Not To Be Trusted With Knives

So, as a general rule I don’t blog about work, but rules were made to be broken, right?  I’m running an event through work for the general public and I’m thinking that some of my readers might be interested in attending, so I’m blogging it.

Café Scientifique is a public science initiative that gets scientists together with the general public to talk, in layperson’s terms, about science.   I think the Wikipedia entry on Café Scientifique puts it nicely when they say that Café Scientifique:

“aims to demystify scientific research for the general public and empower non-scientists to more comfortably and accurately assess science and technology issues, particularly those that impact on social policy making”

There are a number of different groups running Café Scientifique events in a number of cities. Our particular series of Café Sci events is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and my particular event in that series is called “Addictions: Nature Meets Nurture.”  We have a panel of four researchers who study different aspects of addictions and each of them will present a brief (like, four minute long) introduction to their area of addictions research – and the rest of the event will involve questions, answers, comments and discussion among the audience and the panel members.  It is meant to be an informal event and one that will generate a lot of discussion about this complex topic.

Event Details:

Understanding Addictions: Nature Meets Nurture

February 4, 2009
7 – 9 p.m.
Café Du Soleil
1393 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC (close to Grandview Park)

Note: the event is at Café Du Soleil, not Café Deux Soleils (which is also on Commercial Drive).  Here’s a map.

Addiction is a complex problem that cannot fully be understood from any single perspective. Join us as we try to find common ground to deepen our understanding of the problems of addiction and strategies to address them .

Food and beverages will be provided.


Erin Gibson
Masters student
Interdisciplinary Studies, UVic
Hajera Rostam
Ph.D. student
Counselling Psychology, UBC
Iris Torchalla
Postdoctoral Fellow
BC Centre of Excellence for  Women’s Health
Kristina Uban
Ph.D. student
Behavioural Neuroscience, UBC


Dr. Lorraine Greaves
Executive Director
BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (BCCEWH)

This Café Scientifique event is part of the series Sex, Drugs and the Public: Men, Women & Addiction coordinated by the BCCEWH. This Café is offered in partnership with the Integrated Mentor Program in Addictions Research Training (IMPART)

RSVP to:

  • For more information, please look under “Events” at
  • To check out our Facebook event listing, go here.

If you plan on attending, be sure to RSVP to the email address above and let me know in the comments!

Image Attributions

{January 11, 2009}   999 for 32

Today is my birthday.  But you knew that.

IMG_4495 by you.

This is what a photo of a cake looks like when you take the photo upside down and then you flip it upside right. This cake was delicious.

Despite what Kalev was trying to get people to believe, I turned 32 today. Or 29 for the 4th time.  Or my double sweet 16.  I celebrated my day by playing a game of hockey1 and watching the two hour season premiere of 24.  Which was much better than the 24 movie, thank the FSM.  Also – Tod made me a delicious dinner.  And I ate cupcakes that Rachel gave me.  Mmmm, cupcakes.

Coincidentally2, this is my 999th blog posting.  That’s a lot of frickin’ blog postings.

1in which we got slaughtered. But that’s neither here nor there.
2Seriously, I didn’t arrange that on purpose. It just sort of happened that way.

{January 8, 2009}   Movie Review: The Unborn

Kalev won free tickets1 to a sneak preview of The Unborn tonight and he took lil’ ole’ me.

Kalev’s review of the movie:

“The best horror movie I’ve seen this year!”

-Kalev, Jan 8, 2009

1Then I won free tickets and then he won more free tickets. So, clearly we were destined to see this movie.

{December 25, 2008}   Merry Mexmas!

Merry Chrifsmas by Piutus.

Wishing you a Merry Xmas from sunny Los Cabos, Mexico!

Can you believe I actually found an image, avaialble for use via a Creative Commons licence, that combined Christmas (since it’s Christmas), Spanish (since I’m in Mexico right now)  and my beloved Flying Spaghetti Monster (since he’s my beloved Flying Spaghetti Monster)?  It’s like a Holiday miracle!

Photo credit: Pitius on Flickr.

{December 16, 2008}   Skate For A Cure

When I saw Rebecca’s posting today about Skate For A Cure, I jumped on the chance to join her “Bloggers for a Cause” team.

Skate For A Cure is an event that raises funds for the Michael Cuccione Laboratory for Childhood Cancer Research at BC Children’s Hospital. As an incentive to fund raise, they offer a few perks:

  • if you raise $150, you get to skate at GM Place!
  • if you raise $300, you get to skate at GM Place AND get your picture taken with a Vancouver Canuck player!

OMG! I *totally* want to skate at GM Place!  And have my picture taken with a Canuck!  But, it’s first come, first serve, as space is limited!  So I quickly joined Rebecca’s team and sent an email to family & friends saying “please donate to this cause because it’s really important. And so I can meet a Canuck.  Space is limited, act now already!!!”  I mean, I don’t want to be scooped right?

So, did I ever tell you that my friends rock?  Almost instantly, I had raised $445! In fact, I appear to be the very first person to have raised the $300 required to get a pic taken with a Canuck:

skate for a cure by you.

I wonder if this means that I get my choice of Canuck?

Anyway.  I’m telling you all about this because even though I’ve met my initial goal of $300, that’s just a drop in the bucket for what research costs these days (trust me, I’ve done lab research. It ain’t cheap!), so I encourage you to donate to this really important cause.  You can sponsor me here, or you can check out the Bloggers For A Cause team page and sponsor one of the other bloggers to help them reach their goal of getting on the GM Place ice.  Or you can join the fun and register to fundraise yourself!

And thanks again to my amazing friends who have sponsored me already. You guys rock my world!

About the Michael Cuccione Foundation:

Michael Cuccione was a pretty incredible kid. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 9 and he decided he wanted to make a difference. Which he did by writing songs and producing a CD (appropriatley named “Make A Difference”), which he sold to raise money for childhood cancer research. By the age of eleven, his CD had raised $130,000! Sadly, he passed away at 16 due to respiratory complications, but his dream of finding a cure for childhood cancers lives on through his foundation.

Brilliant1 things I’ve managed to do in the last 24 hours:

  • Broke the zipper on my dress pants.  And then, in my frustration to make the zipper unstick, I yanked it so hard that I broke the zipper completely in half and tore the seam right down the crotch.
  • Nearly left my purse on the bus.
  • Burned myself. Twice.
  • Ruined my fellow vegetarian co-workers love of Caesar salad by revealing that 99% of the time, Caesar dressing has anchovies in it.3
  • Went to upload my application to a workshop that I really, really wanted to attend, the application for which was due today, only to discover that they want three reference letters, also due today.  This one totally wasn’t my fault, as needing references was not mentioned anywhere on their public website (you know, like where it says what is to be included in the application!). Only once you register for their online application system do you find out the references are needed.  But still, if I’d registered for their application system earlier, I would have known.  This especially sucks because I spent a fair bit of time crafting my letter and tailoring my CV4.
  • Writing two blog postings today, instead of marking the papers that I really should be marking!

On the plus side, I got an assist on the only goal my team scored yesterday. Go me!

1Where by “brilliant” I mean “not brilliant.”
2Thankfully, I was still at home at this point!
3 In my defence, I didn’t mean to ruin her love of Caesar salad. I just asked the waiter at lunch if the Caesar dressing had anchovies in it (since there is always that 1%a of places where it doesn’t) and my co-worker was all “What? Anchovies?” and then I was all “Oh yeah, Caesar salad dressing almost always has anchovies in it” and she was all “Oh no! But that’s my go-to meal when there’s nothing vegetarian on the menu! I LOVE Caesar salad.” And then I felt like crap. She said that she was happy that I’d told her, because she really doesn’t want to be inadvertently eating fish, but I still bad. So I told her that I’d give her my recipe for anchovy-free Caesar dressing and now I totally can’t find that recipe.
      aOK, I’m totally making up these stats.  Basically, I mean “most of the time” and “not very often, but sometimes.”  But numbers sound so much better. Also, my dad makes up stats to support his arguments all the time and 85% of children who have a parent that makes up stats will go on to make up stats too.
4On the bright side for this one, at least I have a head start on the application for the 2010 workshop!

{December 14, 2008}   The 12 Bars of Christmas 2008

Ah, the 12 Bars of Christmas. Drinking at far too many bars in far too short a time. This is the 4th year my friends Erika & Paul have held this pub crawl and my 3rd year attending.

The rules:

  • You must consume at least one drink per bar.
  • You must finish your drink on time to get to the next bar on schedule (warnings will be giving in the form of “Drink up, we are leaving NOW!”)
  • You must sing the appropriate verse of “The 12 Days of Christmas” before leaving each bar.

I’m pretty small1 and have a pretty low alcohol tolerance, so in the interest of not dying, in my first year of 12 Bars participation, I went in with the game plan of having basically a relatively weak drink (Amaretto sour) and not doing any mixing. Although there were a few places I had to make exceptions (the dinner place only served beer and wine, the Fringe couldn’t fit us all in so we had to have a shot), I mostly stuck to this plan and it served me well. In my second year, I went in with the same game plan, but the group was so large that we ended up having to have a shot at the first few bars (since it took the whole half hour just to reach the front of the line to order our drinks!) and all the mixing did me in – I wimped out after bar 7. This year, I was determined to not make the same mistake – I would stick to my game plan!

3 p.m. – Bar 1 – Erika & Paul’s House


Erika enjoys a White Christmas2

So, yeah, I had a White Christmas here. Off the game plan at bar #1! In my defence, however, there was no option for an Amaretto sour here. And the White Christmas sounded sooo tasty!

Update: As it turns out Paul INVENTED the White Christmas!  This, I did not know.  It speaks to his professionalism as a mixologist that he invented a drink that I totally did not realize was his very own creation!

3:30 p.m. – Bar 2 – Las Margaritas


Linda at Las Margaritas, appropriately enough, enjoys a margarita.

Back on my game, I had an Amaretto sour here. I was tempted to go for a margarita, what with it being Las Margaritas and all. But it was just too damn cold outside for an icy drink, imho.

When we ordered our drinks, Linda said, “We’ll just settle up now, as we are only having one drink. And, just so you know, so are all these other people.” The bartender replied, “Oh yeah, I know. I’m just waiting for the song.” Apparently, our reputation precedes us!

4 p.m. – Bar 3 – Hell’s Kitchen


Casey enjoys an Amaretto sour, signals that this is our third bar and, I believe, demonstrates that he’s in a gang from the west side.

Linda remembered my claim that Hell’s Kitchen has the best Amaretto Sours of all of the 12 bars, so she and Casey agreed to join me in some A.S. goodness here.


3 Amaretto sours at bar 3. I’m pretty sure we won’t be getting scurvy.

4:30 p.m. – Bar 4 – Mandala Restaurant


Nina at Bar 4.

Since last year, Kitsilano Restaurant has renovated and changed its name to Mandala. It looks much nicer than it used to, but serves that same mish mash of inexpensive Chinese and Japanese food that we’ve come to know and love. A lot of people rave about the chicken chow mien here, but I go with the veggie Teriyaki box, as the veggie chow mien, I learned during my first year at 12 Bars, tastes like nothing. Also, your only drink options are beer or wine. Again, I went against the grain (most people got the bottles of beer that are larger than my torso), but I went with the wine.


Look how friggin’ big those bottles of beer are!

5:30 p.m. – Bar 5 – Tatlow’s


Martha about to “enjoy” her Dr. Pepper shot at Tatlow’s.

Every year at 12 Bars you have the same conversation and it goes something like this, “Oh, I don’t think we’ve met. Is this your first year at 12 Bars?” “Nope, I’ve been here every year. Also, hung out at Erika and Paul’s wedding.” This is approximately the conversation that I had at 12 Bars with, among others, Martha & her husband, Loren. And, for the record, I was back on the Amaretto Sour train.

6 p.m. – Bar 6 – Darby’s


Beth and John show us that we are at Bar #6.

Again, it’s Amaretto sour FTW.

6:30 p.m. – Bar 7 – Nevermind


Martha lets us know we are at Bar 7.

I fully intended to get a photo of different person at each bar. But apparently the Amaretto sours, which I have yet again at Nevermind, have taken their toll, as I really believed that I didn’t yet have a picture with Martha, despite having taken her picture two bars ago.

7 p.m. – Bar 8 – Gargoyle’s


Me and my sixth Amaretto sour of the evening, at bar 8.

Having this Amaretto sour at bar 8 meant that I exceeded last year’s ability to stick with the program. I actually look surprisingly alert in this photo, given that I’m on drink 8.

7:30 p.m. – Bar 9 – The Shack


Tanis at bar 9. Tanis and I have a hockey game to play today. It’s against the first place team and lots of our players are going to away. That should be fun.

The Shack was a new addition to the 12 Bars this year, as Brown’s was ditched because last year they weren’t very nice. Never heard of the Shack before and, honestly, I don’t remember too much about it. My Twitter stream (as I twittered at each bar) tells me that The Shack had the sourest Amaretto sour ever. I think I took this photo at The Shack, but I wouldn’t swear to that:


I believe this photo of Mike was also taken at The Shack:


This is hands down my favourite photo of the evening. The bartender started handing out random free shots to people and one got passed to Mike. He had no idea why there was a free shot in his hand or what was in it or why it smelled like the fluoride you used to get in elementary school. I think his facial expression says it all.

8 p.m. – Bar 10 – Elwood’s


I got two photos indicating bar 10. First one of Beth. Then one of two Beths. Perhaps this is where people started seeing double?

After the sourest Amaretto sour ever made, I was Amaretto soured out. I also felt like I was quickly reaching my limit, but I managed to get down most of a spiced rum and diet Coke at Elwood’s.

8:30 p.m. – Bar 11 – Coppertank


Loren, Paul and person whose name escapes me at the moment (Ty, maybe?) work together to show us that we are at bar 11.

Deciding that not drinking at all 12 bars was the lesser evil compared to dying of alcohol poisoning. Or puking. I hate puking. So I had a delicious cup of water at the ‘tank.

Coppertank always shows Canuck game and, at some point, I saw someone celebrating an Edmonton Oilers goal and had a conversation that went something like this:

Me (incredulously): Are you celebrating an Oilers goal?
Him: Alberta?
Me: Fuck Alberta!
Him: I get that a lot.

As it turns out, this guy was with our 12 Bars group. I hadn’t seen him before and just assumed he was a random Albertan hanging out at Coppertank.

9 p.m. – Bar 12 – Regal Beagle


Casey and guy who I think is named Allan show us that we have, in fact, made it all the way to bar 12.

By the time we got to bar 12, many of us were ravenously hungry, so we ordered food. I had a most delicious veggie burger and scrumptious French fries. And a diet Coke sans any form of ethanol. But then Steve won the 50/50 draw and in the spirit of giving, he spent the entire thing on a round of Broken Down Golf Cart shots, so I had that. Meaning I went 11 for 12, which really isn’t so bad for a half pint such as myself.

During our walk over to the Regal Beagle, we saw a few snowflakes coming down and, once we were there, it really started coming down. Steve (an Albertan) and the Albertan who I yelled at in Coppertank kept denying that it was really snow, since apparently anything less than 20 ft of snow doesn’t really count. But by the time I finished my veggie burger, the snow was actually sticking on the road3 and I decided that my nice warm bed sounded much more attractive than standing in the snow in the line-up at Lola’s (our unofficial 13th bar). Because despite the fact that it was barely after 10 p.m., there was a lineup. As I described it to a few people: “There’s a lineup to get into Lola’s, but there isn’t a lineup to get into my bed. Well, sometimes there is, but not tonight.”

Getting home, however, was easier said than done. I tried to call a cab, but the phone for every cab company I called was busy. I decided to wait at the bus stop and just flag a cab down if I saw one before the bus arrived. Lots of cabs went by, but every single one was full. People in Vancouver, it turns out, don’t like to drive themselves when it snows! The bus finally arrived, it was packed, but I managed to get on. And then the bus couldn’t go anywhere. It was stuck. There was about 2 cm of snow on the ground, if that, and the bus was stuck. Awesome. So I decided to walk home. Which was more than 3 km. In freezing cold and snow. An hour later, I was more happy to see my bed than you can imagine!

And so ended the 12 Bars, version 4.0

Oh yeah, Paul & Erika raised more than $300 for the Canadian Liver Foundation. Or, as we called it, an investment in our futures.

1Five foot nothing, to be exact.
2Like a White Russian, but with egg nog. Tasty!
3Which pretty much qualifies as a “blizzard” in Vancouver

{December 13, 2008}   T minus 3 hours…


…until the 2008 installment of the 12 Bars of Christmas.

I’ve decided to wear my most appropriate T-shirt, seen here.  Also seen here, my $10 donation to the Canadian Liver Foundation, which is the required entrance fee for this year’s 12 Bars.

Little known fact: the Canadian Liver Foundation was created as a direct result of Erika & Paul’s first 12 Bars event. (This may or may not be true).

Anyway. Wish me luck.

{October 30, 2008}   Madonna

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I’m so excited about tonight’s concert that I’m even willing to overlook the glaring (and repeated) grammatical error in Superpop.

So, I’m going to the Madonna concert on Oct 30 with some friends.  And we’ve been trying to decide what one wears to such an event.  And don’t think that both 80s fashion (think leg warmers + side ponytails) and cone bras havne’t been suggested.  But what do you think?  What should we wear?  Pictures, of course, will be forthcoming.

{October 15, 2008}   Blog Action Day 2008 – Poverty

Today is Blog Action Day:

Global issues like poverty are extremely complex. There is no simple, clear answer. By asking thousands of different people to give their viewpoints and opinions, Blog Action Day creates an extraordinary lens through which to view these issues. Each blogger brings their own perspective and ideas. Each blogger posts relating to their own blog topic. And each blogger engages their audience differently.

What I want to talk about is a comment that Stephane Dion1 made in the party leaders debate (English) in response to Harper’s “tough on crime” stance.  Dion talked about how we need to fight the root causes of crime by fighting poverty.  The Conservatives “get tough on young offenders” strategy attacks a symptom (crime) and ignores the root cause (poverty).  Similarly, I work in the area of addictions research and something that my colleagues find time and time again is that stable housing, specifically lack thereof, is a major problem in the lives of many people living with addictions.  But instead of dealing with the housing and poverty crises, we get “tough on crime” and “war on drugs” attitudes that ignore the root causes of these problems.

I don’t have any solutions, but I’m am putting these thoughts out there.  Hopefully raising awareness, getting people thinking and talking. Which is the point of BAD2008, right?


1I know I said I’d stop talking all about politics after yesterday’s election. But it’s Blog Action Day. I promise tomorrow will be a non-political blog posting, k?

{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 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 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 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.

For those of you who are *dying* to know exactly how far Kalev and I walked during our great Slurpee adventure yesterday – 5.8 km1.

Props to Kalev for making this super map, which includes not only the 7-11 stops, but our various other bathroom/Lululemon knockoff clothing/sex toy & bookshop browsing stops.

1That’s 3.6 miles, for my American readers.

While everyone else was waiting in line at a Fido or Rogers store trying to get a 3G iPhone, I had my sights set on the other thing that made July 11 significant.

July 11.


Free Slurpees1!

Now the Slurpees that they give out for free on 7/11 are small – just 7.11 oz to be exact:

But since there are 7-11s on every other street corner, Kalev and I decided to spend our afternoon chasing down as many free Slurpees as we could stomach.

After a big ass breakfast2 at the Templeton, we went off on our quest. Stop #1 – the 7/11 on Granville and Drake. We both decided to start with a fairly standard flavour: Pepsi Slurpee.

Wanting to minimize our plastic usage, we decided to keep our giant Slurpee straws for the duration.

Next stop: the 7/11 at Homer & Helmcken.

Here, Kalev decided to try the new “G-force” Slurpee – which is a Slurpee made with orange Gatorade, while I went for Banana. Which lead to a discussion of “why the heck doesn’t “banana flavour” even remotely taste like bananas?” as we made our way Stop #3: Seymour & Dunsmuir.

And this is where our story takes a turn. Thus far, our intrepid heroes have valiantly acquired not one, but TWO free Slurpees. And the day is still young, what with it being only 12:48 p.m. They enter the 7/11 at Seymour & Dunsmuir. But they do not see the bright pink and turquoise mini-cups that have come to represent free Slurpee goodness. What they do see is a hand written sign that says “No more free Slurpees after 12 noon.” Um, hello? Free Slurpee DAY? What part of D-A-Y do you not understand.

Seymour & Dunsmuir = EPIC. SLURPEE. FAIL.

But fear not, gentle blog reader, for Kalev and Beth, they did solider on. The trusted that the universe would not let Free Slurpee Day end at noon! Especially since the first two Slurpees they had each consumed thus far were acquired after 12. And so they made their way to Stop #4 (Slurpee #3): Robson & Cardero.

At this store, we grabbed the last two mini-cups on the shelf – and then when this other dude who had just poured himself a regular Slurpee asked what the deal was, we were all “Slurpees in this size of cup are free today!” and he actually went to the counter, asked for a small cup, and dumped as much of his big cup o’Slurpee as he could into his little cup and said, “I’m not paying for this! I like free!” That’s right, Kalev and Beth bring Free Slurpee Awareness to randoms.

For the record, I decided to try the G-force (tasty!), while Kalev opted for the Pink Grapefruit… which I thought sounded nasty, but which Kalev liked.

Next up was Stop #5 (Slurpee #4): Denman & Comox, for a Cream Soda Slurpee for me, a Coca Cola Slurpee for Kalev.

I have to admit that at this point, I was starting to get a bit Slurpeed-out. But I had it in my to get one last Slurpee!

So we went to Stop#6 (Slurpee #5):the 7/11 at Davie & Hornby, where we learned that if there is a little flashing orange light on a Slurpee machine, it means that the Slurpee is not yet really frozen, so we ended up with a pair of fairly liquidy, yet still tasty, Lime Slurpees.

The thus ended the Great Slurpee Adventure for 2008.

2Also, my half birthday. Happy 31.5th birthday to me!
2I’m not even joking. On the menu it’s actually called the “big ass breakfast.”

et cetera