Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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This and That

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Well, not “beginning”, so much, as I actually put up my tree at the end of November.

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Kitties checking out the pieces of the Christmas tree before I assemble it.

Christmas Tree

I like the way my windows surrounding the tree reflect the lights. Not shown in the picture, but my big TV also reflects the lights, so it kind of looks like I have a forest of Christmas trees in my living room, all from one tree. So efficient!

But I also added a few extra Christmas decorations to the mix – specifically, I made a wreath (item #83 on my 101 list)1 and I got stockings for the kitties, since the frogs have stockings and I didn’t want Watson & Crick to feel left out.

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Watson checking out all the pieces before I assembled my wreath. He ended up covered in glitter.

My first wreath

My wreath!

Stockings

Stockings! From Left to right: Crick’s, Watson’s, mine, Copernicus the Third’s, Timbit’s, Tyrion Froggister’s, and Raspberry’s stockings.

Speaking of the kitties, for some reason they thought that the tree was delicious, and spent the first week or so that I had it up trying to eat the branches. Watson also decided that most of the ornaments were toys that were to be swatted out of the tree. Happily, he got bored of this after about a week, so my patience at taking ornaments that I found in various locations around my apartment – he liked to carry the ornaments around for a tour of the place before dropping them off in, say, the bathroom – and returning them to their rightful place on the tree eventually won out.

My big goal for 2015

So, I’ve said many times that my goal is to break the 2 hour mark on a half marathon. And then just as many times I’ve half assed my training and not met my goal. So I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t believe me when I said that I’m planning to break the 2 hour mark on the half marathon at BMO Vancouver marathon in May. But this time I’m really, really going stick to it. I’m good at doing the long runs in training so I can go the distance, but this time I’m going to do the hill training and interval training that are required to ramp up my speed to break that elusive 2 hour finish time. I’m emboldened by setting a personal best at the 10 km in November and I’m well past the MBA hangover that still lingered during my training for the 2014 half marathons in April and June.

Groupon-Based Fitness Planning

A long, long time ago I got a Groupon for the West Coast Hot Yoga studio in South Surrey and I loved it. I went virtually every morning before work and I was so alert after starting my day with some deep stretching and core work and so much sweating. Sadly, regular priced hot yoga is too expensive for my blood and, besides, I moved too far away from that South Surrey studio to be practical anyway. Since then, I’ve tried two other yoga studios via Groupon (or one of those other deal sites – I can never remember which one I’ve bought which deal on), both in New West, neither of which I liked. The first one to Bamboo yoga, and I didn’t really love the studio itself (it felt like being in a warehouse) or the instructors, and the second was Bikram New West (which very soon after became Hot Yoga New West) and I hated having to do the exact. same. routine. every. single. time. Plus some of the instructors were really militant, which I understand is intentional with Bikram, but which is totally not my thing. I guess it has been long enough since that experience though, because I’ve gone back to the Groupon well and got a one month of unlimited hot yoga at Oxygen yoga studio in New West. I figured that I could spend a month de-tensifying my muscles and working on core strength and balance and then I’ll be in tip-top shape when I start my half marathon training in January.

Speaking of which, I just bought a Groupon for a half marathon training clinic run by FitFirst in Burnaby, the same place as I did the running study I was in. I really enjoyed the clinics they ran for that study – the group running atmosphere is lots of fun and it basically means that I’ll always have people to do my long runs with. Long runs get very boring when you have to do them by yourself, so despite the fact that this means I won’t get to sleep in on any Sundays (as it runs every Sunday morning) from Jan 18 until BMO race day, I think I’ll be happy on the whole that I signed up for the clinic.

And speaking of good deals…

When I left my old job, one of the things I left behind was unlimited massage therapy in my health benefits plan. Being a hockey player, a runner, and a person who sits hunched over a computer all day at work, I made good use of that particular benefit to deal with my various muscles tightness and such. My new job, while amazing in many ways, has a much more limited amount of massage therapy benefits and since my 2014 limit was all used up2, I’ve needed to seek out a more affordable option to meet my massage therapy needs. Enter: the West Coast College of Massage Therapy. This school, which trains aspiring registered massage therapists, runs a clinic where students get to practice, under supervision of a fully qualified RMT, and where clients can get a therapeutic massage for a fraction of the cost. The cost is $40 for an hour long appointment – though only 40 mins of that is massage, with the rest being taken up by assessment before the massage and teaching you stretches to do at home after the massage – compared to $100 for a 1 hr massage with a fully qualified RMT. And as an added bonus, during December if you donate 4 or mor items to the Food Bank at your visit, your massage only cost $20! Everybody wins!

  1. Where by “made” I mean I bought the green wreath and then attached sparkly things I bought at the craft store to said wreath. Notice the drum at the top – I picked that one because it made me think of The Little Drummer Boy, which was my Dad’s favourite Christmas song. []
  2. Since the benefits plans of my old and new employer, despite being different plans, are somehow linked up in Pacific Blue Cross’ system, so they actually counted the massages I claimed under my old plan in 2014 under my new plan, which meant that my small massage allotment in my new plan was all used before I even started my new job! []

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10 Things

So you are probably wondering if I survived my first weekend back at school since mid-December, given that I blogged about heading to class and then disappeared for a week. As I’m sure you’ve now figured out, I am, in fact, still alive. Just got buried under a bunch of homework, as well as assignments that I had to mark, and suddenly it’s Thursday night!

As usually happens in such situations, I have a bunch of ideas of things I’d like to blog about – if only I had the time! So now, in no particular order, I give you 10 random things! Hooray!

1. While flipping through an issue of Canadian Living at my massage therapist’s office today, I saw this ad:

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Translation: We at Starbucks hear that you Canadians like Tim Horton’s coffee, so we watered down our own in the hopes that you’ll drink it. And we’ll call it “mellow, easy drinking” in our ads, but we really mean “weak.”

2. Speaking of Tim Horton’s – it’s Roll Up the Rim to Win time again. I’m almost tempted to get a coffee or two there, despite the fact that I know that I’m not going to win.

3. In our ongoing search for craft brewed soda pops, Devon and I discovered that Phillips brewery, which makes my favourite beer, also make pop:

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Intergalactic Root Beer. Its taste is out of this world (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)! I know it’s in a Guinness glass, but it is, in fact, root beer.

5. And speaking of beer, this is freaking delicious:

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Innis & Gunn. It’s a Scottish beer and they serve it on tap at the lounge that’s just a couple of blocks from our place.

6. And speaking of Scottish beer, we made an even more rare discovery – Tennent’s lager on tap:

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Devon’s brother-in-law has been searching for Tennent’s since he moved here years ago from Scotland and has never been able to find it. And, as it turns out, they have it at the St. James Well in Port Moody, a fantastic little pub that makes stuffed1 yorkshire pudding appies and various other delicious things. Subsequent to finding it on tap at the Well, we also found it in cans at Legacy Liquor Store in Vancouver, which Devon bought and sent up to Kelowna for Mark. Needless to say, Devon has won the most best brother-in-law points in the history of ever.

7. And speaking of beer, the discovery of these wonderful beers is *not* helping in my quest to lose the weight I gained since starting school. So I think it might be time to lay off the delicious beers and other such caloric beverages!

8. But not until after Saturday, as we are having people over and it wouldn’t be polite not to partake of the beverages with my guest.

9. Also, I really should activate my next yoga Groupon, as I’ve fallen off on my yoga since my last one expired. The next studio that I’m planning to try out has a hot yoga class on Monday mornings, which I’m very excited about!

10. I received my T4 slip for my day job today; I now have almost all of the slips I need to do my 2012 taxes. Most importantly, I got my T2202A slip from school – that’s the one that says how much of the tuition I paid is eligible for tax deduction2 and how many qualifying months I have for the education and textbook credits3. I’m *very* excited to do my taxes this year!

  1. Stuffed with roast beef, that is. []
  2. $17,861.63, to be exact. []
  3. 12 months, part-time. []

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Getting My Bend On

A few months ago, I got a Groupon for a yoga studio about a 3.2 second walk from my apartment. I bought it at the time thinking “this will be perfect after I’m done my half marathon – a chance to focus on some yoga’ing to stretch out my overworked marathoning muscles.” Well, it’s been awhile since that half marathon, but technically this is still *after* my half marathon, so I wasn’t wrong.

Inspired by the November Challenge1, I activated the Groupon today and went to my first of 20 classes. It was dubbed a “flow for runners & cyclists” class, and since there were only 2 students, it was like having my own personal yoga instructor!

The instructor was excellent and I love the fact that I can walk to the studio in 3.2 seconds. It seems a bit pricy for non-hot yoga though – drop in classes cost $18, which is the same as drop in at the hot yoga studio I like2, and the hot yoga studio has to heat the room up and provides showers and fancy pants soap in said showers3, but we’ll have to see after those 20 classes if I’m impressed enough to spend this kind of non-Group level coin.

  1. i.e., I knew I had to do some physical activity today and I thought “why not activate that Groupon and get my bend on? []
  2. Monthly and yearly memberships are also about equivalent at this studio and the hot yoga studio I like. []
  3. Sadly, the hot yoga place I like is one million miles away). The Groupon price was good ($69 for 20 visits []

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Teleconference Yoga. It’s the lastest craze… in my office.

So I’m taking this bioethics course1 at work2, which involves a 1.5 hr teleconference almost every week from January to April. The teleconferences involve the course coordinator, a guest ethicist, and a group of students chatting about the readings and lecture-on-DVD that we were assigned for the week. With that many people on the line, I find I spend a lot of that 1.5 hours listening and only a little time talking. Not a fan of sitting still if I don’t have to, I decided early on to do the only reasonable thing that one could decide in such a situation: yoga.

Seriously. I put my phone on mute and do yoga poses as I listen to the conversation, jumping up to unmute when I have something to say. Granted, I’m not getting my meditative zen on during this particular form of yoga practice, but it is a good long time to get some stretching in!

Here I am doing downward dog on today’s teleconference:

Day 248

Thankfully, I have my own office. I think this might be a bit more difficult to pull off in a cubicle.

Here I am doing dancer’s pose3:

Dancer's Pose in my office

It’s not my best dancer’s pose ever, in part because my camera’s timer only gives me 10 seconds, which isn’t long enough to get into my best dancer’s pose position4, and in part because I can’t lean very far forward due to my desk being in the way. Also, I’m wearing dress pants and a dress shirt instead of my usual yoga attire.

A by-product of this whole thing is that I’ve discovered that the cleaners do not do a very good job5 of cleaning my office, because my floor is dir-ty!. I think I need to get myself a yoga mat to keep in my office. You know, for teleconferences.

  1. At the end, I’ll be able to do ethics consultations for our portfolio. Case #1: Is it ethical for me lord my ethics expertise over you? []
  2. There I go talking about work again. What is wrong with me?? []
  3. which I believe is also known as “standing bow pose”. Any real yogis/yoginis out there, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on that! []
  4. In the yoga studio, when I’m fully warmed up, I can get my back leg higher than my head, so that I can see my foot above my head in the mirror at the front of the room []
  5. where by “a very good job” I mean “any job at all” []

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VWX Yoga Zombies*

Am I the only one who, when they are at yoga and the instructor tells says to do chair pose and everyone in the room raises their arms straight out in front of them, thinks that it looks like you are in a room full of zombies?  Like this:

zombie yoga

For the record, this is not one of my yoga classes. I don’t think it would be very conducive to my practice to be taking photos while I’m supposed to be concentrating on melting my heart, rooting my feet and engaging my thymus. Also, it probably wouldn’t be too conducive to my camera to bring it into a 40 degree room and drip sweat all over it.  The photo is actually from the City of Edmonton’s Flickr photostream and it was posted with a Creative Commons license that allows me to remix/adapt the photo. Thus, I made the yogis into zombies and it’s totally legal, though the City of Edmonton does request, via the Creative Commons licence, that I attribute the photo to them but not in any way that suggests that they endorse my use of their photo to turn yogis into zombies. So consider yourself notified of such.

*Title is an homage to my friend Cath’s blog, VWXYNot, because when I originally wrote the title as “Yoga Zombies,” I noticed the YZ and, well, my brain immediately went to VWXYZ.  VWXYNot is, in turn, an homage to Douglas Adams. So it’s double homages all the way.

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Early Thoughts on My Month of Hot Yoga

I think I’m in love with hot yoga. I mean, it’s only been four days since I started, so we are still in that “honeymoon phase” and maybe I’m willing to overlook hot yoga’s short comings, like how I have to get up at 5 a.m. to be there for the 6 a.m. practice, which is the most convenient one because I can do it before wrok. But seriously, four days in and I feel like I can already feel a difference in my muscle tone1. It’s also helped me to see which of my muscles are tightest and need the most stretchy goodness and I seriously need the work on balance!  Plus, I absolutely love the heat – you are just dripping with sweat throughout and by the end of the practice, your clothes are soaked right through, just as much as if you’d jumped into a pool! Also, there’s the mental benefits of yoga, like just taking the time to still the mind.  Oh yes, hot yoga has everything!

Except, of course, that while my 30 days for $30 Groupon was a good deal, the cost of hot yoga is rather unaffordable. The usual price for 30 days of hot yoga at the place I’m going to (Westcoast Hot Yoga in Surrey) is $150. If you sign up for a whole year, you can get it for $980. That’s not chump change. I already spend about that much on hockey in a year and it’s hard to justify doubling my exercise budget!  Especially knowing that I wouldn’t be able to keep up a yoga-every-single-day habit, as I’ll want to get back to running after this little 30 days of yoga reprieve and I do play hockey one or two times per week. This got me thinking about Darren’s recent post on Groupon – and I quote:

“Buying Groupon deals provides a way for middle-class people to scratch an upper-class itch.”

Since I’ve been going to the before work practice, I’ve been bringing my clothes and makeup to the yoga studio so that I can shower and get ready for work there2, and in doing so I’ve been chatting with the others who stick around to get ready for work3. So far I’ve chatted with – and I’m not making this up – a doctor, a lawyer, and a wealth manager. Seriously.

So, while I love my hot yoga so far, I think I’m in it for a good time, not a long time. After my 30 days are up, I’ll probably switch to just doing yoga at home, where it is a nice and free4, and maybe just pop into a hot yoga session once in a while as a treat. You know, to scratch that upper class itch.

  1. of course, I may just be delirious from all the dehydration and exhaustion []
  2. side benefit to early morning yoga: it’s made me become way more organized – ensuring I have my lunch and other necessities for the day packed and ready to head out the door. I even planned out my outfits for every day this week on the weekend so I wouldn’t have to think about it when I’m packing my yoga bag []
  3. a lot people just head home to shower, but for me it’s more convenient to do it at the studio and head right in to work []
  4. and my living room is big enough to be a yoga studio anyway! []

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Hot Yoga Is So Hot

I bought my first ever Groupon1 this past week. Every day I check out what the new Groupon is and everyday I think – that’s a good bargain… if I were looking to buy that.  And it’s never been something that I’ve been looking to buy, until hot yoga came around. As you know, I’m running a half marathon next weekend. And, as you also know, my calves are displeased with me2 and so I think it’s time to give them a break from all the running and take up another activity for the winter. I was planning to either find out about yoga classes in my area or possible investigate some salsa lessons that I saw advertised nearby or maybe pole dancing lessons. And then came the Groupon. $30 of unlimited hot yoga for 30 days. Usual price for that: $150! The yoga studio in question has two locations: one in Yaletown and one in White Rock3, the latter of which is ~20 mins from my place. And they have classes at 6 a.m., if I want to do my yoga before work or a few in the evening, if I want to do it after work. The deal is that you can buy the 30 days and start them anytime you want between now and Dec. So my plan is to wait until after the half marathon is done, then activate my 3o days of sweaty, bendy goodness. So. Excited.

  1. FYI, that Groupon link contains my personalized code so that if you click on that link and then sign up for Groupon, I get $10. So you should probably click that link ‘cuz I could totally use $10. []
  2. I played two hockey games today and despite being very diligent about stretching after yesterday’s seawall walk and my hockey game, my calves were unbelievably tight when I got up after sitting for a few hours between game #1 and game #2 []
  3. where by “White Rock,” they actually mean Surrey []

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Good Idea or Crazy?

I’m thinking of doing a 30-day hot yoga challenge. It involves doing a hot yoga class every day for 30 days, starting on Feb 6. It would basically mean putting all social activities on hold for a month, as I’d be doing a yoga class every night after work, plus a Saturday morning and a Sunday class that I’d pick depending on what time my hockey game is. On the plus side, it would be a great way to kick start being more active, which I’ve been lousy at lately. So, what do you think – good idea or crazy?