Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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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!


My brain is tired

The blogging dilemma – when you have no time to write, the ideas about what to write about come at every moment, but when you have time to write, you have writer’s block. Right now, I’m deeply in the former situation. And so I find myself typing this on my phone as I Skytrain to work, and even then it’s only because I didn’t get a seat on the train this morning so I can’t read the journal articles that I intended to read. 

The reason for my extreme lack of time these days is the new course I’m teaching, which is taking up my every waking moment. Don’t get me wrong – I’m having an absolute blast teaching, but it is *a lot* of work to teach a class you’ve never taught before. There are lesson plans to create, lecture notes and slide decks to prepare, which means a *tonne of reading*1 (because, despite the fact that I’m teaching a topic that I’m an expert in, it’s important to be up-to-date on the literature, to read different ways that people present the same material so as to have a few ways to explain things because everyone learns differently, to think of different in-class activities that you can do because no one wants to listen to me drone on for three hours on a Wednesday night), guest lectures to book, emails to answer, and the marking. Omg the marking. During my MBA program I was reminded how annoying it is to hand in an assignment and then not get a mark back for several weeks and I vowed to improve my marking turnaround time2. And to be honest, I enjoy reading student papers and providing feedback. But actually giving a number grade on an assignment is not my cup of tea. I want to ensure that the grades are a fair representation of what the student has achieved, are fair across the different students, and are transparent to the students as to why they got the grade they did. And that’s a lot of work!
And all of this is on top of the fact that things are super busy at work, which means both long days and a tired brain by the time I get home and am able to work on my lecture notes and my marking. 

Anyway, the point of this posting was not to whine about how busy I am3. The purpose was actually to jot down a bunch of ideas for future blog postings so that when I get through this crazy busy period and have some time to write, I’ll have ideas to write about. But now my Skytrain ride is up and it’s time to get to my day job. I guess that list will have to wait ’til next time. Which at this rate will probably be December :S

  1. Hence the aforementioned journal articles I wanted to read on the Skytrain this morning. []
  2. Which I’m happy to report I managed to significantly improve in the stats course that I teach in the January semester. []
  3. Or, at least, that wasn’t the purpose when I started writing it. []


Having a Normal Life

I’m on a bit of break from school right now. I had an exam last weekend and next weekend I am taking two back-to-back modules, but this week and this weekend, I’ve been able to think very little about school work1. And I have to say it’s been quite nice. It’s pretty awesome to come home from work and go to yoga practice or head out to a baseball game with a friend or meet a friend for dinner – and just have a normal life.

Of course, this is not to say that I don’t like school – I actually love it. I’ve learned a tonne and met some awesome people. I know a lot of things that I didn’t used to know and you know how much I like knowing things. It’s definitely been worth all the effort and the blood, sweat, and tears. But I am very tired. So I’m glad that I’m having a wee break right now and then after my two modules next weekend, I get to go on my fabulous European vacation! I think that will be just the thing I need to prepare me for the home stretch of school!

  1. I have some pre-reading for next weekend’s courses which I’ll have a look at this weekend, but I haven’t yet started that. []


The Days Are Long, So The Blog Postings Are Short

Left the house this morning at 7 am, didn’t get back until 10 pm1. Spent all day at a conference2, then went into Vancouver to meet Kalev for dinner.

The conference I was at for the last two days was a management conference held by my work – learned lots of things, have many ideas floating around in my head that I want to write about, but boy am I tired. The irony of this is that one of the things that the speakers were talking about was the importance of taking time to reflect, because we spent too much time go-go-going, and not enough time reflecting, making meaning. But they also talked about the importance of energy management and not feeling like we have to do it all, all the time. Right now my energy level is telling me that I need to go drink my tea in front of the fireplace, watching my froggys take their nightly frolic around the tank. Reflection can wait until tomorrow.

  1. I shouldn’t really complain, because this is pretty much my sister’s schedule three days a week, except that she leaves the house at 6 am instead of 7 am. []
  2. Learning is tiring! []


I Have Done All The Things

OhmyFSM, I am so tired.

This last few weeks has been absolutely killer, but I have, apparently, lived to tell the tale! Believe it or not, I managed to complete all the things on my “to do” leading up to this weekend. It got pretty crazy by the end – pretty much every day last week I came home from work, sat down at my computer and starting doing homework and did homework until it was time for bed, breaking only to eat the dinner that Devon, FSM bless him, had made. But the fact is, it’s now Sunday night and I’m on the other side of two exams1, three papers, and one presentation.

Class ended early today – 12 pm instead of 5 pm – giving our class a chance to have a “we survived the first half of the core!” party. It was pretty awesome to have a chance to chat with classmates in a purely social circumstance. We spend so much time together in classes and working on group projects, but to chat with people we haven’t worked directly with and find out about people’s interests outside the program2 was really nice. The wine and beers and appies were muchly appreciated too!

I came home after the party and had the mother of all naps3. And then I did something I haven’t done in ages. I went to the grocery store. I watched some TV shows. And I folded laundry! Seriously, I had three laundry buckets full of *clean* clothes that I just haven’t had time to fold4.

And now I’m ready for bed! I will sleep the sleep of the just and a week full of work where I don’t also have imminent school deadlines hanging over my head. I mean, there are deadlines, because there is no rest for the wicked and our summer “break” consists of many projects and readings and such-like, but I feel like I can at least breath a bit now.

And now – a list!

Things I’m Going To Do Now That the Month From Hell Is Over:

cook awesome dinners every night this week
go for a run tomorrow night5
bake something yummy and bring it into the office, just because
re-connect with friends that I have barely seen since before pre-core to see if they are, in fact, still my friends
set up my “to do” list of tasks I need to complete over the summer6

  1. Three if you count the take home exam that was do about a week ago. []
  2. If Professor Steve is reading this, rest assured that everyone’s interests outside the program are purely theoretical – we have done nothing by homework since the start of pre-core, I promise. []
  3. Partly from exhaustion due to overwork, partly due to being two-glasses-of-wine drunk []
  4. In all honestly, I folded the laundry while watching the TV show because (a) I’m so used to having to be efficient and don’t seem capable of only doing one thing at a time, and (b) I hate household chores with the fire of a thousand suns, so I must distract myself so that I don’t notice I’m doing them. Similarly, I emptied the dishwasher while talking to my sister on the phone. []
  5. I did manage to squeeze in a few runs in the past couple of weeks, because they truly do keep me sane, but not as many as I would have liked []
  6. Did I mention there is no rest for the wicked?? []


All My -iversaries

While I’ve been busy with this whole being-way-too-busy life I’ve got going on right now, I appear to have missed both my cariversary and my workiversary! Hard to believe that my baby car is three years old! She’ll be in kindergarten before I know it!

Equally hard to believe is that I’ve been at my job for three years! I have to say that I’m still loving my job. In addition to my AWESOME grant, I’ve got a couple of other grant applications in various stages of admission and a couple of publications in the works. I’ve just started working on some really cool new projects – and I even have an amazing Master’s student working for me this summer – with another student potentially coming down the pike1!

Gosh, looking at that – in combination with this – and I can really see why I’m forgetful about such things as -iversaries and why I’m falling asleep at my keyboard at 10 pm. Methinks it’s time to hit the hay! G’night!

Update: I also missed my fifth half marathon-iversary! Five years ago I ran my first ever half marathon! And now I’ve run 6 of them, with #7 on the way! w00t!

  1. I may or may not be trying to build an empire. []


Bulleted Lists – Because I’m Too Tired To Write A Real Blog Posting

Ever so tired, brain too fried to put together coherent paragraphs, so instead you get bulleted lists. Because really, who doesn’t love a good bulleted list? Also, incoherence. My Dad

  • My dad’s operation, which will be at least 10 hours long (!), is scheduled for Feb 8. I will be flying out to Ontario to be with my family at that time.
  • I’m so thankful that I have a very understanding boss and that my school is understanding as well.
  • My friends and colleagues have also been so supportive and it’s meant the world to me. Kind words, offers of drives to and from airports, stories of similar surgeries that have been wonderfully successful and all the other support offered are all helping me and my family a lot.


  • When I said that I’d likely be posting a lot fewer blog postings once school started, I wasn’t kidding – it feels like forever since I last blogged! In preparation for the first weekend of real classes1, I’ve spent the last three nights reading pretty much from the time I’ve gotten home from work until the time I’ve fallen into bed exhausted. This is in addition to the fact that I’d started reading prior to this week AND I had to do a bunch of administrative-y things – like buying textbooks, downloading a course binder of materials, signing up for various websites, etc. etc., that I’ve been chipping away at over this month.
  • One of our profs told us we aren’t allowed to whine about our workloads because if we have time and energy to whine, we should use that time and energy to get our work done instead of whining. So, for the record, I am not whining – I am merely stating facts
  • Because I am a nerd, I’m tracking the hours I’m spending on homework using a program called Time Edition 2. I’m not sure if seeing this  will make me feel validated that I’m working hard enough or make me want to throw up when I see how much time I’ve spent on homework. Either way, I’m sure there will be graphs of this data in future blog postings.
  • Tomorrow night is the welcome dinner for the program and we have to wear business attire. I’m very excited to have an excuse to wear my designer suit!


  • I really freaking love my work. I do such cool things and work with such great people. Things are ramping up for the AWESOME Project and I am SO EXCITED about that. Also, another work trip to Ottawa is coming up, which makes me squeee!
  • In less awesome news, I got my first ever rejection from an academic journal for a paper that I submitted. Boo-urns! We are going to adapt it to submit to a different journal, so fingers crossed!


  • Given my January schedule of 8 hours of work or school 6 days a week, with the 7th day of the week being a 14.5 hour day of work plus driving to school, I’ve done virtually no physical activity this month, save for a couple of hockey games that mercifully fell on Sunday nights after I finished school. I think I need to force myself to make some time for at least some short distance jogs and the occasional yoga class because I feel like crap when I don’t get exercise.
  • These long hours are really not doing well for me nutrition-wise. I haven’t had time to go to a grocery store in ages and my game plan for this week turned out to be to order lots of pizza last night, so I’d have enough for not only last night’s dinner, but today’s lunch, today’s dinner, tomorrow’s lunch and probably Saturday’s lunch as well3. Clearly, I need a better system!

I really thought I had something else to say, but now I can’t remember for the life of me what it was. Anyhoo, headed to bed now. So. Freaking. Tired! Update: OK, I remembered what I wanted to say, which was: If this week is any indication, I think I need to buy stocks in Pepsi. Because at the rate I’ve be downing diet Pepsis, they are going to be one hellava profitable company in the next 28 months of my schooling!

  1. As opposed to the pre-core classes I’ve had the past three weekends []
  2. For the record, I have no affiliation with the Time Edition people. It just seemed like a handy time tracking program and I’m going to test it out. I’ll probably blog a review, should I ever have time to blog ever again []
  3. School is providing tomorrow’s dinner & Friday’s lunch []


Things I Learned in School This Weekend

So apparently the world continues on no matter how big the tumor in my dad’s brain is, and so this weekend I was back at school for the third of three pre-core courses. This time, it was economics. Economics, according to our good friends at Wikipedia, is “the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.” I had to look that up, which shows you how much I knew about economics before this weekend. But now I’ve done the 20.5 hours of pre-core, so I know all there is to know!

Some random stuff I learned this weekend:

  • Opportunity cost represents the value of what you gave up to do something – specifically, the “what you gave up” is the next best alternative (as you could probably identify many possible alternatives). For example, if you buy a coffee for $4, the opportunity cost of buying that coffee is whatever the next best alternative use of that $4 would be – like, buying half a beer (assuming that beer costs $8). If you pay $40,000 for tuition for an MBA program, the opportunity cost would be whatever the next best alternative use of that $40K is – namely, buying 5,000 beers1.
  • The Law of Demand says that, all other things being equal, when price of a good/service goes up, demand goes down.
  • I’m sure I learned a bunch of other stuff, but my brain is too tired to remember any of it!

In related news, here’s a photo of my “to do” list of all the things I need to do before school officially starts on Thursday:

To Do List

  1. Of course, in my particular case, the opportunity costs of paying $40K for tuition is actually nothing – since I got a scholarship that pays for my MBA, but which I can’t get for any other purpose. Thus, if I didn’t do the MBA, I would, sadly, not have the $40K to buy 5,000 beers. []


You wouldn’t like Beth when she’s accounting!

This past weekend’s pre-core course was about accounting, which means I spent Friday night and all day Saturday and all day Sunday journalizing, posting to ledgers, and making statements of income/owner’s equity and so forth. I can feel your jealousy. I’ve never done *any* accounting before, so this was a pretty steep learning curve. When I went to bed on Friday after class, my head was spinning with thoughts of “An increase to an asset account is a debit” and such stuff1. Also, I’m not a very detail-oriented person – I much prefer big picture thinking – so I kept making little errors, like putting things in the wrong column (by accident, as opposed to thinking they actually belonged there) or putting too few zeros. Happily, the prof wanted us to understand the concepts, rather than just being good at the mechanics with no understanding. In the end we had a quiz to test ourselves to see how well we’d learned and I got 85% (even though I didn’t get to the last 3 questions), so that made me feel like I’m doing OK.

Here’s some random things I learned this weekend:

  • Debits  go on the left side, and credits go on the right side, of a ledger. Whether an increase (or a decrease) is a debit or credit depends on what kind of account you are talking about.
  • The double-entry bookkeeping system, which we still use today, was first described in 1494.
  • Expense ≠ Cash Out. Expenses don’t happen when you give someone money – they happen when you benefit from the asset (e.g., product or service) associated with that expense.
  • Revenue ≠ Cash In. Similarly, you don’t make revenue when the money comes in – you make the revenue when you deliver your product/perform your service.

Also, I got this swanky backpack as part of being in the program. Not bad for $41,000, eh?
My new backpack

  1. I also spent the first half of the first period of Sunday night’s hockey game with my brain racing with thoughts of accounting. I couldn’t seem to get my head in the game for that first 10 minutes, but I could easily have told you that accrual-basis accounting follows the revenue recognition principle. []


My First Weekend of School

So, I was in class for 20.5 hours on the weekend1:

  • Friday – 5:30 to 9 p.m.
  • Saturday – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It was a lot of hours and it was all math and – I’m sure this will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me – I quite enjoyed it. I mean, it was rather exhausting, of course, and I really didn’t like having to get up at 6 a.m. on the weekend, but the content was interesting and the professor was excellent. And it was really nice to meet some of my classmates for the first time! Since the program I’m in uses a cohort model and involves predominantly group work, I’m going to be spending *a lot* of time with these people over the next 28 months, so it was great to meet so many friendly and interesting people!

One thing I found myself telling a lot of people is something that I learned when I played hockey for 10 days straight – don’t think too far into the future! Take things one shift class at a time. Anytime someone mentioned that we were going to be spending four weekends in a row in classes – 20.5 hrs for each of the first three weekends, followed by 32 hours on the last weekend of January (Friday to Monday) – I saw this look in their eye that I recognized as showing what I felt whenever I started to think too far ahead during that game. It’s a look of overwhelm, a look that says, “I can’t do this.” And so I would say, “Don’t think of it like that. Just think of this weekend. One day at a time! We can totally do this!” And it was a really good reminder for me too! And I just typed this out, I’ve realized something else – it’s hardest at the start. The first 3 of the 10 days of hockey were the worst, and I bet the first weekends of classes are the worst too. Just like in the game, it will get better once we get used to the new routine.

Anyway, I learned a whole bunch of stuff – and get a refresher on a bunch of stuff that I knew before but didn’t remember all that much – I’m looking at you, calculus! Here’s some random things I learned this weekend2:

  • The symbol used for “profit” in business math equations is π . Dr. Dan‘s theory on why this is so is because π goes on forever, which is what you would want your profits to do. Also, π  is delicious!
  • Bill Gates and Warren Buffet started a movement to get the mega rich to give away a lot of their money. And by “a lot,” I mean at least 50% of their wealth, within their lifetime or upon their death (in case they haven’t given out the 50% before they die). In the case of Buffet, he’s giving away 99% of his wealth. To give you a sense of how much money he has, he says that even after giving away 99% of his wealth, he won’t notice any change to his lifestyle or that of his family! You can check out a list of the mega rich people who have taken this pledge at
  • Calculus is all about slope and reaching limits.

Also, as part of our course package, which costs one zillion dollars, we got a swanky business math calculator. It’s the calculator that we have to use on all of our exams so that no one has any unfair advantage of having a more advanced calculator than anyone else. The problem, of course, is that everyone in the class has the exact same calculator, so it will be quite easy to accidentally pick up someone else’s and if you lose yours, how would you ever be able to figure out which one of the 50 in the room was yours3? This is my solution to that problem:

Calculator with skulls stickers

Happy calculator is happy

  1. Hence the blog radio silence for the past few days. []
  2. This isn’t *all* that I learned, but I figured that most of it would bore the hell out of you. []
  3. This reminds me of my undergrad, where all of the thousands of students had to use the Casio fx991 calculator, and one day the Calculus prof made an announcement at the start of class in front of the 200 or so students: “Someone left a calculator in the lecture hall after class last week. It’s a Casio fx991. You can come and claim it at the end of class.” []