Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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My Last Vacation Was So Fun, I Think I’ll Have Another. And Another.

Last week I was on holidays to spend time with my mom and my aunt, who were visiting for my graduation. We had a lovely time being Vancouver tourists, doing such activities as:

  • shopping on Robson Street
  • various delicious meals with various delicious wines
  • visiting Granville Island
  • walking along the New Westminster Quay about a million times
  • my graduation
  • dinner with project group from school after graduation at Cioppinos
  • grad party on the Yaletown Keg rooftop patio
  • chocolate tasting at Xoxolat

This week I was back at work. And while I love my job, work has significantly fewer lunches where someone says “Let’s share a bottle of wine” than does vacation, so I’m going back on holidays after tomorrow.

Actually, I’d already planned this second vacation even before all the wine-based lunches of last week. I’m going to a conference in Ottawa the following week and since I had to pay for the flight out east, I figured I should take some vacation time to visit my family. So all next week I’ll be in Toronto, visiting family and friends, getting in some very important aunting time – I haven’t seen my niblings since Christmas! – and, undoubtedly, having more wine-based lunches. Then it’s off to Ottawa, where I’m going to the Canadian Evaluation Society conference. I’m staying with Sarah & Dave while I’m there and I would not be surprised if there was some wine drinking involved.

But lest you think I’m drinking too much wine – do not fear! I’m starting my holidays on Friday night at a craft beer event with Cath. Right after my massage appointment.

And as if my two vacations weren’t enough, just 9 days after returning, I’ll be setting out for a long weekend in San Fran to celebrate Kalev’s birthday! In those 9 days, I’ll be running a half marathon and moving, so I think I’ll  be ready for another vacation!

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Holidays Begin

Written earlier today, on a plane where they don’t have the Internets.

On a plane, heading to see the fam in Toronto for the Christmas holidays. I’m strangely antsy – we’ve only been flying for an hour so far, but I’ve alternated between deciding I should nap, then that I should read and then flipping endlessly through my kobo trying to decide *what* to read1, finally settling on a book I’ve been meaning for read since forever: Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. But then halfway through the first chapter, despite it being very interesting and well written, I decided that I should be writing. The woman next to me is marking exams2, which is making me both slightly anxious – because it reminds me that somewhere out there, there’s a prof who either is, has, or soon will be marking the exam I wrote last weekend3 – and happy that I’m not marking exams right now4. I think my antsiness is, at least in part, due to my discomfort with having the freedom to actually *decide* what to do, as opposed to immediately moving on to the next assignment once the last one was completed. It’s been two years since I’ve had to make such decisions – I’m not sure I remember how!

Granted, I still have my industry project to complete – it’s a super cool project that I’m doing for work, but with the added bonus that I get to write it up as a paper and it counts for 1.5 credits, but also I have a supervisor from school who is advising me, so it’s kind of like having a high price consultant for free5. So I suppose I could be doing that right now, but I feel like I’m at a stage where I need to lay a bunch of different papers out over a big surface so I can sketch out my strategy, which isn’t very conducive to the tiny fold out table tray on this plane… plus all the papers I need are in my checked baggage. I figure I can work on that in this upcoming week as everyone will be working – and my niece and nephew will be in school and daycare, respectively – during the day.

I also have a bunch of other exciting plans for my trip to Toronto, including, in no particular order:

  • dinner with Jen & Jody at some trendy new restaurant that Jen knows6
  • the Ontario Science Centre with Sarah and her crew – and I get to meet the newest member of the MacDonald-McLean gang!
  • annual Christmas baking – non-cyber edition
  • an evening of nerding out with Dan and Rick7
  • making homemade eggnog
  • various family events
  • a creative project with my sister
  • a trip to the Aquarium – which was a gift for my niece’s birthday from my Aunt Lynn

And probably a bunch of other stuff that I’ve forgotten. Now that I look at that list, this might be the nerdiest Christmas I’ve had in a long time!

Ok, now that I’ve started thinking about my industry project paper, I’m starting to get all angsty that I should be working on it. And, really, there are some of the background pieces that I could work on writing up right now that don’t requiring spreading all of the paper in the world over a great big table. I should probably work on that now. Will post this once I get back to the land of the Internets!

  1. I’m currently already reading two books – Ender’s Game, which I’m reading as an audiobook while I do my treadmill running for the running study I’m in, so I want to save that to listen to while I’m running, and Born to Run, but I’m about 9/10ths of the way through that, but it’s a paper book and I didn’t want to have to carry that with me on the plane as I’m carrying all the electronics ever so my carry on bag is already way too heavy for my own good. []
  2. Incidentally, marking is one of my least favourite things to do… next to taking exams! []
  3. Despite the fact that I told myself when I started the MBA that I don’t care about my marks and I’m really just interested in what I’m learning… I kind of care about my marks. I can’t help it! Since the start of the program, I’ve gotten good marks and the more I got, the more felt like I was on a roll and didn’t want to break my streak! I managed to be above the class average in every course with the exception of two courses where I got exactly the class average, but both of those had quite high class averages, so I was OK with that. And now I just have one mark left to receive for the rest of my life – the one for the course that I wrote the exam in last Saturday. And even though grades mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things… I’m totally freaking out about it. Fingers crossed! []
  4. I am going to be teaching my stats course starting in January, so there is marking in my near future. But Future Beth can deal with that – December Beth is happily not carrying a giant pile of exams with her giant pile of techno-gadgets in her carry on. []
  5. Free, unless you count my massive tuition fee. []
  6. Last time I was in T.O., we did the after work (for them) dinner & drinks thing, and I was totally undressed as the Toronto business crowd is all suits and whatnot, and I was in casual attire that would fit in back in Vancouver. So this time I made sure to pack a dress and fancy boots. []
  7. Lest you doubt the level of nerdery of this event, the title of the Google Calendar invite is “The Researchiest Researchers Who Ever Did Research”. []

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Merry Christmas Eve!

Christmas really snuck up on me this year and I can hardly believe it’s Christmas Eve already. I did the least amount of Christmas baking ever, as my plans for an evening of Christmas baking last Wednesday were thwarted by poor bridge design. I did cinnamon buns for a Christmas breakfast potluck at work on Tuesday and I helped out with some gingerbread that Devon’s sister and her kids were making yesterday, so the season wasn’t completely devoid of baking, but it was a heck of a lot less than I would have liked. 2012 has just been that kind of a year.

Happily, I’m enjoying a much needed break from both work and school1 until the new year. I hope that you are all having a restful holidays with the people you care about.

santa frog

Merry Christmas from Copernicus, Torpedo, Starsky & Hutch!

  1. Translation: Except to read some book reviews because I’m reading several non-school books at the moment! []

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More About My Vacation. Plus 101 Footnotes!

So, we are back from our whirlwind trip to Portland1 and are now hanging out on Vancouver Island2,3 . Didn’t really take many photos4 since I went to pretty much all the same places as I did last year5, so I figure you could just look at the photos from last year6.

Some random thoughts about Oregon:

  • Powell’s City of Books is made of awesome7. It’s a bookstore that’s 4 storeys high and takes up an entire city block8 and killer prices. We may have spent a few hours in there and picked up a giant piles of books9, Incognito10, and The Third Chimpanzee11. And some zombie key covers!)). Because you know I don’t have enough things to read.
  • Did you know that there is a Comfort Inn & Suites Portland Airport and a Comfort Suites Portland International Airport and that these are two totally different hotels? I stayed in one of these last year and booked what I thought was the same hotel, but then it wasn’t. The hotel was still totally fine, and it was the cheapest price that we could find, so it was all good. But seriously, Comfort Suites, why would you name two hotels that are ~5 minutes away from each other virtually the same thing12??
  • And speaking of unoriginal names, why do so many cities in Oregon use names of other cities for their cities? There’s Salem13, Albany14, Milwaukie15, Dallas16, Florence17, Phoenix18, Toledo19, Harrisburg20, Dundee21, Jacksonville22, Dayton23, Oakland24, Glendale25, Arlington26, St. Paul27, Lexington28, Waterloo29, and Detroit30,31 ,32 ,33. And don’t even get me started on Vancouver, *Washington*34

More About The Zombie Race

Despite the extreme length of my zombie race posting, I managed to forgot to mention a few things I meant to mention in that posting:

  • I never even mentioned the race results35! I finished the race in 46:2036. Out of 2,788 competitors, I came in 1,037th place37. In my wave38, I came in 68th out of 237 runners39. That’s really not too shabby40.
  • Out of the 2,788 competitors, only 438 managed to get through the whole race without losing all of their flags41. That at least makes me feel a bit better about being zombified42.
  • I spoke to one guy after the race who told me that, despite finishing in about 30 minutes43, not only did zombies get all 3 of his flags, but they also got the 3 flags he got from a “health pack”44, and one flag that he saw on the ground and picked up. Picking up stray flags along the route is strictly prohibited, so I told him in as serious a tone as I could muster, “You can’t cheat death, dude. You can’t cheat death.”
  • Another guy after the race was regaling his girlfriend with tales of his adventures, the best of which was “And at the end there was a part where we had to crawl through mud and there was an electrified wire cage above you and I thought I’d be smart and go through on my back instead of on my stomach so that I could see the wire cage and not hit it. But instead I ended up electrocuting my privates!”
  • Another thing of awesomeness was one section of zombies that were doing the Thriller dance. Since I was without flags by that point in the race, I Thriller danced my way through that particular zombie horde45.
  • Completing the zombie obstacle course race means I’ve checked off item #91 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days46 ,47 ,48 ,49 ,50!

Since arriving at the Island, we’ve been on the more relaxation portion of our holidays51. Slept in52, had a lovely breakfast53, went for a glorious 12 km run54 ,55 , spent some time with Devon’s sister, brother-in-law and their kids56 ,57 ,58,59 ,60 ,61 ,62 ,63 ,64 ,65 ,66 ,67 ,68 ,69 ,70 ,71 ,72 ,73 ,74 ,75 ,76 ,77 ,78 ,79 ,80 ,81 ,82 ,83 ,84 ,85 ,86 ,((100%)) ,87 ,88 ,89 ,90 ,91 ,92 ,93, 94,95 ,96 ,97, including seeing a kickass thunder and lightening storm98. Other plans for the Vancouver Island portion of the trip include hiking some mountains, watching some movies, more time with the kids, some homework99, and hopefully some leisure reading100. And after that, we still have the Okanagan leg of our holidays to go101)

Did I ever mention how much I love being on vacation?

  1. Well, technically to Onalaska, WA, Portland, and various other places in Oregon state. []
  2. After a very poorly planned attempt to take the ferry from Ancortes to Vancouver Island. []
  3. Instead, we had to drive through the Peace Arch border and then head to Tsawwassen to catch the ferry from there []
  4. Did I mention I bought a new camera? []
  5. Voodoo Doughnut, the Oregon coast, the Tillamook Cheese Factory, the most amazing Mexican restaurant I’ve ever been to. []
  6. We did take a couple of pics, but I’m settled in on the coach with a nice cup of tea and waaaay to lazy comfy to go get the camera and upload the photos. []
  7. I went there on my trip last year too, but I don’t think I actually mentioned it much here on ye old blog. []
  8. And then, because an entire city block isn’t enough to house all the books, there’s Powell’s 2 across the street. []
  9. I bought a boxed set of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 5-book “trilogy” ((By Douglas Adams []
  10. By some author whose name I can’t recall []
  11. By Jared Diamond []
  12. And why does one specify Portland *International* Airport and the other just Portland Airport. They are talking about the same airport! []
  13. a la Massachusetts []
  14. a la New York []
  15. a la Milwaukee, Wisconsin []
  16. a la Texas []
  17. a la Italy []
  18. a la Arizona []
  19. a la Ohio []
  20. a la Pennsylvania []
  21. a la Scotland []
  22. a la Florida []
  23. a la Ohio []
  24. a la California []
  25. a la California []
  26. a la both Virginia and Texas []
  27. a la Minnesota []
  28. a la Kentucky []
  29. a la Ontario []
  30. a la Michigan []
  31. In case you haven’t noticed this yet, I’m trying to write a blog posting containing 101 footnotes, which is item #10 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days []
  32. Are the footnotes getting annoying yet? []
  33. Note that I didn’t say they had to be “good” or “useful” or “relevant” footnotes. []
  34. When you are in Washington or Oregon and say you are from “Vancouver” people usually say “Vancouver, Washington?”. No! Not Vancouver, Washington! The *real* Vancouver! []
  35. All the race results can be found here. []
  36. Which would be pretty slow for a regular 5 km, but not terrible for a race with obstacles to get over/under/through, zombies in your way, 38 degree heat, and the decision to walk a bunch of the race once I got zombified! []
  37. That’s in the top half, at least. []
  38. The 2 pm wave. []
  39. That’s in the top 30% []
  40. Well, other than the part where I didn’t make it out of the race alive []
  41. That’s only a 16% survival rate. []
  42. I mean, insofar as one can feel better after being zombified []
  43. He used to be in the military, so was used to obstacle course type races []
  44. A few “health packs” containing extra flags were available around the race route for lucker runners who found them. []
  45. Damnit, I just typed “zombie horder” again? What is my damage? []
  46. Did I ever mention that I love knocking things off my to do lists? []
  47. I’m starting to think that writing 101 footnotes might just be harder than running that race! []
  48. I also have “run 3 races” as one of my goals for 2012, so I’m not 1/3rd done that particular goal too. Woohoo! []
  49. The Victoria half marathon will be race #2 and I’m thinking that the Energizer Night Race will be #3 []
  50. The Energizer Night Race is one that’s held in Stanley Park after the sun sets and everyone wears headlamps. Sounds like a blast. Also, you get a free headlamp []
  51. vs. the driving mega distances and running from zombie hordes portion of our holidays []
  52. Though we didn’t get in to Devon’s parents place ’til about 2 a.m., thanks to the ferry fiasco! []
  53. Devon’s mom always feeds us so well when we are here! []
  54. Which felt so good after all the time spent sitting in the car yesterday! []
  55. 12 km is usually my least favourite running distance, but today’s was totally fine! I’d been trying to prepare myself psychologically for this run, using the same trick as I did with running hills – i.e., tell myself that I love the 12 km distance, just like I told myself I loved hills – repeatedly, until I stopped hating hills. []
  56. Including feeding them Voodoo Doughnuts that we brought back from Portland []
  57. Though Devon’s sister was mostly excited by the Tillamook cheese we brought back for her! []
  58. We also brought ourselves back some cheese! So excited by the cheese! []
  59. Oh []
  60. my []
  61. god []
  62. writing []
  63. 101 []
  64. footnotes []
  65. is []
  66. very []
  67. very []
  68. very []
  69. very []
  70. very []
  71. very []
  72. very []
  73. very []
  74. very []
  75. very []
  76. very []
  77. hard. []
  78. Yes []
  79. I []
  80. know []
  81. this []
  82. is []
  83. totally []
  84. totally []
  85. completely []
  86. entirely []
  87. cheating []
  88. but []
  89. I []
  90. don’t []
  91. care []
  92. All’s []
  93. fair []
  94. in []
  95. love []
  96. and []
  97. footnotes. []
  98. With probably the loudest thunder I’ve ever heard in my life! []
  99. Including a teleconference with my business plan group tomorrow. []
  100. Because did I mention all the stuff I bought at Powell’s books? []
  101. I haven’t been to the Okanagan since I was there with a band of traveling scientists in 2006. []

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Christmas Is A Time For Lazing

So now that I’m waking from my food coma of Christmas feasting, I seem to remember that I have a blog that I’ve been neglecting. But I have to say that I’ve been having a lovely time doing absolutely nothing on my holidays. Well, I shouldn’t say I’ve done *nothing*, because I’ve done a lot of eating. And drinking tea and coffee and lattes and Lions Winter Ale. I also went for a nice run yesterday – and it’s super hilly here on the Island, so I totally earned all the eating and drinking. Plus, I started reading a book, just for fun, which is something that I know I won’t get to do once school starts.

I was also pretty spoiled. In addition to the USA Pan that my sister gave me pre-Christmas1 so that I’d have it in time for my Christmas baking, I got a set of Lagostina cutlery2, earrings, a skull-and-cross bone necklace, a Lululemon gift card, a purse full of make-up and nail polish3, and my niece made a penguin-shaped eraser for me to use for my homework. And Sarah and Dave sent me two awesome books. Like I said – spoiled!

Over the next few days I’ll be doing my usual year-in-review and goals-for-the-new-year type postings. But for now, I’m off to drink a cup a tea!

  1. Omg, I totally thought I’d blogged about the USA Pan, but it appears that I haven’t! I must rectify that posthaste! []
  2. So that I can throw lavish dinner parties once I move back to civilization. Also, so that I can have more than three knives. []
  3. That one is from my mom, of course! []

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Organization Queen

So, I decided to take holidays for these next two weeks, but not to go to Ontario for Christmas. I mean, I really enjoy seeing my family at Christmas, but trips to Ontario are *exhausting* because I have so many people to see and it ends up being a lot of scheduling, running around to see people, entertaining, more running around and I end up coming home 10x more exhausted than when I left on “vacation.” Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends, but knowing that I’m about to start school in January, I decided it that it made a lot more sense to spend my time off at home getting rested and organized for what is definitely going to be a busy new year1.

So, what is it that I plan to do with my time off?

BusyMy first priority is to organize my apartment. For example, I need to turn my desk from its current state as a piece of furniture buried under a giant pile of papers that “I’ll file later” to an actual functioning workspace. As I see it, my organizational tasks this week are:

  • sort through massive piles of paper:
    • all unnecessary papers thrown in the recycling (I’m looking at you, research articles from my PhD that I completed 5+ years ago)
    • all necessary papers filed in the appropriate file folder
  • organize my bookshelves, donating any books that I no longer need/want
  • fix clothes that need fixing2, purge clothes that don’t fit me3 and shoes that are worn out (to the landfill, sadly.)
  • review and update my budget
And speaking of organizing, I know that I’m going to need to be *very* organized in order to handle a full-time job, plus school, plus having some semblance of a social life. I’m thinking that the main things I’ll need to do are being ruthless about my schedule – setting aside time for homework, exercise4, and date nights – and getting an effective routine going. Things that I’ve found to be effective in keeping me organized and efficient, when I actually do them, include::
  • planning out my outfits on Sunday night for the the following week – it’s unbelievable how much trouble I have deciding what to wear in the morning!
  • cooking for the week on the weekend – I love having leftovers for lunch and especially for weekends when I have classes, I’m going to need to have prepared food on hand so that I don’t end up spending a fortune on, and gaining 50 lbs from, restaurants
  • going to bed at a decent hour – I am really bad for getting too little sleep during the week and then sleeping in on the weekends5. This won’t be an option on weeks that I have class at 8 am on Saturday and Sunday!
So I figure that after organizing my apartment, I’ll get my other systems set up – organize a spot in my closet for setting out my outfits, ensure my kitchen is appropriately set up for maximum efficiency, setting up my calendar with spots for homework time, times for going out for a run, etc.

I’m sure this sounds like the worst. vacation. ever. to most of you. But my nerdy nature is actually a bit thrilled to have some time to remove the clutter from both my apartment and my mind! Also, there will be plenty of time for fun – as I mentioned above, I’ll be spending Christmas with Devon and his family on the Island, so there will be family festivities, plus a chance to visit the Bard & Banker which has the beer that is so delicious that I want to marry it. I also hope to get to La Belle Patate, a Montreal-style deli where I can enjoy a Montreal smoked meat sandwich and, if their Facebook page tells the truth, a spruce beer!!!

This shaping up to be quite a nice vacation!

Image Credit: Posted by A. J. Cann on Flickr.
  1. Happily, Devon has offered to share his family with me this Christmas, so I will still get to enjoy family festivities! []
  2. I have a few items of clothing with loose buttons or ripped seams that I can easily put back into the rotation with a few stitches. []
  3. By donating them to a thrift store. []
  4. Exercise being my most effective way of de-stressing and rather non-negotiable for a public health nerd such as myself []
  5. And yes, I know that you can’t truly “catch up” on missed sleep, but I do at least “recover” from the sleep deprivation of the previous week. []

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Two Weeks

That’s how much time I have left until I’m off for the holidays. Ten business days. And in those ten business days, I have:

  • four teleconferences
  • two webinars
  • a 1.5 day workshop
  • 18 hours of meetings
  • and I have to go to Vancouver three times1.
I also have two Christmas parties to go to, one of which requires me to make a super fancy cake to bring. OK, it’s not actually a requirement, but since I made my famous chocolate amaretto cheesecake for last year’s party, I feel the need to make something spectacular in order to keep up my reputation.
Needless to say, I’m *very* glad I decided to take the last two weeks of December off. I figured it would be a good idea given that school starts up in January and I’m going to need to be well rested and very organized for that, so a couple of weeks of not having to go to work were just what the doctor ordered. I’m looking forward to lots of sleeping in and unburying my desk at home from the piles of papers that are begging to be filed. I also plan to hit up some hot yogas classes and a day of skiing! w00t!
  1. Happily, my friend Lianna is letting me stay over at her place one of those days since I have to be there two days in a row, which saves me driving all the way back to Surrey at the end of one day only to have to drive all the way back to Vancouver the next morning []

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O Christmas Tree

It’s December now, which means (a) WTF? How the hell did it get to be December already??, and (b) it’s totally legitimate that I put up my Christmas tree last night. Totally. Legit.

I took pictures even though it looks *exactly* like it did last year. Except that I now have a TV beside it1. That’s what we call “progress.”

IMGP3477

IMGP3479

IMGP3478

May you be touched by his Noodly Appendage.

Happily, the chili peppers that I put on my tree last year seemed to hold  up pretty well through a year of being in storage. While hanging on the tree, they dried out nicely, which seems to have preserved them well. Two looked a bit icky, so I tossed them, but the rest were in fine shape.

Also, I already have some presents, which I picked up from my family when I was in Montreal, under my tree:

IMGP3485

A little bird told me that some presents are winging their way towards me, so there will be more to put under the tree soon!

I still feel like I don’t have enough ornaments. Maybe I’ll get creative and make a few more this month!

  1. Which my friend Lianna gave me so that I can watch Canucks games. []

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My First Turkey

As we all know, I live by a “go big or go home” philosophy. If something’s worth doing, it’s worth going full tilt, right? In keeping with this, I decided that for my first Thanksgiving as an unvegetarian in the last decade and a half, I should cook a turkey. However, seeing as I had never cooked a turkey before, I was hesitant to invite anyone over to eat said turkey, because I didn’t want there to be any pressure on me in case the turkey turned out to be overcooked and dry or salmonella-licious! Also, the first time I cook *anything*, I find I have to really concentrate to not screw it up, so I’d be a terrible hostess if I invited anyone over and tried to cook a turkey dinner while I entertained. So, instead, I decide to cook a turkey for just me!

My first step was to find a good local butcher shop where I could buy a turkey that had happily run around, eating non-animal foodstuffs and gobble-gobble-gobbling with his turkey friends until such time as someone killed him in the most humane way possible so that I could eat him. I ended up ordering at turkey from Prime Beef in Delta – despite their name, they have lots of animals for you to cook besides cows! Now, I asked for the smallest bird they could get me, which they said would be about 10 lbs. Ten pounds is a lot of bird for one small Beth, but I am a fan of leftovers and turkey freezes well, so I decided to go for it. When I got there to pick it up on Saturday, however, I discovered that the smallest turkey they had, which they reserved for me was this one:

Free range turkey.
My Thanksgiving turkey. I believe his name was Colin.

Yes, you are reading that correctly. That’s a *sixteen* pound turkey! All for one person! Eep! Thank the FSM that turkey freezes well!

Anyway, after carefully following the directions that my sister gave me, I ended up with this:

My first turkey

Not a bad looking turkey, if I do say so myself!

Now, some random thoughts on cooking a turkey dinner:

  • Preparing the turkey brought me back to my lab days. I examined the giblets – “Yup, that’s a liver. And yup, that’s a heart. And, wow, that’s one heck of a long neck!” – and checked out the bones and flexed the joints – “These all seem to be in working order.” When I cut up the meat at the end, I was totally checking out the different muscles and where they inserted into the various bones. So awesome. Also, a turkey baster is just a giant pipette.
  • Once it turned out that my turkey was moist and delicious, I really wished I’d invited people over to share it with me!
  • It’s not that difficult to cook a turkey, but it is time consuming.
  • I also made a boatload of sides dishes, because it’s not a Thanksgiving dinner without them. Side dishes included:
    • roast garlic mashed potatoes
    • mashed turnips
    • steamed carrots and peas
    • baked brussel sprouts
    • Harvard beets1
    • stuffing
    • homemade cranberry sauce, made by my friend Lianna!
  • When I cook, probably my biggest weakness is not coordinating things so that everything is ready at the same time. Often, this is because I forgot that two things need the same pot until I’m partway through making them – and I have a limited number of pots – and thus something ends up done too early and gets cold and other things end up too late. To deal with this problem, I made the following Gantt chart:

Thanksgiving dinner Gantt chart

The great thing about the Gantt chart was that I could start laying up prep & cooking times and make sure that I wasn’t going to need the same pot for two things at the same time (Resource column), or to make sure that I didn’t have myself scheduled to be preparing two different things at the same time (represented in blue, I just had to make sure that I didn’t have more than one blue square at any one time slot). It took a bit of shuffling around to get it to work, but once it was set up, it allowed me to quickly look and see what the next thing I needed to do was. Best. Gantt Chart. Ever!

In conclusion, I’m happy to report that Colin was delicious and I can now add “cooking turkey” onto my list of “things that I can do.” (Cooking gravy, on the other hand, remains on my unachievable list.)

 

 

  1. As I said on Twitter, even my beets are nerdy! []

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The Delinquent Traveler

Whenever I go on a trip, I do as little planning as possible. Generally, I travel with people who either like to plan or are resigned to it. Case in point: the trip I’m currently on. All the research about the destination, hotel, attractions, etc. were handled by my sister and her boyfriend. I basically just had to show up. Well, show up and buy beer and diapers along the way, as Nancy, Jeff and the kids are flying in from  Toronto1 and it wasn’t worth lugging that kind of stuff on the airplane.

Of course, for this trip I actually had to get myself to Portland.  I had decided to drive because flights were more expensive than they were worth. Knowing that I am too cheap to use my cell phone in the States, I had printed out at Google Map with the directions to get to the hotel – basically down the I-5 to the I-205. I also have a giant map book that has all the states and provinces in it, so I brought that along as well. I decided to leave very early in the morning to try to beat them long weekend border traffic. This was a good plan, because I left my house at about 6:15 a.m. and I only ended up waiting about 15 minutes at the border2. Though I had plotted the direct route to Portland on Google Maps, I knew I would have *tonnes* of time to kill as my family wasn’t going to be arriving until about 8 p.m.3. I toyed with the idea of driving at least part of the way down the coast instead of the I-54, but not far as doing any actual planning. You know, like mapping out an actual route. Anyway, as I was driving along the I-5, I saw a sign that said, “Ocean Beaches” and thought, “What the hell?” and went in that direction to take the more scenic route. I had my giant map book, which has the major highways on it and figured out basically where I’d end up going if I followed this spur-of-the-moment plan. Basically, I took Hwy 8/Hwy 12/Hwy 105 through Aberdeen, Grayland, the hilariously named Tokeland, down to Raymond, around South Bend and down Hwy 101 through Lewis & Clark National Park and over the most awesomest bridge ever into Astoria.

Just before I went over the awesome bridge, I stopped in at the Dismal Nitch Rest Area:

Dismal Nitch Rest Area

 

 

That “No Fish Cleaning” sign made me really wish I had a fish in need of cleaning!

But I have to say, Dismal Nitch is so not dismal!

Dismal Nitch Rest Area

Dismal Nitch Rest Area

Hell, even the restroom had flowers:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dismal Nitch Rest Area - the restroom had flowers!

 

 

 

 

 

This is the awesome bridge that links Washington State to Astoria, Oregon. I’m pretty sure it’s the longest bridge I’ve ever driven on, and is certainly the awesomest (the photo does not do it justice!):Dismal Nitch Rest Area

Strangely, I was listening to my music on shuffle at the time and just as I was about to go over the bridge, the song “Stan” by Eminem came on. For anyone not familiar with the song, it ends with an Enimem fan committing murder-suicide by driving off a bridge with his pregnant girlfriend being held captive in the trunk of his car. Definitely an eerie song to listen to on a bridge5! Also, that’s how long the bridge is – by the time it got to that part of the song, I was still on the bridge!

In Astoria, I stopped for a (late) lunch and took a couple of photos – the place was as cute as button, and the photos don’t do it justice at all:

Astoria, OR

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Upon leaving Astoria, I was a wee bit nervous because I was now going to be approaching Portland, and thus my hotel, from a totally different direction than the original Google Map that I’d printed and, as you know, I ‘m directionally challenged. I managed to get most of the way there, but then there was a giant clusterfuck of Hwy 30, Hwy 30 Bypass, Hwy 84, Hwy 205, Hwy 405 and the I-5 all having a giant orgy and I got totally and completely lost. To the point that I actually had to turn on my phone’s data to ask Google Maps to save me. It only took me like 5 seconds to do that, but I’m sure that will cost me eleventy billion dollars in data roaming fees. But it did the job because I’m now sitting in my hotel room, writing this blog posting, and waiting for my family to arrive!

I am sure I’ll chime back in with more stories of our Portland adventures (Voodoo Doughnut, I’m looking in your direction!) soon!

 

 

  1. Dragon Dictate just wrote “Tron” instead of Toronto []
  2. The sign said the wait was going to be 40 minutes, so that was a pleasant surprise. []
  3. and the direct route only takes about 5 hours. []
  4. Sarah had suggested that, since I had so much time to kill, I take a detour to check out Mount St. Helens. I thought about it, but I realized that a trip to Mount St. Helens would be way more fun with someone else as opposed to by myself, so I decided to save it for another time []
  5. Clearly, Bellatrix has a twisted sense of humour! []