Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Blot, blot, Western baby!

Finally, my love/hate of lab work and my love of Lady Gaga have been merged together into pure awesomeness:

I think the best part is that her costumes are made out of lab supplies!

Props to Dave, my friend and co-blogger over on my science nerd blog, who brought this awesomeness to my attention!

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You Can Do *Anything* You Want?

I’m involved in a program where scientists go to elementary schools to teach science to the kids. It’s super fun to see how engaged the students get in the experiments, to see them thinking critically and learning that science is fun.  Last week, I went to meet the classes I’m going to be working with this year – grades 3 and 4.  I told them a little bit about my background as a scientist and, after wowing them with the fact that I went to school until I was in grade 23, we got to talking about what university is like. I told them that unlike elementary school, where you have classes in all the different subjects – science and math and English and art and gym and music and history, etc. – when you get to university, you start to specialize, you decide what you like and then you take most of your courses just in that area.  If you decide you like science, then you can specialize in science and take mostly science classes. If you decide you like art, you can specialize in that.  And this one kid’s eyes just go so big and the expression on his faced showed that he’d just had the most amazing revelation.  “You mean you can do *anything* you want?  You get to pick *anything*?”  I think it was the first time he’d ever heard this! “That’s right,” I said,”You can decide to do whatever you want!”

And then today I was talking to one of the students in the university course that I’m teaching, answering some last minute question about tomorrow’s final exam, my student said that even though this is her last term of university, she was really excited by research methods (which is not something you hear very often, by the way. Research methods tends to be something that many students feel they just have to suffer through, something that they won’t ever engage in again).  “It’s really exciting,” she said, “with research, you really can do anything you want!”

And isn’t that a nice thought?  Whether you are a grade 3 student looking to your life ahead or a fourth year university student whose eyes are being opened to the possibilities of research or [insert your own life here] – you can do *anything* you want!

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Happy New Year!

new year by *Sally M*.

Fiscal new year, that is.  At least if you are on a April 1 to March 31 fiscal year.  Which I just so happen to be.  So, yeah, today is fiscal new year.  Which means that I can no longer blame anything and everything that goes wrong on fiscal year-end, as I am wont to do.

I will now have to resort to blaming things on “the economy” and “my brain injury.1

1For the record, I’m feeling better today. Still have a bit of a headache, but not as much as yesterday, when I couldn’t even look at a computer screen. I was even able to go to work today, although I had to alternate tasks that required looking at the computer screen with those that didn’t.

Image credit: Sally M on Flickr

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The The Impotence of Proofreading. And Happy Birthday to The Elements of Style

I *finally* finished marking the assignments that I’ve been marking for the last 362,454,879 days. Just in time to create the exam before the next set of assignments come in for marking! I really like teaching, but man oh man it’s a lot of work.  Especially the first time you teach a course. I can even begin to describe how happy I’ll be to see the end of term!

In related news, I saw over on Derek‘s Facebook wall that it is the 50th anniversary of Strunk and White’s book The Elements of Style. The Elements of Style is a short book about grammar, word usage and composition that pretty much everyone should read.  It’s available in its entirety online, for free.  I tell all my students, regardless of what course I’m teaching, that they should read it1.

In other related news, I showed this video clip to my class today:

“The The Impotence of Proofreading,” by Taylor Mali

I thought I’d posted this video before, but a quick search of my blog didn’t turn up anything, so perhaps I just meant to2. It makes me laugh every time I watch it.

1I wonder how many of them actually do?
2See: good intentions, road to hell paved with.

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Happy Pi Day!

Yup, pi.  As in ” the ratio of a circle’s area to the square of its radius” [Source: wikipedia].  As in 3.141592…. As in March 14 (3/14).  And, now that I think about it, we are only six years away from an even more precise  Pi Day: March 14, 2015 (3/14/15) !

This holiest of holy days was recently brought to my attention by my friend, Almost Dr. Dan, who is an Almost Dr. of Statistics and who has tattoos of the Greek letters sigma, psi, delta, gamma, xi, and, of course, pi, on various locations on his body.

According to the Pi Day website:

With the use of computers, Pi has been calculated to over 1 trillion digits past the decimal. Pi is an irrational number meaning it will continue infinitely without repeating. The symbol for pi was first used in 1706 by William Jones, but was popular after it was adopted by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1737.

Also, through the Pi Day website I discovered my new favourite song: Lose Yourself (In the Digits).

And now, a declaration:

In honour of Pi Day, I hereby declare Almost Dr. Dan to be the Official Statisitian and Tattoo Consultant for Not To Be Trusted With Knives.

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Analog Twitter

… or “What I Would Have Tweeted Today Had I Been Near My Computer And/Or Not Afraid To Tweet With My Phone In Case Bell Tries To Charge Me To Do So Despite My Having A Texting Plan As Per This News Story.”

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Nature Meets Nurture

So, yesterday I went to that talk by Dr. El-So-hottie1 that I mentioned the other day.  His research in in the area of nutrigenomics – the field that applies genomics (i.e., studying the genome (i.e., all the genes in an individual)) to nutrients.  What I really like about his lecture was that he talks about how neither genetics nor environment operate in isolation.  We are past the time of talking about nature vs. nurture (although you will still often hear people debating this false dichotomy) and really need to think about how genes and the environment interact with one another.

Sugar

In his talk, he discussed a few of his recent lines of research – specifically, research on sugar and research on coffee.  Through a strange anomoly in one study (and then a systematic investigation to what the heck was going on2), he and one of his grad students discovered that a particular variation in one gene (called GLUT-2) resulted in people with that version of the gene eating more sugar.  Not in the lab and not under some special diet – just in their every day lives.  And it wasn’t that they taste the sugar less than people with the other version of the gene – but that their brains sensed the sugar less, leading them to eat more.  Interestingly, people with this version of the GLUT-2 gene have a higher risk of diabetes.  And so this research illustrates an interesting point:  If you studied these people and just looked at their sugar intake (without looking at their genetic makeup), you would conclude that higher intake of sugar caused (or at least increased their risk of) diabetes.  But if you looked at their genetic makeup (i.e., which version of the GLUT-2 gene they had) without looking at their food intake, you would conclude that the version of GLUT-2 they have causes (or at least increases the risk of) diabetes.  But when you look at the whole picutre, you see that the relationship is more complex than that.  So what increases the risk of diabetes in people with this version of GLUT-2?  Maybe that version GLUT-2 has some action in the pancreas that leads to diabetes (as GLUT-2 is in the pancreas as well as the brain and, I believe, other places).  Maybe it’s the sugar.  That still remains to be determined, as this research is still quite young.  But very cool, eh?

Caffeine

His research on caffeine was equally fascinating. There’s lots of conflicting research on whether regular caffeine intake increases risk of heart attacks.  Some research says yes, other research says no3.  And it appears that the reason behind these conflicting results may be – you guessed it – genetics.  There’s a gene related to the body’s ability to break down caffeine – some people break caffeine down quickly (we call them “fast metabolizers”) while other people break down caffeine slowly (not surprisingly, we call them “slow metabolizers”).  And if you look at caffeine intake and risk of heart attack while also looking at their genetic status (i.e.,  fast or slow metabolizers), you find something very interesting: people who are slow metabolizers have an increased risk of having heart attack if they regularly consume even 2 or 3 cups of coffee per day; meanwhile, fast metabolizers do not have an increased risk of heart attack even if they consume 4 cups of coffee per day – what’s more, fast metabolizers who drink 2 or 3 cups of coffee per day actually have a decreased risk of heart attack compared to those who don’t drink any coffee!

So What?

So, all this is pretty freaking cool, but I should point out (as did Dr. El-So-hottie), that this type of research is really in its infancy.  Perhaps down the road we’ll be able to scan your genome and tell which diet (or other lifestyle factors) will work for you in particular, but we just aren’t there yet. And we won’t be for some time.

Not that this stops companies from trying to profit by selling you a DNA test, of course.

1Props to my friend Alicia for coming up with that name!
2This reminds me of the Issac Asimov quotation “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I’ve found it!), but ‘That’s funny…’
3And yet other research says “wtf? I have no idea, yo.”

Image credits:
Sugar image credit: Uwe Hermann on Flickr.
Coffee image credit: Omar MK on Flickr.

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101 in 1001 for my 1000th post

So, for my 1000th blog posting I wanted to do something special. And I decided that the something special would be a “101 things to do in 1001 days” list.  The first time I saw one of these was on Dave’s blog and I may or may not have soon after written a parody version called “102 things to do in 1,000,001 days” on a satire blog that may or may not have been removed from the Internet for possible libel issues. Anyway.

The idea behind this list is to come up with 101 things you want to do – things you’ve always meant to do but haven’t gotten around to,  things you want to challenge yourself to accomplish and, let’s be honest, a few things that sound good but you are pretty sure you’ll do so that you can gain the satisfaction of checking at least a few things off your list.  As well, it’s important that the goals are clearly defined/measurable (or, as we say in the Research Methods world – you need an “operational definition” of each) so that you know whether or not you’ve done it.  Props for this idea go to triplux, who appears to be the creator of this idea (or, at least, is the first Google hit for “101 in 1001”).

So, after much thinking and pondering and reflecting and considering and deliberating and contemplating and ruminating and reading the thesaurus, I have come up with the following 101 items that I intend to do in the next 1001 days:

  1. go to New York City
  2. leave the continent
  3. live above ground
  4. run another half marathon1 [accomplished: 3 May 2009]
  5. run the full marathon in Sacramento (i.e., the net downhill one!)
  6. assemble my last 7 years worth of photos into scrapbooks2
  7. give something a cool name (i.e., not just adding the letter “y” to the end of what the thing is a la “froggy” or “puppy”)[accomplished: by naming my car Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car. Also: named my new MacBookPro Chloe. I think I’m on a roll with this one. The secret – steal names from books & TV.
  8. get my blog onto WordPress.org [accomplished: 25 Jan2009]
  9. participate in a political campaign
  10. attend Women’s Campaign School
  11. conduct some kind of education research project
  12. conduct another systematic review for the Cochrane Collaboration
  13. publish a paper in a scholarly journal on the training program that I [used to] run [Completed. Sometime in 2011 – don’t actually know what the exact date was!] 
  14. write something creative (e.g., a story, a script or a poem)[Accomplished October 5, 2011]
  15. change a life [accomplished: Jan-Apr 2009, I taught a Research Methods course in which I required students to write a research proposal. One student did her proposal on a topic related to the place she volunteered at and after the final exam she told me that because she learned so much doing that project, she had become the expert at the place she volunteered at on that topic and they hired her for a summer job!]
  16. write a book [Actually, this is in progress! I can’t say more than that, though]
  17. teach a course at a college [Completed. Taught Stats 100 at the Justice Institute of BC; January to April 2011]
  18. ski at Whistler 3
  19. ski at Big White
  20. ski on Grouse Mountain
  21. learn to snowboard (or at least try it)
  22. go surfing & actually stay up on the board
  23. skate at GM Place[Accomplished: 8 February 2009 – Thanks for raising more than $150 for the Skate for A Cureskate at GM Place! fundraiser, I got to skate at GM Place!]
  24. coach a hockey team
  25. hike Black Task
  26. hike the West Coast Trail
  27. write a computer program[Accomplished: October 5, 2011
  28. start a business
  29. learn French (at least a little bit. Like more than just what’s on the cereal box)
  30. write a blog entry entitled Word to Your Moms, I Came to Drop Bombs4[Accomplished: 26 July 2009 – Done]
  31. read something by Salman Rushdie5[Note: I have acquired The Satanic Verses. One step closer to actualizing this item! w00t!] [Note 2: Read the first few pages of this book in December 2010. Wasn’t super excited by it, but I’ll push through][Note 3: It’s now July 2011 and I so have not pushed through]
  32. visit Macchu Picchu6
  33. for one week, go to bed at 9 and read non-work related books7
  34. read The Last Spike by Pierre Berton8 [Note: I own this book, courtesy of Sarah, so I’m one step closer to this one!] [Note 2: Started reading it on my flights to Toronto/back to Vancouver in December 2010 and so far I’m liking it!][Note 3: I have so dropped the ball on this one!]
  35. take pole dancing lessons. Like, a whole set of them, not just the intro class.
  36. beat my current record of 10 points in a hockey season (which I achieved on the Blazing Blades team in both the Winter 2007/08 and the Spring 2008 seasons)[Note: I ended the 2009/2010 season with a meager 6 points. But I have high hopes for the 2010/11 season and am even currently being courted to join a second team!)][Accomplished March 2011].
  37. teach the same course at UBC twice9 [Accomplished Sept-Dec 2009: taught the same course in the Winter ’09 term as I did in the Winter ’08 term. Then I taught it *again* in Winter 2010!]
  38. participate in the “365 Day Challenge”. This involves taking a self-portrait every day for 365 days and posting it to the 365 Day Flickr group. [Completed 21 June 2011: See here]
  39. make a list of 100 things that make me happy[Note: I’ve started this one, but I want to make a really genuine list, so I’m taking my time to come up with things that really, truly make me happy. So far I have 25 63 items on the list.][Accomplished 10 October 2011]
  40. buy a Smart Car[accomplished:15 May 2009. I honestly thought this one was going to be a long shot!]
  41. buy an iPhone[Accomplished: 6 November 2009!]
  42. skate on the Rideau Canal
  43. take Tod to a Vancouver Canucks game [Accomplished: 13 January 2009, Canucks vs. NJ Devils. Next time I should try to take him to a game when the Canucks win!]
  44. take Tod to a Vancouver Giants game
  45. go to a BC Lions game. [Accomplished: 3 October 2010]
  46. go to a Vancouver Canadians game
  47. see a Vancouver White Caps game[Accomplished 15 August 2009 – Alicia & Paul took Tod and I to a game! Then Alicia & Paul took me to another game in spring 2011!]
  48. start composting
  49. keep a plant alive for a whole month[Accomplished: June 2009 – note: it’s still alive a whole YEAR later, as of May 2010 Note 2: Sadly, the plant is no longer with us.]
  50. write in my journal every day for a month
  51. go kayaking
  52. camp at Joffre Lake
  53. visit Galiano Island
  54. visit Salt Spring Island
  55. visit Bowen Island
  56. save $500 in coins10 [In Progress: I have a lot of change in a jar. Not sure how much, but it’s got to be on its way to $500! Note: rolled it up and I have about $60. That’s not $500, but it’s also not nothing.]
  57. deposit that $500 worth of coins into my 40th birthday savings account [Note: this will be more difficult now that I will needs coins for the laundromat]
  58. write 10 friends real letters, on paper, with a pen and snail mail them[Accomplished October 8, 2011: #1 – letter to Kalev for his (belated) birthday, May 2010. #2 – Wrote a letter to Madeline, Jan 2011]. #3 – Wrote a letter to Dan, May 15, 2011. #4 – Wrote a letter to Sarah that I sent with her soy creamer voucher, July 25, 2011. #5 – Wrote a letter to Dan that I sent with his soy creamer voucher, July 25, 2011. (OK, I know these last two are lame, but they still count) #6-10+ – I mailed out 60 thank you cards for the Longest Game for CF and far more than 4 of them had very long notes in them, because there were so many people who provided me with so much support that I needed to thank them for. So that totally counts, as they were long enough to be letters and were written on paper with a pen and snail mailed!
  59. follow Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating every day for 1 month11
  60. go to a Bikram yoga class [note: I went to a “hot yoga” class on 22 May 2009, but I don’t think it was officially “Bikram.” Plus, the place wasn’t really hot enough, imho. So, yeah, I haven’t done this one yet, but I’ve come close!] Went to TWO Moksha Yoga classes (or “practices” as they call them) in January 2010 (it was the place that wasn’t hot enough the first time I went, but was plenty hot enough these times! Then I did a month of hot yoga at West Coast Hot Yoga. So, yeah, I think I’ve got this one covered. Accomplished]
  61. go to a spa for a facial [Accomplished: 14 April 2009 at Heavenly Soul in Kerrisdale. I give it a resounding “meh.” Didn’t help that the stuff they used smelled very perfumey. I hate perfumey.]
  62. visit 5 new American states12[I went to Oregon in July/August 2011. So I 1/5th completed this one!]
  63. visit Newfoundland
  64. visit Nova Scotia
  65. visit New Brunswick [Accomplished:17 June 2009]
  66. visit the Yukon
  67. visit Nunavit
  68. do a 24 hr blogathon[Accomplished on: 26 July 2009]
  69. do 15 minutes of yoga every morning for a month
  70. sort through my many boxes of papers (most of which contain papers from my thesis), recycling the papers I don’t need and filing the ones I do need [Update: went through a lot of them when I moved in February 2010, but still have more to go through!]
  71. find out my credit rating [obtained a copy of my credit report – wondering if I really need get the credit rating, which costs money!]
  72. determine my net worth[In Progress: Sarah has given me a handy-dandy Excel spreadsheet to calculate this, but I need to figure out how I determine how much my car is “worth,” as well as how much money is in my pension in order to get a “net worth” value].[Accomplished – 2 January 2010.  I actually accomplished this a little while ago, but forgot to write it down here and don’t recall the actual date. I’ve been tracking it monthly and this is the month where I went from a negative net worth to a positive one. w00t!]
  73. buy a bike. Completed 16 July 2011.
  74. bike to work every day for two months [Note: now that I work in Surrey, this is very, very unlikely to happen!] [Note 2: now that I’m moving to Surrey, this is again a possibility!]
  75. record a cooking show (at least 5 episodes)
  76. publish said cooking show online
  77. participate in five research projects (as a subject/participant, not as a researcher)[Accomplished. 1 – Jan 23, 2009 – completed a study on sex & cognition that had something to do with dopamine (I think). I had to spit in a tube and play computer games; 2 – enrolled in a Pap smear study. TMI? 3 – May 19, 2010 – completed an online survey for a dissertation for a PhD candidate at ]; 4 – completed two surveys for research being conducted by a PhD candidate at http://sexresearchandthecity.com/ 5+ – I’ve participated in a bunch of surveys conducted to learn more about evaluators as well as one that was a needs assessment for evaluation workshops for Public Health leadership.
  78. sell counter top dishwasher on Craig’s List13[Accomplished: February 2010]
  79. see at least one Bard on the Beach performance14
  80. put up a Christmas tree and decorate it with chili peppers15[Note: I did put up a Christmas tree for 2009, but totally forgot about the chili peppers!] [Accomplished 27 November 2010]
  81. live blog something [Accomplished  22 September 2011].
  82. go to bed every night for a week with all the dishes cleaned [Note: I’ve managed to string 3 or 4 nights of this in a row, but still haven’t managed 7! Note 2- now that I have a dishwasher, this seems a lot less meaningful][Accomplished on Jan 5, 2011!]
  83. achieve inbox zero and maintain for one full week (where “maintain” = by the time I go to bed each night) [I haven’t actually done this yet, but I have a plan for it.  This plan, in fact] [Another update: I’m following the plan and go to bed most nights with my inbox at zero, but I haven’t actually counted them, so I’m not going to check this one of the list until I count them to make sure].[Accomplished on Jan 8, 2011!  w00t!]
  84. up my blog readership to an average of 200 readers a day16 [In Progress: I’m up to an average of 116 readers a day for 2009 (as of 24 June). I haven’t actually done anything to try to get more readers.  They just kinda showed up. Note 2: Now up to an average of 158 so far (as of July 13, 2011) in 2011!]. [Note on 10 October 2011. Fell short on this one. 2009 Average = 126 readers per day; 2010 Average = 122 readers per day; 2011 Average So Far = 161 readers]
  85. break my current record of 460 blog views in a day17 [Accomplished: 678 blog views on 26 Feb 2009. Then blew that out of the water with my July 2009 Blogathon – 1,181 views]
  86. write a blog posting about the Car Co-op18[Accomplished: 4 October 2011]
  87. go sky diving
  88. resurrect my teaching blog
  89. see the Dresdan Dolls in concert
  90. see Groove Coverage in concert
  91. see a show at Richard’s on Richards before it closes down – Update: FAIL! Dick’s on Dicks closed. I attended nothing there. I suck.
  92. devise some sort of proper back up system for my computer files[Accomplished: Signed up for Back Blaze on 15 July 2009. So not so much “accomplished” as “agreed to pay $5 per month for”]
  93. get my ring from my great Auntie Bernice re-sized to actually fit my finger
  94. buy a pair of brown dress pants19 [Accomplished:11 Feb 2009. Bought a pair from my friend, Jen, who had a pair she didn’t want anymore. Of course, I wanted to buy a pair to wear with my brown heels, which I now seem to have lost!]
  95. bake at least one thing per month for 12 months in a row, without baking the same thing two months in a row20[Dec 2009 – tonnes o’ Christmas baking; Jan 2010 – baked some Lava cakes (sure it was from a box, but it still counts!; Feb 2010 – Grandma’s potato cakes (never made those before!) (also made cornmeal muffins and banana chocolate chips muffins, but those are old standby recipes) Bollocks! I seem to have missed baking something in April!  And so it’s back to the drawing board.  May 2010 – peanut butter & chocolate squares from the Rebar cookbook], Gah! Missed June 2010! Do over! July 2010 – homemade granola, also bread (though I didn’t blog it ‘cuz it was a bit too dry. I baked better bread in August); Aug 2010 – bread pudding; Sept 2010 – Sin-Amen Buns; Oct 2010 – Cheese & Herb Bread & Spooky Halloween Eyeballs; Nov 2010 – chocolate peanut butter surprise cookies & brown sugar cookies; Dec 2010 – chocolate amaretto cheesecake and a tonne of Christmas baking; Jan 2011 – mocha cupcakes with mocha ganache and mascarpone cream; Feb 2011 – pineapple & bran muffins; April 2011 – ?, March 2011 – ?, May 2011 – apple bread, June 2011 – brownies (for my Hanky Panky party), July 2011 –
  96. go zip cording
  97. make homemade vegetarian marshmallows
  98. go on a polar bear swim[Accomplished: January 1, 2011!]
  99. recycle my old Sony Vaio desktop and my old Palm Pilot that are now just taking up space in my apartment! [Accomplished – Feb 2010, I brought them to Free Geek. Nothing like moving to motivate one to get rid of stuff!]
  100. scan all the photos from my pre-digital camera days
  101. publish a blog posting for each of the next 1001 days! [Note: this one is now impossible, given that I have missed some days of blogging, but I’m going to try to see if I can at least get 1001 blog postings in during this 1001 period, as some days I post more than one posting.][Note on 10 October 2011: I didn’t even managed to do 1001 postings – only 983, so I’m short by 18. And I’m too damn tired to write 18 postings today!}

 


 

 

 

 

End Date: Monday, October 10, 2011 (thank you dateandtime.com!)

Ya, this one is totally cheating, since I’m already training for another half. But it’s hard to think of 101 things!

Um, ya.  I have seven years worth of photos in boxes, waiting for scrapbooking.

Can you believe that, having lived in Vancouver for more than eight years, I’ve not yet skied Whistler?

This one is stolen from an homage to Dave’s 101 things in 1001 days list. He didn’t actually manage to do it, but I think I can. I think I can.

Also stolen from Dave’s list. I’ve been wanting to read something by Rushdie, so here’s an extra push.

This is the last one I’m stealing from Dave’s list. Promise.  Also, Dan said I should go there.

Stolen from Triplux.

Which Sarah’s been telling me to read since forever. And which she just gave me for Christmas, so if I fail to accomplish this one, well, that would just be sad.

I always seem to get a course for one term only.  I taught Nutritional Assessment last year as a sessional, but the department hired a new prof and he chose that as one of his courses to teach, so I don’t get to teach it this year. And then, this past term I taught another course as a sessional because the usual sessional needed a break from it for one term only, so I probably won’t get to teach it next year. Now I want some consistency!

Just because it would be difficult.

i.e., meet the recommended number of servings for each food group every day and consume no more than one unhealthy “other” food per week.

i.e., ones that I haven’t been to before. Or ones where I’ve only been to their airport/airport hotel (I’m looking at you Texas, Oregon and Arizona), if I actually go to somewhere other than the airport/airport hotel.

since it doesn’t fit in my kitchen. =(

I can’t believe I’ve lived in Vancouver for 8+ years and not once have I been to see Bard on the Beach. I like Shakespeare (I even have a minor in Drama that included a whole course in “Acting Shakespeare”). And I like beaches!

Inspired by the tree at the Mexican resort I stayed at this Christmas.

My 2008 average was 93 readers per day.

Which occurred on Friday, September 26, 2008 as a direct result of my list of the hottest players in the NHL

Which I have partly written and can’t seem to get around to finishing.

I’ve been trying to find a good pair of brown dress pants since forever! Hopefully I’ll find them in the next 1001 days.

Because I really enjoy baking and I never seem to do it anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2008 – My Year in Review

Wow, it’s the last day of 2008. How did that happen?  Seems like only yesterday that it was New Year’s 2008 and now New Year’s 2009 is upon us!

So, in a blog posting that fits perfectly into my “rampant narcissism” category, I give you my personal 2008 summary:

The Good

  • I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress
  • I got to hear Gloria Steinem speak
  • Got laser eye surgery
  • I saw Madonna in concert
  • I saw Chris Rock live
  • I taught two courses at UBC (Nutritional Assessment & Topics in Food, Nutrition & Health)
  • I got hired to teach another UBC course (Research Methods) and my first SFU course (Human Anatomy) for the upcoming term
  • Tod got the greatest cat EVER1.

The Bad

The Ugly

Travels

Accomplishments

Books Read3

  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
  • The Pleasure’s All Mine by Joan Kelly
  • What to Eat by Marion Nestle
  • The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
  • The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
  • Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
  • The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn (just started)
  • Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti
  • Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind The Pay Gap-And What Women Can Do About It by Warren Farrell

Textbooks

  • Principles of Nutrition Assessment by Rosalind Gibson
  • Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches by John W. Cresswell
  • Best Practices for Teaching Statistics and Research Methods in the Behavioral Sciences, edited by Dana S. Dunn, Randolph A. Smith, Bernard C. Beins
  • Philosophy And The Sciences of Exercise, Health And Sport: Critical Perspectives On Research Methods, edited by Mike McNamee
  • Brain-based Teaching For All Subjects: Patterns To Promote Learning by Madlon T. Laster. (only a bit, because it turned out to be about elementary school teaching, whereas I was expecting it to be about university teaching)
  • Conducting & Reading Research in Health & Human Performance by Baumgartner & Hensley (only partway through)

Misc

And what year in review blog posting would be complete without some nerd stats:

Nerd Stats 2008:

  • Blog postings: 423
  • Tweets: 2,2274
  • Visits to my blog in 2008: 32,4104
  • Average number of blog visits per day: 934
  • Most popular blog posting: Hockey Hotties (1062 views)
  • Busiest day on my blog: Friday, September 26, 2008 (460 views, thanks to the Hockey Hotties posting)
  • My first guest posting on a blog as a correspondent for Miss604 at BlogHer

1OK, I realize that *I* didn’t get the cat and this is supposed to be *my* personal summary. But he’s the best freaking cat ever and he’s sitting on my lap as I write this, so it counts.
2A “letter of intent” (LOI) is an application to be allowed to submit an application. Anyone can submit an LOI, but only the people whose LOIs get accepted are allowed to submit the full application.
3I’m sure I’ve read more than this and am just forgetting some of them. This list is based on ones (a) I can actually remember without prompting, (b) appeared on my blog and so I saw them when I went through my blog to write this year in review, and (c) I still have out of the library, so I saw them when I checked what books I have out of the library.
4At the time of writing this blog posting.

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Research Methods Rule!

So, I’ve picked up a new class to teach next term: Research Methods. I am stoked because I *love* research methods.  This may or may not be because I’m a nerd.

Thus far, I have two issues with this course.  One is trying to find a good text book.  As you can see from the photo, I’ve got quite a sampling of books (plus I have a number of other evaluation copies on their way to me).  I haven’t reviewed them all in depth yet, but from scanning them, I haven’t found one that gives me what I want.  The problem I’m having with a number of them is that they overwhelmingly focus on quantitative methods and barely even touch on qualitative methods.  I should clarify here what I mean by “Research Methods,” as I’ve discovered from talking with people, “research methods” means different things to different people.  I’m not talking about library research (which was a number of people’s first impressions when I said I was teaching RM); I’m referring to designing scientific and social science research projects – experiments, quasi-experiments, survey research, qualitative interview type research, etc.)  It includes things like the philosophy underpinning different research approaches, research ethics, research writing and a bit about analysis of research results (but not super in depth as there is a separate statistics course).   I’d been hoping to get a kinesiology methods text (as this is a Kin Research Methods course), but so far the books I’ve seen have really skimped on the qualitative.  Like, a 400 page textbook will have 20 pages on qualitative research.

The second issue I’m having is that, while I’m super stoked to be teaching this course because (did I mention?) I love research methods, but everyone keeps telling me that it’s a course no one wants to teach because students don’t like it.  I even got a book on “best practices for teaching stats & research methods” and the whole intro was all “Students hate taking research methods. It’s like torture to them!”  And I’m all “*gasp*! How could anyone not love methods??” I think methods is super interesting and can be readily made interactive (hello! create a research proposal! hello, critique a research paper! hello, conduct a research project!) and relevant (even if you aren’t going to go to grad school and do research yourself, you need to be able to critically assess research that other people have done to, say, know what the best evidence is for any given situation).  And making things interactive and relevant, in my experience, is key to catching students’ interest and helping them learn.  But, seriously, I’ve been told by multiple people that students are really resistant to research methods course.

So, I’m putting the question to you, dear blog readers: Have you ever taken a research methods course?  If so, what did you think of it?  What would you recommend?