (as opposed to work-related reading), and maybe do some home improvement projects or some other hobby-like things4. I feel like I need at least 10 more hours in the day to do all the things that I want to do!

  1. Last year I taught three courses – one in each semester – at three different post-secondary institutions, so I feel like a slacker only teaching two this year. []
  2. Which I appear to have neglected to blog about! I was just trying to find a link to when I blogged about it, but no such thing exists! []
  3. As the first edition was published in 2012 and six years is ancient for a textbook []
  4. There are other things I’d love to do too: meditation, yoga, skiing, and more traveling than I currently do come to mind, but I never seem to find time to do those things! []

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Meet Your Second Wife

On the weekend, while falling down the rabbit hole that is the “Recommended” video section on YouTube, I came across this old SNL video that made me laugh harder than I have in a really long time. And I laugh all the time, so that’s saying something. At any rate, I’m posting it here to share the joy.

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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!

A post shared by Beth Snow (@drbethsnow) on

  • 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.

A post shared by Beth Snow (@drbethsnow) on

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.