Not To Be Trusted With Knives

{January 10, 2009}   Random Stuff
  • I’m only blog 3 postings away from 1000!  And as soon as I hit “publish” on this one, I’ll be only 2 postings away!
  • I now have a cleaning person!  Based on a recommendation from Nancy, I have a cleaning person who comes to my apartment and scrubs my kitchen and bathroom and leaves my place all shiny and fresh smelling. I think my life may be officially complete.
  • I’m going to get an accountant to do my taxes this year. My tax situation has now officially crossed the line of “too complicated for me to do in my sleep”1 and so I think it’s time for professional help.
  • If you are a Vancity member, be sure to check out the Vote Action website to learn more about the Action Slate candidates for Vancity Board of Directors. And if you aren’t a Vancity member, you should become one because Vancity is a wicked good credit union. And then tell them that I told you to be a member, because then they will give me money.
  • And finally, a question for you: My parents gave me $200 for Christmas – what should I spend it on? I usually just put birthday and/or Christmas money into my regular account with the idea I’ll get myself something nice and then I don’t and I just end up spending it on groceries or rent. And I’m pretty sure my parents want me to get myself something nice, not groceries. But I can’t decide what to get – any ideas?

1My tax years up until 2006 were “I’m a student. I make very, very little money. I pay huge  tuition fees –> You pay no taxes!” 2007 was my first non-student year, but I was able to handle my tax return via Quicken. 2008, however, I got all uppity with my working multiple jobs plus consulting and it makes my head hurt to even think about it.


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!

When I was a kid, I really, really wanted to be left-handed.  I’m not sure where the fascination for this came from, but I do know that my sister is left-handed and I thought it was cool.  When I got bored in school (which was often!) I would practice writing with my left hand to entertain myself (yes, I’m easily amused) and I actually got pretty good at it.  My mom grew up in Quebec, going to Catholic school and in those days, when she tried to write with her left hand (as was her natural inclination), the nuns would hit her hand with a ruler. Because, you know, it’s a sin to write with one’s left hand, devil child!  So she writes with her right hand now, but she was really born a southpaw.

Although my right hand is the dominant one for most things for me (e.g., writing, eating, brushing my teeth), I play sports like a left-handed person (mostly).  I play hockey left, bat left, I golf left – but I throw right.

Anyway, for the past two days I’ve had my right hand wrapped up – half because compression is good for the strain and half because it serves as a reminder for me not to lift things with my injured hand.  And not at all because it’s good for getting sympathy (I can’t believe you’d even suggest that!)  I’ve even moved my mouse to the left side of my keyboard.  And, you know what?  It sucks.  I want my right hand back!  I’m so much more efficient with it!

{December 8, 2008}   Random Photos On My Camera

So, I snapped this pic on my camera phone in Superstore the other day.  Because it’s the stupidest product ever and I just had to share that with you.


This is a “tea bag squeeze.”  As in, a gadget that you use to squeeze out your tea bag.  Seriously.  Am I the only one who thinks that there is something wrong with someone who would own a gadget the sole purpose of which is to squeeze out tea bags?

When I went to upload that photo to Flickr to share it will all y’all, I discovered a whole bunch of photos on my phone that I’d taken thinking, “that is so bloggable,” but for some reason (probably because I got distracted by something shiny), I’d neglected to blog them.  Such gems include this sign that I saw in a restaurant:

Not exactly environmentally friendlyNot exactly environmentally friendly

… just a bit different than your usual “you only have one mouth, just take one napkin dammit!” signs.

Also, these Pride cupcakes, whose picture I took this past summer when I was in T.O.:

Pride Cupcakes

Mmm, cupcakes.  And contrast those with this:


A package of powdered poutine mix.  Powdered? Sacrilegious!  Mon Dieu!

And speaking of French, does “dressing” really translate to “farce”?



French item #2.  I took this photo in an airport somewhere (although I don’t remember where).

Hors Taxes

Whores taxes. Hee hee.

And, finally, my camera phone allowed me to capture a series of photos which show why you can’t get work done with a cat in the house:

“Here, I’ll just sit here while you work”


“I know, I’ll work the mousepad for you!” (This is when the cursor starts jumping wildly around the screen):


“You are working too slow! Let me do it!”


And that is why you got that email from me that said, “as;oidfhjaskdf55555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555.”

{October 28, 2008}   Resident Expert

I seem to get a lot of requests for advice.  And on a lot of different topics.  Often things I know little to nothing about.  Things I’ve been asked for my “expert” advice on in the last week alone include:

  • statistical analysis
  • relationships
  • grammar
  • copyright law
  • directions
  • fashion
  • PowerPoint
  • Photoshop
  • website design costs
  • authorship
  • hockey equipment
  • spas

I’ve managed to diagnose the cause of two different people’s nausea (iron overdose in both cases) and provided expert opinion on weight loss strategies (No, that supplement won’t make you lose weight. And, no, neither will caffeine.  Have you considered exercise and looking at what you eat?  Also, you totally don’t need to lose weight).

And all of this doesn’t even include either of my actual jobs, both of which involving teaching things to people and advising them about things on which I’m actually an expert.

Lest I get an oversized ego re: my brilliance, I have to share this story with you.  Ihad an IM chat with one of the people asking me for advice and it took me a full NINE minutes1 before I realized I wasn’t talking to the person I thought I was talking to.  My friend Theresa (with an “a”) IM’d me on Google Talk to ask some questions about a budget for a grant she was writing. And I fully thought I was talking to my friend Therese (with an “e”). Theresa lives in Vancouver. Therese lives in Toronto. In my defense, the picture in Google Talk was a full body shot, so all I could see that it was a person with long dark hair, which could just as easily have been a picture of Therese.  And the questions that Theresa was asking were completely things that Therese could feasibly have been asking.

Anyway. This post appears to have no actual point2.  But I just felt the need to share. So, um, yeah.  Got any questions on which I’m not an expert that I can answer for ya?

1I have the IM chat transcript, so I know that it was actually NINE minutes before I clued in.
2I say that like my posts usually have points.

{September 2, 2008}   5 Random Things
  1. My dad has a blog. And he even used “LOL.” This, from a man who used a Commodore 64 up until 2004, is pretty frickin’ amazing.
  2. My favourite Twitterer is Angry Rock. Angry Rock is, as her name suggests, an angry rock. An angry rock who tells you that she will smash you. Smash you good.
  3. Don’t forget to donate to Tanya’s half marathon to support the Canadian Diabetes Association!  She needs your help to reach her goal of raising $4500!
  4. Tomorrow is the first day of the new class that I’m teaching.  As you know, I spend far too much time thinking about what to wear when I teach.  Which of these outfits do you think I should wear?
  5. My apartment was unnecessarily cold when I sat down, with a cup of tea, to write this.  Now, after having an overheating laptop on my lap and a giant cup of tea, it feels unimaginably hot in here.

P.S. I’m tired.  Ever so tired. So glad my class is an afternoon one, and not a morning one!

{August 8, 2008}   8/8/8

I’ve notified you of both 6/6/6 and 7/7/7, so it’s only right that I point out that today is 8/8/8.

Photo by mag3737 on Flickr. CC license.

Photo by mag3737 on Flickr. CC license.

That is all.

{August 5, 2008}   Routine

I have a love-hate relationship with routine.

I hate doing things that have to be done repeatedly. I begrudge folding laundry, because I know I’m just going to have to unfold it to wear it. I loathe washing the dishes, because I know that they are only going to get dirty again. For years I refused to make my bed, knowing that I would inevitably just mess it up when I went to bed the next night. I hate sweeping and vaccuuming and don’t even get me started on dusting!

But I like the sense of peace that having these routine things done brings to my life. I love, at the end of a long day, being able to fall into a well-made bed. I love the calmness I feel when the dishes are all done; I love being able to find the clothes I want to wear because they’ve been folded or hung up where they belong; I love being able to find the partner to a shoe by looking directly next to it on the shoe rack, where the shoes were placed after they were taken off. And I couldn’t have my coffee ready to wake me up each morning if I didn’t go through the routine of grinding the coffee beans and putting the grounds in a filter, the filter in the filter basket and water into the machine EVERY SINGLE NIGHT before bed.

My nighttime routine (ideally) consists of:

  • taking out my contacts
  • washing my face
  • brushing teeth
  • making sure the dishes are all washed
  • checking my calendar to see if I have anything important going on the next morning
  • plugging in my beloved Hermione & Marla to ensure they are charged up for the next day
  • making sure my coffee machine is set up for making my coffee at the touch of a button upon waking in the morning
  • packing my lunch for the next day
  • double checking that my alarm is set for the correct time
  • getting into bed
  • triple checking that my alarm is set for the correct time

And as much as I begrudge doing this every night, I’m very happy in the morning when I wake up to a clean kitchen, freshly made coffee and not having make-up smeared all over my pillowcase because I was too lazy to take it off the night before.

What is your nighttime routine?

I was in Shopper’s Drug Mart earlier today and saw gummy tarantulas.  Seriously. A big clear plastic tub filled with 8 legged gummies, complete with cartoony looking spiders on the label.  I wanted to take a picture of it to put on my blog to say “This freaks me out!”

But I couldn’t do it.

Sure the picture on the label was so cartoony that you could have told me that it was an octopus, I would have went “Cute! An octopus!”  But it didn’t say “gummy octopi” on that label, it said “gummy tarantulas”1. And so I’m totally freaked out. To that point that I couldn’t even stay in that aisle.  Gah!

1Even typing that word sends a chill up my spine.

While working on my Prime Ministerial Series, I’ve noticed that several of our Prime Ministers go by something other than their real first name:

  • Wilfrid Laurier’s name was Henri-Charles-Wilfred
  • Lester B. Pearson went by the nickname “Mike”
  • Pierre Trudeau’s name was really Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott
  • Joe Clark’s first name is Charles
  • Brian Mulroney’s first name is Martin
  • Kim Campbell’s first name is Avril (she gave herself the nickname “Kim”)
  • Jean Chrétien’s name is Joseph Jacques Jean

That’s 7 of 22.  Or 32% for you mathophiles.  Is it just me, or does that seem unusually high?  What percentage of the general population goes by something other than their real first name?

I’m particularly aware of people not going by their own first names because I’m one of them.  My name, as many of you know, is Mary Elizabeth, but I’ve been referred to as “Beth” since the day I was born.  I think I was in kindergarten by the time I found out that Beth wasn’t actually my name.  My parents named me “Mary” after both my grandmothers, but then thought it would be too confusing to have a third “Mary” running around, so decided to refer to me as Beth.  Because, you know, having documents say your name is “Mary” when everyone knows you as “Beth” isn’t confusing at all. </sarcasm>.

My ex-husband also goes by his second name, as he shares his first name with his dad and his parents had the same “it would be confusing to have two Williams” excuse.  My grandpa is Charles Desmond and goes by Des, one of my cousins is Desmond Andrew and goes by Andy1. My good friend Therese also goes by her second name and, to further complicate things, both she and her sister share the same first name (Grace Therese and Grace Elaine). When my sister was pregnant, I told her that I didn’t care what they named their baby, so long as they called her whatever her name actually was2.

So, the questions are: Do you go by your first name?  If not, why not?  Would you give you kid one name and then call them something else?  If yes, why oh why would you do that?

1I also have three cousins named Robert, but that is neither here nor there.
2For a little while after she was born, we actually referred to my niece Madeline as “Meg” as her initials are “M.H.Z.” or “MHz” – megahertz, hence the short-form, “Meg.” But then my sister decided she better start actually referring to her as “Madeline” so she would know what her real name is!

{July 7, 2008}   Happy 7/7!

Although not as exciting as last year’s 7/7/7 date1, today is 7/7.

7/7/8 to be exact. Which just so happens to be my area code2.

And this is my blog posting #779.  I noticed the other day that I was on posting #777, which would have been cool to have posted on 7/7, but I have this crazy idea about wanting to publish at least one blog posting every day3, so it just wasn’t possible.

Today’s blog posting has, paradoxically, been brought to you by the number 104.

1Which, apparently I didn’t think was exciting as the previous year’s 6/6/6
2As I’m not one of the cool kids with their 604s.  And their pants.
3Now at 38 days and counting, btw!.
4Why not 7? Because 7 8 9a, and is currently awaiting trial for the murder.
aProps to Nancy, Jeff & Madeline for introducing me to the good times that is Snacktime!

I meant to mention this yesterday, but totally forgot what with the sleepiness and all: I didn’t forget to write about the next Prime Minister in my Sunday series on Prime Ministers. Rather, I chose to take the quasi-long weekend holiday off from the series. Sure, Canada Day is Tuesday (tomorrow), so it’s not a real holiday weekend, but I’m pretty sure no one actually went to work today because who wants to work on Monday when Tuesday is a holiday? And the next Prime Minister in my series is Brian Mulroney and I just couldn’t bear to write about him on Canada Day weekend.

In completely unrelated news, a squirrel fell out of a giant tree in my sister’s backyard today. They have this mullberry tree that is constantly dropping berries, so we are used to hearing (or getting hit by) falling berries when we are out there, but something massive (massive relative to the size of a mullberry anyway) fell with a giant thud. And for some reason, my initial reaction was “oh my god, a coconut just fell out of that tree!” Because apparently I think I’m in Hawaii. But the squirrel got up and scurried away; coconuts, not so much with the scurrying.

And, in even more unrelated news, Almost Dr. Dan came up from Guelph to join us for dinner and we went to this vegetarian Indian buffet and I ate so much that I think I’m going to barf. So. Freaking. Good.

So, in conclusion, the Prime Ministerial series will resume next Sunday with an entry on Brian Mulroney; I ate so much Indian food I want to barf; and hallelujah it’s raining squirrels!

{June 9, 2008}   Weekend Update
  1. Went to my laser eye surgery consultation on Friday and after watching a cheesy “educational” video – some of which was about the surgery, some of which told me such non-informative things as “hey, did you know glasses and contacts are really annoying?” – and having an ultrasound measurement taken on my eyes, I was informed that I’m a good candidate for either PRK or LASIK due to my above average corneal thickness.  I’m thinking I’ll go with LASIK as it has a much shorter healing time (2-3 days vs. 10 days).  Although I have to admit that I am a bit freaked out by the idea of having a flap cut in my cornea (which is what they do in LASIK; in PRK, they do the surgery without cutting a flap first).  Also, I’m leaning towards going to the more expensive place.  The surgeon is super experienced and I liked him, so I’m thinking it’s worth the money.  I may think differently when I can’t afford to eat because I spent all my money on eye surgery, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
  2. Finished watching Season 4 of 24.  In celebration, I suggest you check out this pie chart.
  3. Booked a flight to Ontario for the end of the month to visit the fam.  My sister has vacation then, so I figured I could take some vacation days as well and hang out with her.  And my wee niece, who we all know is the greatest child ever to have lived.
  4. Won our hockey game last night!  I got an assist!  I can haz 3 game point streak?
  5. Also in the hockey game, I got the flukiest injury ever.  Correction – *before* the hockey game I got the flukiest injury ever.  While getting dressed for the game, just as I reached down to tie up my skate laces, my friend Kim kicked her foot up to tie up her skate laces and nicked my wrist with her skate blade.  Thankfully it was on the side of my wrist and was just a nick – but if I had my hand turned just slightly the other way and if she’d kicked her foot up just a bit higher, that could have been right nasty!
  6. Spent the evening, after the hockey game, playing with Wesabe.  I’ll have more to report later, once I’ve played with it some more, but so far, it’s pretty damn cool.
  7. It’s my dad’s birthday today.  Happy birthday, Daddy!

While writing my Lester B. Pearson posting on the weekend, a line in the Pearson biography in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online stuck out to me: “[L.B. Pearson’s wife] Maryon is one of the most interesting of the Canadian prime ministerial wives.” Apparently she was known for such barbed comments as “Behind every successful man there is a surprised woman.”

This is something that I’ve noticed before – in Canada, we don’t tend to focus on Prime Ministerial (or PM candidate’s) wives the way that they do with presidential wives in the US. Hell, they are even given a title – “First Lady” – in the US. Honestly, the only ones whose name I can even think of off the top of my head are Margaret Trudeau and Mila Mulroney. I have a sneaking suspicion that Paul Martin’s wife was named Sheila, and Jean Chrétien‘s wife, Alene¹, but other than that, I couldn’t tell you. I haven’t the faintest idea what Harper’s wife’s name is. Conversely, I know of Laura Bush, Lynn Cheney, Hiliary Clinton (obviously), Tipper Gore, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan, Marilyn Qualye, Jackie Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt and Martha Washington²… and those are just off the top of my head!

I rather like that politicians’ wives aren’t focussed on here because, really, women are more than just an appendage of their husbands³ and should be free to do their own thing even if their husband happens to be the PM.  I mean, of course they are going to be involved, but focusing on a candidate’s/president’s wife to the extent that they do in the US (I’m remember the cookie bake off between Hilliary Clinton & Barbara Bush during the 1992 US presidential election) just rubs me the wrong way.

OK, now that I’ve been thinking about this (but clearly don’t have anything all that coherent to say on the matter), I’ve been tooling around through Wikipedia and have learned the following things:

  • you can’t call the wife of a Prime Minister the “First Lady” because technically the “First Lady” would be the Queen or queen consort
  • the wife of the Vice President is known as the “Second Lady”
  • the mirror term for “First Lady” used when the spouse of the President is male is “First Gentleman”
  • the Wikipedia entry on “Spouses of the Prime Ministers of Canada” is fairly short, but did answer two of my previous questions4

There, don’t you feel so well informed now?

¹no idea on the spelling of that one
²not to mention Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton (again, obviously), Cindy McCain, Teresa Heinz Kerry, Elizabeth Edwards… well, you get the point!
³should they chose to have one
4The spelling of Chrétien’s wife’s name is “Aline” and Harper’s wife is Laureen.

This bottle contains eye makeup remover:I keep it on my bathroom counter with my contact lens solution, toothpaste and other items that I use everyday.

This bottle contains astringent, which for the uninitiated is, according to, “a cosmetic that cleans the skin and constricts the pores” and “harshly biting; caustic“:

I keep it in the cupboard under the sink, because I don’t want to mix it up with my eye makeup remover1 and accidentally put this stuff on my eyes. That would hurt.

Guess who accidentally left bottle #2 on the countertop? And guess who came this close to putting astringent in her eyes, where “this close” = raising an astringent-soaked cotton ball to within a few millimeters of her eyelid, before realizing it was not eye makeup remover after all?

1Because they are both blue2 and really, that’s enough of a similarity for me to mix them up, despite the bottles looking completely different.

2Being blue, they both actually match my bathroom tiles3, which I didn’t really notice until I took this picture.

3Also while taking this picture, I noticed that the majority of the products in my bathroom come in blue packages – my hairspray, my antiperspirant, my contact lens solution, my toothpaste, my deep cleansing cream – all blue! Did some marketing person decide that all toiletry packages should be blue? Or do I just gravitate towards, and thus purchase, things packaged in blue?

et cetera