Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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How did I do on my 2017 goals?

Time to check in on how I did on my goals this year (spoiler alert: pretty bad!)

Successes:

  • Learn 12 new things (1 per month). I learned the following 12 things:
  1. Plumbing
  2. Folding a Fitted Sheet
  3. Strength training
  4. Sewing
  5. Growing Balcony Potatoes
  6. Politics
  7. Car Part
  8. Epigenetics
  9. Canning
  10. Short cuts
  11. Make-up expiry
  12. Brain rules
  • 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 totes kicked ass at this one – since joining Strong Side in March, I went to the gym 3x a week (with the exception of a two week period at the end of Oct/start of Nov when I was away and put my membership on hold).
  • Get gum graft surgery doneDone!
  • Make 17 new foods and/or drinks that I’ve never made before. Surpassed this goal!
  • Vague goal: Finish the letter of intent for mystery thing #2. The thing didn’t end up panning out, but I did finish the LOI.

Partially completed:

  • KonMari my condo I did most of the “clothing” category and then nothing else. I’m rolling this goal over to 2018.
  • Travel somewhere awesome. I did go to Washington, DC, which was cool, but I only got one day of sightseeing in and don’t think that qualifies as “awesome”.
  • Submit 5 papers for publication. I submitted one! And I have another that I just need to cut 100 words out of and then I can submit it (so that will be my first submission for 2018).
  • Vague goal: Finish the plan for mystery thing #1. Didn’t finish it, but did make some progress! Will be continuing to work on this in 2018.

Failures:

  • Do yoga at least 2x per week (either at home or in a class). I don’t think I did a single yoga session all year.
  • Get back to journalling regularly (where “regularly” = once a week). Nope.
  • Get a Nexus card. Been meaning to do that for a while.
  • Send an actual physical birthday card on time to all my family members and close friends. Nope.
  • Bring my lunch to work 80% of the time. I was tracking this in a Google spreadsheet and have the data from up to mid-way through Oct, when I was at a meagre 56%. But then there was some epic fail on the spreadsheet where it wasn’t saving my entries after that and I lost a couple of months worth of data and I have no idea which days I did or didn’t bring my lunch during that time. I’m guessing that I didn’t bring it above
  • Complete the 100 push up challenge. Didn’t bother with this because I’m doing my strength training programs at the gym.
  • Read 17 books. Four out of seventeen is so bad that I can’t even call this one “partially completed”. Just an epic fail!
  • Write 117 blog postings! When I hit “publish” on this posting, I’ll have published 92 blog postings this year – 97 if you count the 5 I wrote on my “professional” blog. And since I don’t have it in my to write 20 blog postings this evening, I’m accepting this as a fail and a reminder to be more diligent with blogging next year!

And that’s going to be it for my 2017 blogging. Have a great NYE everyone and see you next year!

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A review of that movie that everyone is talking about

    Krampus poster.jpg“Krampus poster” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

Last night, Kalev and I went to see the documentary about the blicans and her family are Repu experience of German ex-pats living in America – Krampus.

Warning: SPOILERS

I give this movie a decidedly mixed review. There was some very well done sections of the movie, but then other parts were kind of lame. And they couldn’t decide if they wanted to do a happy ending or a dark ending, so they tried to do both and succeeded at neither.

The storyline is basically that a little kid is disillusioned with Christmas because his aunt and her family are Republicans. So he rips up his sweet letter to Santa, which causes Krampus – the evil shadow of St. Nicholas – to murder everyone in his subdivision. (A real case of the punishment not fitting the crime). The movie was actually pretty good as long as you were only getting glimpses of Krampus and his evil minions, but once they started to actually show you the bad guys – creepy jack-in-the-boxes, Christmas tree angels, teddy bears, and such, it was just lame. Somewhat surprisingly, the only bad guy characters that didn’t come across as lame were the manical little gingerbread men, which seems like should be the cheesiest of all, but ithey weren’t.

Another part that was annoying was that the German grandmother, Omi, who only spoke German through most of the movie, reveals she speaks perfect English when the time comes that she needs to tell the back story of how Krampus took all of her family and threw them into the pits of hell when she was a child because she lost the Christmas spirit and wished that all her family would go away – leaving only her behind knowing that it was all her fault. So not only does Krampus dole out punishments far exceeding the severity of the infraction, but he also holds a grudge for a really long time, coming after her grandson. (Also, maybe Omi could have told her grandson that ripping up letters to Santa would unleash the hounds of hell upon everyone in a 10 mile radius?) After telling the story, Omi goes back to only speaking German again for the rest of the movie, even though only her son and grandson can understand her and everyone knows she speaks perfect English. It basically just felt like the filmmakers didn’t want to bother subtitling that 5 minute segment.

As I mentioned, the ending wasn’t fantastic either. There was a point at which everyone but the little boy was captured and presumed dead and Krampus gives him a Christmas tree ornament that says “Krampus”, just like the one he gave Omi when she was a little girl and her entire family had been slaughtered. If they had just faded to black there, I’d have been happy. But instead, the boy picks up the ornament and chased down Krampus, who is about to throw the boy’s cousin into the firey depths of the underworld when the boy makes an impassioned plea, says he takes back his bad wish, and starts crying. And then Krampus wipes his tear with a big claw, laughs at him  and throws the cousin into hell. And then throws the boy into hell too. And then he wakes up and everyone is alive and already down by the Christmas tree waiting for him to wake up. And, inexplicably, everyone is no longer being a bunch of assholes to each other and though the Republicans are still being their unclassy selves, they aren’t mean like they were and the little boy is happy and I’m thinking “omg, did they really just do the “it was all a dream” ending, which is the most pathetic excuse for an ending for any story ever?” But then he opens a present and it’s the ornament that says “Krampus” and then you hear a bunch of flashbacks from earlier in the movie where everyone is kind of a jerk and everyone gets a funny look on their face and that’s the end of the movie. So now I take back my claim that “it was all a dream” is the lamest ending a story can have…. Because “It was all a dream…. Or was it???” Is the lamest needing in the history of endings.

Anyhoo, I’m realizing that I’m bitching a lot about his movie hear, but I actually enjoyed more of it than I disliked. I’d say it was probably enjoyable for 65-70% of the time, and especially considering that Kalev had free tickets AND a free popcorn AND two free drinks and I was able to get vanilla Diet Coke, I was overall happy with the movie watching experience.

Tonight I’m going to see another movie – something about an interstellar armed conflict. I haven’t really heard much about it – hopefully it’s good!

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My manicure one month later

Hey, remember that time that I got my nails done all fancy like? That was almost a month ago and my nails are still, to my great surprise, perfect!

Day 164

Of course, near the cuticle you can see that my nails have grown a bit in the past month, but other than that, they are perfectly shaped and as shiny as the day I got them. And this is despite sticking my hands in hockey gloves for several games, washing dishes, baking, and other such potentially nail breaking activities. So props to Crystal Nails in New West1, where I had these done!

  1. As per usual, I didn’t get paid or get any products or services for free to promote these guys. Just thought I’d spread some appreciation for a job well done. []

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Flashforward

Hey, remember that time that I said I would blog about some of the stuff I’m reading over my summer holidays and then said that I’d probably not actually get around to doing that? Consider yourself proven wrong, Dr. Beth. Proven wrong long time!

FlashforwardEven since the TV series Flashforward was canceled, I’ve wanted to read the novel on which it was based. I quite enjoyed the first and only season of that show, but it ended with a cliffhanger and then the show wasn’t renewed. I mistakenly thought that if I read the novel I could get some closure1, but it turns out that the show was only very loosely based on the novel, so the unanswered questions from the show weren’t answered.

My Review2, Such As It Is – SPOILER ALERT!

The basic premise of both the novel and the show is that there is a global blackout in which everyone on earth loses consciousness and during their blackouts, everyone sees a glimpse of the future at a specific point in time3. The fall out from this then explores the age old questions of if the future is predestined or is it changeable, and do we have free will?

What I want to write about, of course, is much more mundane that that. The novel was written in 1999, set in 2009, and the flashforwards that the characters saw4 was in 2030. One of the challenges of writing a near-future story, of course, is trying to predict what that near future will be like, knowing full well that you will be proven wrong (or right) quite soon. For example, as characters were talking about their flashforwards into 2030, they were marvelling at how they were reading newspapers on a thin screen instead of on paper like they do in 2009 – and I was reading this book on my iPad, with my kobo sitting next to me on my bedside table. Similarly, a character looks up someone’s phone number in the directory of the American Physics Society – a paper directory5. Clearly, the author did not foresee the advances that would happen in technology in a decade.

There were some predictions, however, that were pretty good. For example, the main character in the book was using the Large Hadron Collider to try to discover the Higgs-Boson in 2009 – something that actually happened just shortly before I read the story6! And it was interesting the the author chose “Pope Benedict XVI” as the reigning pope in 2009 – because he actually was the Pope in 2009, but not when the book was written7.

Overall, I enjoyed reading most of the book, but I found the ending to be kind of lame. The ending happens in 2030, when the characters catch up to the visions of the future. I found it rather rushed – the action in 2009 takes up the vast majority of the book and so you spend a lot of time getting into the characters and then they speed through the endings. For example, we spend a lot of time reading about the main character, Lloyd, and his fiance, Michiko. In their flashforwards, they aren’t together and Lloyd is married to another woman. So there’s all this angst about whether they should even bother getting married since they know it will end in divorce – assuming that the future is immutable, which Lloyd believes it is. And then in the last ~15 pages of the book we hear that Lloyd married Michiko, they had a kid, they got a divorce, Lloyd met and married Doreen, the women he saw in his flashforward, and that Doreen was his perfect soulmate, the one he was really meant to spend forever with and we are supposed to care. I mean, we get so invested in Lloyd and Michiko and we know nothing of this Doreen person, so I find it difficult to believe that Lloyd just loves her so much, but we are given absolutely no sense of why that would be. And then there’s this whole rich guy who makes some Nobel Prize winners immortal and their consciousnesses live on as robots. But it all comes within a few pages at the end – not really long enough for me to be invested in it or for the author to really do anything with it.

In conclusion, whether as a novel or a TV series, Flashforward builds me up only to let me down in the end.

Image Credit: Posted by Open Eye on Flickr

  1. Like what was the deal with the kangaroo hopping through the streets?? []
  2. I never promised a thorough review! []
  3. 6 months later in the TV show, and 21.5 years in the novel []
  4. As well as the ending of the book []
  5. I’m sure there were many more examples, but it’s been a few weeks since I read it and now I can’t remember the rest! []
  6. So this prediction was only a few years off. []
  7. I wonder how he knew that Joseph Ratzinger would chose the name Benedict? Or did J.R. read the story and then when he was elected pope think “You know what would be funny?” []

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Applewood

Apparently this was a weekend for trying out new places to eat, because this afternoon I found myself at Applewood1. A coworker of mine had told me about it recently – it’s a little teashop in Delta where you can get fresh baked goods and fancy tea. It’s totally tucked away where you’d never see it, but apparently gets a lot of their business by word-of-mouth. Their tagline is “just like Grandma’s” and I have to say, they aren’t far off. Assuming your grandma was British or at least loved all things British. I was easily able to convince Devon to go there by telling him that they have scones with Devon cream, something he has been missing since he moved back from the UK. Devon also forbid me from making any jokes about “Devon’s cream” here on ye old blog – but you know how good I am at obeying the rules2. But then I realized that I don’t actually have a fully formed joke about it. Just saying “Devon cream” makes me giggle.

Since we hadn’t eaten anything before we got there, we decided to have lunch. The lunches themselves3 were OK, but the tea and the baked goods were divine! My lunch came with a cloverleaf bun:

Cloverleaf bun

It was still warm and it was freaking fantastic.

We had the Queen Mary tea – which was awesome – and we shared a scone with raspberry jam and Devon cream for dessert4.

Scone

The decor was everything you’d expect from a little British tea shop – bone china cups and collector spoons (just like my Granny used to have!) . They even had tea cup themed wallpaper5.

Tea cup

Sugar Bowl

Milk

I’ll definitely be going back there for those scones. And the Devon cream. *Snicker*

  1. I know I sound like a broken record, but I again have no affiliation with this place. Just blogging as a blogger is want to do. []
  2. That is to say: I am not good at obeying rules. []
  3. I had chicken and mushroom crepes and Devon had a tuna melt, both of which came with salads that were nothing to write home about. []
  4. Snicker. Devon cream. []
  5. Kicking myself for not taking a picture of it. It was hilarious! []

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Dear UrbanSpoon Commenters – I Don’t Care About Your Life Story, Just Tell Me About the Mac & Cheese!

Drink Urban Lounge (New Westminster)

Ever since we moved to New West, we’ve been meaning to check out Drink Urban Lounge1. It’s just down the street and anytime we walked by the place we said, “That place looks cool. We should go there sometime”, but for some reason, we never remembered it when trying to decide on where to go for dinner. In a fit of indecisiveness about where to dine last night, I pulled up Urbanspoon to see what was around and it reminded “Oh yeah, that place!” And then I looked at the reviews.

Here are just some of things mentioned by people in their reviews:

  • I came here because I was out walking my dog.
  • I came here because I was out shopping with my mom.
  • I was worried that leaves would fall into my beer because I was sitting on the patio.
  • I dropped my garlic bread on the floor.
  • I don’t like to make huge commitments, so I get appies and drinks.

You know what all these things have in common? I don’t care about them. I want to know if the food is good and if the drinks are good and for the love the the FSM, I really don’t care about what you were doing with your dog. If you want to talk about the minutiae of your day, get a blog.

Annoyed, I then checked it out on Yelp, which provided marginally better reviews, though they also contained some of the same type of crap (e.g., I went here because the other place I go was showing UFC; the waitress is moving back to Alberta at the end of the summer). The one thing that did appear in several reviews, however, was that the mac & cheese was to die for. And so went there.

As it turned out, the mac & cheese was, in fact, to die for. It had three kinds of cheeses and short rib in it, and came with garlic bread. And I would punch a baby dolphin in the face to get me some. They also scored points from Devon for having Guinness on tap. I had a Sam Adams Boston Lager2, which I’ve never had before and which was pretty freaking delicious. The atmosphere was cool, the wait staff were great, and did I mention that the mac & cheese was to die for?

Other than the mac & cheese, the menu was pretty standard pub fare, but the drinks menu was quite extensive and the prices reasonable, so I imagine I’ll go back and try some of those at some point.

Image Credit: Posted by Raul P. on Flickr

  1. As per usual, I have no affiliation with this business. Just blogging about it ‘cuz that’s the way I roll. []
  2. For the record, I went on a 16 km bike ride earlier in the day, which totally entitled me to the calorific meal! []

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Review: Copper Moon Pinot Grigio

Copper Moon Pinot GrigioIt takes like nothing. Seriously.

I recently was looking to buy a bottle of wine and thought I’d try something I hadn’t tried before. I wanted a white and considered buying my favourite one – Prospect Winery’s Ogopogo’s Lair Pinot Grigio. But then I thought, “Oh no, let’s try something different!” Not too long ago, I’d had a very nice wine from Copper Moon – I think it was a Malbec, but I wouldn’t swear to that. Anyhoo, my wine buying logic went thusly: I like Copper Moon’s Malbec and I like Prospect Winery’s Pinot Grigio, so why not give Copper Moon’s Pinot Grigio a try. Seemed like sound logic, right? Wrong! Copper Moon’s Pinot Grigio tastes like NOTHING!

The lesson here, kids, is to never try something new. Or maybe that you should try new things, as long as they aren’t Copper Moon’s Pinot Grigio. Or perhaps the lesson is that you only should buy wines named after lake monsters. Yes, I think it’s that last one.

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Movie Review: Final Destination 5

Warning: there will be spoilers.

Yesterday a group of us went to see Final Destination 5, a documentary about bridge safety. In preparation, Kalev and I watched Final Destination 1 on Monday night. Because, you know, I was sure I wouldn’t be able to follow the plot without having seen number 1.

There was much excitement in Vancouver over this movie because it was filmed here and the trailer prominently featured the Lions Gate Bridge collapsing. As it turned out, most of the people who worked on this movie appeared to be in the theater watching it with us last night. Before the movie started, we noticed several people wearing Final Destination 5 t-shirts. And after the big bridge collapse scene, the audience erupted into applause. Also, everyone in the theater stayed at the end of the movie to watch the credits to see their own names at which point they cheered loudly. Not that I’m criticizing – I’d totally do that if I ever made a movie.

As for the movie itself, it’s everything that one could ask for in a fifth sequel of a cheesy horror movie franchise. People die in grotesque and ridiculous ways that defy all laws of reason and physics; laser eye surgery is performed by a surgeon who doesn’t look at the patient’s chart before the surgery starts (necessitating the surgeon to leave the room with the laser on and the patient strapped down onto the surgical table) on a patient who just walked in the door and said, “I want surgery!”1; and has a pretty fun twist at the end. All in all, a good evening. And I’m sure glad I had my laser eye surgeries before I ever saw this movie!

  1. They tried to cover their bases on this one by having the surgeon say “It’s been a while since your initial consultation,” but even if you’d been in for consultation, there is no way in hell could walk in and gets surgery done the same day, with no one there to give you a ride home afterwards, etc. []

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I Drive A Lot. And A Review of Fuelly.

I took my beloved Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car in for its 45,000 km service appointment this week, so I figured it was as good a time as any to write an update about my beloved car. Also, it gives me a chance to tell all y’all about the new fun website I’ve been using to track my gas usage (spoiler: it makes graphs!)

Ever since I got my car, I’ve been tracking my mileage. To do this, I’ve been using a handy dandy spreadsheet1. And because of this, I can easily tell you that in the 2 years and 2 months that I’ve owned my car, I have:

  • driven 45,609 km2 – that’s an average of 57 km per day!
  • used 2,839L of gas
  • spent $3,656 in gas and about $1,300 in other car maintenance-related expenses3

But I was recently introduced to Fuelly 4, a website that tracks your mileage for you… and gives you pretty graphs and infographics! Being a graph-loving nerd, I naturally had to try it out. Fortunately, Fuelly lets you import data so I could just import the data I’d been tracking on my handy dandy spreadsheet and viola – graphs!

fuelly 1

fuelly 2

fuelly 3

fuelly 4

Aren’t they pretty?

If you are interested in my ongoing tracking of Zaphod’s mileage – and who wouldn’t be, really? – you can “follow” me on Fuelly.

  1. Spreadsheets. Is there anything they can’t do? []
  2. For my American readers, that’s 28,340 miles []
  3. e.g., regular service appointments, deductible for replacement windshield, replacement of flat tire. []
  4. As per usu, I have no affiliation with Fuelly other than that I use their free service []

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So Nice Creamer – A Review

So Nice coffee creamer

You wanna try some of this? Well, you have to read the whole posting, because there's a contest at the bottom!

As you know, whenever I talk about a product or service on my blog, I usually say something to the effect of “just for the record, this company didn’t give me any money, free products, or backrubs to get me to talk about this.” Usually I say it resentfully, because I almost never get free products to review and you know how I feel about free stuff. Well, this time I can tell you that I am, in fact, reviewing a product that I was given for free for the explicit purpose of reviewing on my blog. Well, they gave me a voucher and then I went to the store and traded in said voucher for said product. OK, I actually went to like four stores, because I couldn’t find it in the first three stores I tried1. But then I asked what stores carry it and that made it a whole heck of a lot easier to find. Also, before I accepted this deal, I said, “OK, I’ll do this but only under the conditions that I’ll say I got the product for free to review and that if it sucks, I’m going to say it sucks.” And they were all fine with that, so here goes2.

Now, the first thing I should point out is that when I got the email asking if I’d like to review “So Nice for Coffee” – a soy-based coffee “creamer” – I was all excited because, like I said, I rarely get products to review. And then there was the tracking down of the product – after consulting with my contact who was working with So Nice, I found out that Choices carries it. So then I went to Choices, found the creamer, did a happy dance that I found the creamer, walked up the checkout and as I’m standing in line, the following thought pops into my head: “Beth, you drink your coffee black.” Seriously. Amidst all that hoopla, it hadn’t occurred to me that I don’t even put cream in my coffee, making me a rather crappy person to review a coffee creamer type product3 (This is probably why people generally don’t ask me to review things.) Anyways. I said I was going to review it and damnit, I’m reviewing it!

Here’s what black coffee looks like:

Black coffee

And here’s what coffee with So Nice creamer in it looks like:

Coffee with So Nice Creamer
So if you are going for “this product makes my coffee lighter in colour,” it totally works.

The next step, of course, was to taste it. So I tried it and it tasted fine. It definitely doesn’t taste as dairy-like/creamy as regular cream does, but I don’t like things that taste that creamy4, so that’s fine with me. It’s definitely thicker than soymilk, which tends to be rather watery, so when you add soymilk to coffee it barely changes the colour. The creamer also does seem to take a bit of the bitter edge off the coffee, which I think is the reason that people tend to put cream in their coffee, isn’t it5? Personally, I like the bitterness of coffee, with just a hint of sweetness from the tiny bit of sweetener that I add, but that’s just me. If you like cream in your coffee but are looking for a dairy alternative, this might just be the thing for you. Oh yeah, and it’s made from organic soybeans, in case you are interested in such things.

Of course, you really need to try it for yourself to know if you like it. And, as luck would have it, the fine people from So Nice gave me four vouchers for a free So Nice creamer to give out to my readers. So now I feel like I’m a very special blogger, because I can run a contest! To enter into my little contest to win your very own So Nice creamer, just leave a comment on my blog about why you want to try this soy-based creamer. Or you can just compliment me – flattery will get you everywhere, including into my draw. The contest closes next Friday (JuneJuly 22, 2011) at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. I’ll take the names of whoever has commented by then and use a random number generator to pick the winners. Because random number generators are cool. Then I’ll mail the voucher to the winners. And perhaps the winners will even be people who like cream in their coffee!

  1. See how much I work for you, beloved blog readers?? []
  2. Basically, you now know that I can be bought and my price is about $3. At least, I think it was $3. I wasn’t paying all that much attention at the cash register, what with having a voucher and all []
  3. Honestly, this is what it’s like to live with my brain. Sure, I can do all sorts high-level research, planning, teaching freaking university courses, but then my brain forgets to put 2 + 2 together. Ask Kalev about the time I forgot it was his birthday even though a couple of days before I emailed him to apologize that I’d sent his present late and it wouldn’t get there in time AND on the actual day he referred to the day in a text message as “Kalev Day” and I *still* forgot it was his birthday! []
  4. And, honestly, I find 2% milk tastes too creamy for me! []
  5. Perhaps people who drink cream in their coffee can enlighten me? []