Not To Be Trusted With Knives

{March 31, 2007}   New ‘do

For awhile, I’ve been talking about getting a new haircut. In fact, way back in November at the dinner after my graduation, I was talking about it. At that time I said I wanted to lightening my hair – sort of around the same colour as Danielle’s. Then a friend of mine suggested I get bangs: “you know, the sort of asymmetrical kind.” “What, like Danielle’s? What am I, Single White Female?”

Well, apparently I am SWF, because I went out yesterday and got a new hair cut, with the asymmetric kind of bangs. But I brought Danielle & Sarah as my advisers, so it’s sort of SWF with permission. Sarah also wanted a hair cut, so we figured we’d venture out to find a salon. When I get my hair trimmed, I usually go somewhere cheap, like Great Clips, but I thought I wanted something a little more advanced to actually get my hairstyle changed. Felt like an $8 hair cut place might not be ideal for changing my ‘do. So we went to this place instead. Because we are, in fact, hotties. Sadly, that sign has been removed from their window – apparently someone was “deeply offended” by it. Omg, get a grip people!!

Anyhoo, here are the “before” and “after” photos… what do y’all think?

“Before” photo at the Hotties Always Welcome Salon.

OK, another “before” photo, this time with funny hats.

After photos!!

{March 31, 2007}   And so the streak ends…

I didn’t blog yesterday. I meant to, but we were out and about and having fun and getting up to no good and it didn’t occur to me until 11 pm that I hadn’t blogged. And we were at a UBC Pride Beer Garden, with no computers nearby. Oh well, it was a good run while it lasted. 88 days straight of blogging, at least once a day! Now it’s time to start a new streak!

{March 30, 2007}   Western Canadian Hijinks

As I write this, Sarah is in a cab on her way here from YVR. We spend now until Tuesday in Vancouver (I have to work on Monday & Tuesday, but I have tomorrow, Sat & Sun to goof off), and then on Tuesday night we fly to Calgary, where our plan will land within minutes of Dave‘s flight from Ottawa, and then our friend Justin will whisk us all away to stay for a week at his downtown abode. I am told by pretty much everyone I know that has lived in, or ever even been to, Calgary that we need to go to Cowboys.

I’ll keep y’all posted.

Oh ya, and big props to my boys, you have clinched a playoff spot. I can practically taste the Cup.

Update: SARAH is here!!! (Apparently I’m a slow typist!) And you’ll never guess who was on her plane! David. Freaking. Emerson!!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!

{March 29, 2007}   Thesis Data Cloud

A while back, Darren mentioned wanting to make a data cloud for a presentation he was giving at Northern Voice – he wanted to find a tool that he could enter all the responses he’d gotten on his Why Do You Blog survey to generate a data cloud. This got me thinking about how data clouds are an interesting way of analyzing data – you get a visual representation of how often each word is used in your document. So then I had the bright idea that I wanted to run my thesis through a program like this – I was curious to see what words I used most often. I happened to be chatting with a friend of mine who is all computer savvy and asked if he knew of any tools that could do this (as I could only find one that required that the document in question be pretty small and my thesis may be many things, but small is not one of them). And the next thing I knew, he’d written me a program! We had to do a bit of tweaking (like not including common words such “and” and “then”, not including punctuation and numbers, and, of course, I had to make it use pretty colours). And when all was said and done, it was just so friggin’ pretty! I love my thesis word cloud! You can check out the whole thing here, but I’ve included a bit of it below, just so you can get an idea of how beautiful it is!

binge biochemistry biol biological biology birth births bk black blank blind blinded blindly blood bloom blow blue boat bodies body bone bones bonjour born both bottom bouillon boundaries boundary brain breakdown breaking breed breeding briefly bringing brown bud buds buffer bull bulletin bullock burns but c ca cage cages calcification calcified calcifies calcium calculated calculation calendar caloric calories camera camp can cannot carbohydrates cardiac cardiovascular care cartilage

Seriously, go check out the whole thing here. It’s friggin’ cool.

Update: OK, that looks a little f’d up, since Blogger’s formattin apparently doesn’t work so well with the formatting of the data cloud. I guess you’ll just have to go here to see how it should look.

{March 28, 2007}   I’m Not Making This Up!

My cousin’s wife, Christine, is pregnant and at a family party on the weekend my sister was explaining to my two-year old neice that Christine “has a baby in her belly.” My neice then looks at my dad and asks, “Does that mean Grampa has a baby in his belly too?”

{March 27, 2007}   I <3 Taylor Pyatt, again.

So, I went to the Canucks game last night and, being in the second row (i.e., up close and personal with the boys) I am *officially* re-in love with Taylor Pyatt. He’s even more beautiful in person! His piercing blue eyes are to die for! Imagine how beautiful our babies are going to be! I don’t even care if he does eat at Swiss Chalet! I can overlook that! Because it’s him, I’d even find it endearing!

OK, first things first. On the way to the game, a group of 29 teenagers all wearing Canucks paraphernalia get on bus a few stops after mine, and all the way along 4th Ave more and more people going to the game keep getting on the bus. But the time we get to the bridge to go downtown, the bus is pretty packed… and just as we are about to go over the bridge – BOOM!! “What the hell was that???” Oh, nothing big, just the freaking suspension of the bus collapsing! Aren’t they supposed to design buses so that they don’t collapse when people are on them?? So we all had to get off that bus and onto the next bus that was coming up behind us, which already had a bunch of people on it. So I was running late for meeting my friend who had the tickets to the game and decided to run to GM Place from the bus stop rather than fighting with the crowd to take the SkyTrain. Of course, I’d already run 16K that day, so my legs were none to happy about this development. But that’s how much I love my Canucks.

Fortunately, thanks to my running prowess, we made it in time to see all the pre-game fanfare. It just isn’t the same if you aren’t there to see all the flashing lights and suchlike. Oooh.. flashing lights! Highlights of the game included:

  • I was in the second freaking row!!! I was this close:
  • Henrik Sedin broke the record for most assists by a Canuck in a season with his 63rd of the year. We gave him a standing ovation and chanted his name. Because he may be fugly, but he’s a damn good player:
  • Most importantly, Taylor scored TWO goals last night… which was clearly because he was inspired by my presence. ‘Cuz he saw me there… look how freaking close he was to me:

In fact, sometimes he was ever closer! Sometimes him and another man were pressed up against each other on that glass, right in front of me. I’m just saying.

Other things of note:

  • Why do fans feel the need to yell instructions to the players? I’ll admit it, I get caught up in the game and do it myself, but do we really think that (a) they can even hear us out on the ice and (b) even if they could hear us, they’d actually listen? And do people really think yelling things like “Shoot the puck!” “Go for the puck!” and, my personal fav that I heard last night, “DO SOMETHING!!” are instructive?
  • Similarly, do people think that yelling “hey Theodore, you stink!” over and over again will really get to him? Do they not know any other verbs beside “stink”? I yelled “Hey Theodore, you are ineffective!!” just to add some variety. I should have yelled “Hey Theodore, you are an adulterous bastard with poor taste in women!” but I didn’t think of that one until it is too late:
  • What was up with the dude who yelled, “hey Tyler! Score a hat trick!!” First of all, his name is Taylor! I know, I know, “Taylor” is a girl’s name and Pyatt is 100% man, but please, try to get it right. He is the future father of my babies, after all. Secondly, do you think it hadn’t occurred to him that after scoring 2 goals, it would be good to score a third one? For the record, I think that by that point he was just so overcome by my beauty that he was unable to score that much-needed third goal.
  • I want the job being one of the girls who skate around and shovel the ice during the TV time outs. I like skating. I like going to Canucks game. I have long hair. I think that makes me qualified for the position. Does anyone know how you apply for this job??

{March 26, 2007}   Quick, But Legitimate, Post

Did a lot of running around today. Both literally (i.e., 16 friggin’ kilometers!!) and figuratively (after my run, I had to shower, grab some fruit to get my blood sugar back up and water to re-hydrate, run off to a meeting for the study that I’m participating in, then back home, grab a quick dinner and touch base with Sarah about her trip*/nylon delivery service, and now I’m quickly writing this before I head off to GM Place to watch the Canuck game! Live! Row friggin’ 2!!** I know you are jealous. And I know that you know that I know you are jealous. Word to your moms.

*yay! only 4 more days ’til she’s here!

**I’ve never watch a game from the lower bowl of GM Place before. So stoked!

I just registered for the Vancouver International (half) Marathon! I can’t believe I’m actually going through with this!!! I must be crazy!!!

Training is becoming more challenging because (a) now that I have a job, I have a lot less time* for things like running and (b) my long runs are becoming, well, really long. I do my long runs on Sundays (or sometimes Tuesdays, if Saturday nights turn into a gong show). When my long runs got up to 12 k, I thought I was going to die. Then Danielle pointed out that I should be following the 10 and 1 plan (run for 10 minutes, walk for 1, repeat)… so I tried that the next week, when I had to run 14 k, and I felt sooo much better! The only problem was that I absolutely abhor looking at my watch when I run. It just totally stresses me out worrying about if I’ve run my 10 minutes or not. And it was Danielle to the rescue again! She suggested making a running playlist for my iPod that has 10 minutes of music, followed by 1 minute of something to walk to. So I put together a playlist of running music**, with 1 minute intervals of classical music for walking to… and it soooo rocked! Last week’s long run was 16 k and after the 1 hour and 55 minutes that it took me, I didn’t feel like I wanted to die (which I did after a mere 12 k of running straight) and I didn’t have to get all stressed out looking at my watch… I could just relax and enjoy the beautiful sunset***.

Speaking of which, I should get out there and go for a run right now. Just a little 6 k today… no biggie. I can even return my overdue library book on the way. Hooray for multitasking! Try not to miss me too much while I’m gone. I’ll give you a discussion topic to keep you busy in my absence: What songs should I add to my running playlist?

Oh ya, and just for the record, here’s the route of the half marathon:

Ya, I must be crazy.

*yup, still haven’t figured out how people with jobs get anything done.
**my playlist is heavy on the Groove Coverage, which is the best running music EVER!
***the giant holes in the ground where they are building the Canada Line were less enjoyable to look at.

{March 24, 2007}   Cool Words: Clusterfuck

I think that “clusterfuck” is a seriously underutilized word. I propose we use the word “clusterfuck” far more often in daily life. Like, “this traffic is a real clusterfuck” or “My student loans are one clusterfuck of a situation” or “Fucksocks, that’s one hell of a clusterfuck.”

{March 23, 2007}   Five Somewhat Related Things
  1. I did my 16K run on Tuesday, because I really didn’t feel up to it on Sunday, and I had a late work day, followed by a dinner meeting, on Monday. I have been ravenously hungry since Tuesday. I feel like I’ve done nothing but eat since then.
  2. Speaking of eating, a friend of Danielle’s came over last night and made us the most delicious dal for dinner. So. Freaking. Delicious.
  3. Speaking of delicious, a new Tim Horton’s has been built that is even closer to my place than the one on Broadway. They build those things ridiculously fast… on Saturday when I went by there, there were construction workers inside building the place, and it was open by Monday. It has been open since Monday and, would you believe, I haven’t been there yet? And did I mention that it is right next to the liquor store*?? But that’s OK, I’m pretty sure that I’ll get there soon because…
  4. … it’s only 7 more sleeps until Sarah gets here!
  5. Then it’s only 5 more sleeps until we go to Calgary. Dave is meeting us there. We are staying with Justin. I am assured that hijinks will ensue.

*i.e., one stop shopping

Now that I’m gainfully employed, not only do I have to get up before noon, but I also have to wear something other than jeans & a T-shirt or my PJs. And since I have this complex wherein I believe that no one will take me seriously because I’m so short, I dress up in business attire for work to try to appear more like a professional and less like a kid. Which means heels. And nylons. Today, I have a bone to pick with nylons.

This is the size chart for a typical pair of nylons:

Do you notice anything funny about the sizing? Why the f is there no size “A” in nylons?? There’s B, C and D… but no “A”! I fall within what would be the “A” category if there was one. Basically, this means that, unless I gain 20+ lbs*, it is impossible for me to get nylons that will actually fit me. And if they had called the smallest available size “A” instead of calling it “B,” I might have said, “OK, I’m just an abnormally short person.” But they didn’t. They called the smallest available size “B” – it’s pretty much like they are saying “we know that there are people smaller than those for whom we are willing to make nylons – this is implied in the “A” category that we haven’t included – but we just don’t want to make nylons for you “A” people. Suck it, shorty!”

Why am I so pissed off about nylons you ask? Because I inevitably rip every pair of nylons I ever own, because they are always too big for me and I’m constantly having to pull them up, whereupon they rip. And so I spend a stupid amount of money buying friggin’ nylons. And I don’t have a lot of money because, despite being gainfully employed, most of my money is going to be going to pay off my student loans!

Speaking of which, that’s the other thing that pissed me off today. As you may recall, I had gone into the bank on the weekend to try to get info on paying back my loans, but they couldn’t get through on the phone to their own student loan centre, so they arranged to call me back once they had talked to the student loan centre. Here’s a list of the things that pissed me off in this transaction, in chronological order:

  • I get to my office after a meeting and there is a message from the bank to call them back. I call back and am asked, “Are you aware that we have a special account manager for health care professionals?” I’m pretty sure they asked me this because when they left a message on my voice mail, they heard that I’m “Dr. Beth.” I explained that I’m a Ph.D., not an M.D., but then I asked why health care professional get their own special account manager – do they get some special perks? “Health care professionals are very busy and can’t always come in during bank hours, so they have an account manager who can provide service for them.” Now, this strikes me as elitist. I have nothing against health care professionals, but other people are busy too!
  • I am then informed that the bank’s student loan centre didn’t have my updated addres, so I have to call them to tell them my new address. “Wait,” I say, “You have my correct address, but you don’t give it to your student loan centre? I’m supposed to tell them separately?” How was I supposed to know that? It’s the same bank, just a different office! And she was talking to them on the phone, why couldn’t she just tell them my new address??
  • I am also informed that she can give me an estimate of how much I will have to pay per month for Ontario student loans and how much for Canada student loans, but she can’t tell me how much I need to pay on each of the individual accounts (you may recall that I have 14 separate loans with the bank, because that’s how they handed out the student loan money – 2 or 3 separate loans per term). “Wait,” I say, “I’m expected to make 14 separate transactions every single month? Why can’t they all be put together?” “I don’t know,” she tells me, “You’ll have to call the student loan centre to find out what they can do.”
  • So I call the bank’s student loan centre. Somehow they have my updated phone number, but not my updated address. How is it possible that they got the new phone number, but not the new address? I mean, I got the new phone number on the exact same day as the new address! I know that I have never called the bank’s student loan centre ever before, so they had to have gotten my new phone number from the regular part of the bank… why didn’t they get my address too?
  • The person I talked to at the student loan centre seemed completely unaware of how student loans work, how they are to be paid off or what the loan forgiveness program is. She was unable to tell me if I have to make 14 individual payments every single month or not, and the totals she gave me for my Ontario and Canada student loans do not match what it says in my account on the OSAP website, nor do they match the numbers listed in my online banking. And from the length of time it took her to calculate these numbers, I’m pretty sure quantum mechanics were involved, which may explain why nothing in this whole situation makes sense.

*for the record, I am NOT going to gain 20 lbs for the sole purpose of being able to have nylons that fit me.

There’s a lot of pressure that comes with having a Ph.D. People expect you to know stuff. And they expect that you won’t go around doing stupid things. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to do airheaded things… often. For example, I discovered yesterday that I had made a pot of tea the day before and then forgot to drink it. Apparently, I just made a pot of tea and then it completely slipped my mind not only that I had made the tea, but that I had even wanted the tea to begin with! I regularly go to the kitchen and then forget why I went in there. Or I open up a computer program and then can’t remember what I opened it for.

Other airheaded things I have done of late* include:

And anytime I do one of these airheaded things, someone will inevitably say, “Ph.D., eh? I guess they give those out to just anyone!” So, for the record, I hereby present a list of things that I do not have my Ph.D. in:

  • remembering who I have told certain stories, even if I’ve already told them said story 3 or more times
  • remembering people’s names
  • direction, sense thereof
  • maturity
  • acting my age
  • looking my age
  • English grammar*

Also, here is a list of things that I should have a Ph.D. in:

*if anyone can remember other airheaded things that I’ve done, please feel free to share in the comment section!
**so get off my back about using the word “ain’t”, Mom!

{March 19, 2007}   Chuck Norris Parties Here

So we decided to go out to watch the game and just have “a few beers” on Saturday night. Ya, on Saturday night, which was St. Patrick’s Day. I’m sure you can guess how that ended! I can now confirm that (a) they still do give free shots to everyone sitting at the bar at Nevermind whenever a Canuck scores, (b) even emtpy-netters count, (c) I’m an extremely good luck in the Canuck of the game scores = free beer for everyone in the restaurant (I’m three for three on that front) and (d) I don’t do well with free alcohol. Oh yes, and Chuck Norris parties at Nevermind:

{March 19, 2007}   Oh yes, I can.

So I went to the bank yesterday to find out what I need to do to start paying back my student loans, as apparently they expect you to pay those back. Half of mine are with the Royal Bank and the other half are with the government, as the government took over lending out money to students from the banks part way through my education. The government sent me a letter telling me the obscene amount of money I’ll need to pay them each month in order to have my loans paid off in a mere 9 years, but it seems that the bank expects you to go to them to find out what to do.

A very friendly person at the bank was trying to help me out, but when she called the bank’s student loan centre, no one answered the phone… she got stuck in their “press 1 for this, press 2 for that” phone system that never actually lets you talk to a real live person*. She called a manager over for some help and the manager stared at the computer screen with the most perplexed look on her face and then said, “She can’t possibly have this many loans.” Sigh. Oh yes, I can.

*nice to know that companies do this to themselves, and not just to us.

Dave from Touch You Last has returned from his lengthy, unexplained absence from the blogosphere, bringing with him his latest find: Sucks/Rocks. Now, don’t be confused like I was when I first read that title… I thought it was a site about things that “Suck Rocks.” In fact, determines if something “sucks” OR “rocks.” Dave’s explanation of the process:

“the site will search for all instances of positive phrase relating to your term versus negative phrases relating to your term (‘Peanut Butter Cups are wicked!’ as opposed to ‘I can’t stand me no goddamn Peanut Butter Cups!’) It then takes these positive and negative hits, factors in some complicated maths, and comes back with a ranking from 0 to 10, with 0 being a black hole of sucking, and 10 being something that rocks more than anything that has every rocked before.”

Now, being a scientist, I can’t just go using any tool without first performing an assessment of reliability and validity. First, reliability demands that the tool give a consistent answer. Dave’s analysis indicated that toques rock (with a score of 10) and american beer sucks (with a pathetic 0.3). As you can see from Figure 1, my analysis yields the same results:

Figure 1: Reliability Analysis

Thus, we can conclude that Sucks/Rocks is a reliable tool.

For something to be considered a valid tool, we have to make sure that it is accurate – in this case, that when Sucks/Rocks says that something sucks, it does, in fact, suck; and when it says that something rocks it does, in fact, rock. Since we know that things that suck, suck, and things that rock, rock, I decided to use the word “suck” as something that sucks, and “rock” as something that rocks for my validity assessment. Figure 2 demonstrates that Sucks/Rocks is a valid assessment tool:

Figure 2: Validity Analysis

Now that I have conclusively proven that Sucks/Rocks is a reliable and valid measure of that which sucks and that which rocks, I can use this new breakthrough in scientific analysis to test a few hypotheses. I decided to start out with an example for which we all know the answer, which will further strengthen my case that Sucks/Rocks is an accurate measure of suckiness and rockitude:

Figure 3: Canucks are superior to Leafs

Yup, as we all knew, the Canucks rock while the Leafs suck! I was a bit surprised that the Canucks only scored a 7 (as we all know that they are a perfect 10… I hope that my use of the word “uglification” near the word “Canucks” in my in-depth trade analysis didn’t decrease their score!). I suppose there is bound to be some margin of error.

Another thing we already knew:

Figure 4: Females are better than males

Interestingly, when I tested the phrase “Flying Spaghetti Monster,” I received this:

Figure 5: The Flying Spaghetti Monster works in mysterious ways

I’m pretty sure that this means that either (a) the FSM rocks so hard that he cannot be quantified, or (b) he used his noodly appendages to interfere with the tool, just because he can. I’m currently working on a grant proposal to investigate this line of research.

OK, so now that we know that Sucks/Rocks is an accurate way to make measurements and comparisons (except in cases where the Flying Spaghetti Monster chooses to interfere, which, of course, is true of all measurement tools), I feel confident that we can use it to determine definitively the answer to the age old question: Ninjas vs. Pirates?

Figure 5: The answer to an age old question

et cetera