Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Livin’ Covida Loca

It’s been a 5 weeks of working from home for me – I haven’t set foot in my office (or on campus for the one in-person class I was teaching) in all that time. It’s been 5 weeks since I last hung out with a friend in person. It’s been 5 weeks since I last took transit. These things that were just taken for granted as part of everyday life suddenly stopped and we have no idea when we will do them again.

Five weeks that seems like a year. They say time is an illusion – pandemic time, doubly so.

With apologies to Douglas Adams

And just like time seems to run at the speed of molasses, so too does my brain. Case in point: I started writing this blog posting because I had so many things I wanted to say and now that I’m sitting at the keyboard, they have all escaped from my brain.


slowly...

My molasses brain is also why I haven’t blogged in so long. When the pandemic hit I, as usual, had too many things on the go. Full-time job, teaching gigs, course development side projects. I’m extremely lucky that all of these things were things that I can do at home, but my brain seems to function so slowly that everything takes me eleventy billion times as long as it used to. Plus, using remote access to do all my work for my day job is exceedingly slow, which means everything takes even longer to accomplish than it used to . Connecting with my team requires more effort. Teaching that was supposed to be face-to-face had to be switched to online. And in the early days, policies and recommendations and guidelines were being updated so fast, that just keeping up with them required a lot of time and brain space. The onslaught of emails about how everyone was dealing with COVID-19 was overwhelming1. Daily briefings from various levels of government are also a new edition to my life2. And I need to take time for self-care and to connect with loved ones to keep my sanity. All of which translated to me just not being able to get things accomplished in the way I used to be able to.

So for the past month, my weekdays have been working my day job from home, taking a short break (often to go for a walk with Scott when he gets home from work), then work for several hours on some combination of teaching and side projects (with a short break for dinner and to ring cow bells on my balcony at 7 pm to cheer for healthcare workers, and another break around 9 or 10 pm to feed my sourdough starter3 ), eventually heading to bed around midnight or 1 am, when Watson starts loudly meowing at me that it’s time to go to sleep. Weekend days I let myself sleep in and then get up and work on my teaching and side projects for most of the day, usually with a break at some point to go for a walk or a run, or to bake something, or maybe a trip to Costco. So it’s been a lot of sitting at my desk in my home office – side note: I think it’s time I bought myself a proper office chair. The one I have I bought at a garage sale like a decade ago.


There’s been lots written on what one should do while living in quarantine/isolation/lockdown/sheltering-in-place. And I feel like for every thing I read, I then read the complete opposite. “10 Tips for Being Productive While Working from Home” will be followed by “Don’t Expect Yourself to Be Super Productive in the Midst of a Global Crisis!” “It’s Important to Stick to Your Routine” (get up at the same time you used to, get dressed and do your hair, keep the same office hours as before) will be followed by “What Was So Great About Your Old Routine, Anyway? Now Is The Time To Figure Out What You Really Want From Life!”

I’ve thought a lot about my routine. I think it’s important to have a routine, but the more I’ve thought about it, I’ve come to realize that I did not love some aspects of my routine in the old time-y days of the pre-pandemic. I used to get up at about 5:30 am, which gave me enough time to feed the cats/make my coffee/get ready for work and do my ~40 minute commute to start work at 8 am. I liked working from 8 to 4, as I could get home before 5 pm, which gave me lots of time in the evening to do things like go to the gym or do some marking/lecture writing or get to an early hockey game4. But I did not like getting up at 5:30 am. I’m a night owl and find it hard to go to bed before midnight, which meant I typically only got about 5 hours of sleep on weeknights, which is just not enough sleep. If I were to follow the advice of sticking to the same routine as when I went to work, I’d get up at 5:30 am after not getting enough sleep, feed the cats/make the coffee/get ready for work including putting on work clothes and do my hair and makeup, and I’d be able to start work at about 7 am… but why? Why wear work clothes when I can wear a t-shirt and yoga pants? Why do make-up? Why be sleep deprived just to start working at 7 am for no real reason?

So my routine now looks more something like this: sleep until 8 or 8:30 or 9 – whenever I feel like starting to work. Get up and feed the cats/make the coffee (unless it’s a week when Scott has to go into the office, in which case he’ll already have done that). Work in my fuzzy warm bathrobe. Around noon, put on my workout clothes for a virtual 30 minute yoga class run by my friend Cheryl5, then I’d shower and put on clothes (translation: t-shirt and yoga pants). Have some lunch (if I remembered to) while I start my work for the afternoon. And you know what, I like some aspects of this routine. I am actually getting 6-7 hours of sleep a night instead of 5, for example. I like moving my body in the middle of the day, to break up the 8 hours of sitting in a chair. Whenever the world gets back to a place where I can actually go into my office to work, I’ll have to give some thought to what I want my new routine to be.


Image Credits:

Snail photo posted on Flickr by Cinzia A. Rizzo with a Creative Commons license.

  1. It probably doesn’t help that I work for one health organization (but with connections to two other health organizations as well) and three post-secondary institutions and I get updates from all 6 of those organizations, all of whom have a lot of things they need to deal with in relation to the pandemic. []
  2. In truth, I stopped watching the federal ones weeks ago – I just read the highlights later – but I still watch the provincial ones unless I have a meeting scheduled at the same time – and even then I usually watch the video of it afterwards. []
  3. Some evenings I’ve also had a break for Zoom drinks with friends. []
  4. Side note: I miss my gym and hockey a lot. []
  5. The yoga class was a new edition to my life last week. Prior to that, I would typically spend my lunch break going for a socially distanced walk or doing my at-home workout. []

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2020 Still Sucks and I Still Hate It

In the continuing saga of 2020 sucks and I hate it:

  • I started off my trip to NYC by losing my belt at security. I took my belt off and put it in the bin with all my other stuff. And when the bin came out the other side, there was no belt. I’m guessing that it must have fallen out of the bin at some point in the process, but I didn’t want to cause a fuss at security, plus it was an old belt and I wasn’t overly attached to it, so I just went without a belt (and had to continually keep pulling up my pants).
  • I got sick on the Thursday night of the NYC trip – I’m talking fever and chills. Like the kind of chills were you have to sit in a hot bath – with a touque on – to not feel like your bones are made of ice. And then you go to bed in multiple layers – t-shirt, hoodie, long pants, socks, and again the touque – and you still feel cold. So I lost Thursday night and the whole day of Friday of my trip where I had to just sleep until my fever subsided.
  • I’ve had a wicked sore throat ever since then (so that’s been 11 days and counting). Like, swollen lymph nodes and it hurts to swallow. Like, it feels like my throat is some combination of on fire but also covered in ulcers that someone also took sandpaper to. And just when it starts to feels a little bit better, the pain comes back with a vengeance. It was so bad that I even went to my doctor because I was worried it was strep throat, but my doctor tested me and the culture came back negative. So basically it’s just something viral and all you can do is treat the symptoms and wait. Basically, the exact same advice as I was given about Crick.
  • And Crick still isn’t fully better from whatever she’s been sick with. Her coughing/sneezing isn’t as frequent or prolonged as it was, but she still sneezes or coughs at least once a day and for the past few days she’s had a runny nose. I wish there was something I could do to make her feel better.
  • More than half my team at work has also been hit by whatever plague has befallen me, which is just adding injury to insult given the super crappy stuff that’s gone on work-wise.
  • Also, I lost my wallet.

So this year sucks and I hate it.

But. I am nothing if not a glass half full person. So on the bright side:

  • Other than getting sick, NYC was fun. We did and saw lots of super fun stuff. If I ever catch up on all my side jobs that I’m hopelessly behind on enough that I can spend some time uploading my photos and writing, I may even do a blog posting about it.
  • When I got a fever in NYC, I was worried that (a) I’d not be able to fly back into Canada due to the COVID-19 epidemic (even though I’d had no exposure to any of the cases of COV-19 in BC and New York had not yet had their first case at that time) and/or (b) I’d get sicker and need to use the American healthcare system, because even though I have travel medical insurance, I’m never confident that it will cover everything. Fortunately, neither of these things happened.
  • None of the credit cards in my lost wallet got used and none of the most important things that could have been in my wallet (driver’s license/health card, main credit card, debit card, Compass Card, passport, Nexus card) were in my wallet. These were all in my cell phone case, except my passport and Nexus card, which were in my backpack. So I canceled the credit cards that were in there and I’m just out a little bit of Canadian cash that was in there, plus a few minor cards that are no big deal. So it could have been much worse.

OK, can 2020 start being nice to me now?

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2020 Sucks And I Hate It

So far, 2020 has not been the year I expected it to be. I went into it with high hopes – it’s a repdigit year after all! When have numbers ever let me down??

But I got food poisoning. The day before my birthday. Like the kind that hits you suddenly and then you barf on the bus. And then you still have to get on the Skytrain to complete the rest of your journey home, with a little bit of barf on you. And then you have to cancel the massage appointment that you were so looking forward to so that you can lie in bed feeling hella nauseated until you barf more. I managed to get through my birthday party the next day – I felt a lot better after all the barfing on Bethmas Eve – but then after that I continued to have an upset stomach. For weeks. And that’s put me behind on a bunch of side projects I’m working on, because I’ve needed to rest to try to get better. And I hate being behind on things.

Also, Crick has been having sneezing fits for a few weeks. I thought it was just a cold and that it would pass, but it’s still happening, so I took her to the vet on Friday to figure out if it’s something worse than that and/or if there is something we can do about it. But the vet said “It’s probably just an upper respiratory tract infection. There isn’t anything to do but let it run its course. Sometimes that can take weeks. Now give me $90 please!” Ok, she didn’t say it exactly like that, but that was the gist of it.

Then there’s big time crappy stuff going on at work. Stuff I’m not going to get into the details of here, but it’s crappy for a lot of really great people. That stuff is still new and raw and it’s unpleasant and making me sad.

So this year sucks and I hate it.

But. It can turn around, right? (Please tell me it can turn around). I’m trying to remind myself of the good things. Like Crick’s sneezing fits that had me worried are not a big deal and she will be fine. And people at work have been reaching out to me with kindness and offers to help and offers of commiseration, and it reminds me that I have many good people around me. And a friend of mine got a kitten and I got play with it.

Also, I have vacation carry over time from last year that I have to use up, so I have two weeks of vacation starting on Monday. The first week will be used to catch up on the side projects that I’m behind on. The second week, Scott and I are going to NYC. On my previous (and only so far) trip to NYC I had a blast, but it was short and I didn’t get to see and do so many of the things that I wanted to see and do. So I’m excited to go see and do some of those things. Recommendations accepted1!

And wish me luck that the year will get better overall!

  1. So far, at the top of my list are the 9/11 memorial, the Empire State Building, The Top of the Rock, MOMA, the Met, Natural History Museum, and finding a few shows to watch. And food. All the food. []

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More Than You Probably Care To Hear About My Laptop

Crick standing on my laptop

Once upon a time, I bought a Macbook Pro. Where by “a time” I mean “6 years ago”. I named that computer Daenerys and, much like her namesake, eventually that laptop became somewhat unhinged. Where by “unhinged” I actually mean her hard drive was inexplicably full all the time, though I couldn’t quite figure out with what, so she was running super slow and constantly telling me she couldn’t do stuff because there was no room left on the hard drive. I was on the brink of buying a new one, but my sister and brother-in-common-law said “Why don’t you wipe it and do a factory reset?” And then Kalev got me a 4TB external drive for my birthday (to replace my previous external drive that died of old age), so I backed up my overly full harddrive to that, then saved all the things that I wanted to make doubly sure I didn’t lose (like my Photos library and all my documents), made sure I had the necessary codes to reinstall any of the software I wanted to be able to keep using and then I took a really deep breath and wiped my hard drive clean.

I’ve now reinstalled a fresh version of the operating system, put my Photos library back into Photos, and started downloading the software that I want to use.

Kitties

Prior to this reset, I was using Microsoft Office for Mac 2011. As it turns out, Microsoft doesn’t support software from nearly a decade ago. Who knew? So I decided to try out LibreOffice, which is a free open source product that has equivalents to all of your Microsoft favourites (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). I figure I can try it out for a bit for free, and if it doesn’t meet my needs, I can always pay for MS Office later 1. I believe Microsoft is trying to make everyone use Office 365, which requires you to pay a subscription rather than just buy the product, and I hate software as a subscription (I know I’m probably fighting a losing battle on that front). So wish me luck!

  1. In a pinch, I can always borrow Scott’s computer, as he has Office 365. []

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The End of A Decade

Hariyama 2019

So 2019 is now in the books and today we start the 2020s! That makes me feel old, in that I remember being a kid, when the year 2000 was “the future” and we all wondered what the world would be like in the future. And 2020 now 20 freaking years in the past! So 2020 should be super futuristic and in many ways it is. We carry around powerful computers in our pockets and can use them to talk to our friends around the world instantly. Also, the Earth is on fire and we are facing a mass extinction event and that’s totally the kind of “the future” that we read about in futuristic dystopian literature.

On a personal level, I guess a lot has happened for me over the last decade. Some highlights – and lowlights – of the decade:

2010

2011

2012

2013

  • went to Ireland
  • pretty much spent all of my time working on my MBA

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

The twentyteens for me saw four different homes in three different cities, five different boyfriends, two different day jobs, and teaching gigs of five different courses (all taught two or more times) at three different post-secondary institutions.

Here’s hoping the twenties holds lots of fun adventure and personal growth!

Untitled

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I submitted the last of my grades on Friday…

…and just like that, another semester is over.

I mean, I still have all the online courses that I’m developing to work on, but I get a reprieve from prepping lectures, schlepping out to campus to teach once a week (plus schlepping out to a difference campus on two weekends at another university), marking assignments, creating exams and then marking them too. At least for a few weeks until next semester starts!

Next semester shouldn’t be so bad (famous last words, right?) because I’m teaching a course that I just taught this semester so everything is fresh and doesn’t really need to be changed very much and the online stats course that I’ve taught for eleventy billion years (so it pretty much teaches itself). And one of the online courses that I’m developing will be pretty much done.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I have a glorious month of (relative) freedom! Huzzah!

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Half Way Goals Check-In

So, the year is half over. I know that every year I, like most people, marvel at how fast the year is going by, this year it’s way worse than previous years. Like, the year is half over and I haven’t really done anything… and I haven’t even planned stuff.

Anyhoo, I thought that maybe I’d do a check in on how my goals for 2019 are going since the year is half freaking over, but honestly doing this just made me feel like I really have done nothing with the first half of the year! Correction: this has motivated me to get going on my goals!

Anyhoo again, of my 19 goals, I’ve completed a grand total of 1. So yeah, I’m a wee bit behind. But the one that I did complete was monumental:

I TRAPBAR DEADLIFTED 100 KG!

The goal was actually just to deadlift 90 kg, and I did for 2 reps of a 90 kg trapbar deadlift on Jan 13, and then again for 2 reps on Jan 20, and then I did a single rep of 100 kg. For those of you who prefer to think of weight in pounds, that’s 220.5 lbs. Trapbar deadlift is easier than regular deadlift, but it’s still technically a deadlift!

I came close to one of my other weightlifting goals: I back squatted 85 kg on Jan 24, just 5 kg shy of my goal of 90 kg (i.e., 198 lbs).

I have made some progress on a few other goals. For the goal of making 19 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before, I’ve made 5:

So I’m 26% done that goal – behind schedule, but I can definitely catch up.

For the goal of read 20 books, I’ve read 7 (5 of which I’ve already blogged about), and I’m in the process of reading 5 other books right now. So I feel like I’m on my way with this goal, although I wonder if I should focus my reading to get some of these books done, rather than sporadically reading from all 5 of them, just to make myself feel like I’m accomplishing something! I should also try to pick a few shorter books – most of the books I’m currently reading are quite long, which doesn’t help in the feeling-like-I’ve-accomplished-something department.

A number of my things on my list are home improvement-y/organization-y, so I probably should just make a plan to get some of those done, as some are the type of thing I can get done in a weekend here or there.

I haven’t sewn anything and I have a goal to sew 5 things, so I really should decide what I want to sew and get cracking on it. I have a goal of sleeping an average of 7 hours per night and though my Fitbit tracks my sleep for me, I can figure out how to find out what my average since Jan 1 has been. Looking at the graphs by month, I can see that I haven’t hit the 7 hour mark for any single month, so I know I’m not meeting the goal, but I guess I’ll have to download the data to calculate the yearly average myself. I have a goal to write in my journal once a week and I have written 23 entries, so I’m 44% done that goal. And I have a goal to have people over for dinner 5 times, and I’ve only hosted one dinner, so I should do some planning for that (anyone interested in coming over for dinner? Hit me up!)

As for my blogging goal, which was a *very* modest 78 blog postings, as soon as I hit “publish” on this one, I’ll have published 23 for the year (or 29.5%). Perhaps another thing I can spend a bit of time on!

 

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Happy 5th Condo-versary To Me!

Mortgage

Five years ago today, I got the keys to my condo. And since five years was the length of my mortgage term, it meant I recently had to renegotiate my mortgage. Last year at this time, I was concerned because mortgage interest rates were higher than what I’ve been paying and I figured I’d end up with a higher rate when I renegotiated this year. As it turns out, mortgage interest rates dropped and I managed to get myself the same interest I’ve been paying for the past five years, which makes me happy because (a) it’s a low interest rate and (b) I have a spreadsheet where I track my mortgage payments, including “prepayments” (i.e., lump sums I pay in order to pay off my mortgage quicker),  to calculate how much I’ve saved in interest rates by doing so1 and the spreadsheet doesn’t have an easy way to change the interest rate mid-way through the mortgage, so I’d have had to have figure out some spreadsheet kung fu to have made the spreadsheet calculations continue to work and now I don’t have to. I probably should be happier about (a), but honestly (b) makes me quite delighted.

Stock Photography - Canadian Coins

Also, for the record, I have officially paid off 71% of my original principal (up from 53% last year). Which means I own 78% of my condo – based on the price I paid when I bought it. If I use the most recent assessed value, I own 88% of my condo. My new principal is less than 1/3 of my original principle. Math is fun!

If I make no more lump sums, I will be done with my mortgage in July 2024, making it 10 years to pay off the mortgage (rather than the 25 years that was my original amortization). The earliest I could pay it off without any penalty (i.e., if I paid the maximum allowable lump sums per year as early as possible in each mortgage year), I could be done by Jan 11, 2021 (i.e., 1.5 years from now – and on my birthday, no less!). Given the low interest rate, that doesn’t make the best financial sense (i.e., I could make more by investing any extra money I have than the interest rate I’m currently paying on the mortgage). But it’s still fun to do the math!

 

Image source:

  • Mortgage image was posted on Flickr with a Creative Commons license requiring a link to Got Credit.
  • Coin image was posted on Flickr with a Creative Commons license
  1. And also some scenarios to compare having bought the condo compared to if I’d continued to rent instead. []

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I’m Home For A Good Time, Not A Long Time

Hey, remember that time I went to Prince George? Well, I’m back from that trip, but not for long as on Saturday I’ll be heading east to Halifax.

Prince George highlights:

OK, so apparently my trip to PG was entirely food focused, but in my defence the day time was filled up with work and I had work I had to do in the evenings too, so pretty much my only non-work time was dinner!

Also, as I mentioned previously, the people were super friendly, which made the trip pretty great.

And now I’m four days into my seven days at home before I jet off to Halifax for a conference for four days and then I get a few days of vacay in Ottawa to hang out with Sarah and Dave who I haven’t seen in far too long! Now I just need to make it through three more workdays where I need to accomplished about 27 days worth of work… including writing the presentation I have to give at the conference! Wish me luck!

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So Many Plans!

So, 2019 is more than one quarter of the way done. I’d say “where has the time gone?” but I know exactly where it has gone – it’s gone into the teaching of the way too many courses that I’ve been whining about. Happily, all I have left of that is to mark the final assignment for one course, the final exam for another course, and mark the two final assignments for the third course. So really, I’m practically done!

Which means I can soon turn my sights to doing stuff around the condo that I’ve been itching to do (and which makes up like half of my list of goals for 2019). There is painting and building and installing and organizing on the horizon and it’s going to make me SO HAPPY! Also, if anyone has any tips for painting and building and organizing, I’m all ears!

I am also excited to set up my balcony herb garden again (and I’m sure the kitties will be delighted to have fresh catnip back on the menu). And also I need to clean out the frog tank and re-stock it with new frogs, because all the previous frogs passed away. So if anyone has suggestions for frog names, I’m all ears for that too!

I also want to do something creative – perhaps more sewing classes? Or jewellery making? I really, really want to take a stand up comedy class, but the next offering of the course I want to take starts when I’ll be in Halifax for a conference, so I’ll have to wait until the summer for that one.

And then I guess Scott and I need to figure out what our next trip is going to be1. We’ve been talking about wanting to go to Japan, but haven’t made any concrete plans. Any suggestions (for either a Japan trip or suggestions of other trips we might want to consider), I’m all ears for that too! 

  1. Hopefully I will actually get around to blogging about our Scotland trip and our Palm Springs trip before our next trip! []