Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

By

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. []

By

OMG, it’s December tomorrow

So, it’s December tomorrow. How, exactly, did that happen? Wasn’t it January just like 5 minutes ago? Looking at my calendar for the next month, I see that December will also be flying by, because I have an insane amount of things in my calendar, including:

Plus a variety of other meet ups with people I haven’t seen in ages and, you know, Christmas and New Year’s! Let the festivities begin!

  1. This is how you can tell that the 12 Bars of Christmas crowd has gotten old. []
  2. Where DDG = Drinks/Dinner with Dr. Girls – where me and my PhD grad school buddies get together to catch up []

By

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. []

By

Work-cation

I am a mere 5 days away from my summer vacation! Which is a really a work-cation1 because omg, look at all the crap I have to do:

More To Do

Granted, that is my “to do” for school up until October, but just seeing how much is on there – and knowing that a bunch of it is due in early September – is enough to freak me out/motivate me to try to get ahead a bit, as come September we are going to be swamped! I’ve already started on some of it – and my group and I have been working pretty hard on our business plan project2. But I’m realizing that some of this school work is going to have to come with me on my trip.

Wait, what trip? I hear you asking. Well, I’m glad you asked! Because every hard working girl needs some R&R3, I have taken two weeks vacation from work. Because I have to be able to attend my weekly teleconference calls with my business plan group and need to have Internet access to do work on said business plan project, we decided not to stray to far from home, but just to go with some road trips for our vacation: Washington state/Oregon, Vancouver Island, and the Okanagan to be specific.

My first order of business once my vacation starts is to be chased by zombies. Yup, just 5 days from now I’ll be competing in the  zombie obstacle course race down in Washington state. I’m very excited and positively terrified! After enjoying my post-race beer at the Apocalypse party, we’ll head down to Portland. Other than the zombie race, we haven’t made concrete plans of what to do when, but we intend to spend a few days exploring the Oregon coast, eating Voodoo Doughnuts, drinking local microbrew beers, and traipsing through Powell’s Books. After we’ve had our fill of Oregon, we’ll head back north, where we just might make a jaunt over to Mount St. Helens, because volcanos are awesome. Then we intend to take the ferry from Anacortes, Washington to Vancouver Island, just because neither of us have taken that ferry before. We’ll stay on the Island for some as-of-yet indeterminate amount of time, then head on over to the mainland and, at some point, make our way to the Okanagan, to visit wineries, play with Devon’s wee niece4, and look for Ogopogo.

But before I get too excited about my freedom from work5, I still have 5 days of said work, in which I have insane amounts of things to get done. This includes:

  • three teleconferences
  • two meetings
  • one job description to write
  • several evaluation plans that I at least need to make some significant progress on
  • a progress report to finalize
  • a manuscript to submit6
  • a report to release
  • a bunch of qualitative data analysis to get done
  • a professional development workshop to attend7
  • various paperwork to complete8
  • and probably a bunch of other stuff that I’m forgetting

I also need to, at some point, buy a camera, organize my various piles of paper from school so that I can even find the stuff I need to bring with me, and pack anything I might need during a vacation of indeterminate length, and do the 10 km long run that I was supposed to do yesterday, but didn’t. I think I’m going to need a vacation from preparing for my vacation!

  1. Credit to Kalev for coining the word “work-cation”. []
  2. The stuff I have listed on my white board under “B-plan” is just a few of things I wanted to remind myself to do beyond that which is on our group’s Gantt chart. I didn’t have enough whiteboard space to include all the other stuff we have done/are doing. []
  3. Where “R&R” = rest and really-lots-of-school-work. []
  4. Who we haven’t seen since Christmas! []
  5. Job-related work, at least. []
  6. With any luck. Waiting on someone to review it. []
  7. This one is actually for school. We have to do 5 hours of pro-d stuff during the 28 months of our program, and one of them is being held on Thursday evening. []
  8. Like a timesheet, to make sure I get paid. And a mileage claim form, to make sure I get paid for that. And an expense claim form so I can get reimbursed for stuff. I suppose I really shouldn’t complain about the paperwork, since it all ends up as money in my pocket. []

By

Never Too Busy To Complain About How Busy I Am

I was trying to schedule a couple of events yesterday and when I looked at my calendar for available dates, I was rather blown away by how few available dates I have in the next few weeks. I always tell myself that I need to stop trying to do so. many. things. and actually get some rest and relaxation. But then so. many. exciting. things. keep cropping up in my schedule!

Take a look (and remember, this is all evenings and weekends stuff, in addition to working my full-time job):

  • Oct 14 – date
  • Oct 15 – seawall walk & brunch
  • Oct 16 – hockey  game1.
  • Oct 17 – after work coffee with former coworker, followed by dinner with a friend
  • Oct 18 – doctor’s appointment
  • Oct 19 – morning flight to Victoria for the The Great Drs. Beth & Dan Victoria Adventure and Shenaniganery of 2011 ((Missing a hockey game since I’ll be on the Island!))
  • Oct 20 – morning flight back to Vancouver, go directly to work, do not pass go, do not collect $200
  • Oct 22 – friends’ wedding
  • Oct  23 – post-wedding brunch; hockey game
  • Oct 26 – meeting/workshop at the Justice League
  • Oct 27 – dinner with a friend/former coworker
  • Oct 28 – dinner with friends from grad school
  • Oct 29 – drop by a friend’s fundraising event
  • Oct 30 – hockey game, dinner at a friend’s place, another hockey game
Things aren’t quite as crazy in November…. yet. I do have a two-day local conference for work, plus a probably two-day workshop in Ottawa (exact date still to be confirmed), but I’m sure that the rest of the time will fill up with stuff, as it always seems to do!
Just writing out that list made me tired!
  1. Technically I have two hockey games, but they are both at the same time so unless my cloning experiments work out, I’ll only be playing in one of them. []

By

WordPress.com Is A Gateway Platform To The Harder Stuff

It’s my one year anniversary of moving from Blogger to WordPress.com.  So, now I’m moving to WordPress.org. It’s true what they say: WordPress.com is just a gateway platform to the harder stuff.

In fact, I’m all set up to make the shift.  I’ve got a domain (which I’ve actually had for a while), I have a server, and WordPress.org has been installed (thanks to Kalev, who rocks).  I’m only lacking one magical ingredient: time.  This semester is insanely, insanely busy.  In addition to my day job, I’m teaching two new courses: the UBC one and one at SFU1 and I’m playing on two hockey teams.  Oh yeah, and I’m supposed to be training for a half marathon. So I won’t be making the shift until I get a few minutes to breath2.

In the meantime, I need all you techies to answer this question: What are your favourite WordPress plugins?

Kalev has suggested this one, which, among other things, allows commenters to preview their comments before posting them.  What other ones should I get?  You know, for when I stop being insanely busy and get a chance to make the jump.

And speaking of being insanely busy, I’ve decided to prorogue my BC Premiers series until after the end of the semester.  Writing the BC Premier series postings, which I usually do on Sundays, takes up a fair bit of time since I know pretty much nothing about BC Premiers.  Unlike my usually postings where I just blather about whatever is spinning around in my brain, I actually have to read stuff.  And I know that I just don’t have time to do that until the semester is over.  So I’ve asked the Governor General of my blog3 for a prorogation of the BC Premier series and she has graciously agreed to allow it. Expect the series to start back up in late April, at which time I’ll present a budget.

1Which, mercifully, is online (so I don’t have to go up the mountain) and has a TA (who does tonnes o’ work and also rocks)
2Perhaps over reading break?
3As it turns out, I’m the GG of my own blog. What a lucky coincidence!