Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Halloween 2017

This year’s Halloween costume, being immortalized here on ye old blog:

Cersei Halloween costume

To put this photo in context, my gym had a costume contest: show up at the gym in your costume, take a photo, and post it on Instagram. Best photo wins a prize! Hence why I am holding a dumbbell in the photo – but in true Cersei fashion, I did not put down my wine goblet, even to workout! Props to my fellow gym goer for suggesting that I put up a weight bench to use as my throne!

Just like the year I dressed up as Daenerys, I am surprised by how many people I came across today who do not watch Game of Thrones. I mean, isn’t it the most watched show in the history of television? I thought for sure that in the intervening two years since I dressed up as Daenerys, including carrying around three dragons all day, and repeatedly got “Are you Elsa from Frozen?”, surely enough additional people would have started watching GOT that everyone would know I was Cersei. But alas, I got a fair number of blanks stares and upon asking “Do you watch Game of Thrones?” and hearing “No,” I’d reply “Well, I’m Cersei from Game of Thrones”, and they’d said, “Oh, is she good?” Ha! She’s only like the most evil character to ever have eviled!

The fact that there are so surprisingly many non-GOT fans out there did allow me to have this fantastic conversation:

Me: I’ll have a grande no room Americano.

Starbuck Barista: OK. What’s your name?

Me [with a straight face]: Cersei.

Starbuck Barista [with a confused look]: Sorry? What?

Me [continuing to have a straight face]: Cersei. C-E-R-S-E-I

She still managed to spell my name incorrectly on the cup:

Cersei Halloween costume

Cersei Halloween costume

Sadly, my gym photo is the only full length photo I managed to get of myself! I was teaching tonight and I wore my costume to class, because I’ll be damned if I’ll let a little academic responsibility get in the way of my wearing a costume on Halloween. A couple of students asked me for a photo, but I didn’t get a copy of those and totally forgot to snap one on my own phone. (I also wore my costume to work during the day, but also neglected to get a proper photo1.) Here are some photos of my failed attempt to take a decent photo when I got “home” tonight (where “home” = the hotel I’m staying in as I’m working offsite to collect some data):

Cersei Halloween costume

Cersei Halloween costume

Cersei Halloween costume

And also an OK photo of my hairstyle:

Cersei Halloween costume

When I bought my costume, I was looking at the wigs in the Halloween store to see if they had a Cersei one (which they didn’t). I didn’t clue into the fact that I already have long blonde hair until I got home. D’oh!

  1. A colleague did take a photo of me working intently on my computer in my costume, but (a) it wasn’t full length and (b) I look terrible in it. []

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My Belated Halloween Blog Posting – Daenerys Targaryen Costume

So I have a slight reprieve from my crazy busy-iness, as the class I’m teaching is on Wednesdays and since next Wednesday is a holiday, I have two weeks to write my next lecture instead of the usual one1. So I figured that I should probably blog my Halloween costume before it gets so late that it’s completely ridiculous. I figure that posting about my Halloween costume on November 6 is only slightly ridiculous.

This year I decided to go as Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons. For the uninitiated – and, as I discovered on Halloween, there are a lot more of the uninitiated that I expected – Daenerys is a character in the Game of Thrones books/TV series. I figured she’s short and blonde, so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for me.

I searched Google images for inspiration and decided to go with this outfit:

Mostly because I already owned a flowy blue top, pants, and tall boots. That left me in need of a cloak, long platinum blonde locks, and some dragons.

The hair was relatively easy – I just went to the Halloween store by my office and picked up the “Medieval Princess Wig”, which was clearly designed to be a Daenerys wig as it’s the exactly right colour and styled in the exact right way, but they didn’t have the license to call it that.

The dragons were a little more challenging. I figured I could go to any toy store and find me some dragons, but apparently dragons aren’t the in thing right now, as they were hard to find. Eventually I found this guy – who Daniel’s 6-year-old daughter informed me is a character named Stuffy from the show Doc McStuffins2 – and bought three of them, because Daenerys is the mother of a trio.

The last thing I needed for this costume was the cloak. I couldn’t find anything in stores – either regular stores or thrift shops, so I decided to make one. I learned to sew by hand when I was a kid3, but I haven’t sewed anything save for a few stitches to hem something or fix a hole in an existing garment since high school. But I was determined, so I found some instructions on the Internets and headed off to Fabricland to find some material that would match my flowy shirt.

Now anyone who tells you that time travel is not possible has clearly not been to Fabricland recently. Stepping through the door, I found myself instantly in the early 1990s (i.e., the last time I set foot in Fabricland). I made my way through reams and reams of fabrics4 and found a fabric that was not only the exact perfect colour match to my shirt, but was also just the right weight and flowiness for a cape! And it was on sale! I also found a beautiful clasp that I could use to hold the cape on! So I took the fabric over to the counter where they cut it for you and after explaining to the salesperson that, no, I don’t have a pattern, I’m just using some instructions from the Internet (she was horrified by this idea), she cut my fabric for me and then pulled up a clunky device that held carbon copy sheets on which sheet wrote the details of my purchase (what fabric, what length) and gave me the original to take to the cash and kept the carbon copies for her records, I guess?

Daenerys Targaryen costume

Seriously, it’s 2015. I am shocked you can even buy carbon copy papers in this day and age! You’d think that in the last 20+ years they might have come up with some sort of app to track these purchases (and thus, their inventory), but no. Carbon. Copy.

Anyway, I was very excited to have a little sewing project! I don’t own a sewing machine, nor do I exactly know how to use one, so I sewed it by hand. It only required that I sew the two sides onto the main part of the cloak, sew the two pieces of the hood together, sew the hood onto the cloak (make some gathers as you do to make it nice and flowy), and then hem the whole thing. I actually kind of enjoy sewing by hand – it’s somewhat meditative – though on the night before I had to have my costume done to wear to work I ended up staying super late finishing it, and then I kind of wished I’d taken up Daniel’s mother’s offer to borrow her sewing machine! But I got it done and I was quite proud of it in the end. And I think once I’m done teaching this new course, I might come up with something awesome to make that I can wear more than just on Halloween!

Anyway, here I am in my costume at work:

Daenerys Targaryen costume

And here I am running an important business meeting at Daenerys Targaryen5:

halloween costume at work

And here’s a close up of my dragons, who somehow acquired some candy!

Daenerys Targaryen costume - my 3 dragons

I was surprised by how many people didn’t know who I was. I got a lot of “You’re Elsa!” – and I guess because Elsa has long blonde hair and wears blue, but Elsa wears one long braid and I had curls and a few little braids pulled back at the top. Plus I had dragons! There were also a few “nice costumes” said with a tone that belied the speaker’s thoughts: “Please don’t realize I have no idea who you are dressed up as!” But anyone who knows Game of Thrones knew who I was instantly, including a lady I walked by in the Broadway-City Hall Canada Line Station who yelled “Daenerys Targaryen!!!!” when she saw me. And that was just based on the hair, because I was wearing my coat at the time and my dragons were tucked away in my bag!

Now I just need to find an excuse to wear a blue cape again.

  1. I also have assignments to mark, but they are group papers, so I only have four of them and they aren’t too long. []
  2. According to Wikipedia, Stuffy is terrified of spiders (citation needed), so therefore he is very sensible. []
  3. My mom and my paternal grandmother were my teachers. []
  4. Which, truth be told, really made me want to make a bunch of stuff! []
  5. My colleague who was sitting across from me at this meeting thought this was too hilarious not to photograph. []

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Trip

Wrote this on a plane on Thursday night. Plane arrived at 1 am. Then I spent the next two days having fun with my family and completely forgot to post this. So now I’m posting it from the Toronto airport as I await my next flight. Better late than never, right?

So here I find myself on a plane heading to Toronto and I realize that I haven’t even mentioned a thing about my trip here on ye old blog! But now I’ve got 4+ hours on a plane and, sure, I have work I could be doing1, but my brain is pretty fried from all the work I’ve been doing of late, so I figure I’ll write this blog posting now and leave the work for later, as there will be plenty more flights and sitting around in airports in the next week!

So yes, about the trip. I found out about a month ago that I was getting the opportunity to go to a conference for work. The conference itself looks fantastic – so many interesting sessions to go see and lots of great networking opportunities. The conference is being held in Kansas City, Missouri2 and while Kansas City was not on the top of my list of places that I wanted to travel to – hell, it wasn’t even on my list at all – I’m not one to turn down free trips to interesting conferences and I have been assured there will be excellent BBQ to be had.

Anyway, unsurprisingly, there are no direct flights from Vancouver to KC, so I started looking at flight options and, weirdly, I saw a flight through Toronto. I say “weirdly” because Toronto is not on the way to KC and that flight had another stopover in addition to Toronto, but at any rate, it got me thinking about tagging on a leg of the trip to go see my family3. The conference starts on Sunday night, so I first thought I’d fly out after work on Friday and get to spend Sat with the fam. But then I looked at the calendar and realized that Friday is Halloween and no way was I going to be spending Halloween on a plane! So I took tomorrow off and booked my flight for this evening so I get to spend Halloween at my sister’s place. Which means I get to go trick or treating with my niece and nephew for the first time ever! I moved out to Vancouver before either of them were born and have not had the opportunity to be in Toronto on Oct 31st since then4, so I am super duper stoked to go out with them!

Also, my sister bought a pumpkin for us to carve and, because she’s the best sister in the whole world, she bought a big, big pumpkin, because she knows I love big pumpkins (and I cannot lie.). When we were kids, my parents would take us to the pumpkin patch and my sister would always choose the most perfectly shaped, round little pumpkin she could find and I would picked the biggest one (obviously compensating for my own short stature by choosing a pumpkin that is bigger than me. Go big or go home, I always say). So it’s super sweet that she got us a giant pumpkin, because her own pumpkin preference is little and perfect!

After Halloween, I get to spend Saturday hanging with the family some more and then I’m jumping on a plane on Sunday morning to make my way to Kansas City. I have a 1 hr stopover in Chicago – Chicago *is* on my list of places I want to travel to and so I’m a bit choked that all I will get to do is run through O’Hare airport to catch my connection. That won’t stop me from crossing “Visit Chicago” off my list of 101 things to do, but getting to actually go to Chicago and see the city is still going to be on my list of places to travel!

I’ll be in Kansas City for three days of learning all the things, and then Wednesday night it’s back to Vancouver with a 1 hr stopover in Denver. And then back to work on Thursday! No rest for the wicked!

As per usual, let me remind any would-be thieves that I do have a house sitter who will totally kick your ass if you try anything, along with 2 attack cats and 4 vicious (not viscous) attack frogs. You have been warned.

  1. In addition to work work, I also have to make some edits to my online stats course, which I will be teaching again at the Justice League and I have a talk to write for a workshop to give to some med students that I was just invited to do today and I have a journal article that I’ve been meaning to start for ages! []
  2. Not to be mistaken for Kansas City, Kansas. Why the hell Missouri decided it was a good idea to name their biggest city “Kansas City” when there is already a Kansas City right there in the state of Kansas, I’ll never know. It would be like New Brunswick saying “You know what would be a good name for a city? Quebec City, New Brunswick. Yeah, I like that way that sounds!” []
  3. Once you are flying, it’s way cheaper to tag on a side trip than to book a flight on its own. I have to pay the difference between what my flight would have cost if I’d only gone from Vancouver to KC and what it cost to add on the Toronto leg, which was only $150. A flight to Toronto from Vancouver is usually in the range of $800, so I’m totally fine with paying $150 to get to see the fam! []
  4. The closest I’ve been was a couple of years ago when I was in Toronto for the Hoot and Howl fundraiser at my niece’s school and we had Thankoween dinner. []

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Happy Halloween!

So given that omg so busy, I didn’t really have as much time to put into my Halloween costume as I have in previous years. In fact, I even had to outsource idea generation! Fortunately, Jeff, my brother-in-common-law, is the greatest Halloween costume inventor in the history of the universe, so a quick consultation with him resulted in an idea of something that was clever and that I could make relatively quickly and easily. So this year, my costume was Google Maps:

Google Maps Halloween costume

Now, Google Maps in and of itself is not an original idea – it’s been done before. But Jeff always finds a way to take Halloween costumes up a level. Like my niece’s fairy costume last year where it was rigged up so that when she reached her arms forward to hold out her candy bag, her wings would go up. Or my nephew’s backhoe costume this year where all the parts of the backhoe actually move. So the thing that made my costume extra clever was that, since I was wearing it for work today, I made the map actually show the location of my office building *and* when I pulled up the main shirt, I had another shirt underneath with a “Street View” of my office building:

Google Maps Halloween costume

People at work really got a kick out of it, especially when they realized that it was our actual location. Though one friend of mine said that I should have been dressed as Apple Maps because I have such a terrible sense of direction.

At any rate, I was very pleased with how my costume turned out, especially since i had so little time to work on it. And so I hereby declare Jeff, brother-in-common-law extraordinaire, to be the Official Costume Consultant of Not to Be Trusted with Knives, with all the rights and privileges afforded thereto1.

  1. Note: there are neither rights nor privileges associated with this role. []

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What Should I Be For Halloween?

At my office we’ve been discussing whether we are going to dress up for Halloween1, which, of course, I’m highly in favour of. But, of course, this means I need to actually think of something to dress up as! I started a little brainstorming on the whiteboard I keep on my fridge, but none of these ideas are jumping out at me as the costume I want to make:

What should I be for Halloween?

Any ideas for a good work-appropriate costume for me?

In related news, there is a radio commercial for Value Village set to the tune of Macklemore’s Thrift Shop, where they sing about different possible Halloween costumes and it cracks me up every time I hear it. “You can be a duck. You can be a ref. You can be a duck that’s also a ref. Be a steampunk pickle or a zombie hotdog.” I don’t know why, but the phrase”steampunk pickle” makes my LOL every. single. time.

And, of course, I just Googled this commercial and the video version is on YouTube:

Steampunk pickle! LOL!

  1. One of my coworkers brought a bunch of decorations for our office, which means that everyone now has pictures of spiders on the hutches above their desks, which means that I’m now not able to talk to anyone near their desk. And I’m also threatening to work from home until November. And no it doesn’t matter that they are cartoon spiders! []

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Skull Cupcakes

My office’s annual Halloween potluck was yesterday and, as has become my custom, I decided to make a dessert. Specifically, I decided to make skull cupcakes. And while they weren’t as impressive as the eyeballs I made last year, they turned out better than the short fat ghosts I made the year before that.

The skull cupcakes, the recipe for which I found on the interwebs, were pretty easy to make – standard cupcakes, buttercream icing, Junior mints for eyes, a chocolate chip nose, and slivered almonds for teeth:

Skull cupcake

The trick to making the chin is to tuck a half a marshmallow into the cupcake liner.

Skull cupcake prep

When I did this, however, the liner kind of hung loose, so I used a bit of icing to glue the cupcake liner to the marshmallow and it was good to go.

In related news, the wax paper people weren’t kidding when they put this warning on the package:

Not to be trusted with wax paper

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Vegetarian Lady Gaga

So this year for Hallowe’en I went as Vegetarian Lady Gaga – I wasn’t about to make a dress out of meat, so I made one of kale and Swiss chard… and a bit of lettuce when I ran out of kale.

IMGP1567 lady-gaga-meat-dress-01

IMGP1563 IMGP1566

Two things I learned:

  • kale is a lot heavier than it looks – so I spent much of the evening pulling up my dress which was threatening to fall off all night.
  • kale has a weird smell. Not a strong smell – when I mentioned it to Cath, so had to lean into smell my dress because it’s a faint smell – but it is weird.

Props to the hosts of the party I went to last night, Cath & Mark:

IMG_1446

Guys, I apologize for the remnants of kale you probably found around your place this morning!

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Spooky Hallowe’en Eyeballs!

Every year, my office does a Hallowe’en potluck. Eager to redeem myself after last year’s deformed ghosts, I decided to make these Spooky Halloween Eyeballs1. So eager, in fact, that I didn’t really connect that the Oct 27th on which the office potluck is being held is the same Oct 27th on which I’ll be at a management conference – and thus not in the office – all day. Since I’d already bought the white chocolate, I decided to make the eyeballs anyway, and brought them in to work today instead of tomorrow.

The recipe takes a bit of time, but it’s relatively easy. You make balls of peanut butter and icing sugar (requires a bunch of chilling to make sure they are solid), then dip them in white chocolate:

IMGP1532

While the white chocolate is setting, you mix a little bit of blue food colouring  ((of course, you could make green eyes or brown eyes if you wanted to)) into the remaining white chocolate, so that you can paint on the irises – while an upside down chocolate chip is used to make the pupil:

Day 126

And finally, to make them “spooky” eyeballs instead of just plain old eyeballs, you draw on some blood vessels using a toothpick and red food colouring to make the eyeballs bloodshot:

IMGP1540

This recipe is definitely a keeper!

  1. Props to Nancy for bringing this recipe to my attention. Warning to Dr. Dan: There is a spider in the picture of the eyeballs on that site. I’d tell you not to click the link, but then I know you’d click the link. So just consider yourself warned []

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Shoe Ban Loophole #2

As you know, I have banned myself from buying shoes in 2010. And, as you also know, I have acquired only two pair of shoes during this time: one pair of running shoes (which were considered, right from the time I installed the ban, an exception because having properly functioning running shoes when training for a half marathon is an important health and safety issue – thus, they are, for the purposes of the shoe ban, safety gear, not shoes) and one pair that was given to me by a coworker (and thus made it through the first shoe ban loophole – I didn’t actually *buy* those shoes and the shoe ban was specifically worded around me *buying* the shoes).

Well, today I was faced with a conundrum. I went out to the Sally Ann Thrift store in search of some needed items for the making of my Hallowe’en costume.  And, the costume that I’m making requires platform shoes and the platform shoes that I currently possess in my shoe collection do not meet the technical specifications of my costume (I’d love to explain more, but I cannot give away the secret as to what my Hallowe’en costume will be. I will come back after Hallowe’en and update this posting to explain why my current platform heels are insufficient for said costume). So, I purchased this pair using the loophole that these are not shoes, they are components of my Hallowe’en costume. They are a pair of components for my Hallowe’en costume.  That is my story and I am sticking to it!

Day 124

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Happy Halloween

If I ever run in the Underwear Affair, I think I will wear this pair of undies:

DJ Funk’n’stein and I wish you a spooktacular Hallowe’en!