Not To Be Trusted With Knives

{February 27, 2007}   I’m a Vancouver Socialite

So, check out who is in the social page of today’s paper:

Sure, it’s the little free paper, but it’s the social page nonetheless.


{February 27, 2007}   Final Thoughts on Northern Voice

So, I’ve looked at my notes and collected my thoughts from Northern Voice. And pretty much this is just a literal collection of the notes that I took (well, the interesting parts anyway), unprocessed*. Sort of a glimpse into the mind of Bethy at a blogging conference – I’m sort of using my blog as a “brain dump” (and a record of my notes should I want to go back and re-visit them) so feel free to skip this post if you find it less than interesting….

Day 1 was “Moosecamp” – the unconference.

At the end of the session called “Mashups for Nonprogrammers,” I made myself the following note:

Wow, this session is going way fast – lots of info in a short amount of time. I’ll have to check out these sites** to see what they actually do, because I can’t really follow at this rapid speed.

That was my first indication at the conference that I’m a veritable neophyte in the ways of computers.

At “Photocamp” and “Videocamp” I just made a bunch of notes of technical stuff that the pros were suggesting for taking better pics/videos for the web. Nothing really interesting enough to blog about***, but definitely useful stuff for me to use. Highlights included the fact that someone had a waterproof digital camera and someone else had a shiny red camera that takes 8 photos at the same time. Also, the idea of having a pocket camera that you always have with you was stressed… if you don’t have the camera, you don’t get the shot.****

The “Vancouver Transit Camp” session was quite interesting – the presenters talked about a barcamp event held in Toronto where the community of transit users came together to collaborate on ideas for a new website****. The idea was to start discussing the idea of having a “Vancouver Transit Camp,” or, as someone pointed out, a “Greater Vancouver Transit Camp,” as, unlike in T.O., Translink is responsible for transit in the GVRD, not just Vancouver proper. It seemed to me that a key point that seemed to come out of the session was that Vancouver is not Toronto, so a transit camp here would probably evolve into quite a different event than Toronto Transit Camp.

Stats: The Forbidden Love“, IMHO, should win the “best title of any session I attended at Moosecamp” prize, if there were such a prize. Which there was not. But I digress. This session was a discussion on how we don’t need to be ashamed of our obsession with how many people are reading are blog, and when, and from where, and how they found us, and… well, you get the point. The group was a lively bunch and I got a learned about a whole bunch of different stat counters I can try out.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Blogs” provided me with some tips for, not surprisingly, optimizing my blog for search engines. As well, I learned that Google used the concept from academics where how many times you are cited by other authors determines your reputation (i.e., searches are based on who is linking to whom and how often).

Other random thoughts from Day 1 that I felt it necessary to record in my notes:

everyone here seems to be using a mac. either that or writing in a notebook.. like with a pen. on paper.

also, there are a lot of people here using a lot of words (or more often, acronyms) that i totally don’t know. i feel like the least techy person here.

Onto Day 2… the more formal conferency day. First up was an interesting keynote talk from Anil Dash, whose job title of Chief Evangelist at six apart tends to be problematic at Customs.

Then I went to “Blogging 101,” where I could actually keep up with what was being talked about, what with being a techy neophyte and all.

How to be a Citizen Journalist” was a cool session on what journalism is and what makes something “news.” I learned that “reporting” requires you to (1) gather information, (2) filter it, and (3) distribute/publish. Missing any of these keys steps = you are not a reporter (you are either a plagiarist (or writing opinion pieces) (missing #1), a transcriber (missing #2) or a snoop (missing #3). Also cool: with the “Access to Information Act” – Canadian citizens/permanent resident has the right to information for any record under the control of the federal government (and there are provincial equivalents of this act). It only costs you a stamp (and maybe a photocopy fee). And they have to tell you. And they have to do it within a certain time period. Cool. Also cool to know: you can buy a microphone that plugs into your iPod and use it as a recording device, should you ever need to. Also discussed, and echoing what was discussed at a previous session: there are 2 rules of photography – (1) have your camera, and (2) take the picture *****. As well, if anyone is interested in Canadian law as it pertains to photography (like, hmmm… I wonder if I can legally post that pic I snapped of that random at the conference/party/protest/change room the other night), check out Apparently it has a lot to do with whether you can have a “reasonable right of expectation of privacy”… for example, if you are at blogging conference, it’s pretty fair to say you do not have a “reasonable right of expectation of privacy” and so someone can take your picture and post it… if you are in the change room at the gym, however, most reasonable people would expect some privacy.

The “Legal Rights & Liabilities of Bloggers” session taught us all about such fun stuff as defamation, copyright infringement and the like. Good times.

I found the “Why Do We Blog” session to be particularly interesting… there was a presentation by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward on why he blogs and then Darren Barefoot showed the results on the survey he conducted that I told y’all about a while back. And I have to include this photo montage thingy of his presentation, taken by leftantler and posted on Flickr, ‘cuz it’s just too cool for words.

And the last session of the day was a lively panel discussion about “Online Dating,” which drew a big crowd and generated lots of Q&A. And the woman who recruited me to her Ph.D. research study was able to recruit more subjects at this talk, so that was cool.

My random thoughts on Day 2 that I felt it necessary to record in my notes:

There is a lot of multi-tasking going on here. People uploading to Flickr, checking out Flickr, writing posts, etc. while listening to the keynote. Only at blogging conference would that not seem rude!

I ❤ technical difficulties at techie conferences. Blue screen of death on the projector, rather than the slides that the presenter probably spent a long time working on.

Why is everyone using the word “granular” all of the sudden? They are using it to mean like “very subtle differences,” which I suppose the word “granular” does invoke, but I’ve only heard it in the last, say, 4 days, but I’ve heard it about 70 times over those 4 days.

Whew, that was a super long post. Did anyone actually read it? 25 points to anyone who claims they actually read the whole thing.

*I know I promised processing. But I also promised Jorge that I would start using his Footnotz soon. Just goes to show that you shouldn’t believe everything you read.

**these sites = all the sites that they were talking about… which have all been added to the wiki for the sessions, so follow the link “Mashups for Nonprogrammers” if you are interested.

**But apparently the fact that I’m not going to blog about it is interesting enough for me to blog about.

***as I discovered, much to my dismay, at this Vancouver Giants game!

****apparently the TTC currently has an atrocious website and the transit users were like, “hell, we can make a better site than that with our eyes closed!”

*****of course, as learned on my run yesterday, “bring your camera” implies that you should have your memory card in your camera. So, for example, if you take your camera on your run because you know you are going to run by a cool sign that you want a photograph of, it really sucks if you carry your camera there and then can’t take the pic ‘cuz you left your memory card in your jump drive on your desk and so you carry your camera for 10 frigginkilometers and can’t take any pictures. I’m just saying.

OK, so it’s not totally crazy. For example, it’s not as crazy as making your life a Choose Your Own Adventure where your blog readers get to vote on things you do in life so that you end up showing up to a blogging conference in a dragon costume, like so:

So, I’m not that crazy. The crazy undertaking of which I speak is that, starting tomorrow, I am following the Food Guide. For a month. And recording everything I eat. Danielle and another friend of ours, Sheila, who is also in the Dietetics program, have decided to do this since, as dietitians, they will be telling people to follow the Food Guide, so they really should see what it is like to do it themselves. And I, as usual, am tagging along for the ride. I even made my own personalized Food Guide (.pdf), using some of my favourite foods as examples (you can play along at home and make your own personalized Food Guide by going to the Health Canada site). As a female, age 19-30*, I am allowed the following number of servings in a day:

And “Food Guide Servings” are a heck of a lot smaller than what you or I usually think of as a serving. For example, one English muffin = 2 servings. 50g (or 1.5 oz) of cheese (that’s a piece of cheese about the size of your thumb) = 1 serving. And 6 spears of asparagus = 1 serving**. And for you meat eaters, 1/2 cup of meat = 1 serving – that’s just 125 mL or 2.5 oz of beef!

The plan is to record everything we eat and try to actually consume the recommended number of servings. Now, the amount of food that the Food Guide allows us looks like it is going to be a fair bit less than what we usually eat – not overly surprising, seeing as how the Food Guide is meant for the “average Canadian” and I’m pretty sure that training for a half marathon is slighty more activity than the “average Canadian” gets… not to mention the fact that, compared to Danielle & Sheila (who regularly run half marathons, are training for a triathalon, are hardcore utli players and bike to school every day) I look like a sedentary couch potato. So, we’ve decided that if we do, indeed, end up eating more servings than the Food Guide recommends, we’ll try to make those from the Fruit & Veg group. Danielle & I made up booklets in which to easily record all this and I dug through my many boxes of dishes to find my extra sets of measuring cups, as I think we’ll be doing a lot of measuring to figure out how many servings of things we’ll be getting. As well, I’m sure that we’ll be consuming things not included in the Food Guide***, and those things will be recorded and duly noted as well. The point is not necessarily to follow the Guide rigidly (as it is a guide, not a hard and fast program – and we nutritional scientists are fond of saying “things are OK in moderation!”), but to get a sense of how easy or difficult it is to follow the Guide.

As I’m sure you are all *dying* to know how this goes, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

*I better enjoy this year, as next year I enter the 31-50 age range (omg, how depressing is that!) and I’m only allowed 7 servings of Fruit & Veg and 6 servings of Grain Products! That’s TWO less servings of food every single day! =(

*um, wtf? Who the hell only eats 6 spears of asparagus???

*** coffee, Diet Pepsi, sweet sweet alcohol, I’m looking in your direction

{February 25, 2007}   Northern Voice ’07 – Post #3

Originally uploaded by Robert Sanzalone.

Due to my superior printing neatness skills, I was assigned the duty of writing out the signs for each of the sessions for the Moosecamp schedule. Someone at the conference snapped this shot of the organizing process of the collaborative effort in scheduling the day. And I have to ask – am I really this short??

{February 25, 2007}   Northern Voice ’07 – Post #2

Home from the conference now. Sitting in my toasty warm bed with my laptop (we got spoiled with a beautiful sunny day yesterday, but today it was rainy and freezing and this is the first chance I’ve had all day to warm up!), trying to process all the stuff I learned today! It might take a little while for me to do said processing, so you can expect a more insightful post once I’ve had a chance to check out the blogs of the cool people I’ve met over the past two days and to review my notes. Yes, I took notes.

In the meantime, here are a few photos to entertain you. First, I thought y’all would like to see that I wore my favourite boots* today:

And speaking of footwear, one of my new-found blogging friends can be found over at and I have to give her props ‘cuz I stole this cool camera angle from her:

Oh ya, if you’d like to check out all the photos from the event, go to Flickr and look at the “nv07” tag. As I type this, there are 1,312 photos from the conference, and people are still uploading stuff. This is what happens when you put 300 techies and their multitude of cameras in a wifi-enabled area for 2 days!

*And hopefully people were looking at my boots because, based on these photos, the rest of me looked like crap today. I looked much better yesterday.

{February 24, 2007}   Northern Voice ’07 – Post #1

Day 2 of the conference. Very interesting keynote speaker. On the coffee break I talked to several interesting people whose blogs I’m going to check out, I had my photo taken with a couple other people for the “social column” of the Metro paper* (made me think of you, Courtney – weren’t you in the social column recently for some big fundraiser dinner thingy recently?)*, and got recruited to be a participant in a research study. That’s a lot to have done by 10:15 a.m. on a Saturday – usually I’m not up for several more hours!

OK, I’m going to go pay more attention to the presenter now. Will post more later.

*I hope they print it!**

**Jorge, I’ll do Footnotz soon. Don’t have time to figure out how it works right now!

{February 23, 2007}   Moosecamp ’07 – Post #3

This blogging conference is being held in the Foresty Building at UBC. And despite what the signs would have you believe, it is not a logging conference.

{February 23, 2007}   Moosecamp ’07 – Post #2

Omg, this is so cool. I put my photos up on Flickr, using the offical NorthernVoice tags of “nv07” and “northern voice” so that I could post them in my last posting. And I just saw that a guy in the row ahead of me was looking at them already… I just looked up and was like “hey, my photo is on that guy’s computer!” There’s something really cool about the real time aspect of this whole experience.

{February 23, 2007}   Moosecamp ’07 – Post #1

I’m blogging in a blogging conference! How friggin’ cool is that?? The session I’m in now is called “Mashups for Non-programmers“… I’m learning how to use Yahoo Pipes. But the Yahoo Pipes site just went down… probably because everyone in this room has a laptop and everyone is on Yahoo Pipes.

Also, being a volunteer, I got a free cool T-shirt to appease my cool T-shirt fetish:

Props to the lady sitting beside me for taking this pic. Granted, it’s not as cool as the anal T-shirt, but it’s still pretty cool. And free. And you know how I love free stuff.

Also, here’s my name tag. The nametag has a place to add “tags” and I’m using mine to continue to propagate the myth that I am, in fact, a model:

And finally, here is the scheduling by group consensus session in action. See those colourful signs? Those are my handy work. Oh yes, I have mad Sharpie marker skillz.

I’m sitting at Calhoun’s right now, drinking coffee and availing myself of the free wifi*. I’m sitting on the patio. In the sunshine. Wearing sunglasses. No jacket. In FEBRUARY!!

I was lured out of my dark dank basement suite by the sounds of birds singing! I’m not making that up. Friggin‘ birds were friggin‘ singing outside my friggin‘ window. In the sunshine. In February. The Weather Network claims that it is 9 degrees out**, and Environment Canada would have you believe it is 8 degrees. This is complete bullshit. It must be at least 15. It’s gorgeous. I’m pretty sure this is a conspiracy to keep the rest of the country from knowing how amazing it is here, as we have no room for any more people to move here.

Also, I’m going to a blogging conference tomorrow – Northern Voice! It’s two days – tomorrow is Moose Camp, the unconference and Saturday is the more conferency part. I’m volunteering because I didn’t have the $50*** it costs to attend. I’m really looking forward to it – it sounds like there is going to be a lot of really cool sessions, and it’s sold out and so I’ll get the chance to meet lots of really cool people. My friend Phillip is going, so I’ll at least know one of the attendees. No doubt you’ll be hearing all about it from me over the next couple of days.

*Free because UBC made a deal with fatport where anyone with a UBC Campus Wide Login (CWL) can use any fatport in Vancouver for free. Apparently it is a one-year trial. Of course, being
UBC, they didn’t bother to actually advertise this, so hardly anyone I’ve talked to knows about it. I only know about it because I have connections.

**That’s 9 degrees Celsius. For my American friends, that’s 48 degrees Fahrenheit.

***Yes, I’m aware that $50 is a fantastic deal for a 2 day conference. But I’m ungainfully unemployed, so to me that it a prohibitive amount. Thankfully Darren & Cyprien, two of the organizers, took pity on me and are letting me volunteer.

E: I’m meeting UBC‘s president and getting interviewed by City TV tomorrow…a tad nerve racking! I guess I better actually brush my hair tomorrow, eh?

Me: Are you being interviewed and meeting the prez for Reading Week stuff*?

E: yup!

Me: Cool. Try not to drop any F-bombs** in front of him 😉

E: I’ll do my best. No promises though.

I have the best friends.

*”Reading Week stuff = a community service learning project that my friend runs on Reading Week, involving university students working with kids from inner city schools/adults from the inner city. Reading Week is the Canadian name for “Spring Break.”
**This is not an unprecedented. She once dropped the F-bomb in front of the Science Advisor to the Prime Minister.

I have a thing for funny t-shirts. In addition to my fan favourite blogging it shirt (from, I also have this one that my sister gave me for my graduation (from

and this one that my neice gave me for Christmas (not sure where she got it from):

If I ever get a job in a lab again, I’m totally getting this Evil Genius lab coat from ThinkGeek:I’m such a fan of funny t-shirts, that I’ve decided to spread the funny t-shirt love to my wee neice, buying her such shirts as:

And I know that Sarah & Dave are big fans of the T-shirts over at

Well, just the other day I stumbled across a T-shirt site that blows all the other T-shirts I’ve seen out of the water: T-Shirt Hell. Here are a few of my favs:

Although I don’t think that map is to scale… Canada looks awfully small relative to the size of the States… I’m guessing this map was drawn by an American.

This one made me laugh:

This one *really* made me laugh:

This one had me rolling on the floor laughing:

And I haven’t stopped laughing about this one since I first saw it the other day:

So if anyone is interested in buying me a present, any one of those shirts would be acceptable. I’m just saying.

In addition to the adult shirts, T-Shirt Hell also has a baby line. If I ever have a kid, I am *totally* getting them this shirt:

and possibly this one too:

Believe it or not, I’m totally not being paid by this site to advertise their wares (although I’m sure it sounds like I am!)… I just thought these shirts were damn funny and had to share them.

{February 19, 2007}   Why Do *I* Blog?

Jorge tagged me, in my first ever blog tagging, with this question: “What are five of your reasons for blogging?” This is very reminiscent of Darren‘s “Why Do You Blog?” Survey (perhaps he, or one of his readers started this meme*?). So, while I did fill out Darren‘s survey, I never shared with you, gentle reader, my reasons for blogging**. So here they are, in conveniently numbered list format:

1. Procrastination

This is the main reason that I started my blog. For some reason, doing things that I don’t *have* to do is always way more fun than things that I’m required (by contract, law or social convention) to do. In fact, the original tagline for my blog was “I’m not procrastinating, you are procrastinating.”

2. Rampant Narcissism

I’m relatively certain that everyone on earth wants to hear about me. They want to hear that I went for a 10K run today (true), added “jumping over puddles” to my half marathon training program (also true), and am having Marc Chouinard‘s babies (not yet true, but hopefully some day).

3. Sometimes There Isn’t Anyone Around to Hear My Various Witty Remarks***

If you walk around talking to yourself, people think you are crazy****. If you take those same thoughts, type them up on your computing machine and post them on the internets in a weblogging format, fewer people call you crazy. Moreover, people will actually read and respond to said thoughts, meaning that you can use your blog for the following purpose:

4. To Make Friends and Influence People

No, I’ve never actually read that book. But it is an apt description of why I blog. I blog because I like the community you can build. I meet people online that I’m sure I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I’ve learned the benefits of being open, and vulnerable and sharing myself with others, in part, through blogging.

5. It Would Be Awfully Silly for Me To Have This T-Shirt If I Didn’t:

Now I’m supposed to tag 5 people, yes? Jody, Phillip, Rebecca, Stacy and any of the regulars on Wasted Time – TAG, YOU’RE IT!! Of course, who ever does this on Wasted Time has to (a) blog it while drunk (in keeping with the rules of Wasted Time) and (b) you have to explain your reasons for partaking in a drunk blog.

*Please say “meme” is the right word here.
**I have a feeling that this may differ slightly from what I wrote on the survey.
***10 points to the first person who identifies where I stole the phrase “various witty remarks” from.
***Believe me, I know this from experience. I have had more than one person ask me why I’m talking to myself.

{February 18, 2007}   The Truth

As a wannabe member of the O.O.T.S.S.O.E.R.A.A.A.P.*, I feel it is my duty to prove that I meet their criterion of being: “mostly in agreement with the “truth.”” The truth, as stated on their aptly titled page, the Truth, (and for those of you too lazy to click on the many, many links to the word “truth” that I am littering throughout this post) is as follows:

(In no particular order)

1. Cigarettes are bad for you.

2. Men and Women are equal.

3. Global Warming is real, and (by the way) it’s all our fault.*

4. It’s not all relative.

5. Gin is better than Whiskey. Whiskey is better than Gin.

6. Intelligent Design is wrong.

7. Over consumption is a serious problem.

8. The Millenium Development Goals are worthy*.

9. Wilco is good, sometimes exceptional, but often inconsequential.

10. Shit happens (ditto for sex).

11. Creationism is silly. (also, see 6)

12. Sloths are not purple.

13. Science, for better or for worse, is all around.

At least, this is the truth as of the time at which I am writing this posting. Suggestions to changes to the truth can be made here.

This is all part of a web experiment that you can read about here… the idea is to get The Truth site to the top of the Google search for the word truth***. When I first read about this, it was at #11 and right now it’s the 4th hit when you Google “truth.” Care to play along at home? All you have to do is link the word truth to the site:

Now, as for the truth itself, I have to say that I’m glad that u only requires that one be mostly in agreement with the truth. I’m down with #1-8, and with #10-13. I’m glad that they changed number 5 as I abhor gin****. But the one that I have a problem with is, obviously, #9. I was unfamiliar with Wilco, so, of course, I got my hands on some to check it out. And, alas, I find them neither “good” nor “exceptional”… but I can agree with the “inconsequential” part.

*I have emailed to apply for membership, but am still awaiting their decision as to whether or not I meet their strict membership regulations.**

**OK, I’m waiting for them to check their email and get around to updating their site. Update: I’m officially a member now! w00t!

***I’ve used the word truth so many times in this posting it has ceased to look like a real word to me. Isn’t that weird how that happens?

****Unless you are referring to the dog my family had when I was a baby who was named Gin (which one might believe by the capitalization of the word “Gin” in The Truth. I don’t remember Gin, as she died when I was just a baby, but apparently she absolutely loved me, which means that she was clearly an intelligent dog. Why my parents, who are both teetotallers, named their dogs “Brandy” and “Gin,” however, is one of life’s great mysteries.

{February 18, 2007}   Happy Chinese New Year!

As you may recall, 2006 was not my favourite year. And as you may also recall, I predicted that 2007 was going to be the best. year. ever. Well, I’m still unemployed and first month and a half of 2007 have been filled with further illnesses and deaths. So my hypothesis has been revised*… it’s actually on Chinese** New Year that everything will start to get good. I’m hoping that the “fortune tellers” are wrong on this one.

*props to Kalev for coming up with the revised hypothesis
**Also Koren New Year. Props to Jenny for telling me this. From Korea. Where she is right now.

et cetera