Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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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 Very Long-Winded Explanation of Why I Haven’t Blogged in Nearly a Month

Hey, remember that time I agreed to teach all of the courses in the universe this semester, in addition to my day job, while saying “this is a terrible idea and I’m going to be so freaking exhausted for the entire four months of this!”? but then also “but they will pay me money and that mortgage doesn’t pay itself!” Well, it turns out that I was right on both of those counts. Since December (when I started working on all of this stuff in earnest), my calendar has been jam packed with course prep, teaching, and marking for three courses:

One course is an online stats course that I’ve been teaching at the Justice Institute since 2011. After having taught it eight times already, I’m pretty happy with the course and only need to make minor tweaks to the course material. The majority of my work for the course is marking assignments – so I put it into my calendar when those are due to make sure that I get through them as quickly as possible.

My second course is also at the Justice Institute – late last year, they asked me if I’d be willing to teach a class on data and research management (using Excel as a tool for managing data and doing some data analysis). This class is on campus – right in my very own town!1 – and it’s a night course – so I actually can teach it despite having a day job. I’m a huge nerd, so this is actually stuff that I really enjoy. Plus, the JI lets sessionals in on the pension plan (which no other school that I teach at does) and I’m down for some extra free money.

And then the opportunity to teach a Program Planning & Evaluation course at UBC over a couple of weekends in March arose. I’ve taught a Program Planning & Evaluation course a few times and while this one I’m teaching in March is shorter (1.5 credits instead of my usual 3 credits) and it’s a different audience (people in leadership roles rather than those earlier in their career), I have all the content I need for the course – I just need to streamline it, create assignments better aligned to the audience and the duration and structure of the course schedule, and devise some learning activities around that content2 – all of which I have underway. The course is at the downtown campus, which is so much more convenient than having to trek out to Point Grey!

Anyhoo, all this to say that this has been me since mid-December and will continue to be me until the about mid-April:

upset-534103

I’m going to also write a quick posting about all the various things that I haven’t posted about in the last month, but I’ll do that as a separate posting because I imagine most people stopped reading this boring posting several paragraphs ago.

Image source: From Pixabay, shared with a “free for commercial use” license: https://pixabay.com/en/upset-sad-confused-figurine-534103/ 

  1. So much better than trekking up Burnaby mountain to teach. []
  2. Active learning is always great, but when teaching half and full days as I will be in this course, it’s a necessity – no one wants to hear me lecture for 8 hours! []

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NaBloPoMo – Day 28 – It’s All Over But The Marking

Tonight was my last class of the course I’m teaching this semester. On my drive home from campus I was a little sad, because I know that I’ll not see any of my students again1! Despite having a class of 90 students, I actually got to know a fair number of them through in class discussion and chats on the break and after class.

The class is an intro to business concepts for students in food, nutrition, & health majors. The major assignment is writing a business plan together and we spent the last two classes having student presentations – which are Dragons’ Den style pitches where the students pretend they are pitching their business plans to room full of investors. Like last year, I was blown away by the creativity of both their business ideas and by their presentations, by the tough questions the students asked each other, and how much work and thought had gone into these projects, as evidenced by how well they dealt with those tough questions.

While I will definitely miss the students, I won’t be sad about getting my Tuesday nights back. And my Monday nights (when I did class prep). And my weekends (when I also did class prep). Teaching a class is a freaking lot of work. Well, once the marking gets wrapped up, that is.

  1. The trials and tribulations of being a sessional instructor who only teaches this one, fourth year course in that Faculty. []

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Beth and Sidney’s Excellent Adventure

So I have a new hockey team this season – we are called the Penguins! On this team, they have a tradition. The player of the game is awarded a Sidney Crosby stuffy, which they get to keep until the next game. And during that time they must take Sidney on an adventure, which they must photograph and send to the team. Apparently Sidney has gone on a variety of adventures – he’s gone mountain biking, he’s gone to the spa, he’s played dress up, he’s gone for an acupuncture treatment, and so on.

Well, as luck would have it, I was awarded this great honour in my second game on the team, which we played this past Sunday. The honour was bestowed upon me for scoring a goal with just 4 seconds left in the game. The goal was one for the highlight reel – a beautiful wrist shot, top shelf! Or perhaps I just skated up to the goalie, who quite possibly wasn’t expecting anything to actual happen in the last 4 seconds of the game, took a shot right at her which she easily stopped, but it fell between her knees and then when I kept skating towards her hoping to poke at the rebound, she fell over backwards and knocked the puck into her own net. It could have been either of these things, really. I guess we’ll never know! At any rate, my teammate kindly named me player of the game for my never-give-up attitude and making the other team’s goalie, who was quite spectacular all game, look silly. And so it was that I brought this hottie home with me:

Sidney came home from the rink with me!

Watson and Crick smelled him for an unusually long time (They smell pretty much everything I bring into the condo, but usually it’s a few sniffs and they are on their way. But the each spent several minutes smelly every inch of this guy!)

Crick smelling Sidney

Watson smelling Sidney

Now, I only had a few days in which to adventure with Sid, as our next game, when I had to pass him along to the next player of the game, was tonight (Wednesday). So I really only had Monday and Tuesday and I was working those days, plus I am teaching a class at UBC on Tuesday nights this semester. So Sidney ended up having a very nerdy adventure. He came to work with me (I actually had him at the table during our team meeting1 and one of my team members was like “He’s staring at me!!”):

Sidney

Sidney

And then on Tuesday night, he helped me give my lecture on business strategy and marketing:

Sidney gives a guest lecture

Students cut out of the photo to protect privacy! But I wanted a photo with students in it to prove that I didn’t just take him to a lecture hall and pretend to have him in my class!

And finally, we ended our hard day’s work with a fine beer from Steel & Oak:Sidney

  1. which I totally neglected to get a photo of. Epic fail! []

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It’s time for a bulleted list!

As usual, I have so many things I’d like to blog about and so little time, mostly because all of the aforementioned things taking up all of my time1. So, in the interest of getting all these things out of my brain, I give you this brain dump in the form of a bulleted list:

  • After a year and a half, all the hard work of the organizing committee (of which I was a member as a program co-chair) led to a highly successful Canadian Evaluation Society conference at the start of May. I’ll be writing up more specifics on the conference content on my other blog2, but I do have to say that I am so happy that the conference was extremely well attended and everything went off without a hitch. And also that I’m relieved to have a lot fewer meetings in my calendar going forward!
  • The week before the conference my team and I had to make a surprise move to a temporary new office space3. It’s just four blocks from my old office space, but it’s surprising how many new restaurants there are to discover that I never realized were so close by4! Also, one of my coworkers brought a breakfast sandwich maker to the new office and now I live in heaven.Breakfast sandwich maker
  • The temporary new space in which I’m working lacks a phone, so work is getting me a Blackberry. So now I live in 2006. Even more sadly, Pokémon Go is not available on BB (at least not in a very functional state from what I’ve read) (or else I’d be able to double my productivity when it comes to evolution binges when I have a Lucky Egg!).
  • Speaking of Pokémon, I have caught all of the Pokémon from the initial release in Pokémon Go that are available to catch in North America, plus the Australia-specific one5 + all the babies. The last of the originals that I caught was the one I wanted the most: this Flying Spaghetti Monster Pokémon: Tangela
  • Of course, before I caught all the originals, Niantic released a bunch more Pokémon, so I still haven’t caught them all! I have caught a fair number, including this tree: Pokémon
    This communist6 teddy bear: Pokémon and this thing that really needs to pee (both male and female editions. You can tell she’s a girl because she’s wearing lipstick) UntitledUntitled
  • And one more thing about Pokémon. Among the new group of Pokémon that were release, there were two that allowed me to test the question of “If there were a Pokemon that looked like a spider, would my fear of spiders or my love of catching Pokémon win?”
    Pokémon
    Pokémon Given that I’ve caught 151 Spinaraks and 15 Ariados, I think I have my answer.
  • I took a sewing class with Cath and Stephanie as my thing that I learned in April (towards my goal of learning 12 new things this year). There’s a whole blog posting on that which I have partway written, so stay tuned! I’ve also learned something new in May, so that will be another blog post!
  • I’m co-teaching a class in the summer intersession (read: a 12 week course that’s taught in 6 weeks, so I’m extra glad to be co-teaching it!). I don’t really have anything to say about it, but it’s taking up a bunch of my time, so I thought I should probably include it in this laundry list of random things.
  • I’m still loving Strong Side! I’ve just started my third program. The first program was 5 weeks of building a foundation, then there was 5 weeks of hypertrophy (i.e., building muscle), and my new program is 5 weeks of intensity that is probably going to kill me. I’ve only done the instructional week, where the trainers teach you all the exercises in your new program, but you don’t have to do nearly as many sets as the following four weeks. Thursday is my first day on my own for this program where I will have to do eleventy billion sets of all kinds of things that will surely make me exhausted. But I can really see some significant improvements in strength since I started going there, so I’m going to trust the program!
  • There was a provincial election in BC on May 9 and it ended up in a hung parliament. The BC “Liberals” (which I put in scare quotes because the party that goes by the name “BC Liberals” are not liberal at all – they are conservative) won, on the initial counting of the ballots on election night, 43 seats in the legislature m, which is one seat shy of a majority. However, there are more than 170,000 absentee ballots that weren’t counted on election night and some ridings had very slim margins that could easily flip based on absentee ballots – including one riding where the NDP won by just 9 votes! They’ve started the count of the absentee ballots and the NDP are now up by 101 votes in that riding, but there are still more that have to be counted tomorrow, so it’s still possible that the “Liberals” could win that one. If that flips to the BC “Liberals” and none of the other ridings change hands, there will be a majority government and things will continue on as they were before the election, but with fewer MLAs in the ruling party7. But if everything stays the same as the election night results, or if seats flip to the NDP, we could end up with BC “Liberal” minority or, if more seats flip to the NDP, we could end up with an NDP minority, and in either minority scenario, the Green Party holds the balance of power. Needless to say, we’ll be waiting with baited breath for those absentee ballots to be counted!
  1. In fact, as I’ve sat down to take these notes from my phone, where I’ve been writing this blog posting in bits and pieces on my Skytrain commute, I noticed that I haven’t posted anything March 31 and it’s somehow the end of May now!! []
  2. Which I am sure are far too boring for anyone to want to read! []
  3. I actually have two offices and to clarify, this is for my non-hospital office. []
  4. I bring my lunch to work most days, so it will take me awhile to try all the ones I want to try []
  5. I caught the kangaroo one that you can only catch in Australia when I was there last fall. I did not catch the Asian one when I was in Hong Kong (due to not having a data plan and there being very limited free wifi around) and I haven’t been to Europe since Pokémon Go started. Clearly I need to book a European vacation! []
  6. I keep calling that bear a communist because the crescent on his reminds me of the sickle on the Soviet flag. Scott thinks it’s more of a Turkish teddy bear. []
  7. Unless a BC Liberal MLA dies, crosses the floor, or resigns due to a scandal, and a riding is subsequently lost in a by-election. []

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Teaching

Tonight was the last class of the course I’m teaching this semester. Since it was my first time teaching this class, it was a crazy amount of work and I am so, so, so, so, so, so tired. But I have to say that I really enjoyed teaching this class! The material leant itself well to active learning – though I definitely want to increase the amount of activities and decrease the amount of me-as-a-talking-head even more next year. The students did their class presentations this week and last and they were excellent – they really went above and beyond to produce some stellar work. A few students stayed behind after class to chat with me – they said that they agreed that more in-class activities would be better and even had some ideas for possible activities. And they said that they got a lot out of the class, as it was so different from any of their other classes, and that they found the little extras (like stories I told that brought the concepts into real life situations and videos I shared that touched on the concepts we were learning) really added some depth to the class, and that they really appreciated the work I’d put into it. That’s the kind of feedback that puts a smile on this very tired instructor’s face!

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Academically Promiscuous

It’s September, which means the start of the school year is upon us. This is, of course, rather meaningless if you aren’t a student, a parent of a student, or some sort of instructor… Now, don’t worry, I haven’t enrolled in any new degree programs1. But I have picked up a new teaching gig.

As you know, I teach an online stats class at the Justice Institute, but that is offered in the January semester. I haven’t taught a face-to-face class since before I started my MBA and, honestly, I’ve been missing the in-person interaction with the students2. I really enjoy working with students – it’s so rewarding to be able to help them learn new things, to see the moment when a new concept or skill just “clicks” for them, when they start to connect what they are learning in class with things in their other classes or their work, and I always learn new things from my students too. So when the opportunity to teach a class that is in my exact area of expertise came up for this semester, I jumped on it!

As you also may know, I have three different alma maters3 and I’ve taught at two different post-secondary institutions4. But now I’m adding yet another school to my repertoire, as the university I’ll be teaching at starting next week is Simon Fraser University. Now, you may recall that a few years back I got an Adjunct Prof title at SFU. In that capacity I’d done some grant writing with a colleague and supervised some practicum students, but this has been my first opportunity to teach a course5. And I’m pretty stoked about it.

So now the number of post-secondary institutions where I’ve taught has caught up with the number that I have degrees from! I know some academics who are academically monogamous (*cough* Dr. Dan *cough*), but apparently I am academically promiscuous.

Anyway, writing this blog posting has been a wee bit of a break from preparing my slides for next week’s class, but I really should get back to that! In the meantime, check out this adorable image that I found while looking for Creative Commons licensed or royalty-free images to put on my slides6!

L'il Devil

Image Credit: Post on Flickr by Darren Bell with a Creative Commons license.

  1. I’m still sticking by my claim that I’m not going to do any more degrees! []
  2. While doing my MBA, I often thought about how, though I really enjoyed all the cool things I was learning, I kind of liked being on the other side of the classroom better! []
  3. McMaster – the best university in the history of universities! – for my BSc(Hons), University of Guelph  for my MSc, and UBC for my PhD and MBA. []
  4. UBC and the JI []
  5. This is the first time that they’ve needed an instructor in a class that I have expertise in where the class wasn’t during the day. I can only teach night classes, since my day job is, well, a day job. []
  6. For the record, the slide on which I’ll be putting this image is during the part of my class where I’m talking about group work and, in particular, the importance of having someone be a devil’s advocate, so you don’t get stuck in groupthink! []

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My Weekend

Spent the weekend on the Island, as my friend Rachel invited me to give a guest lecture on stats in her research methods class1.

On the ferry on the way over to the Island on Friday night I was pleasantly surprised to run into my friend Bronwyn, who I haven’t seen since graduation back in May. It was awesome having a chance to catch up with her and the ferry ride was over in a flash!

Friday night, we just chilled, as Rachel had been teaching prior to picking me up from the ferry and we had to get up the next morning to teach. Teaching was fun, as I’m a nerd and love talking about stats and her students were very engaged – asked lots of great questions. I remember the same thing happening the last time I taught her class, but I’m always a little concerned when I start teaching about stats because many people aren’t stats-loving nerds like me, so I always fear having a room full of disinterested people staring at me. Happily, those fears were unfounded in this case.

After my guest lecture, we grabbed lunch and then Rachel continued teaching while I went off to do a 11 km run2. And then we got to spend the weekend celebrating the survival of having worked on a Saturday. Celebrating included such things as getting to see Rachel’s adorable 21-month-old son (who had been asleep by the time I’d arrived the previous night), hanging out with some other peeps who were also visiting for the weekend, lovely wine, a delicious dinner, an amazing chocolate raspberry trifle3, and a rousing game of Apples to Apples (a.k.a. Wholesome Cards Against Humanity), at which I did disastrously bad.

Today we spent a super relaxing day – had some breakfast, went to a beach in Parksville, lunch at a local pub, playing in the backyard, a walk around the neighbourhood, a delicious dinner – all of which time we got to spend catching up, which was awesome because it’s been a long time since we’d had a chance to do that.

And now I’m heading back on the ferry feeling rested and relaxed!

  1. I gave this same type of lecture 4 years ago, but haven’t been back to do it since then as I got busy with that whole MBA thing, so I couldn’t make it over on a weekend when she was teaching as I was always in class. []
  2. Half marathon training cares not if you are having a weekend away. []
  3. Made as a Valentine’s Day dessert but happily shared with all the visitors, as Rachel mused that had she made that trifle for just her and her husband, it would have been a crazy amount of rich dessert to have! []

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You can’t spell “wine” without “win.”

And so the blogging streak of 2011 ends, a mere 42 days into the year. I blame BC Ferries for not having wifi on the Queen of Alberni. And then I blame the fine glass of wine that was waiting for me when I got to Rachel’s place, which put all thoughts of blogging out of my head. In conclusion: you can’t spell “wine” without” win”!   Anyhoo. I’m here in Nanaimo to give a guest lecture on inferential statistics to Rachel’s research methods class. All the fun of confidence intervals, alpha levels, and, of course, why correlation is not equal to causation. Along with few paradoxes. Anyway, that just reminded me that there was a slide I wanted to add to my slide deck, so I better get to that – my lecture starts in an hour!

In the meantime, here’s what I wrote on the ferry last night, fully intending to blog it when I got to Rachel’s:

I had grand plans to write a blog posting on the ferry tonight. I’m heading over to Nanaimo as I’m giving a guest lecture on stats in my friend’s research methods course at Vancouver Island University. And here I am on the boat – but there’s no wifi! Fail!

I’m on the 8:15 p.m. ferry, which gets me to Duke Point at 10:15, so I’m going to pretty much hit the hay as soon as I get to Rachel’s1. So nothing fancy for this blog posting, which I’m typing in Notational Velocity2 and will copy and paste to my blog once I get there, publishing it posthaste3!

Notes from the ferry ride:

  • Some guy told me I had “a real purty smile.” I find this amusing because I have brace! Nice try, dude.
  • I know they are a rip off, but I love, love, love the White Spot veggie burger combo when I’m on the ferry. Love. In fact, I wasn’t hungry *at all* before I left for the ferry, but as soon as I got on the boat I was *starving.* My brain knew that it wanted the veggie burger and tricked me into thinking I wasn’t hungry until I got here.
  • Another thing I love: hot chocolate made from powder and hot water. Like the stuff they have on the ferry. So tasty.
  • It costs me nearly twice as much to park my car for the weekend ($40) as it will for the round trip ferry ride as a foot passenger ($28). Still a lot cheaper than paying to bring my car with me though.
  • Oh gawd, now the guy is telling me that “you use less muscles smiling than frowning.” Seriously, is this really your A material?
  • And now I’m “very beautiful” and “have a very beautiful name.” Even though he doesn’t know my name. WTF?
  1. editor’s note: That was the plan, but some wine and baked brie, and catching up from not having seen each other since *July* got in the way. We did get to bed around midnight, so it wasn’t the end of the world []
  2. N.V. is a totally awesome little notes program for Mac that I first read about over on Catherine’s blog []
  3. ha! []

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A New Teaching Gig

So I’m teaching a new course at the Justice Institute starting today – a online statistics course!  Clearly, hanging out with Dr. Dan, statistician extraordinaire,  has rubbed off on me.

Also, almost everyone I’ve told that I’m going to be teaching at the Justice Institute has said, “The Justice League?”  I wonder if I can get Superman to do a guest lecture?

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to teaching this course. Wish me luck!