Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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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! []

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Goals for 2018

Since I performed abysmally on my goals for the past two years, I’ve decided to shake up how I’m writing my goals this year. As I was googling to get some inspiration for goals for this year, I saw some articles with tips on how to write better goals. One of those tips was something that I know very well from my work-life – making SMART goals!

  • Specific – it should be clear exactly what you are trying to achieve (e.g., rather than say “eat healthier”, you need to specify in way, like “eat more vegetables” or “consume less sugar”)
  • Measurable – it should have an indication of how you will measure if you achieved it (e.g., eat a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables at least 4 days a week)
  • Achievable – it should be something that is within your control1 and realistic enough to achieve2 – though you don’t want to make it too easy to achieve – it should be somewhat of a challenge so you have to work to achieve it.
  • Relevant – it should be something that matters to you, otherwise you won’t be motivated to work towards it.
  • Time-bound – it should have a date associated with it so that it’s not just an open-ended “well, I haven’t achieved it yet, but maybe someday it will happen!).

All of my yearly goals are, by definition, time-bound since they are to be completed within the year and I’m usually good at making them measurable and specific, but I’ve done a double check on this year’s goals to make sure they met all the elements of SMART.

The other idea that I saw was to phrase the goals as if they were already achieved – a technique that I’m familiar with from writing vision statements and learning objectives. So I’m going to give that a try!

By December 31, 2018:

Health-related goals

  1. I have deadlifted more than my own body weight. I’m close to having done this, but never quite got to my own body weight (I thought I had, but then went home and weighed myself and discovered that I’d put on my weight than I’d realized due to building up all this muscle from strength training!)
  2. I have done a chin-up or pull-up without the help of any resistance bands. I’ve had some training programs where I’ve been doing chin ups or pulls up, but I’m not yet able to lift my own body weight, so I stand in resistance bands that are hung from the bar, which takes a bit of my weight. I started with three different resistance bands and now I’m down to one or two. I think within 12 months I can get to doing them all on my own3
  3. I meditate at least once per week.
  4. I have written in my journal at least one time per week, on average. – I think I set my journal writing goal too high in 2017 and then got discouraged when I got so far behind that it felt like I’d never catch up! One a year seems more realistic.
  5. I have brought my lunch to work at least 75% of the time.

Personal growth-related goals:

  1. I learned 12 new things and wrote a blog posting about each of them.
  2. I read 18 books – and written a review of each. I failed miserably at my book reading goal in 2016, but I’m hoping that my work team gets moved to the new location we are supposed to be moving to – which is transit accessible – soon in the new year, so that I’ll be taking the Skytrain and bus more, which will provide me with more time for reading! Also, my book club is getting a reboot4, so that will help motivate me too!

Crafty goals:

  1. I’ve sewn 5 items. I really enjoyed the sewing classes I did last year and want to do more sewing. I’d like to take the zippered pouch class and perhaps make a few more tote bags.
  2. I’ve made 18 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before – and blogged about each of them. I have ideas for some things I want to try making and I’m sure I’ll be inspired with other ideas throughout the year.

Professional goals:

  1. I’ve submitted 3 papers for publication. I have one that is almost ready to be submitted and ideas for two others and I’m really need to dedicate the time to sit down and write them!
  2. I’ve set up and implemented a performance planning and review system for my team at work. Now that I have a team (that is more than just me and one other person), I think it’s high time I set this up.

Getting organized goals:

  1. I’ve applied for a Nexus card.
  2. I’ve finished Konmaring my condo
  3. I’ve painted my condo.
  4. I’ve bought a freezer. I currently only have the small freezer on the top of my fridge and I feel so limited by it. I want to be able to make big batches of things (like lasagna or chili) and then freezer them to have for lunches. So my plan is to clean up my office enough to

Miscellaneous other goals:

  1. I’ve donated blood twice.
  2. I’ve published 118 blog postings. That’s just a little more than one every 3 days, on average, or about 10 per month.
  3. Of those blog postings, I’ve published at least six that are long form (minimum of 3000 words). I feel like I should write some more thoughtful pieces, so I’m going to give it a try.
  1. Of course, sometimes things happen that make something that was achievable no longer so – such as if you set a goal to run a marathon but then got injury. But it shouldn’t be something that is clearly outside of your control or you can’t work towards achieving it. []
  2. I mean, as much as I’d like to make $1 billion this year, it’s pretty damn unlikely to happen, so then you are just setting yourself up for failure! []
  3. Some people at the gym do chin ups or pull ups while wearing a heavy chain – or a chain with weights attached! – that’s going to be a longer-term goal for me. []
  4. Thanks to Cath for rebooting us! []

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Nerd Stats 2017

Another year goes by, another row gets added to my table of nerd stats. .

Blog postings Tweets1 Visits to my blog Average number of blog visits per day Busiest day on my blog
2008 423 2,227 32,410 93 Sept 26, 2008 (460 views)
2009 357 1,815 45,153 126 July 25, 2009 (1,181 views)
2010 344 2,302 44,689 122 Feb 9, 2010 (233 views)
2011 380 3,625 60,560 166 Oct 10, 2011 (374 views)
2012 201 875 63,844 175 Feb 13, 2012 (350 views)
2013 213 945 46,665 128 Sept 4, 2013 (721 views)
2014 91 910 33,948 93 Mar 7, 2014 (208 views)
2015 118 800 34,930 96 Nov 23, 2015 (512 views)
2016 116  812  51,549  141 Jan 29, 2016 (13,968 views)
2017 92 449 20,691 57 not sure2.
% change from 2016 -21% -45% -60% -60% N/A

So I was down across the board on my social media involvement in 2017, which is probably reflective of the fact that I feel like I didn’t really do anything in 2017. I was thinking of writing my usual “year in review” blog postings yesterday, but then I realized that I didn’t really do anything! I mean, I went to Washington, DC for the first time, which was cool, but other than that it pretty much just usual every day stuff: going to work, going to the gym (though I really, really do love the gym), playing hockey, and repeat. No epic trips, no epic accomplishments. I definitely have to step things up for 2018!

  1. Note to self: You started Tweeting in 2008, so you get these totals by simple subtraction, not by some fancy pants program or anything. I hope this helps you when you write your “Nerd Stats 2018″ posting when you think “how the hell did I figure out how many times I tweeted in a given year??” []
  2. I used to get this from a “Your 2015 year in blogging” email that Jetpack (the thing I used to track my blog stats) used to send. They stopped sending that in 2015 and the only reason I knew the most popular day in 2016 was because it was my most popular day ever, which Jetpack does provide on its dashboard. Since I didn’t surpass that day this year, it still stands as the most popular day ever and there’s no easy way to find my most popular day for 2017 []

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Apologies in advance for deluge of tweets my blog is about to unleash!

So I’m about to post a bunch of blog postings today in my typical year-end fashion. And my blog auto-tweets all my postings (since I know that most people don’t typically go to blogs anymore unless they see it mentioned elsewhere, such as in Twitter)- and all my tweets automatically show up on Facebook (since I know that not everyone that reads my blog goes on Twitter). So apologies in advance for deluge of tweets my blog is about to unleash! You have been warned!

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Mindfulness and the Gym

Dumbells at Strong Side Conditioning

So remember like eleventy billion years ago when I did that mindfulness course? I haven’t really done any mindfulness practice since then, but it’s always been in the back of my mind that I probably should1.

Well, it sort of hit me one day when I was at the gym that doing strength training is a mindful practice. Being mindful is all about being present in the moment and being aware of your sensations, thoughts, and emotions. When you are doing strength training – if you are doing it right, that is – you are paying very careful attention to your body in the moment. You are setting your stance just so – maybe it’s shoulders packed down, abs and gluts engaged, knees slightly bent, and then you are doing a very deliberate action – lifting in a certain way, focusing on feeling it in a particular muscle(s), focusing on breathing out as you do a particular movement. Sometimes as you go through your sets, you start to get a little lazy with your form – in my case, it’s often that my shoulders start to creep up and/or that I forget to breath. But then you’ll notice that you’ve slipped away and bring yourself back into the right form (or start breathing again!) and it’s much like when you are doing a meditation and notice your mind start to wander, so you come back to your focus on the present.

Dumbells at Strong Side ConditioningI’d been going to the gym for a few months when I realized how mindful this practice was. My focus was very squarely in the present moment – very aware of my body and not really thinking of anything else. I wasn’t worried about the future or dwelling on this past. I was just there, just being, just breathing, just lifting. And I wasn’t even trying to be mindful – it just happened. I remembered the times that I’ve done meditation and how extremely difficult it is some days to quite the mind and just pay attention. I still think it would be useful for me to do some other forms of meditation as well, as there is benefit to the act of being still and observing your thoughts as they arrive, but I think that becoming aware of the mindful nature of my strength training has not only been beneficial in and of itself, but also because it’s reminded me about being mindful. It’s made me more mindful of mindfulness.

There is a link between physical activity and mental health. Mindfulness practice has also been shown to be beneficial to mental health. While there are likely many mechanisms for how physical activity improves mental health, I wonder if any of the benefits of physical activity on mental health are linked to it being an easy way to become more mindful?

  1. Which is quite possibly the least mindful thing a person has ever said! It’s in the back of my mind that I should do that at some point in the future! []

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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!

Untitled

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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…