Not To Be Trusted With Knives

{January 31, 2008}  

As I’m sure you’ve heard1, the Biological Sciences Building at UBC was locked down due to a “police incident” yesterday. They still aren’t saying exactly what the threat was, although apparently it was “specific and contained a deadline.” 

I first heard about it through an email from my Faculty (since I teach at UBC this term, I get all their department- and faculty-wide emails), then very soon saw a flurry of comments about it on Twitter2.  Then I heard it in the mainstream media.

I was just checking out this entry on the situation on Now Public, written by a UBC grad student who was looked in the building at the time, which contained information such as “a swat team with complete tactical gear has entered the building (with fully automatic assault rifles), assailiant might have a gun” and “Students in my office are currently playing pictionary…team 2 is winning.”  Thankfully, everyone got out OK, but now I am wondering who won the game of pictionary.

Also,  I’m feeling kinda like the queen of being next door to bad stuff.  The Bio Sci Building is next door to the Nutrition building (where I did my Ph.D. and for whom I currently teach), although I wasn’t there at the time or anything.  And a few weeks ago there was a shooting at a restaurant downtown and I was close enough that I heard the shots.  Freaky.

1Well, if you are in Canada. I don’t expect my American readers heard about this. Or even know what a UBC is. And Canada is the big country just north of you, FYI. 😉
2I also first heard about Heath Ledger’s death on Twitter.

{January 30, 2008}   I love the zamboni!

My wee niece, in a Vancouver Canucks jersey – quite possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!

In the interest of full disclosure, I must report that she didn’t want to put the jersey on at first, as it’s not a dress1,2. But my dad, the Leafs fan you can see in the background in this photo3, used the old reverse psychology on her: “You better not put that shirt on! Don’t you dare!” And then she couldn’t put it on fast enough.

So they all went skating and my wee niece, despite it being only her second time on skates, was skating around on her own like she’d been skating for years4. And I got to miss it all because my family won’t move out to Vancouver. =(

After skating, my mom asked Madeline if she liked skating.  “I love skating!” she said.  “I love the zamboni!  I love hot chocolate!”

1Yet another example of her being like her aunt; I only ever wanted to wear dresses when I was little. I went through a long period of time when I got older when I only ever wanted to wear pants, but now I’m back to wear skirts a lot. Hmm, weird.
2Also, making her like a true Canucks fan. We are fickle breed, with our love/hate relationship with the boys in blue.
3And now you know my secret shame… my dad is a Leafs fan!
4Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook can see a video, as I’ve posted a link to it there.

{January 29, 2008}   Longest. Busride. Ever.

My bus ride to work took an hour today, after waiting half an hour for the bus to show up.  It’s usually a 15 minute ride and the bus is supposed to come every 10 minutes.  This city needs to invest in a snowplow.

{January 29, 2008}   Link Love

I just read over on Duane’s blog that he’s looking for some link love to maintain the top spot in the Google search “Vancouver blogger.” Some random is threatening to take his top spot from him and Duane‘s not going to give it up without a fight.

OK, I admit it. I’m doing this because I could win something1. You know me, I love a chance to win something. And if ya feel like helping a sister out, you can link to Duane the Vancouver blogger too and then tell him you heard about it here, so that I’ll get referral entries into his contest and maybe I’ll actually win something for once.

So Duane, I hope you like your link love. Even though, I noticed, I’m not, ahem, on your blog roll….


Now I’m on Duane‘s blog roll. And that my friends, is how you get linked on the #1 Vancouver blogger’s blogroll2.

1A limited edition photo by Duane, to be exact.
2i.e., beg.

{January 28, 2008}   It’s like looking in a mirror

You’ve seen me as both a Simpsons character and a South Park one.  But now I present to you: Dr. Beth, the M&M:


Note that I am (a) wearing a really sexy pair of shoes and (b) holding a hockey stick.  Also note my smirk, in which I’m not showing my teeth.  It really is like looking in a mirror! 

Props to Miss604, on whose Twitter feed I first saw the anthropomorphizing of an M&M.

{January 27, 2008}  

I went to an AA meeting with a friend this weekend and I was really struck by one thing: everyone there was a whole lot more happy than people are at AA meetings on TV and in the movies.

Jack at confronts his dad at an AA meeting in an episode of Lost.

Niki speaks at an AA meeting in an episode of Heroes.

I find that portrayals of AA meetings in pop culture usually have a very sombre crowd listening to a heart wrenching story by the speaker about how terrible their life is, with no happy ending in sight. But at the meeting I went to there were a lot of people talking about how much better their lives are sober than they were while they were using. That’s not to say that no one talked about bad things that happened when they used or how hard it is to deal with alcoholism – and there is no doubt that it is a really, really difficult disease to fight – but it was always in the context of talking about how to fight it and that there are things you can do stay sober and build up a better life. There were also a lot of speakers who talk about how friendly everyone at AA is and how these friendships are what helped them get – and stay – sober. And it’s true – you walk into the room and there are smiling people waiting to shake your hand and say “Good morning.” And there is something in their smiles that tell you they really mean it. And everyone is laughing, smiling and having a good time. For sure there were people who looked a little intimidated, or overwhelmed, and no doubt some of these were newcomers who are just starting their journey into recovery. But you also saw people willing to give out their phone numbers to complete strangers so that they can have someone to call when they need it. How often do you see things like that in every day life? Most people won’t even have a conversation with a stranger at a bus stop, let alone give out their number to someone in need of help.

The thing that I struggled with at the meeting, though, was the whole God thing. There are references to God in the 12 steps of AA and many people talk about putting their trust in God, etc. But, of course, not everyone believes in God (and when I hear “God,” I’m thinking of the Christian God), which is where my discomfort with that comes from. It gave me the impression that if you don’t believe in God, AA isn’t going to work. But it was explained to me that “God as you understand Him” can have a very broad interpretation – the “Higher Power” can be anything you choose that will work for you – the idea, I think, is that alcoholism is too big of a disease to deal with on your own and you need support – so the “Higher Power” could be, for example, the support of other AAers – it just needs to be something beyond yourself. And from what all the speakers were saying, the support of others is really key.

It was definitely an interesting experience to go to an AA meeting (of course, I study addictions for a living, so I think it’s extra interesting for me) – I hadn’t realized that some AA meetings are open to anyone to attend – uplifting to see a group of people so willing to help others, so positive about the future despite having been through so much.

Read more about alcoholism on the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism website.

To find an AA meeting near you, just Google to find a meeting directory for your area. For example, the Vancouver meeting directory can be found here.

{January 26, 2008}   Boogie Bunnies

I’ve never been much of a gamer. I remember briefly enjoying NHL ’98 on Play Station back in the day, but being pissed off that the announcer would only say your name if you were a boy, so I only ever got to hear “Player 1 shoots, he scores!” I also had a game called Theme Hospital where you built hospitals. The graphics were very, very simple but I spent hours building all kinds of weird hospitals… including one which had more pop machines than treatment facilities, just to see what would happen1. For the most part, I find game controllers these days have way too many buttons and I can’t be bothered to figure out what all the buttons do. I tried playing Wii Harry Potter once, but the game starts off with all these instructions on how to cast all the different spells – wiggle-twirl-wiggle will cast the So-and-So Spell, and twirl-up-wiggle-down casts the Such-and-Such spell. And as soon as I actually faced a situation where I needed to cast a spell, I had no idea how to cast anything. And then I got bored with it and played Wii bowling instead.

So, yeah, me and gaming – not so much. That was, until I found out about Boogie Bunnies.

Boogie Bunnies is a simple matching game, where you have to match up three bunnies of the same colour. And when you do, they seem to explode and all the other bunnies cheer. I’m not sure why the bunnies like to be exploded, but I guess I just don’t understand the bunny psyche. You score points for matching up lots of bunnies, for doing so multiple times in a row and you get extra points for knocking off bunnies once you’ve started a bunny dance party2.

And the bunnies are just SO. FRIGGIN. CUTE. They have these adorable little high pitched voices and say “Over here!!” “Hellooooo!” and “Carrots!” As you go up to higher levels, they start to say other things like that sound distinctly like swear words. It’s true – I’m sure I heard a bunny say “fuck!”

The only problem with Boogie Bunnies is that when you start to have too many bunnies on the screen and they are getting dangerously close to falling into the water, they start to sound really concerned, saying “Ummm?” with such a sad little voice. There you start to hear some “uh ohs” and when you let too many bunnies fall into the water, they let out a collective sigh and hang their heads. And you feel soooo bad that you didn’t save the bunnies.

And now you know how I spend my weekends.

1While this hospital didn’t score particularly well as a health care facility, it did win an award from the Dental Association for promoting the drinking of pop, and resulting increase in cavities for them to treat.
2I have no idea how you actually cause a bunny dance party to start, but it just seems to happen and then you get extra points.

{January 25, 2008}   Congratulations Dr. Ziba

Today, my good friend Ziba successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis! Ziba conducted an amazing program of research during her Ph.D. and defended her work with such intelligence, confidence and, believe it or not, humour1 today that it would have been impossible not to have been impressed. So congratulations, Dr. Ziba, on a job well done and best wishes in your future endeavors!

1I mean, seriously, who cracks jokes during their thesis defence? I was waaaaaay too nervous to do that in mine!

{January 24, 2008}   I h8 being sick

Not that I imagine anyone actually likes being sick. But I really, really hate it. My bronchitis-related coughing and tiredness led me to call in sick both yesterday and today. I have just been too tired to actually be productive and I’m probably spreading germs to all my co-workers.1. And I really, really hate calling in sick.  Of the 9.5 months I worked in 2007, I only took one sick day and that was the day I got my wisdom teeth out – I scheduled my sick day for the least possible disruption!  I seem to have inherited my father’s “work ethic.2” My father, you see, is obsessed with perfect attendance. He’s been at his current job for ~14 years. And in that 14 years, he has never missed a day. Not. One. Single. Day. And he has never been late to work. Not once in 14 years. At his previous job, where he installed transmissions in Mack Trucks before the factory closed down, he could tell you each of the individual days he missed in the 20+ years he worked there. “The day your sister was born,” he would tell me, “And the day you were born. I took a day to go to your grandmother’s funeral and a day to go to your grandfather’s funeral. There was the time I had pneumonia. I took an afternoon off once to go to my good friend’s funeral.”  So I have this crazy idea that calling in sick means I’m bad.  I’m not dedicated to my work.  I’m weak.  Objectively, I know all this is ridiculous.  I know that going to work when I’m sick would only mean that I’m not resting, not getting better, dragging out the illness.  Plus, I’m wouldn’t even be all that productive if I were at work, because I’m so damn tired.  Not to mention potentially infecting everyone around me.  But my gut reaction is still to feel guilty about missing two whole days of work!

GAH!!!  There was just a spider crawling on my couch!!  Right fucking next to me!!  Here I was, innocently proofreading the first overlong paragraph of my blog posting and a big goddamn motherfucking spider comes crawling along, less than a foot from where I am sitting!  It’s like the motherfuckers *know.*  They *know* the terror they instill in me.  They smell my fear and they are evil.  Now I forget where I was even going with this blog posting.  Is this week over yet?

1And seeing as I work in a hospital, it’s not very kind of me to go there spreading my icky germs to people who really don’t need to be exposed to any more germs than they already are!
2Which I usually call “work ethic to the point of stupidity.” The man went to work with shingles, for god’s sake. Shingles! And he works in a factory on a very, very hot oven making brake parts, where you have to wear coveralls and it’s very, very, stupidly, ridiculously hot2
3I know this because I worked there too, for a summer3 during my undergrad.
4Longest four months of my life!

{January 23, 2008}   I Am Woman, Hear Me Tweet

I am a bit of a wannabe geek. I have my blog. And my other blog. You can find out what I’m up to by IM’ing me through G-Talk, or msn, or Skype, or checking my Facebook status, or emailing me at one of my 27 different email addresses. My friend Rachel once said, “If Beth sneezes, you know about it.” And, now, that’s even more true. If you just can’t wait for my daily blog postings to find out what I’m thinking about my thigh highs – now you can follow me on Twitter.

{January 22, 2008}   I’ve got the bark

Well, it could be worse. I could have pneumonia; I hear that’s going around. Although my doctor assures me that pneumonia is not the kind of thing that “goes around” and that what people call “walking pneumonia” isn’t really pneumonia.

Instead, I have bronchitis. I’ve been sick since New Year’s. It started like a flu – fever, chills, all over body aches – but after day or so, it turned into been more like a cold – sore throat and stuffed up-ness and tiredness and coughing. And coughing. And did I mention the coughing? My ribs hurt from all the coughing. So, since it’s been three weeks and the coughing isn’t getting any better, I decided to go see my doctor. Who turned out to be an hour behind schedule, thanks to some med students slowing things down and some randoms who showed up without an appointment1. And, of course, by the time I saw the doctor, my cough had settled down quite nicely. Making me look like a big whiner who isn’t really sick. But she listened to my lungs and told me that I have bronchitis in the right one. Lucky me.  And she gave me a ‘script and sent me on my way.  And the moment that I’m out the door, my cough is back in full force.  By the time I reached the pharmacy, downstairs from the doctor’s office, I sound yet again like I am hacking up a lung.  The pharmacist hears my cough and says, “Ah, you have the bark.”

So, anyway.  At least I don’t have pneumonia.  But it means I definitely won’t be going skiing again tomorrow.  In fact, I’m not even feeling well enough to go into work – I think I need to rest and let my meds kick in.  =(

1I didn’t think that you could just show up and actually get seen by the doctor, but apparently you can and those of us who actually made an appointment can sit around and wait for a freaking hour.

{January 21, 2008}  

Thanks to everyone who bought raffle tickets to support my hockey team. Our raffle and pub night fundraisers netted us over $2000! Which will cover about $150 for each of us on our $725 trip to play at a tournament in Vegas! Sweet!

Unfortunately for anyone that knows me, the top three prizes (beer, Canucks tickets and hard liquor) went to people that bought tickets from someone other than me. But Dave, you are the lucky winner of one of the door prizes – a big umbrella1. A big umbrella which I accidentally left in my co-op car last night on my way home from hockey. My bad! I owe you a big umbrella. If you and Sarah come to visit me, I promise to pay up2!

For next year’s fundraiser, I’m going to try harder to convince my teammates to make a “girls of hockey” calendar. I already have had someone volunteer their photography services…although this may just be because he wants to get into a girl’s locker room =)

1It may not seem like a very good prize in Ottawa in the winter, but in Vancouver, that’s a pretty sweet prize.
2Unless you are dying for your umbrella, in which case let me know and I’ll mail you either a big umbrella or its approximate retail value.

{January 20, 2008}   My First Review

Once upon a time, I got this cool printer (the Brother HL-4070CDW1) to review. Then some months went by in which I used said printer. And now, a review:

Quality of Printing

  • This printer prints pretty damn nice. The printouts are sharp and clean and the colours are, well, very colourful. I even printed up photos and they turned out very clear (as evidenced by this photo of a photo that I printed and then photographed2).
  • This printer prints fairly quickly. Definitely faster tha the printers I use at work.
  • This printer gives off some nasty, chemical smell when it prints. The printers at my office do too, so maybe all laser printers do this, but it’s just weird to have that smell in my apartment.

Fancypants Features

  • I chose this printer, from a list of possible printers to review, because it was wireless. I have both a desktop computer and a notebook computer3 and I wanted both of them to have easy access to the printer. Also, I figured that I already have too many wires in my life. And the wireless feature appears to work seemlessly, and is pretty damn quick.
  • Duplexing. I heart duplexing. It saves paper and it means that all the piles of papers I carry around are half the size that they would be if I was only printing on one side of the page. This printer duplexes without you having to do anything crazy, like print up all the even numbered pages then reload the paper and print up all the odd numbered pages4. Plus, I didn’t experience any page jamming, which I’ve often had to deal with for other printers in various places that I’ve worked.
  • Printing directlt from a USB memory stick. You put your USB stick into the USB port and then follow the instructions on little screen on the printer to select what file you want to print, what paper size you want to use, etc. And then it prints. Just like that. So easy a monkey could do it. Of course, the first time I tried it, the screen turned a very scary red and told me “Needs more memory.” But I didn’t have time to deal with it then and so I just left it and when I tried again the next day, it worked just fine. So who knows what was up with that.

Ease of set-up

  • This is really my only complaint about the printer. As I mentioned before, this printer was hella confusing to set up. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that the “Quick Set Up” Guide was 70 pages long. In truth, I probably could have figured it out on my own, rather than having a friend set it up for me but (a) I like the path of least resistance and (b) I like the path of least resistance. I’m just saying that I wouldn’t expect my parents, or other less tech-y folks, to have any clue how to set this baby up.


  • I’m a hippy environmentalist-type, so I care about such things as how much packaging a product comes with. But I haven’t bought a new printer in well over a decade, so I can’t actually compare this printer with, like, any other printer in terms of packaging. It came in a big box, packed in styrofoam and with lots of plastic bits which appeared to be protecting things inside the printer from getting wrecked during transport. My guess is that you can’t really pack it safely with much less than what it had, but seriously, shouldn’t we have some sort of biodegradable styrofoam and plastic by now?
  • Did I mention that the big box was big enough for me to fit in?

Update 3 March 2008

After completing my review, I was informed that Brother was not asking for the printers back from the bloggers who were reviewing them.  We weren’t told about this beforehand – in fact we were told that the printers were to be returned to Brother once the review period was over.  Which rocks, because had we known that we got to keep the printers in the end, it would have seemed like a bribe.  I gave my honest review of the product and then got the pleasant surprise that I got to keep it.  Especially after I went to all that work of having my friend set it up for me 🙂  I’m posting this disclaimer here in the interest of transparency, so no one thinks there is anything untoward going on.  And also because I wanted an excuse to use the word “untoward.”  That is all.  As you were.
1If you check out this link, you’ll notice that they talk about the “street price” of the printer. Are they trying to compare this printer to crack?
2Damn, my neice is cute. That pic was from when I visited T.O. when she was 18 months old. Damn cute.
3Because clearly having two computers doubles my productivity.
4Seriously, I’ve had to deal with printers like that in the past. And then the papers would all jam when you tried to do this.

{January 19, 2008}   Hot for Teacher

First off, welcome to my new digs here on WordPress. Update your feeds, blogrolls, bookmarks, rolodexes, stone tablets or however the heck you remember where I am. Because I know that you don’t want to miss a single update on my nylons.

Secondly, I’ve recently become obsessed with what I wear when I’m teaching. I gave my students a little questionnaire in the first class to get a sense of the background & experience in the area of nutritional assessment and also I included the question “Tell me something about yourself that doesn’t have anything to do with school.” I think that it’s nice to get to know your students a bit, which is hard to do when you have a class of 100, and this is a my little attempt to do that. A lot of people told me about hobbies they have, sports they play, places they’ve traveled and the like. And one person wrote that I dressed “too nice for lecturing.” I wasn’t really sure if this was meant as a compliment (i.e., “you dress nice”) or an insult (i.e., “you are trying *way* too hard, Loser”), but I’ve decided that I’ll believe it’s the former. And, now, of course, I need to keep up with this reputation as the best dressed instructor of 20081.

So here’s a picture of my outfit from class #2. Apparently posting what I wear to class is becoming kind of a thing here on NTBTWK. Which may just be an excuse for me to need to buy more clothes once I get through all my current outfits.

1Which may or may not be completely in my head.

Typing this out on my Palm Pilot on the bus on the way to a free screening of Cloverfield. Won’t have time to write blog posting when I get home as I have to finish my lecture for tomorrow. My wicked cool lecture about the BC Nutrition Survey, about measurement and about dietary assessment. But I’m so very, very tired…

So, some random thoughts. A recent study found that 75% of people in the study who called themselves vegetarians ate animal flesh sometimes. wtf? They put new floors in the hallway to the caf at my work. The new floors muffle the sound significantly compared to the old floors. I’m thinking they put the new flooring in because my new boots are like the loudest things ever when I walk down the hall in them. My ski buddy busted her knee & is out for the season; now looking for people with whom to ski. Is it wrong that I’m not done my lecture, but I decided what I’m going to wear to my class tomorrow 5 days ago?

et cetera