Not To Be Trusted With Knives











Guess who I’m not voting for in this election?



{September 29, 2008}   Stupidest Tongue Injury Ever

Picture it. I’m sitting in my office, chewing some gum and, out of nowhere, I bite my tongue. But not only do I bite my tongue – oh no, that wouldn’t be ridiculous enough. I bite my tongue so hard that it bleeds. Profusely.

You’d think that with 31 years experience, I’d be able to have my own tongue in my own mouth without biting it.  You’d think.

I would like to point out, in case you are ever considering biting your tongue so hard that it bleeds, that it’s very difficult to put pressure on one’s tongue in order to stop profuse bleeding.  I mean, I grabbed a tissue and applied pressure, but then the tissue just all sticks to your tongue and it’s all “Ick, I’m eating a Kleenex now!  A bloody Kleenex from my profusely bleeding tongue.”

Also from the too much information department, some photos of said injury:

Today’s episode of stupidity has been brought to you by the letter I1

1as in, I am a jackass.



Andrew Charles Elliot, the fourth Premier of the Province of British Columbia, rivals the Right Honourable Captain Boring in terms of sheer boringness.

Name Andrew Charles Elliott
Born: c. 1828 somewhere in Ireland
Died: April 9, 1889 in San Francisco
Party: Like a rock star
Held Office: February 1, 1876 – February 11, 1878
  • apparently they don’t actually know when he was born, nor can they narrow down the location to more than just “Ireland.”  Nice record keeping, 1820s Ireland!
  • he came to BC to be a lawyer in the “gold colony” and somehow was called to the bar, even though there was no county court system.  So he figured he’d leave.  Then they made a court system. And then he stayed.
  • He became a county judge, then a “gold commissioner and stipendiary magistrate,” then he was appointed to the Legislative Council by Governor Frederick Seymour.  After BC joined Confederation, he became the high sheriff, then the police magistrate of Victoria.  He had a lot of jobs.
  • In 1875 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly and later would become the Leader of the Opposition (again, remembering that there aren’t any political parties at this point).  When G.A.W. got kicked out by a non-confidence vote, Lieutenant Governor Joseph William Trutch asked A.C.E. to form a government.
  • He had a reputation for being boring “honesty and gentlemanly behaviour. “Nearly twenty years in office and not rich!” exclaimed David William Higgins, the editor of the” Daily British Colonist and Victoria Chronicle4.
  • Faced with the clusterfuck of a financial situation  that G.A.W. had left behind1 he raised taxes. All sorts of taxes. Real estate taxes. Income taxes. School taxes. Wild land taxes.
  • Like G.A.W. before him, A.C.E. had to deal with the whole railroad thing.  The feds had offered a railroad from Esquimalt to Nanaimo if the province agree to let them have more time to complete the transcontinential railroad.  But there were more delays and suchlike, and then the feds said, “Um, yeah, that whole thing about the railroad ending in Esquimalt… yeah, not so much.”
  • His government was defeated in 1878 and so he resigned.  Then he tried really hard to get a pension from the federal government on the basis that he was a former colonial official.  Again, the feds said, “Yeah, not so much.”  While in London trying to get support for the pension claim, his wife died unexpectedly back in Victoria in 1881.
  • He lived in San Fran for his last few years, on the advice of doctors who felt the northern climate was too cold for his poor health.

In summary,*yawn*.

Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain. Hoorah!

Footnotes:
1It was so bad that the Bank of BC had cut off their government’s credit. How bad does a government had to be for the bank of their province to cut off their credit?
2Apparently these docs haven’t actually been to San Fran ‘cuz, really, it’s pretty frickin’ cold there, imho.

References:
3Wikipedia, the reference where everybody knows your name
4Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online



{September 27, 2008}   BarCamp 2008

Spent the morning in the WordCamp section of BarCamp Vancouver, a session talking about all things WordPress.  As you can tell from my URL, my blog is on WordPress.com and I have been very happy with WP ever since I moved over from Blogger back in January.  But the more of these WordCamp type events I go to – and the more other bloggers I talk to – the more I realize that I need to move towards self-hosting.  There are just so many fun plugins that WordPress.org users get to play with.  Suppose I’ll need to look into where I should have my site hosted (suggestions welcome!).

Now I’m in the “What is a Co-op?” session. The idea here is the gauge the interest developing a tech co-op. As you may or may not know, I’m a big fan of co-ops.  I dumped my old bank1 to move to a credit union. I am a member of the Car Co-op. So I’m interested in finding out what the thoughts are on creating a co-op of techies.

1Well, pretty much dumped it. I have to keep my student loans with the bank, because if I move them elsewhere, then they wouldn’t be “student” loans anymore and since interest on student loans is tax-free, it’s in my interest to keep that student loan status. Once those loans are paid off, I’ll be able to be free of the bank!



{September 27, 2008}   Hockey Hotties – Now With Photos!

In preparation for this afternoon’s hockey pool draft, I decided I should figure out what position all the hotties on my list actually play, given that we need to have one goalie and to pick a certain number of defenseman. And then I thought I should have photos of these boys handy to help me to decide during the draft. Here is the result of that research!

Hottie
Position
Age
Jailbait?1
Rick DiPietro, NY Islanders
Goalie
27
No
Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild
koivu_37121.jpg
Centre
25
No
Taylor Pyatt, Vancouver Canucks
Left Wing

(note: scores points for his pretty blue eyes)

27
No
Zach Parise, NJ Devils

Zach Parise by jenkang75

Left Wing 24 No
Scottie Upshall, Philadelphia FlyersScottie Upshall by neat1325Scottie Upshall by neat1325 Right wingloses points for going by the name “Scottie” 24 No
Brendan Morrison, Anaheim Ducksbrendan%20morrison.jpg Centre 33 hell no
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins Centre 21 hell yeah
Mattias Ohlund, Vancouver CanucksOhlundNewCanucksJersey.jpg Defense 32 No
Mike Comrie, NY Islanders Centre 28 No
Benoit Pouliot, Minnesota WildMe610x.jpg Left Wing 21 Yup
Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning2787753030077758815 by kaatiya Centre 28 No
Mark Bell, Toronto Maple Leafsbell_headshot.jpg Left Wing 28 No, but apparently he has recently been in jail
Jarome Iginla, Calgary FlamesJarome Iginla by Dinur Right Wing 31 No
Paul Gaustad, Buffalo SabresGoose in Black and White by valorfaerie Centre 26 No
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning

martin-st.-louis.jpg

Right Wing 33 No
Martin Biron, Philadelphia FlyersMe and Martin Biron by valorfaerieMartin Biron by valorfaerie Goalie 31 No
Joffrey Lupul, Philadelphia FlyersJoffrey Lupul by neat1325Joffrey Lupul is Bringing Sexy Back. by Alipyon Right Wing 25 No
Derek Roy, Buffalo SabresMMM, Derek Roy;) by Alygirl20 Centre 25 No
Brad Isbister, Ottawa SenatorsBrad Isbister by John Bollwitt Left Wing 31 No
Markus Naslund, New York RangersMarkus Naslund Models the Vancouver Canucks' New Uniform by sillygwailo Left Wing 35 Nu uh
Georges Laraque, Montreal CanadiensGeorges by ztil301 Right Wing 31 No
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins080228 Kris Letang by Dan4th Defense 21 Uh, yeah
Mike Komisarek, Montreal Canadiens

Mike Komisarek.jpg

Defense 26 No
Josh Gorges, Montreal Canadiens

Josh Gorges 4-15-06.jpgJosh Gorges by pointnshoot.

Defense 24 No
Jason Pominville, Buffalo Sabres

Jason Pominville

Right Wing 25 No
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews by dtkindler

Centre 20 Indeed
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

Right Wing 19 Yikes!
Dustin Brown, LA Kings

Dustin Brown by nicholeglaze

Left Wing 23 No. Just squeaks by the cutoff age!
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

Goalie 20 Yes
Sheldon SoSheldon Sourayuray, Edmonton Oilers Defense 32 No
Craig Rivet, Buffalo Sabres

Craig Rivet by Dinur

Defense 34 No

Thanks to all the wonderful readers who suggested hockey hotties for me to consider.

I’ll be sure to let y’all know who ends up on my team o’hotties!

1Where “jailbait” = below my cougar age
2Out of curiosity, given that all the suggesters were not my usual commenters – how did you find my blog?.

Image credits:



{September 26, 2008}   More new shoes

Shocking, I know.

My friend Therese is in town for her cousin’s kids baptism, so we met up for dinner (poutine at The Templeton) and shopping (for shoes, of course). First we went to the Aldo liquidation outlet on Granville and I found a super hot pair of red boots. Marked down to $70, plus 50% off. How often do you find boots for $35?? The only hitch – they didn’t have my size!! The horror, the horror!

Not to be deterred, we headed next door to the new Payless store, where Therese got two very cute pairs: one a shiny brown pair of flats, the other, an adorable open toe pump… in tweed! For serious!

As for my shoes, despite trying on virtually every heel they had in my size, I ended up with this pair:

Which I quite like. So cute! So comfy!

P.S. Don’t forget to scroll down to my previous post and let me know who you think is the hottest NHL hockey hottie!



{September 25, 2008}   Hockey Hotties

This Saturday I’m going to be participating in a draft for a hockey pool.  Since I pay little to no attention to teams that aren’t the Canucks, I’m not overly familiar with non-Canuck players.  In fact, unless someone is a mega-star a la Sydney Crosby, I’ve probably not heard of them.  Thus, my draft strategy will be: draft the hottest players.  If I can’t win the most points, I may as well have the prettiest boys on my team, right?

Rick Dipietro. Rawr!

Rick Dipietro. Rawr!

So far, the pretty boy hockey players that come to mind are:

My research, thus far, has been watching videos of the “10 or 20 or 30 or 50 or 62 Hottest Hockey Players” on YouTube. I’ve noticed that these videos all seem to have the following things in common:

  • very poor production values
  • a plethora of copyrighted images being used
  • music that makes no sense (e.g., what does “I Kissed a Girl” have to do with hockey hotties??)
  • each contains at least 2 of the Staals, none of whom are good looking
  • each contains at least 4 fuglies for every decent looking player

Also, any “hottest hockey players” list that doesn’t include Taylor Pyatt and/or does include Evengi Malkin or Scott Gomez has some serious problems.

OK, blog readers, now help me out.  What hockey hotties are missing from my list?

Image Credit: Posted by Francis Larrede on Flickr.



{September 24, 2008}   Hockey Team #2

Last night was the first game of my Aggie hockey season. And it felt so good to be back on the UBC ice1. And wearing my Aggies jersey! And doing the Aggie slide2!

Me, Kim & Danielle, showing off our jerseys, during my first run as an Aggiette hockey player.

Me, Kim & Danielle, showing off our jerseys, during my first run as an Aggiette hockey player.

I started my hockey career at age 263, when I was in grad school and, after watching how much fun the man who would later become my ex-husband had playing hockey, I decided I wanted to play hockey too. I told him my Christmas present was going to be hockey gear and he got me hockey lessons at Burnaby 8 Rinks for my 26th birthday. Then I joined the Aggies. One of the perks of being a student is that rec hockey is dirt cheap4, so even I could afford it on my starving student income. I met some really great friends over the years I played Aggie hockey, including my former roomie and the team captain when I started with the Aggies, Dani, and Kim, who now plays with me out in Coquitlam and who is the team captain of the Aggies this year5, 6. I learned a lot about playing hockey and I had a *tonne* of fun.

The year after I graduated, they tore down the UBC rinks7 to build shiny new ones for the Olympics, so there was no rec hockey. And then last year I didn’t get to play with the Aggies, since I wasn’t a faculty member in first term1 and when I became a faculty member in second term, I was sick for two months and so didn’t play with the Aggies (and probably shouldn’t have even been playing on the one team that I did play on at the time).  So, after a two year hiatus, I’m back in the Aggie hockey scene.  And, just to prove I mean business – I scored the first (and only) goal8 for our team in last night’s game! w00t w00t!

Also, I have to say that even though we didn’t win the game, we did pretty damn amazing for a team that’s never played together before, with a few players (including the goalie) that have never played a single game of hockey before last night!  You could actually see an improvement in us from the first period to the third period – people were picking up some skills, figuring out their positions and getting used to playing with one another.  Once we get in a few games together, I think we’ll be a force to be reckoned with!

On a bit of a tangent9, I’d like to point out that one of the teams in the rec league this year – a men’s team in the Elite division is called – and I’m not making this up – 2 Girls 1 Puck.

1I played one game in the new UBC arena – last September I thought I’d be allowed to play UBC Rec hockey because I was teachinga, but it turned out that since I was only teaching in term 2 (Jan-Apr), I wasn’t allowed to play in term 1 (Sept-Dec). Which we didn’t find out until the second game, so I played the first game of last year.
      aYou have to be either a student, staff or faculty member at UBC to be eligible to play in the rec league.
2The “Aggie slide” occurs after the game, after we shake hands with the other team, when the Aggies all skate across the rink and dive. One of the new girls on the team was really confused when we did this last night; afterwards she said, “I was like, “No! Don’t throw yourself in front of the zamboni!!”
3I believe it was when I was 26. I’m starting to get forgetful in my old age, so that might be off by +1 year.
4Compare: UBC Rec hockey fees for ~6 months (late Sept-Nov and Jan-Mar) are ~$80. To play out in Coquitlam for 7 months (Sept-Mar), I pay ~$650. Rec hockey is subsidized by the rec fees that all students pay along with their tuition fees, plus sponsorship from our Faculty since we are a Faculty team.
5Just to give you an idea what an amazingly organized person Kim is, not only did she recruit us a full roster of players for the Aggies, she coordinated an entire extra team full of players AND is recruiting refs for the league. And this on top of being a university student and a teaching assistant and rep for a number of professional organizations and playing with my team out in Coquitlam. Did I mention that she is crazy?
6Clearly, I like hanging around with the people with the power.
7I’m reasonably sure this is just a correlation, not causative.
8It may have been the garbage goal to end all garbage goals – the puck was dumped in to the opposing teams end and me and a (much taller than me) defencewoman were racing for the puck. The puck made it to the goalie before either of us got there and, instead of covering it up given that I was racing right towards here, she tried to poke it off to her right. Two problems with this plan: (a) the defencewoman turned to the goalie’s left as she approached the net and (b) her poke was more of a dribble, resulting in the puck sitting a few inches from the goal line, exactly in front of where I’m heading and the goalie standing dead still, sort of facing the wrong way. All I had to do was sweep the puck a couple inches, and bye bye shut out. The nice thing about garbage goals (which happen to be my specialty): they are worth just as many points as the pretty ones!
9Every time I hear (or see) “on a tangent” I always think “on a secant.” This goes back to high school math class, where we would also sing Ace of Base’sbI Saw the Sign” as “I Saw the Cosine” and where Sarah made the best joke about mistaken (trigonometric) identities.
      bMan, I’m really dating myself with that one.



I have been remiss! I had a one month post-laser eye surgery check-up a full week and a half ago which I fully, totally, and completely meant to blog about and then I fully, totally, and completely didn’t.

The reason my one month post-laser eye surgery check-up was blog worthy is… my vision has regressed!  At my check-up , my eyes had gone from perfect 20/20 vision to slightly under 20/20 vision.  When I couldn’t quite read that 20/20 line on the eye chart, it was like someone punched me in the gut.  All I could think was “$4400 to have perfect vision for 3 weeks?  Seriously??”

My optometrist pointed out that having slightly less than 20/20 vision is actually better than having 20/20 vision, as it means you don’t need reading glasses as soon1.  The only concern, is whether they will regress further.  She said it’s not uncommon for the vision you have in early healing to not be what you end up with. I gather that as corneas heal from laser eye surgery, the angles and suchlike can change.  So, as long as they don’t continue to regress, all will be well.  If they do, well, that’s gonna suck.  After testing my vision, my optometrist checked out my eyes and seemed quite baffled:  “Your corneas appear to be completely healed.  That usually takes 3-6 months.  And it has only been 1 month.”  The good news about this, in addition to the fact that it confirms I have superhuman healing powers, is that this may mean that my vision will not regress any further – since my corneas have finished healing, they shouldn’t change shape any more, which means my vision should stay as is.  Which will be fine – I can’t actually tell the difference between my 20/20 vision and my slightly less than 20/20 vision in my day-to-day life.  And, as much as I enjoyed saying, “I have 20/20 vision!”, I’d actually prefer not needing reading glasses until I’m older. Because, apparently, I’m not getting any younger.

At any rate, I have an extra optometrist follow-up scheduled now; usually they do follow-ups at 1 week, 1 month and 3 months, but my doc wants to do one at 2 months, just to make sure that no more regression occurs.  So, keep you fingers crossed for me, k?

1There’s always a trade-off beteween near and far sight.

Image credit: Originally posted by Christine Urias on Flickr under a Creative Commons license. Found by searching “laser eye surgery” and this image was just too creepy not to use!



{September 22, 2008}   Titles With No Posts

I’m usually pretty terrible at naming things.  But every once in a while a name for something just pops into my head, without the something to go along with it.  Here are some blog posting titles that have landed in my brain, but without a blog posting to go with them:

  • Dr. Bloglove – Or Why You Should Stop Worrying and Love My Blog
  • You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This Blog is About You
  • Shin Splints and Split Infinitives
  • Proactively Multi-tasking Outside the Box
  • It’s my Blog and I’ll Prevaricate if I Want To

I may someday come up with blog postings to go with some of these but, for now, I’ll use this posting as a brain dump for posting-less titles.



… is being preempted by need to get a heck of a lot of work done tonight. Long story short: running a big event for work tomorrow, need to get a whole bunch of ideas for a workshop from my head to a PowerPoint file. And need to be there tomorrow by 7:30 in the a.m.  So you’ll just have to wait until next week to learn about the late great Andrew Charles Elliott, 4th Premier of the great province of British Columbia. I know. There, there. There, there.

To soften this devastating disappointment, I will share with you the funny things I read on the waiver I had to sign to play hockey at UBC:

ASSUMPTION OF RISKS I am aware that playing ice hockey and being involved in the Todd Ice Hockey League program involves many risks, dangers and hazards including, but not limited to: impact and collision with other players or officials; playing with or without non-certified officials; impact with objects or equipment used in connection with playing ice hockey; changes in the type of surface and the condition of each surface, including ice surface, hallways, shower facilities, stairs and change rooms; loss of balance;

Loss of balance?  Really?  We have to sign to say that we know we might lose our balance? On ice?  On skates? In a game where people push each other?  I know that lawyers write these things, but it feels like that’s something that should go without saying.

… failure to play safely within one’s own ability;

Again, it should be obvious that I am responsible for my own playing.  Do people really try to sue someone on the grounds that, “I wasn’t playing safely within my own ability!!”?

failure to play against others of equal stature or ability; theft; consumption of food and drink, whether made by professionals or by non-professionals; negligence of other participants; and NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA OR THEIR STAFF INCLUDING THE FAILURE ON THE PART OF THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA OR THEIR STAFF TO SAFEGUARD OR PROTECT ME FROM THE RISKS, DANGERS AND HAZARDS OF PLAYING IN THE TODD ICE HOCKEY LEAGUE.

Again, I know it’s lawyers that write these things, but wouldn’t it just be better if people weren’t negligent?  And I didn’t add the ALL CAPS here.  Doesn’t that make it feel like they are telling you “WE PLAN TO BE NEGLIGENT!!!”?

And finally, doesn’t point #5 below seem incongruous with points 1-4?

1. TO WAIVE ANY AND ALL CLAIMS that I have or may in the future […] 2. TO HOLD HARMLESS AND INDEMNIFY THE RELEASEES from any and all liability for any damage to property of or personal injury{…] n3. This Agreement shall be effective and binding upon my heirs, next of kin, […] 4. This Agreement and any rights, duties and obligations as between the parties to this Agreement shall be governed by and interpreted solely in accordance with the laws of the Province of British Columbia and no other jurisdiction; and 5. Any litigation involving the parties to this Agreement shall be brought solely within the Province of British Columbia[…]

So points #1-4 say that I can’t sue anybody at UBC if anything happens to me at the arena, whether it’s during the game or if I slip in the shower, and nor can my family or friends should I happen to die… but point#5 says that if I sue, it has to be in BC.  Huh?

OK, I hope that little bit of waiver-y goodness can tide you over until tomorrow night when I’ll blog something much better.  No, really.  And wish me luck with my big event tomorrow!!



My niece asked my sister that the other day.  “Mommy, did you know that mosquitoes drink blood?”

“Yes, I did know that,” my sister replied.

“Well, you know what I think?” Madeline said. “I think that they think they are drinking tomato juice.”



{September 19, 2008}   Happy Birthday, Dr. Raul!
Dr. Beth & Dr. Raul at the Global Metal Preview

Dr. Beth & Dr. Raul at the Global Metal Preview. Photo credit = Raul on Flickr.

Bet you thought I was going to forget to write a Happy Birthday post to you, eh Dr. R? Well, here on NTBTWK, we aren’t interested in breaking news. We prefer to be the last to report on things. It’s part of our1 charm.  So, with one minute left in your birthday, allow me to wish you a happy, happy birthday – and many, many more!

1I have *no* idea why I’m using the plural here, given that I’m the sole owner, editor, content creator, and muse of NTBTWK.
     aYou so *can* be your own muse.



{September 19, 2008}   RIP DFW

Last Saturday evening, I received a text message that, despite being only 6 characters long, sent a chill through me.

RIP DFW

The text was sent by my friend, JB, the one who had suggested – well, insisted really – that I read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.  The book that took me a year to get through.  Not only because of its enormous length, but because of how intense and emotional it was.  Not because I didn’t want to read it – in fact, at times I felt like I couldn’t stop reading it – but because the richness of the writing made me read slowly, savour it, flip back to re-read pieces as new things came up that shed light on things I’d read earlier in the book.  And sometimes the intensity of it meant I had to take a break for weeks from reading it.

I replied immediately to the text message with one of my own, saying “NO! What happened? How did he die?”  But before I’d even hit send, I knew.  A quick Google search confirmed my suspicions:

“David Foster Wallace, the author best known for his 1996 novel “Infinite Jest,” was found dead in his home, according to police. He was 46.

Wallace’s wife found her husband had hanged himself when she returned home about 9:30 p.m. Friday, said Jackie Morales, a records clerk with the Claremont Police Department.” (source)

I had never read anything about David Foster Wallace1 and I’d only read two things he’d written – IJ and some article about tennis2.  But the theme of suicide runs deep through IJ – the main character3 committed suicide and Madame Psychosis/P.G.O.A.T. and Kate Gompart both attempt it. And I’ve since read that DFW had battled depression for over 20 years.  He was described by fellow author Jonathan Franzen as “as sweet a person as I’ve ever known and as tormented a person as I’ve ever known.”

Since his death, two things of his have been cited as the things you really need to read from DFW.  One is “McCain’s Promise: Aboard the Straight Talk Express With John McCain and a Whole Bunch of Actual Reporters, Thinking About Hope” – which he wrote after following McCain around as he campaigned to become president back in 2000.  The other is his address at Kenyon College’s Convocation in 2005.  Some of the things in this address that stuck out to me included:

  • “the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance” – in IJ, he talks about the sayings in AA.  One day at a time. Easy does it.  Things that should be obvious but, in the day-to-day, we easily forget.
  • He describes both dogamatic religiosity and dogamatic atheism as “a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up.”
  • “Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive. But it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.”
  • And probably the most cited quotation from that convocation address since Wallace’s death: “Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.  This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.”

I’ve been reading some of the reactions to DFW’s death and I think Lee Henderson expresses well what I was thinking:

“He wrote about depression, compulsivity, and suicide in all his books, but I had hoped that by writing out his demons their grip on him weakened, and his ambitions would keep him going.” – Lee Henderson

I’ve personally been fortunate not to suffer from clinical depression3.  But I know several people who do struggle with this disease4 and I’ve seen just a glimpse of how devastating it can be. But even that small glimpse has shown me how cruel a disease it is5.  My heart goes out to David Foster Wallace, his family and his friends that after a long and terrible battle, the disease killed him in the end.  Losing his genius at such a young age is tragic for his fans and followers who loved his work, but I can’t even imagine what those close to him are going through.

1DFW was quite an accomplished tennis player in his youth, which manifested itself in his use of students of a tennis academy as one of the main groups of characters in IJ and in his sports writing about pro tennis – I read one of these articles that he’d written.
2In fact, I had no idea that DFW was so young. In my mind, I pictured him as an older gentleman, with salt and pepper hair, slight crinkles around his eyes and, inexplicably, a British accenta. You can imagine my surprise when I saw photos of this young man with long brown hair. Not at all how I’d pictured him.
aDFW is American, and I did know that.
2Well, arguably the main character. Although it’s hard to pick a single “main” character, J.O.I/Himself/The Mad Stork is certainly a central charcter in the book.
3Although I do believe I suffered from a depressive episode when my marriage fell apart, but this was never formally diagnosed and which I got through with the help of an amazing counsellor and the best friends and family that a person could ever ask for.
4And make no mistake, it is a disease, just like cancer, heart disease or diabetes. It’s not, as some people seem to believe, just a matter of weakness or a lack of will. Mental illness is every bit as much “illness” as other illnesses. I read recently – and I wish I could remember where – that telling someone with depression to just “snap out of it” or “cheer up” is akin to telling someone with a broken leg to “just walk it off.”
4On a brighter note: in the fourth part of her series on depression, Airdrie writes about the silver lining to her own battle with depression and I found her words “depression is treatable” to be one of the most hopeful and inspiring things I’ve read in a long, long time.  I know others who, like Airdrie, have managed to treat their depression and I hope that others who are dealing with this devastating disease can find inspiration in those words as well.



As you know, I love being a participant1 in research studies.  As a scientist myself, I know how difficult it can be to recruit participants, so I thought I’d write a posting about some of the research participation opportunities that are out there.

First up, a friend of Raul‘s (and a colleague of mine) is looking for women who are less than 13 weeks pregnant to take part in a study assessing environmental chemicals & maternal-fetal health (check out Raul’s posting for the deets).

Other research studies looking for willing participants include:

  • The UBC School of Human Kinetics is often looking for people to participate in their research studies – you can check out their site for a list of current opportunities.
  • Researchers in my old department (Nutrition @ UBC) are looking for healthy woman in Vancouver aged 50 to 65 years for a study on dietary fats and chronic disease – check out this site for more info.

And if you don’t even want to have to get up from your computer to become a research guinea pig, why not check out Steven Pinker’s website2, as he often has online survey research projects on the go3.

Have you ever been a research participant? If so, what did you think of your experience?

1The PC word is “participant” rather than the traditional research “subject,” as it recognizes that the people who are being researched are actively and willingly participating, rather than being “subjected” to the research
2Dr. Pinker just so happens to be giving a public lecture in Vancouver this month: “The Stuff of Thought: Language As a Window Into Human Nature”
3At the time of writing this posting, he had a “Violence perception questionnaire” on his site.



et cetera