Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese


Farewell, Sweet Lake Monster

So I’m pretty sad that the city of Kelowna smashed up the Ogopogo statue. I first met the illustrious Ogopogo on my first trip to Kelowna, when I went there with a band of travelling scientists. True story. 


Me and a band of traveling scientists, sitting on a lake monster. As one does.

Whenever I went to Kelowna after that, I’d always go see the Ogopogo and it always made me smile. And I didn’t even realize that the last time I was there would be the last time I would see dear Ogo.


This photo is not actually the last time I saw the Ogopogo, as I didn’t take a photo the last time I was there. What was I thinking??

Apparently Kelowna decided that they want to put some sort of a water park there for kids and that it’s too dangerous for kids to climb on things and so they smashed the poor, innocent, unsuspecting lake monster to smithereens. 

Goodbye, sweet lake monster. You are missed.


Baby Mr. Moveable Bear

My mom found this teddy bear from my childhood and gave it to me while I was in Ontario for the holidays:

Baby Mr. Moveable Bear

My sister had one like this that was bigger – his name was Mr. Moveable Bear, because you can move his arms and legs at the at the joints1. Mine was named “Baby Mr. Moveable Bear”, for obvious reasons2. I need to mend his paws, as the stuffing is starting to come out. Interestingly, his stuffing is made up of old nylons! Note to self: I’ve now found a use for my nylons once they get runs in them!

  1. My mom didn’t find Mr. Moveable Bear, so we think he’s likely long gone. RIP, Mr. Moveable Bear. []
  2. Did I mention that I was terrible at coming up for names for things as a child? []


My Dad’s Legacy

In honour of what would have been my Dad’s 72nd birthday, I give you this photo of me entering a door that has a sign explicitly stating that only authorized personnel, which I am not, may enter:

Authroized personnel. Pfft!

And so my father’s legacy lives on every time I see a sign that says “do not enter” and I think “There must be something good in there. I should go check it out!”

In all seriousness, though, I was thinking about this the other day and as much as I enjoy the rebelliousness and hilarity of disobeying signs the way my dad liked to do, I think there are two important character traits that I learned from my dad reflected here. One is confidence. I remember him telling me that it’s easy to get away with going where you aren’t supposed to go: “Just walk in to a place like you belong there, and no one will question you.” Acting confident can often get you want you want. And in my life, acting confident often has gotten me what I wanted! The other is questioning authority. The sign may say “Do not enter” or “Authorized personnel only” – but why does it say that? Sometimes there is a good reason, but sometimes not. When I saw the signs at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland that said “do not cross this fence”, I knew that many people have accidentally slipped off the edge of those cliffs and fallen 700 ft to the death, so I thought “that’s a sign to take seriously”.


But this “no entry” sign on an open gate in Freemantle, Australia, where there was clearly no danger, not so much:
Freemantle, Western Australia

So I guess the take home message here is not to automatically not do something just because you are told not to, but to ask the even important question “Why?” Asking “why?” has also gotten me things that I want (or, in some cases, the knowledge of the reason why I can’t have what I want – but at least I know). I think these are two pretty cool things to have learned from my dad.

I wish you were still here for me to wish you a happy birthday, Daddy.



Can you believe that it was a decade ago that my PhD was bestowed upon me? A *decade*!!


I just cannot believe it has been 3,653 days since I walked across the convocation stage in my fancy shoes, my garish pink robe, and my puffy hat and officially became Dr. Beth. A lot has happened in those 10 years. I went from being an unemployed couch surfer with $72K of student debt to a job having, home-owning, cat-owning, student debt-free published author and absent-minded professor(ish) who added five more letters after my name beyond the PhD.

Also, would you believe that in all that time I’ve only once been called “not a real doctor”1 and that was actually just last week? True story.

  1. Not counting times someone said it in jest. []


A Wild Pidgey Appears

When my dad was young, he and his brothers would go hunting with my grandpa. My dad’s older brother, Bob, used to say that if he died, he would be reincarnated as a duck and then one day when his brothers were out hunting, they would take aim at a duck, but would miss and the duck would laugh at them. My Uncle Bob died in a boating accident when he was 21. And then one day my dad and his brothers were out hunting and they took aim at a duck and were sure they had the duck in their sights, but when they fired, they missed and the duck quacked and quacked in the duck-like way that sounds like a laugh. Personally, I don’t believe in any sort of afterlife or reincarnation, but I always loved that story.

My dad used to raise pigeons for racing and every time I see a pigeon – which is quite often where I live – I think of my dad. In Pokémon Go, the most common Pokémon seems to be Pidgey, the pigeon-like Pokémon. Sometimes when you throw a PokéBall at a Pidgey (which is how you catch a Pokémon) you miss and I would swear that the Pidgey is laughing at me.

Pokemon GO


One of my favourite Dad stories

When my dad was young, he was in the Sea Cadets1. And when you got in trouble in Sea Cadets – which for my Dad was, apparently, quite frequently – they made you do chores. Now, my dad hated to do the dishes2, so when he was assigned to dish duty, he made a big show of playing with the bubbles and pretending to have lots of fun. “That’s it, Snow! You aren’t getting dish duty anymore!” Unlike dishes, he loved to peel potatoes. So when he got in trouble and was assigned to potato peeling duty, he made a big show of “Aww, man! Not peeling potatoes!!!”, and so henceforth whenever he got in trouble, it was off to peel potatoes that he went. Given that, as previously mentioned, he got in trouble a fair bit, when he got some time off3, he went into town and bought a potato peeler, because they only gave you a knife with which to peel the potatoes. A potato peeler is, of course, much easier on the hands and you lose less of the potato, so you have to peel fewer potatoes – and it takes much less time – when you use a peeler than when you use a knife. So when he was on potato peeling duty, he would take the bag of potatoes up on the ship’s deck, quickly peel all he needed to peel with the potato peeler that he had hidden in his pocket, but he’d put a bunch of the peeled ones in the bag with a few unpeeled one on top to make it look like he was only partway done. And then he would sit and relax in the sun and when his superior came by to check on him, he’d have a knife in his hand and would appear to be peeling the potatoes in the amount of time it should take if one were peeling potatoes with a knife.

Three years ago today, we lost my Dad. Today, I’m thinking of him telling that potato peeling story – which I heard many times during my life – and I’m smiling at his cleverness and how he liked to know that he was sticking it to The Man. I miss you, Daddy, and I think of you every single day, especially when I back into a parking spot4, put on my hockey gear5, or peel a potato.

  1. Or were they called Navy Cadets? []
  2. Clearly, I have inherited my loathing of doing dishes from my paternal DNA. []
  3. I think they called it “shore leave”, but I could be mistaken. []
  4. Which I *always* do. []
  5. And tie my skates really, really tight. []


The Best Thing I Got

The best thing I got on my trip wasn’t even a Christmas present. It was something that my sister gave me when I first got here – my dad’s old French fry cutter.

My Dad's French Fry Cutter

My brother-in-common-law is renovating my mom’s basement and while they were clearing out the old stuff, my sister asked him to save this for me. Apparently, when they got it, it was so rusty that they didn’t think they could save it, but after a lot of hard work scrubbing off the rust, it was, in fact, salvageable. I’d actually been thinking about it just before I came here and I had been assuming that it would have been rusted beyond recognition and would have have been unceremoniously thrown out.

When she gave it to me, honestly, I nearly cried. Not just because I really wanted this French fry cutter, but because it showed that my sister knows me so well that she knew how much it meant to me.

This French fry cutter, which we think my dad got from a restaurant when it closed down, holds a lot of great memories of childhood for me. As you may or may not know, I love French fries. As you also may or may not know, my Dad made the best French fries in the entire world. He had this French fry cutter attached to his work bench in the basement – he’d skin and clean a potato, put it into the cutter, and bring down the handle, and it would slice the potato into the perfect size French fries.

Day 171

I have many a fond memory of the French fries my Dad would make1. At one point, he learned that the guy who ran the local chip wagon used peanut oil in his deep frier, so my dad got peanut oil and omg, those fries were delicious. Sometimes we’d have fries with grilled cheese sandwiches, where the grilled cheese sandwiches were made in the waffle iron. Sometimes we’d have French fry sandwiches, because there is nothing fries need more than to be stuffed between two slices of Wonder bread with Imperial margarine on them. And sometimes we’d just have a basket of fries, with vinegar and salt on them. But no matter how we ate them, I’d always be in heaven.

Thanks, Nancy and Jeff, for this most thoughtful and touching gift.

  1. I also have one scary memory – the time that my dad splashed burning hot oil out of the deep frier into his EYE! He has to wear an eye patch for a while after that while his eye healed. []


Another Favourite Christmas Tradition

As previously mentioned, my favourite Christmas tradition is Baking Day. But another tradition we had when we were little was getting a new nightgown or PJs for Christmas Eve. I was reminded of this today as my sister and brother-in-common-law braved the icy streets and the even more treacherous mall-two-days-before-Christmas to acquire new PJs for my niece and nephew.

Thinking about this tradition reminded me of one year that, for some reason that no one seems to remember, we didn’t have any new PJs on Christmas Eve. My sister and I were very upset when we discovered this, but my Dad came up with a solution. At the time, he worked from Mack Truck and played on their hockey team. And he just happened to have the team jerseys at our house at the time, so my sister and I wore hockey jerseys to bed that Christmas Eve! We both have very fond memories of that year’s PJs!

And on a bit of a tangent, here’s a picture of me on Christmas morning when I was about five years old wearing my new Christmas housecoat!



Modern Conveniences

Skype logoHow did students ever get by without the modern conveniences of online journals and Skype and Google Docs? Case in point: I just got off a Skype chat with a group for one of my courses – we are preparing for our class on Thursday
and while on the call, we were brainstorming and then looking up resources to check out some of our ideas – we sent links via the chat function of Skype and emailed articles from online journals in mere moments as we talked.

Google Drive logo

Tomorrow I have a group meeting with another group for another one of my courses – which we’ll be doing by WebEx, so that we can share our computer screens with one another as we talk and we’ll be participating from various places across the Lower Mainland, plus Calgary and Kelowna1. In preparation for that call, we’ve been brainstorming by adding our ideas to a shared Google Doc.

When I was a post-secondary student the first time – i.e., in my undergrad2, Masters3, & PhD years4 – we didn’t have any of this stuff. Want to share a document? You had to print it out on a piece of paper and hand it to the other person! Or, if you wanted to be fancy, you’d save it on a floppy disk!

remember when your whole life fit on a 1.4 megabyte floppy disk?

Group meeting? You had to do that in person! We actually went to the library to work together. But that was OK because you had to go there to photocopy that article you wanted from a giant bound volume of journal issues from the stacks.

We did have email – I got my first email address very early in my first year of undergrad – but the only other people I knew with email addresses were other university students and we all had to go to the computer lab to check email, since we didn’t have Internet access in our rooms. You were likely to see the person to whom you had sent an email in class, in the caf, or in residence before they actually got to the computer lab to see the email. And then when you did get an email, you’d print it out on a dot matrix printer, because it felt like you should probably have a record of that.

Hell, my profs didn’t even start to use PowerPoint until I was in my third or fourth year, and even then it was only the most innovative of profs and they had to have a back up set of slides on acetate because there was a 50/50 chance that the computer and projector wouldn’t actually be able to connect properly.

Now5, my profs post their PowerPoint slides lecture notes in our class Connect site, or in SugarSync or some other such marvel of modern convenience, I meet my classmates virtually, and I have access to virtually any article, website, or other resources in a millisecond. I collaborate on group papers in Google Docs in real time, I submit those papers via email, and my profs mark them using an annotation app on their iPads. And then I blog about it to a world wide audience! When you stand back to think about it, it’s pretty amazing how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time.

Floppy Disk Image Credit: Posted by ehpien on Flickr.

  1. Unless our Kelowna-based group member is working in the field, in which case she’ll join in from wherever the heck she ends up tomorrow evening. []
  2. 1995-1999 – a.k.a., grades 13-16 []
  3. 1999-2000 – a.k.a., grade 17 []
  4. 2000-2006 – a.k.a., grade 18-23 []
  5. I.e., in grade 25. []


LG4CF – One Year Later

I'm a PlayerOne year ago today, I started playing a hockey game that didn’t stop for 10 days, 3 hours, and 5 minutes. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since then, but also, as I’m finding always seems to happen with really pivotal events, it also seems a lifetime ago. Even when I was driving home right after the game, I remember thinking, “Did I just dream that?” It seemed so surreal to have played in something so huge, to have pushed myself beyond all reasonable physical limits1, to have had the honour to have raised so much awareness for so worthy a cause as Cystic Fibrosis, not to mention being part of the raising of $171,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

As I reflect back, the things that stand out are not the pain & self-deprivation-induced delirium & weird physiological abnormalities 2 ,3, but the gratitude I feel for all the people who supported me in so many different ways and the pride I feel in having been able to help, even in just a small way, to trying to improve the quality of life of those living with Cystic Fibrosis through raising much needed money for research. I was just reading back over my blog postings from the game 4 and it reminded me of the families who came  to the rink with their kids who have CF to thank us for what we were doing and it was so humbling to hear their stories and their gratitude. It reminded us that the suffering we were endearing in those 10 days pales in comparison to a lifetime with Cystic Fibrosis. I didn’t have any ties to CF before the game, but that experience has made Cystic Fibrosis Canada one of my top charities to support, for life.

The other thing that always comes to mind when I think abou the game is my dad. My dad loved watching the live stream of that hockey game – he had it on running on his computer 24/7 and he had my schedule posted right next to it so he could watch all of my shifts. I’m am so grateful that my dad was around during that time because that was the only time he ever got to see me playing hockey and I know it made him very happy. He was proud of me and he loved the game and that is a part of what I’ll treasure about the experience.

We are going to have a reunion of all the players in September and I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone again!

  1. And lived to tell the tale! []
  2. Which, thankfully, faded over time. []
  3. Though I have heard that some of the other women are still suffering from injuries sustained during the game, so I really am lucky. []
  4. And I’m so glad I have my blog – there were things I’d written there that I forgot about – made me smile. []