Not To Be Trusted With Knives

{May 23, 2008}   She Has A Name!

It’s just a week shy of her 1st birthday and I’ve finally given her a name.  I hadn’t thought about her lack of name in a while, but yesterday morning as I left for work, the perfect name just hit me, right out of the blue!

She’s full of useful information and constantly gives me reminders of things I should be doing.  And so I have decided to name my Palm Treo Smartphone: Hermione.

{May 10, 2008}   Bananagasm

Another year, another Pacific Spirit 10 km run. I was rather disappointed with my time (1:03:37.9; pace 6:22 per km¹). I really have no idea why I was so damn slow- it’s difficult to tell really how fast you are going because (a) it’s a trail run, so you are weaving all around the trails rather than running on straightaways and that makes it hard to gauge your speed, (b) there are other people all around you running at a variety of different paces, which also makes it hard to gauge your speed. I suppose the most logical explanation is that last year, I ran the half at the Vancouver International Marathon the week² before the Pacific Spirit Run, so I was at my peak fitness level; this year, I’m only partway through my training for the Scotiabank half marathon, which isn’t until the end of June, so I’m not up to the shape I’ll be in by the time the marathon comes around. Alternative hypotheses as to why I sucked at the PSR this year include:

  • I ran with Marla, my 3rd generation iPod, which is larger than the 2nd gen iPod I ran with last year. The extra weight of the larger iPod significantly weighed me down.
  • the race shirts were, inexplicably, comically large and all the extra fabric of my so-called “small” shirt weighed me down.
  • the 10 lbs I’ve gained since this time last year weighed me down.
  • my bib number was 1200. Having such a distinguishable number was too much for me and I choked under the pressure.

  • I spent too much time thinking about the fact that I was running while I was running. Usually in a race I get “in the zone” and I don’t even think (that much) about the fact that I’m running (although, quite honestly, I have no idea what I usually think about). Thinking things like “Dear god, I’ve been running for 50 minutes and I still have TWO MORE kilometres to run??” makes you really feel tired.
  • age-related sarcopenia.

On the plus side, I did beat *everyone* in the females aged 65 and over category. Take that, grannies!

I still had a great time, though, despite my sucky performance. It’s a beautiful forest to through and it’s always³ nice to see the volunteers cheering you along at every turn. But, by and large the best part of the race is the race food they give you after you cross the finish line. Sure, it’s just oranges, bananas, mini-muffins and yogurt – stuff you could eat on any given day – but after a race it is the most delicious food you’ve ever eaten in your life. Psychologists will tell you4 that one’s motivation for things is enhanced when they are in a state of deprivation – acquiring food is more gratifying when you are really, really hungry. And thus, race food is the tastiest, tastiest food you will ever eat. You’ve never had oranges so succulent, muffins so fulfilling or yogurt so divine as the ones you scarf down before you even leave the food tent. “Bananagasm” was how one of my teammates described it. After the banagasms, we went to Enigma for a team brunch, which was awesome. The food there was excellent; the coffee, doubly so6. And it’s so nice to just hang out with the team, some of whom I haven’t seen since we ran this race last year. Since we don’t all run together (everyone else on our team is *much* faster than me), having the brunch after makes it feel more like a team thing. Props to Dr. Kim for organizing the team and the brunch!

And thanks, again, to my 9 sponsors, who helped me raise $291 for dementia research (our team, as a whole, raised $1,091.00). It’s going to a great cause!

¹Compared to last year’s time of 58 minutes, 47.8 seconds (pace = 5:53 minutes per km)
²I just typed this as “weak.” Freudian slip!
³Well, except for when you hurt your foot and have to limp the last 6 km of a half marathon. Then the cheers of the volunteers saying “You are doing a great job,” even though you know you aren’t, leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
4In fact, psychologists DID tell me, at our post-race team brunch. I ran on the Brain Research Centre team, so was surrounded mostly by brain scientists. You know how people will say “it’s not brain surgery”? These guys *do* brain surgery5. I ❤ brain scientists!
5We all agreed that doing surgeries was far and away the most fun part of grad school.
6This may, of course, have been part of the bananagasm phenomenon

At last! Someone has combined two of my biggest pet peeves – pointless, annoying Facebook apps and ridiculous spelling errors!

All they needed to do was make this “Is spiders and the Calgary Flames really ment to be yours?” and it would be perfect.

Name and profile pic have been blurred to protect the annoying.

</Monday morning bitching>

Also, my apologies for not posting this week’s installment of my prime ministerial series, which I know you are all dying to read, yesterday. I blame (a) too much exam marking this weekend, and (b) my first hockey game of the spring season¹. I’ll try to get it up posted tonight, although I have a nerd meeting to go to, so we’ll see.

¹The game, which was an exhibition game, ended tied 2-2.

{April 2, 2008}   Electronic Devices Hate Me

You know what is totally awesome? Having an shrill, piercing alarm going off for no fewer than SIX HOURS while you are trying to work. Especially on the day you have a really, really important grant application due. Like really important. Like one that funds not only your own salary (meaning if we don’t get the grant, I don’t have a job), but also the salaries of 20 other people.

The alarm was already going off intermittently when I arrived at work at 8 a.m. Monday and when security showed up around noon to try to fix it, they managed to make it so that instead of going off intermittently, the alarm was going off non-stop. And then told us “you should call maintenance.” After *two hours* of nonstop high-pitched alarm, maintenance *finally* showed up to fix it. By which time, of course, I was already finished with said grant application.

Now, I have to say that this isn’t the only machinery-related anomaly in my life of late. Machines have been effing up around me all the time lately and I’m starting to wonder if it’s something about me. Perhaps that freak lab incident where I got bitten by a radioactive, genetically engineered lab rat means I am now giving off electricity-disrupting gamma rays that interfere with electronic devices.

In addition to the rogue alarm that just wouldn’t shut up, I’ve also had to deal with:

  • my laptop deciding that it doesn’t want to keep proper time, losing anywhere from a few minutes to almost an hour on some days (while it’s totally fine on other days).
  • waking up the other day to find that my watch was, completely inexplicably, behind by 1 hr, but also ahead by 1 day. It said it was April 1 at 5 a.m. when, in fact, it was March 31 at 6 a.m. I know I’d reset my watch to Pacific time when I returned from Yellowknife (otherwise I would have been an hour late for my class on Friday), so I know it wasn’t that. And it’s not like it could have gotten the date mixed up and tried to do Daylight Saving Time, as then it would have sprung forward, not back.
  • msn messenger decided to log itself in several times during my lecture last week. Yes, during my lecture, which I was presenting to 94 university students, my msn kept popping up on the screen over top of my PowerPoint slides, despite the fact that I had logged it off and the “log in automatically” box was not checked (trust me, I have 94 witnesses that can verify that).

I’m pretty sure that electronic devices just hate me.

{March 19, 2008}   Testing out BlogDesk

My sister’s bf suggested that I try BlogDesk , what with the eating of the post I wrote yesterday by WordPress1. So I just wanted to write a quick post to test it out. So far I’m not liking that I have to go up the “View” menu to switch between the WYSIWYG and the Source code (on WordPress site you just have to click on a tab). Plus, I was just playing with an image and I can’t figure out how to maintain the aspect ratio while re-sizing the image2. And it keeps putting <p> tags in that I don’t want. Anyhoodle, I’m going to click “publish” now to see if this actually works.

1What happened was I had left WordPress open in a Flock tab the day before, so when I went to write my new blog post, I just started writing it there. But when I hit “publish,” I was taken to the login screen, as apparently I wasn’t actually still logged in. And thus my post was eaten.

2I tried holding down each of “Ctrl”, “Alt” and “Shift” while re-sizing, all to no avail.

{February 7, 2008}  

I noticed this when I logged into my UBC email the other day:

It was accompanied by an announcement that the amount of storage UBC student1 email accounts were increased from 30 MB to a whopping 120 MB. That’s quadruple the space! Wow, whatever would one do with all that space? I mean, everyone knows that 640K is more than enough for anyone.

And so I couldn’t resist adapting the image to show the UBC account relative to my Gmail account:

I’m just sayin’.

1Faculty accounts were upped to 200 MB a few months ago in a move that prompted me to email my friends and say “Welcome me to 1997!”

{February 2, 2008}  

Back at the start of the season, I downloaded the Canucks schedule into my Palm Pilot calendar. I’ve done this for previous seasons, but this year as an added bonus instead of just offering a download of the dates & times of the games like they did last year, the Canucks set up their schedule through Infuzer, a program that not only puts all the games into your calendar, but downloads updates after the date passes. So, after a game has been played, the next time I synch my Palm, the calendar item will tell me what the score was and, if I read the attached notes, I get a little game summary as well. Which was pretty freaking cool. I say “was” because something went awry with this system while I was in Ontario for the holidays.

The system was working fine at first – it even updated the times of the games to reflect that I was in a different time zone. But after that, it just stopped updating. The last game it updated was the Canucks 5-0 win over the Devils on Dec 18. Since then, no updates. When I returned to Vancouver, it didn’t even update to reflect that I was back in my beloved Pacific time zone, saying instead that home games started at 10 p.m. I just uninstalled and reinstalled Infuzer, and it has now at least fixed the the time zone thing, but updates on game scores are nowhere to be found.

Has anyone out there ever used Infuzer for Canucks (or any other) schedule? Had any problems with it? And suggestions on how to make it work. With the whole uninstall/reinstall thing, I’ve pretty much exhausted all my computer-fixing skills.

{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 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 16, 2008}   Meet Marla

As you know, I experience great difficulty in coming up with good names for things. But when I got this smoking hot new iPod for my birthday1,2, I came up with a name rather quickly. In honour of my third annual 29th birthday, I watched Fight Club, one of my most favourite movies ever, and it became clear that my iPod could have only one name. Allow me to introduce you to Marla:


Since I now have about sixty trillion terabytes of space on my fancy new iPod, I added a whole bunch o’podcasts:


But I still have fifty-nine trillion, nine hundred and ninety-nine billion, nine hundred and nintey-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine terabytes (give or take), so if you have a favourite podcast that you think I should check out, let me know.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go print up a label with my name and phone number on it to stick onto Marla, in case she goes missing, so that whoever finds her can return her to me. And I will be printing said label on my fancy schmancy printer. Which I need to review here in blogland soon. I don’t want to spoil this upcoming printer review, but suffice it to say, I’m disappointed that the printer doesn’t attach to my vibrator.

1Along with one of those adapter thingys3 that you plug into your iPod and then you can play your iPod over the car radio, which is wicked awesome for when I’m driving to hockey games.
2Thanks again, Giver of Birthday Gifts.
3Not one of these iPod adaptor thingys.

{December 14, 2007}   The Great Convexity 2.0

A while ago, based on a suggestion from JB, I dubbed my work computer The Great Convexity. Two days ago, I.T. peeps came to my office and took away the Great Convexity, leaving me with a younger, sexier model. At first, T.G.C.2.0 seemed great. Bigger monitor that like swivels and goes up and down. Optical mouse. Keyboard that isn’t full of crumbs. But then I discovered that:

  • I can no longer set my own picture as my desktop background. I used to have this photo as my desktop; now I can only use some lame Microsoft background images1.
  • My entire email archive appears to have been wiped out.
  • My new computer sounds like it has a colony of hissing wolf spiders in it.

On the plus side, I just used a program for uploading some files to my website and discovered that I appear now to have Java. Welcome me to the 21st Century2.

1After I wrote that line, but before I published this posting, I was bitching about this photo isue to the admin assistant and she told me that we can get around this by using an online pic. For some reason, I can’t right-click and “Set image as background” with an image I have on my computer, but I can do that with a photo that’s online. And fortunately, this photo is online! Problem solved! But the point is that I shouldn’t *have* to do that!
2.The down side of this is that Scrabulous might work on my work computer now. I’ve avoided checking because I refuse to play Scrabble on my computer at work. Refuse!

{November 22, 2007}   My new printer!

printerI arrived home today to discover that my new printer had been delivered! Well, it’s not actually *my* printer – it’s only mine to test drive for a couple of months.

A little while ago, Darren emailed me an amusing comic strip, asking if I wanted to try out a colour laser printer for two months. And, well, you know how I feel about free stuff, even if it’s only free for a little while!

As you can see from the photo, it’s a Brother printer and comes in an exceptionally large box. I swear, that box is bigger than me! What you can’t see from the photo, it’s the HL-4070CDW (Wi-Fi certified wireless network-ready colour laser printer with built-in automatic two-sided printing). I’m a big fan of printing on both sides of any given paper and I’m eager to check out the Wi-Fi’edness. I should point out that my current printer was purchased in 1995 when I bought my first computer and requires that you hand feed each paper individually (and even then it sometimes has a hissy fit and requires repeated shutting off and restarting of my computers before it will stop printing in tongues, and so if this thing actually feeds paper on its own, I’ll be stoked.

I worked late tonight and then had to do some grocery shopping as I had no food in my place, so I was too exhausted to unpack my new printer and figure out where I’m actually going to put it, being that it’s so huge and all. But Thursday is my Friday, so I will have the weekend to unpack it, hook it up and play with it! I’ll keep ya posted

{October 23, 2007}   The One That Got Away

As you can tell from the top the screen, my blog kinda needs a new name. I’ve never been good at naming things. As a kid, I had a stuffed bunny rabbit named Bunny, a stuffed frog named Froggy, a stuffed puppy dog named Puppy, and, believe it or not, a stuffed penguin named Pengy1. Probably the low point in my naming things career came when my sister and I got this set of stuffed teddy bears with movable limbs; she had the big one, I had the little one. Their names? Mr. Movable Bear and Baby Mr. Movable Bear. My one great shining moment in naming something occurred in 2004 when I came up with a brilliant title for this article, but the instructor of the course for which I wrote that paper was not a Kubrick fan and thus my moment of naming-ability glory came crashing down.

My blog has been nameless for quite some time. I briefly tried out Total Perspective Vortex early this year, but it didn’t stick. As you can probably tell, the only way this blog with have a name other than Bloggy is if I steal something from film or literature. But I’m OK with that, if only I could find something that I liked.

And then along came Infinite Jest. I’ve been reading IJ for about a thousand years now, ever since *somebody*2 recommended it to me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a *fantastic* book, just very, very long and quite dense, so it’s been taking me a while to read3. As I was reading, a great name for my blog occurred to me when I read the following description:

“The monologues seem both free-associative and intricately structured, not unlike nightmares. There’s no telling what’ll be up on a given night. If there’s one even remotely consistent theme it’s maybe [hockey]4.”

That’s a description of Madame Psychosis’s radio show, but don’t you think it fits my blog perfectly? Don’t you think I should change my blog name to “Madame Psychosis”?

Unfortunately, I appear to have missed the boat. By 4 years.

So, instead, I’ve decided to use the name Madame Psychosis for one of my other nameless things – my laptop. I brought Madame Psychosis to work today, because my work computer, which is currently nameless5, is a freaking piece of crap.

1I still have all of these stuffed animals, except Pengy. I don’t know what happened to Pengy. Poor Pengy.
2You know who you are.
3I guess if there is ever a good time to be reading a really, really long book that takes you forever to get through, it’s when the library workers go on strike for three months and counting…
4the real phrase here may or may not have been “film and film cartridges” rather than “hockey”
5although I can think of a few choice names for it sometimes

{October 12, 2007}   Palmasutra

Yes, it’s what you think it is. And it makes a great conversation starter, like when you are out for dinner, out clubbing on Saturday night or around the water cooler at work: “Hey, what did you do this weekend?” “Well, let me show you!”

Exciting features include:

  • full colour pictures of each position
  • detailed description of how to do the position, in case you find the pictures confusing
  • checkboxes to keep track of which positions you’ve tried
  • note pages to record important information about each position (like, “tried this with so-and-so,” “I <3 this position,” and “causes serious injury; do not attempt”
  • searchable by posture (including “standing,” “sitting,” “kneeling,” “from behind,” and “preliminaries”)

The Palmasutra – d ownload it to your Palm Pilot today!

{September 27, 2007}  

A while ago I wrote about my sister’s dilemma of desparately wanting an iPhone vs. being a dropper-of-all-things-valuable. Nance – read this blog posting over on Tod’s blog.

et cetera