Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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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! []

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Elevators

Elevator buttonsThe elevators in my office building are very, very slow. It’s only a 7 storey building, so I’m not sure why it takes eleventy hours to get from the ground floor to the floor on which my office is located but it does. You often have to wait several minutes for the elevator and it’s super annoying when you just want to get to work – or you just want to leave! The other day, as I walked up to the elevator and the doors were closing, I pressed the button to get the doors to re-open, knowing that if I didn’t it catch it, I would be stuck there waiting for several minutes. Someone from my office was in the elevator, saw me press the button and *pushed* the “close door” button. I mean, the doors were closing, I pushed the button and they started to open again, and she pushed the freaking “close door” button and the doors started to close again! So I pushed the button again, and the doors opened and I got in. And this person does this big exaggerated sigh at me. I was stunned. So I said, “I really didn’t want to have to wait 5 minutes for the elevator to come back.” And she’s like “Well, I just wanted to get going.” Seriously. She didn’t want to be delayed by 12 seconds, so I should have to be delayed for 5 minutes! I figured I won that round, because she actually ended up costing herself more time by not just letting me get in the elevator the first time I pressed the button.


Elevator ButtonOne of the two elevators in my condo is broken, with just a sign telling us “We are waiting for parts to be shipped to us to fix the elevator and we have no idea when they will arrive.” So there’s also a bit of a wait for the elevator when I’m at home. But funnily enough, I’ve not had anyone try to close the door on me. What’s more, I’ve had some variation of this conversation several times since the one elevator broke down:

Me: Thanks for holding the elevator! I can’t believe what a big difference in wait time it makes having just one working elevator.

Other Person: Yeah, it really does. On the plus side, I’ve met so many more of neighbours because it seems like there’s alway someone else in the elevator with you!

“I get to meet more of my neighbours!” is *such* a New West thing to say.


Elevator ButtonsSo I wrote the above two parts a few days ago and hadn’t had a chance to post them… and then the elevator situation at work got weirder. Yesterday, the elevators would not come to the floor my office is on. They would go to all the other floors, but not mine. I may have been listening to too much of the SAYER podcast, but I’m pretty sure I have offended the elevators – probably by complaining about how slow they are – and now they are plotting against me! And then today the office admin person sent around an email saying that they were aware of the broken door handle on the first aid room and maintenance had been called to come and fix it. So basically the elevators are out to get me and they’ve sabotaged the first aid room so that when said elevators attack, there will be no way to save me.

 

Yes. I’ve definitely been listening to too much of the SAYER podcast

  • First photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/raeallen/8049027193/ 
  • Second photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/phelix/3148944/ 
  • Third photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aloha75/16275579257
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    (More Than) Halfway There

    It’s mid-March. Which means it is, mercifully, more than half way through the semester for the eighteen billion courses that I’m teaching right now. I mean, I love the classes that I’m teaching – one is statistics, another is data and research management, and a third is program planning & evaluation1 – and my students are awesome. But oh my gawd that is a lot of balls to keep in the air at the same time, along with my regular day job and various other sundry things I do.

    Two of the courses run the full semester (one online and one in a weekly night class), but the other one is a half-sized course that runs over two weekends (Friday and half of Saturday one weekend and then three weekends later, half of Saturday and all day Sunday). I taught my first of those weekends on the first weekend of March and it was totally flashback to my MBA, which ran on a similar cadence and occurred in the same venue. And also the feeling of sheer exhaustion.

    Right now, every day is go to work, possibly go to the gym or play hockey or teach a class (depending on the day), then spend the night marking assignments/creating assignments/develop course material and activities/making slide decks/reviewing online discussions and responding to students. Unless it’s a Saturday or Sunday, in which case I get to skip the “go to work part”. Every. Single. Day.

    But I’m more than halfway there. I’ve completed week 10 of 15 weeks for my two full semester courses and half of my classes for the weekend course. I’ve only marked 6 of 14 assignments/tests, so there’s still a fair bit of work to do on that front, so I guess I’m a bit less than half done on marking and a bit more than half done on teaching.

    I am really, really going to enjoy May this year.

    1. Yes, those topics are exciting to me. YMMV. []

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    A Whole New WordPress

    I logged into my blog tonight to write a posting and learned that there is a brand new version of WordPress, which is the open source software that I use to publish my blog. And it’s not just a usual little update with a few bug fixes – it’s a big change to how the WordPress editor works. Instead of just writing stuff in one big textbook like I used to, it’s now all down in different types of “blocks”.

    So now instead of writing what I was going to write about1, I’m writing a post to play around with the new features2.

    Like in this paragraph, I used a “drop cap” to create the giant “L” at the start of the paragraph, like one might see in a fancy book. Unfortunately, it looks totally ridiculous with the font my blog theme uses.

    There’s also a new way to insert photos, so I’ve inserted this random photo of Watson & Crick exploring the inside of the dishwasher:

    Kitties in the dishwasher
    Although it’s a new way to insert a photo, it doesn’t seem like it will look any different when I post it on the blog.


    Now I’m using a “quotation” block, just to see what that looks like. (When I preview the post, I can see it’s in italics, which isn’t how it looks in the editor. I think that’s because my theme has itaclics for quotations. But it looks better without the italics, to be honest).

    -Dr. Beth Snow

    This is a pull quote. I kind of like the look of this in the editor, but again when I preview, it’s in italics. Perhaps it’s time to change my theme?

    It was really easy to change the colour on this though!

    DR. BETH SNOW

    There is also an option called a “cover”, which is a photo with writing on top of it. But it only seems to let  you choose a photo that you’ve uploaded to the same place where you store your blog, whereas I prefer to store all my photos in Flickr and use them from there. So here’s an example of a cover from one of the very few photos that I’ve actually stored with my blog rather than on Flickr:

    This is a cover

    There’s also a “gallery” where you can add a bunch of photos, but again, I have to store all the photos on the server where I store my blog, but I don’t want to pay to store a bunch of photos there when I already pay to store all my photos on Flickr. 

    That button just takes you to my homepage, so it’s not very exciting. And it looks terrible, because the text is picking up the link colour (blue if you haven’t been to my homepage and purple if you have) from my theme – whereas on the editing screen it looks much nicer.3

    But think of all the exciting places I could direct you to go, now that I have button creating powers!

    There’s a whole bunch of other stuff that I can do with this (including changing the background and text colour in a block, apparently), but it’s getting late so I think I’ll leave that all to another day. Now to click “Publish” and see how this all really looks on the other side (though WP tells  me that it should look very similar to what I’m seeing in the editor screen, but when I previewed it did not!)

    1. I don’t even remember what I was going to write about, to be honest! []
    2.  Basically, what I’m saying is that this post will probably be of interest to no one, so you can save yourself the boredom and stop reading now. Assuming that you read the footnotes. Assuming that my footnotes plugin still works with this brave new WordPress…. oh wait, I just previewed the post and the footnotes do, in fact, appear to work. Hooray! []
    3. Perhaps I need to update my theme? []

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    30 days to go for my 2018 goals

    There are a mere 30 days left in 2018, so I figured I’d check in on how I’m doing on my 2018 goals. When last we checked in, I had achieved 3 of my 2018 goals. I have now achieved two more of my goals:

    And I’m nearly done:

    • read 18 books (I’m on book #18 for the year)
    • make 18 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before (I’ve made 14/18 new things this year, but I haven’t yet done my Christmas baking)
    • learn 12 new things – I’ve only blogged about 7, but I have 4 other things that I’ve learned about but haven’t yet blogged. Which means I only have to learn about one more thing (or remember one other thing that I learned but haven’t yet put on my list) – that’s totally do-able

    There’s a few others that are within the realm of possibility:

    • write in my journal at least one time per week, on average – I’ve been writing in it lately, though I’d need to check exactly how many times to see how many more I’d need to do to reach 52
    • sew 5 items – I’ve only done 2, but 3 more isn’t that much if I just make the time to do it!
    • apply for a Nexus card – also something that I can do if I dedicate the time to it
    • publish 118 blog postings – so far I’ve done a meagre 47, which means I’d need to do 2-3 postings a day from now until the end of the year to hit this. So not impossible, but would require a lot of time (and would probably annoy the hell out of everyone who follows me on Twitter).
    • publish at least six long form blog postings(minimum of 3000 words) – I’ve done 2 and I expect when I finally do my big recap of my Scotland trip, that will be more than 3000 words, but I’m not sure what else I’d want to write that’s that long. So possible, but I guess we’ll see whether I get it done or not.

    So that makes 8/18 that are highly likely to be completed, and I could possibly be as high as 13/18 if I do all of the possible ones. Wish me luck!

     

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    I Did A Chin Up!

    The other day, my gym posted on Facebook that one of the trainers, Cindy Lou, had achieved her goal of doing an unassisted chin up. As you may recall, doing an unassisted chin up or pull up1 is also one of my goals and I’ve been working a lot on building up the muscles one needs to do an unassisted chin up2. So the next time I was at the gym, I told Cindy Lou that she was my hero as I was working towards that goal too. And she said, “Give it a try. You’ve been working hard, you might be able to do it now. The trick is not to think. Don’t hang. Just grab on and pull up right away.”

    And so I decided to give it a try after the first set of my workout (so that my muscles would have a chance to be activated). I went over to one of the cages, climbed up on a box to reach the bar… and then I thought about it for too long and could barely lift myself two inches. Cindy Lou and I started chatting about it – basically me saying, “I was thinking too much!” and then right in the middle of chatting, I just reached up, grabbed on to the bar, and pulled myself up! The last little bit was a struggle, but I did it! I did a full on chin up, all with my own strength! No assistance3 whatsoever! I have to say, I was pretty chuffed! And there may have been a few high fives in celebration.

    The trainer who writes my program, Dee, sent me a congratulatory email when she heard about it the next day. Because that’s the kind of trainers we have at my gym – they are genuinely excited and so proud of you when they’ve seen you work hard and finally achieve that goal you’ve been striving for for so long! She suggested that I now add in a chin up every day that I go to the gym. And when I get used to that, add one before every super set4. And then make it two. And it grows from there!

    The next day when I went into the gym, I got lots of high fives from the trainers – like I said, the trainers at my gym are genuinely excited for us when we make progress. And I did another chin up and it felt so much easier than the day before. My first one was a bit shaky, especially at the top, but this one was smooth and I felt so strong! Now I feel like it’s not just that “I did an unassisted chin up”, but “I’m a person who does unassisted chin ups!”

    Footnotes:

    1. Chin ups are where you grip the bar with your palms facing you (or you can do a neutral grip with your palms facing together, which requires a chin up bar that has grips facing this way), and a pull up is done with your palms facing away from you. The pull up is harder than the chin up. For the record, the one I did was a neutral grip chin up. []
    2. Chin ups are especially challenging for women, who tend to have less upper body strength compared to men. They have also been increasingly challenging for me as I’ve put on a fair amount of muscle since I started lifting, which means that I have to lift more weight! []
    3. In my training towards getting to this point, I have been doing, among other things, chin ups and pull ups where you tie a resistance band to the bar and you stand in it while you do your chin up or pull up – it takes away a bit of your weight so that you can practice the movement but without having to lift your entire body weight. When I started training, I used several bands and as my training progressed, I used fewer bands, and lighter bands, so that I was lifting more and more of my weight. []
    4. The way our programs are designed, we often have two or three exercises groups together. So say you are doing 3 sets each of exercises A1 and A2 – you’d do A1, A2, A1, A2, A1, A2 – and all that together is called a “super set”). Then you move on to your B exercises, then C, and sometimes also D. []

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    We are three weeks into my hockey season…

    … and I’m leading my division in points. For reals. Here’s proof:Division Leader for Points, Sept 22, 2018

    I’m really just recording this here because I know it won’t last for long1! I mean, last year I only had three points in the entire SEASON in this division, and right now I’m leading the division with four points in four games – and two of them have been goals! And one of those goals was a really nice goal, too! Like, my first goal was me firing it hard, but just right along the ice (like I didn’t even manage to lift it like 1 mm off the ice), towards the net as I crossed the blue line, just to try to get the puck in deep as two defence were coming at me – thinking maybe if I were lucky, I’d get a rebound for my linemate. But instead it just slid through the 5-hole! But my second goal was a beaut – I was standing at the back door and my linemate passed it from the corner, right through the crease and I actually managed to (a) receive the puck (can’t say that I always manage to take a pass well), (b) paused long enough to look at what my options were (instead of my usual move, which is to panic, and shoot the puck right at the goalie), (c) notice that there was some available net just over the goalie’s right shoulder, and (d) actually lift the puck right in that spot. Lifting the puck is somewhat new to me – it’s probably thanks to the combination of taking a hockey camp a couple of summers ago, getting a better stick, and actually working out so I have some power – so I was pretty chuffed. Also, it ended up being the game winning goal, so that made it all the more sweet!

    Anyhoo, as I said, I don’t expect to be on the top of this list for very long, so I’m basking in the glory of leading the second from the bottom division in beer league hockey while I can!

    1. Probably by the end of tonight it will have changed. []

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    I guess this is what it must feel like to be a whale, if a whale lived in a vast ocean of work instead of water

    Illustrator whaleI feel like I’m coming up for a short breath after being submerged for a really long time, knowing that I’m shortly going to dive back down. I guess this is what it must feel like to be a whale, if a whale lived in a vast ocean of work instead of water.

    The things under which I’ve been submerged recently include, in no particular order:

    • finishing up the course I was teaching this semester, including grading all the final assignments, calculating participation grades for the semester, and submitting final grades to the school
    • completing revisions for the new edition of my textbook1, including proofing all the revisions we did
    • submitting a grant application2
    • working on another grant application that is due May 1
    • my presidential duties
    • my actual day job, which is getting crazy busy as a Really Big Thing is about to happen and we have to be ready for it

    But the textbook revisions and the marking are all done now, and those were two really time-consuming things that I was having to fit into my weekends and evenings, and the time available for working in the evenings and on the weekends were abbreviated due to the fact that I’m dedicated to doing my three days a week at the gym (which really is a big part of what helps me decompress when I’m so busy!) and I’ve been working longer than normal hours at my actual day job, due to all the work of preparing for the aforementioned Really Big Thing. So now I feel like I have a few days where I can actually breathe. By which I mean “write a blog post about how busy I’ve been”.

    Of course, this is just a short reprieve, as I’m about to dive back down into the deep ocean that is work craziness. As, I mentioned above there is a Really Big Thing happening at work soon. This Really Big Thing will involve my team (a) providing data to monitor the progress and/or outcomes (good or bad) of said Really Big Thing (translation: lots of people will be wanting to see the data we produce daily) and (b) having to provide support 12 hours a day, 7 days a week until such time as the Really Big Thing settles down into just a Big Thing and we can go back to our regular work days and hours. Which means that I’ll be working some early mornings and some weekends and also, since I’m the lead of the team, should any crises happen, I could potentially be called even when I’m not on site. All that stuff happens starting April 28th.

    Also, I’m going to have some house guests around this same time! Dr. Dan and one of his students will be staying with me from May 2-8, as they will be in town for important work things, and then from May 8-13, my mom and my Aunt Wendy will be staying with me as my Aunt has an important conference to attend and my mom is coming along to visit. I’m very excited to see all of them, as I think it will be good for me to get some quality time with family & friends to keep me grounded when I’m not at the hospital doing my Really Big Things.

    Sperm whale starting a dive #2

    Image Credit: Whale illustration posted by Steve on Flickr with a Creative Commons license and whale tail photo posted by Vilmos Vincze on Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

    1. I don’t think I’ve mentioned here that we are putting out a new edition. The original came out in 2012, which is like a million years ago in textbook years, so it was due. Nutrition is still a pretty young field, so there were a fair amount of things to update! It should be ready by the end of the month and everyone should buy a copy or 12. []
    2. Which I was just a co-investigator on, so I’m not saying I did the most work on it; was it was a team effort of a bunch of people and lead by someone else, but it still took up some time. []

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    Gymiversary

    Another thing I’m behind on blogging about is my gymiversary! March 3 was my one year anniversary of having joined Strong Side. I’ve blogged a few times about my gym experience and it’s mostly for lack of time to blog that you haven’t been subjected to me talking about how much I love my gym.1 I remember thinking when I signed up “am I really going to be able to do this gym thing on the regular for six whole months??” (I signed up for the 6 month commitment to start because it gets you a better monthly rate than if you just sign up for a three month commitment). And now here is it more than a year later and not only have I regularly gone to the gym three times a week for an entire year, but I actually really love it.

    As I’ve mentioned before, part of what I love about it, in addition to the more obvious I-am-getting-stronger reason, is that it’s an easy way for me to be mindful. It really helps me disconnect from my work and all the other things that one has to deal with in life as I focus intently on my form and my breathing. In fact, Friday evenings are one of my favourite times to work out – I find it really helps me to separate from my busy workweek and get ready for my weekend! I love to hit the weights on Friday after work and just work out all the stress of the politics, emails, and deadlines.

    Another part of what I like is the social nature of the gym. I’ve gotten to know a fair number of people there – and there are people that I knew before I started going that I’ve discovered go there too (or have joined since I joined) – and everyone is really down-to-earth and supportive of each other. You’ll regularly hear people catching up and joking around and cheering each other on when someone is doing something really tough. It’s a nice feeling to walk in and see friendly faces and people who know your name.

    The other day I was there and a person I didn’t recognize came up to me and said, “I don’t want to sound creepy, but I just wanted to tell you that you look really strong! I saw you lifting and I thought “I want to look like that!” Honestly, it was so out-of-the-blue and such a lovely compliment! We chatted for a bit – she’s relatively new to the gym and I told her that I’d been coming there for a year and that it really does work! If you’d told me when I started that I’d be able to lift what I can now, I’d have said you were crazy. But it’s amazing what you can do with consistent work and a program tailored by people who know what they are doing!

    When I started going to the gym, I was just getting past my year of injuries and I’d put on some weight from not having been able to run (which was how I’d been keeping somewhat in shape for the past decade) and I wasn’t feeling too great about that. But now, despite the fact that I weigh more than I’ve ever weighed in my life, I’m actually a lot happier with how I look and feel, because the weight gain has been muscle. I’m slowly coming to grips with the fact that I have to get rid of some of the clothes that I haven’t been able to fit into for quite some time but had been hanging on to because I was sure I’d someday get back down to my pre-MBA weight, because even I manage to bring down my body fat % a bit, my quads won’t let me get into those pants and my shoulders and back mean those shirts won’t comfortably fit – and I don’t have any intention of losing these muscles, so I’m OK with that.

    As you may recall, one of my goals for this year was to deadlift my own body weight, and I actually managed to do that on January 30. I decided on wanted to capture it on video and since in my current program I’m doing deadlifts where I do 6 reps, then up the weight and do 5 reps, and so on until I’m down to just 1 rep. So I got this on video the other day where I deadlifted 68.5 kg (or 151 lbs), which is more than my body weight for 2 reps2

    Deadlifting 68.5 kg. That’s more than my own body weight!

    A post shared by Beth Snow (@drbethsnow) on


    For good measure, I’ve also managed to back squat more than my weight. Here’s me back squatting 70kg (or 154 lbs).

    Squatting 70 kg – more than my own body weight!

    A post shared by Beth Snow (@drbethsnow) on


    My other goal for this year is to do a full pull up or chin up without the assistance of any resistance bands (basically, you hang a resistance band off the bar you are hanging from and step into it and the band takes off some of your weight so you do the pull up or chin up motion, but without having to lift your entire body weight). When I first started going to the gym, I needed three different bands to do pull ups, but I’m slowly but surely working my way towards fewer bands. Like with the deadlifts, my current program has me doing 6 pull ups with a couple of bands, then 5 with fewer/smaller bands, and so on until I reach 1 rep. I tried to do my last rep with the second smallest resistance band, but couldn’t quite manage it, so had to do it with a slightly bigger band, but I was still pretty happy to be able to do that. Definitely made progress, but still have a ways to go. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have done one on my own!

    1. If you’ve had the misfortune of seeing me in person in the past 12 months, you’ve likely been subjected to me waxing poetic about this at length. My apologies. []
    2. I decided not to video my 1 rep, because I wanted to see how heavy I could go and I knew there was a good chance I’d fail. I tried to do 70 kg, but I couldn’t, so I was glad I didn’t try to video that one. I backed it off to 69 kg and did that for 1 rep. Maybe I’ll be able to do 70 kg this week! []