Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Books

So speaking of books, I have been absolutely pathetic at reading this year. I just looked on Good Reads to see how close to my goal of reading 17 books this year and discovered to my dismay that I have read a mere *two* books this year. TWO! I mean, I feel like I must have read more books than that, but I can’t for the life of me think of what they would be.

I blame my lack of reading in large part on the fact that partway through the year, my work team and I were moved to an office that is not easily accessible by transit and so I’ve been driving to work. Given that I do the lion share of my reading when I’m on the Skytrain or bus, this really cut into the amount of time I spent reading1. In addition, I didn’t really go on any vacations where I could do a bunch of reading and my kobo died and it took a little while before I bought a new one.

Also hampering my total is the fact that I started reading The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker, which 800+ pages long. I mean, it’s no Infinite Jest, but it’s still been taking me a looooong time to read it.

I do have a few books that I’ve read parts of, varying from almost all of the book to just a chapter, including2:

I should probably finish some of them just to get my numbers up!

Plus I have a few that I have lined up to read, including:

Fortunately, I only have one week left of work for 2017 and then I’m on holidays and I’m really hoping I can get in some pleasure reading3.

  1. On the flip side, I listened to way more podcast, as I typically listen to podcasts when I’m driving. []
  2. Full disclosure: All the things in this posting are Amazon affiliate links. That means if you click on them and then buy something, I get some cash. So you should totes do that because I like when I get cash! Seriously though, you should totally buy Introducing Epigenetics: A Graphic Guide by Dr. Cath Ennis because (a) it’s a very interesting book (from what I’ve read so far), (b) my friend Cath wrote it! But mostly because of (a)! []
  3. I also have some serious vacationing planned for 2018, so hopefully I’ll get a strong start on my 2018 book reading goal! []

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NaBloPoMo Day 4 – That Time I Was Acknowledged for Contributions To A Museum Exhibit

True story:

Untitled

The exhibit in question, “Bottoms Up: The Cultures of Drink in the Royal City” is on from now until March at the New Westminster Museum and Archives from now until March 25, 2018. You should check it out!

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NaBloPoMo Day 3 – I always remember that I have a bad memory

I read an article the other day about how if you have memory problems, but you know that you have memory problems, you probably aren’t developing dementia. Rather, your memory problems are probably due to something else, like depression or sleep deprivation. If you have memory problems but you aren’t aware that you are forgetting things – like, for example, your spouse/children/caregiver are noticing that you keep forgetting things, but you don’t see it, that’s a situation that is more likely to develop into dementia. This article was quite a relief, as I’m well aware that my memory is terrible, so I’m in the clear!

I would link to the article, but for the life of me I can’t remember where I read it…

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Halloween 2017

This year’s Halloween costume, being immortalized here on ye old blog:

Cersei Halloween costume

To put this photo in context, my gym had a costume contest: show up at the gym in your costume, take a photo, and post it on Instagram. Best photo wins a prize! Hence why I am holding a dumbbell in the photo – but in true Cersei fashion, I did not put down my wine goblet, even to workout! Props to my fellow gym goer for suggesting that I put up a weight bench to use as my throne!

Just like the year I dressed up as Daenerys, I am surprised by how many people I came across today who do not watch Game of Thrones. I mean, isn’t it the most watched show in the history of television? I thought for sure that in the intervening two years since I dressed up as Daenerys, including carrying around three dragons all day, and repeatedly got “Are you Elsa from Frozen?”, surely enough additional people would have started watching GOT that everyone would know I was Cersei. But alas, I got a fair number of blanks stares and upon asking “Do you watch Game of Thrones?” and hearing “No,” I’d reply “Well, I’m Cersei from Game of Thrones”, and they’d said, “Oh, is she good?” Ha! She’s only like the most evil character to ever have eviled!

The fact that there are so surprisingly many non-GOT fans out there did allow me to have this fantastic conversation:

Me: I’ll have a grande no room Americano.

Starbuck Barista: OK. What’s your name?

Me [with a straight face]: Cersei.

Starbuck Barista [with a confused look]: Sorry? What?

Me [continuing to have a straight face]: Cersei. C-E-R-S-E-I

She still managed to spell my name incorrectly on the cup:

Cersei Halloween costume

Cersei Halloween costume

Sadly, my gym photo is the only full length photo I managed to get of myself! I was teaching tonight and I wore my costume to class, because I’ll be damned if I’ll let a little academic responsibility get in the way of my wearing a costume on Halloween. A couple of students asked me for a photo, but I didn’t get a copy of those and totally forgot to snap one on my own phone. (I also wore my costume to work during the day, but also neglected to get a proper photo1.) Here are some photos of my failed attempt to take a decent photo when I got “home” tonight (where “home” = the hotel I’m staying in as I’m working offsite to collect some data):

Cersei Halloween costume

Cersei Halloween costume

Cersei Halloween costume

And also an OK photo of my hairstyle:

Cersei Halloween costume

When I bought my costume, I was looking at the wigs in the Halloween store to see if they had a Cersei one (which they didn’t). I didn’t clue into the fact that I already have long blonde hair until I got home. D’oh!

  1. A colleague did take a photo of me working intently on my computer in my costume, but (a) it wasn’t full length and (b) I look terrible in it. []

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Time Thieves Strike Again

I swear the days are getting shorter. And not in the sense that we are well into fall now so there are fewer hours of sunlight every day, but like there is less actual time in a day despite the fact that the clock tells me 24 hours have gone by. Because it seems like every day I get fewer things done than I intended and it totally can’t be because I want to do way more things than is humanely possible nor that I am just too slow at doing all the things. It absolutely must be because time is speeding up. Or time thieves are stealing all the time when I’m not looking because I’m too busy doing all the things. Or trying to, except time thieves thieved all my time.

Part of the problem could be that a number of balls that I had in the air all decided to land at exactly the same time! Said balls include:

  • Peer reviews from a journal article that I submitted in April just came back and some revisions are required.
  • I need to review revised chapters for the update of my textbook and they are coming in fast and furious!
  • I’m teaching a course this semester and I totally thought it wouldn’t be too big of a deal since I taught it last year. But last year was the first time I taught it and it turns out that I had a lot more ideas for revisions than I remembered I did, plus things keep happening in the news that I want to incorporate into my lectures, so that all ends up taking a bunch of time.
  • Two guest lectures that I agreed to give a long time ago both decided to happen around now and apparently guest lectures don’t write themselves.
  • My actual day job, which is always crazy busy, decided to get CRAZY BUSY, with some overnight trips to collect data at various locations.

Now, before you say “Beth, if you are so busy, how do you have time to write this blog posting about how busy you are?” Well, truth be told, I wrote most of this on my phone while Skytraining to work, because Skytraining isn’t really amenable to getting all those other things done, but I can write stuff on my phone. And tonight I’m in a hotel room for one of those overnight work trips and my brain is too fried to do more than copy and paste this into my blog and then write this sentence about how I’m copying and pasting this into my blog and writing this sentence. And even that made me tired. But it’s OK – it’s only another about 8 weeks of this and then I can sleep again. And the way that time is flying these days, that will go buy in a flash!

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Things Fall Apart

Apparently all the things got together and decided that they should fall apart this year. You’ve already heard about my car’s clutch actuator and my kobo1 and my toilet and my mouth and my cat’s mouth. In addition to those things, the following other things decided that they too should fall apart:

  • my bathroom counter top. Specifically, the edge of it that came loose:Bathroom counterAnd before I got a chance to buy some Gorilla glue to fix it, I accidentally leaned on it and snapped that piece off. I glued it back on and since it’s on the side, I don’t think anyone will really notice (other than that I’ve now pointed it out to the whole world).
  • my bathroom floor. Specifically, the transition strip between my bathroom floor and my walk-through closet’s floor, which came loose:Transition stripGorilla glue also solved that problem.
  • my dresser. Specifically, the dresser that Kalev gave me way back when he moved to Toronto a million years ago.Kitties exploring my broken dresserOver the last little while, the drawers of the dresser started to slide less smoothly. And then the little plastic slider thingys and all their associated ball bearings started to fall out. Now only the top two drawers can actually be opened and closed without falling off their rails.In fairness to the dresser, it was from Ikea and was moved from Kalev’s place to my place in Vancouver, then to my place in Surrey, then to my first place in New West and then to my current place, which means it’s survived four more moves than can reasonably be expected from a piece of Ikea furniture. I thank it for its service. I’ve ordered a new dresser, one that will go with the rest of my bedroom set and should last me a very long time (locally made, solid wood, costs a stupid amount of money), so in 5-7 weeks I will have a new home for my clothes.
  • my kitchen cupboard door. Specifically the cupboard door that I opened the other day to retrieve something from said cupboard and then it fell completely off its hinges. Given how heavy it was and the fact that I wasn’t prepared to hold up its entire weight with my fingertips on the little handle, it dropped to the counter top beneath the cupboard, where it knocked a wine bottle that landed hard on my foot2 and it knocked over my glass of wine, so my kitchen ended up covered in red wine!
    Cabinet door fell off!

    Every time I go into the kitchen, I instinctively reach up to close the non-existent cupboard door

    Here’s the piece of the hinge on the cupboard frame:

    Broken dresser

    And here’s the piece on the cupboard door:Broken dresser

    It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but they are both a little warped, so I went and bought replacement hinges at Home Depot and I guess fixing it is on the to-do list for this weekend.

In addition to all those things, I also re-sprained my left ankle (stupidly, I was running for a Skytrain and rolled it again), which has made my right hip tight again. However, I’m attempting to learn from my previous mistakes and instead of just thinking it’s OK after a few weeks and running on it, I’ve been going to massage and physio and dutifully stretching out my hip so that it won’t continue on to bursitis again. I asked specifically requested the physio give me some ankle strengthening exercises to do, since no one gave me any the first time I sprained my ankle but clearly my ankle is wimpy and needs to do something about it.

To add injury to injury, last weekend on an easy stroll through Lighthouse Park I rolled my right ankle! It didn’t feel great for a few days, but it seems OK today (*knocks on wood*). Sigh.

Tangentially related: This sign was set up like this in my office and my new hire asked if it was indicative of the quality of the office coffee. For the record, it is.

This sign in my office does, in fact, reflect the quality of the office coffee

  1. Incidentally, I did get a new kobo, but my new kobo needs a name []
  2. Thankfully, my foot broke its fall so that the wine bottle didn’t break! []

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Happy Workiversary To Me!

Yesterday was the my third anniversary of working in my current job! It’s kind of hard to believe that it’s been three years, as I still think of it as my “new” job. And as much as I can sometimes be frustrated with the bureaucracy of working in a big organization (while, several big organizations, actually, as the project I’m working on crosses quite a few), overall I quite like my job. I’m doing work that’s challenging, where I can see that I’m making a difference, and where I have a lot of leeway to figure out how to do my job best – it’s actually got the three keys to motivating someone to be a high performer (autonomy, mastery, and purpose), now that I think about it.

The other thing I really like about my job is the people I get to work with. Case in point: I found this on my desk the other day:

Workiversary card from my team

It’s a card, handmade by one of my team members, that my whole team had signed with some really thoughtful comments to celebrate my workiversary! I’m very lucky to have a team that are not only very good at what they do, but also a super fun group of people to work with!

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I’m a Frankestein’s Monster

So I got a gum graft this morning. I’ve been putting it off since forever ago when my dentist said my gum line was receding on the lower left side of my mouth on a tooth near the back. Basically, the root of the tooth was slowly being exposed and ultimately that would just lead to the root rotting and no one wants that. I looked into an alternative procedure, but then it turned out that the alternative procedure is pretty much what my periodontist does but using cadaver tissue instead of your own tissue (which is an option with my perio1 as well), but some guy gave it a fancy name and patented it. So anyway, after looking into that and deciding it wasn’t worth it, I put off booking the actual surgery for ages because (a) it didn’t sound that fun and (b) my insurance doesn’t cover the procedure (apparently Pacific Blue Cross is the only insurance that doesn’t cover it – lucky me) and I did not like the idea of spending $1400 on this rather than any number of other $1400 purchases I would have preferred to make. What finally got me to do it, though, was the realization that since I had to spend a bunch of money out of pocket for physio on my hip in the fall (as my physio allotment of my insurance got used up pretty quick), if I did the gum graft within 12 months of the physio, I could lump the receipts together and they will probably add up to a high enough amount that I can claim them on my taxes. And so I found myself in the periodontist’s chair this morning.

Not thrilled to be getting a gum graft

As you can see, I’m not thrilled to be sitting in this chair

The procedure was fairly quick and pretty much painless other than the needle to do the freezing2. They also put a blood pressure cuff on me, which inflated every 15 minutes during the pressure just to make sure it wasn’t going crazy – and I hate blood pressure cuffs! They make me feel all claustrophobic and when I can start to feel my blood pumping, I get queasy3. Ugh! Once everything was frozen, I could only feel a bit of pressure here and there, and it was weird to see someone sewing stitches in my mouth! Basically, they cut out a bit of tissue from the roof of your mouth, sew that incision up, then open up a little pocket in the receding gum and stuff the tissue inside there, and then sew that up. And that’s it. She did also put a “bandage” on the roof of my mouth to protect that cut – it feels like a little pack of putty. It sort of protects that cut – I imagine without it, I’d just be running my tongue on those stitches, like you do when you burn the roof of your mouth! Before the surgery, they gave me some Advil and Tylenol and then said to take an Advil every 2 hours today4, and then just as needed for any pain tomorrow. My jaw is a bit achy, but that doesn’t bug me too much. I was worried there would be sharp pain in the roof of my mouth, as I’ve heard from other people who have had gum grafts, but so far, knock on wood, I’m OK. I can deal with just achy (so I’m hoping it stays at just that!). The periodontist also said I might have a bruise on my cheek, but one hasn’t developed yet. I guess we’ll see how I look in the morning.

Today I had to take it easy and for the next week or so I have to eat only on the right side of my mouth. I can brush my teeth except for the ones where the graft was, and I have to swish around a special rinse after that to keep the wounded parts clean. The perio even said that I can play my hockey game tomorrow night5, so I should probably get a good night’s sleep!

  1. And, in fact, my friend Rick is getting a gum graft done using cadaver tissue, so he is going to be a real Frankenstein’s monster. Or perhaps a chimera. I haven’t been to periodontal school, so I’m not sure which of those is technically correct, though I’m sure it must be one of them. []
  2. The only painful part was paying the bill! []
  3. On the plus side, my blood pressure was good – about 109/60, which is a bit high for me (I’m usually around 90/60), but way below the normal of 120/80 and also I was having surgery! []
  4. Which I kept forgetting to do, so it’s been more like every 3-4 hrs. []
  5. I thought she would say not to, as the written material I got before the surgery said I shouldn’t engage in any physical activity for 48 hours, but she said that the written material is very conservative – she said that they don’t want you to raise your blood pressure in the first 12-24 hours while the initial healing is taking place, but after that I’m fine to play hockey!)

    Sadly, I didn’t get any gruesome photos like I did that time I got crowns and veneers done, because there really wasn’t anything gruesome to see. I kind of wish I could see what the stitches look like, but the periodontist said not to try to pull at my lip to look at what’s going on with the wound (like many people do) as it will only disrupt the site and delay healing/screw up the graft and after $1400, I’m not risking that, no matter how many cool looking stitches I’m missing out on seeing.

    Anyhoo, I suppose I should take my last Advil for the day and hit the hay. Tomorrow is my first day back at work after two weeks of holidays ((Which I’ll blog about soon! []

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Goals 2017 Check In

We are more than 5/12 of the way through 2017 and first of all, how is that even possible? It feels like it was just New Year’s! But secondly, it seems like a good time to check in on my goals to see if I’m even remotely on track before the year completely gets away from me.

Let’s dive right in, shall we? Below is a list of the goals with notes on how I’m doing on each one. I’ve also colour coded them: green for those that are done or on track, orange for those where progress is made but the goal needs a bunch of work to get back on track, and red for those that are seriously in danger of not getting completed (or are already failed), plus grey for one that has been superseded.

1. Learn 12 new things (1 per month). So far I’ve learned: plumbingfolding a fitted sheet, strength trainingsewing, and growing balcony potatoes – I’ve also learned about one more thing but haven’t written it up yet, so I’m actually ahead on this one!
2. KonMari my condo. I have started this one, but have gotten a little stalled after I got through all my clothes and shoes (still have jewelry and purses to do before I can consider the “clothing” category done). Got a little distracted by teaching a course for the past 6 weeks, which took up a lot of my spare time, but that’s done now so I can get back to making giant piles of my belongings to decide which things bring me joy and thanking the ones that don’t make the cut for their service (lol!)
3. Do yoga at least 2x per week (either at home or in a class). Haven’t done it even once this year!
4. Establish a weight training program and actually do regular weight training, where “regular” = at least 2x per week for at least 3 out of 4 weeks per month. I’m doing excellent on this one! I have gone to the gym 3 days a week, every week, since I joined Strong Side on March 3. Hooray for me!
5. Get back to journalling regularly (where “regularly” = once a week). I forgot this one was a goal. I should really do this! Good thing I’m doing this check in to remind me!
6. Travel somewhere awesome. Scott and I are doing a road trip next week1 and one of the places will be going is Jasper. Though it’s not far away, I do believe it constitutes awesome.
7. Get gum graft surgery done.  Booked for July 4!
8. Get a Nexus card Oh yeah, I should do this!
9. Send an actual physical birthday card on time to all my family members and close friends Already failed at this one! Maybe next year…
10. Bring my lunch to work 80% of the time. I’ve been tracking this on a weekly basis, but hadn’t looked at the actual percentage until just now. I’m only at 56% Clearly I need to up my lunch game when I get back from my holidays!
11. Complete the 100 push up challenge. This goal has been superseded by my joining Strong Side. Hopefully I’ll start to get better at pushups – I’ve managed to make great improvements in my strength, but pushups remain tough for me.
12. Submit 5 papers for publication. I’ve gotten one submitted, I’ve got one that is about 85% of the way done, I’ve got one that I’ve planned out with my co-authors (but we haven’t yet started on), and I’ve got one in my brain. Better get working on the lesser done ones (and also come up with the 5th one!)
13. Read 17 books. I’ve only finished one so far this year (Maria Kondo’s book), but I’m in the middle of reading 4 different books at the moment, plus I have my friend Cath’s new book sitting on my coffee table waiting to be read. So I’m rather behind on this one and I mostly blame the fact that I spend my commute doing my Pokemon inventory management rather than reading
14. Make 17 new foods and/or drinks that I’ve never made before. I’ve only done 6 so far, but I’ve got some good ideas for other things, so I think I’ll manage this one.
15. Write 117 blog postings! Counting this one, I’ll have done 26 blog postings so far this year. I better step it up!
16. Finish the plan for mystery thing #1. I’m actually working on this in earnest this week – my mystery collaborator and I have the week off work to focus on this, so this goal is well underway.
17. Finish the letter of intent for mystery thing #2. I did finish this, so technically I completed my goal. Doesn’t look like this mystery thing is going to go anywhere, so let us never speak of it again.

So I’m doing OK on several, have quite a few that are not on track, and a few on which I’ve made progress. So I guess now it’s time to turn some of those orange and reds into green!

  1. Attention would be robbers: My cat sitter will be here, so don’t even think of trying to rob me! []

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Going Postal

Way back in the old time-y days of 2016, the mailbox in my building got broken.

Mailbox

Apparently it was quite old and it had been repaired several times, but this time it was no longer repairable. So we had to order a new one. But it was December and the mailbox making place was on holidays. So like a month later we got our new mailbox delivered…. and it turned out that half of it was defective. So they had to make another one.

We now have half a mailbox

Well, after two long months of not getting mail delivered, we finally got a new, not defective mailbox installed last week! Hooray!

New mailbox!

It turns out that if you have a b0rked mailbox, Canada Post holds your mail at a depot place where you can go pick it up during the extremely convenient hours of 10 am to 2 pm, Monday to Friday. Given that I don’t work in the same city that I live in (and hence where the mail depot is), I found this pretty ridiculous. I managed to pick up my mail two times in those two months – once during my Christmas holidays (before l left for Toronto/New York), and a second time on Family Day (because it’s a provincial holiday, not a federal one, so federal employees, such as those who work for Canada Post, don’t get the day off). I talked to some people in my building who didn’t pick up their mail even one time for the entire two months!

The whole ordeal confirmed for me what I’m sure most people know – mail is mostly irrelevant. When I did pick it up, my mail was full of RRSP statements (which I can check online anyway), pay stubs (though the money had already gone into my bank account, so I wasn’t too worried about it), and my property assessment (which I already checked out online). The only thing that I really even needed out of the entire two months’ worth of mail was a royalty cheque from my textbook – my publishing company is American and apparently it’s impossible to send money electronically through the US-Canada impenetrable border. I also got the notice for my strata’s AGM (which eventually also was sent electronically – one of the items on the agenda was how to pay for the new mailbox. lol! Also, now that the mailbox is fixed, my T4 slips are arriving, so I guess that’s a thing that I need to get in the mail (as only some places seem to have those online).

Anyway I think what I’m saying here is that everyone should mail cool stuff to me now that I have a functioning mailbox again!