Not To Be Trusted With Knives

{September 20, 2007}   My New Ringtone

If you have my cell phone number, you should call me, because I *love* hearing my new ringtone.

You know you are jealous!

{September 16, 2007}   Bus Girl

There’s something really strange about wearing clubbing clothes outside of the clubbing district. Like while waiting, in actual daylight, at a bus stop in the sleepy neighborhood in which one lives. And whilst on said bus, once it arrives.

And when you are fond of the type of outlandish footwear that I am, doubly so.

Perhaps the people on this bus with me don’t realize that I can see their glares.

Another problem with being a bus girl who lives in a sleepy old person neighborhood who therefore needs to take relatively long bus trips to get to dinner and clubbing venues has to do with the limited purse size that one can reasonably take to a club. Ordinarily when I’m on a bus, say going to work or shopping or meeting a friend for coffee, I take a big canvas bag with me. Said bag will stow such things as my lunch, travel mug and importantly, a book. I do almost all of my reading on the bus. I’ve trained myself to read books on the bus. But I can’t very well bring a big ole canvas bag to a club, now can I? And club purses are minuscule. It’s an unspoken rule of clubbing, like that the skankiest girl in the bar will inevitably be the one wearing the white Daisy Duke shorts with stiletto heels1. My club purse will hold my camera & Treo2, but not much else. I can’t even fit my wallet into my club purse – I just take the necessary cards3 and some cash. Oh yes, and my iPod and a lipstick. These are all tiny items, especially in comparison to a book.

So what’s a girl to do to keep herself occupied on the bus? Write a blog entry on her Treo, of course! On her Treo’s wee little keyboard. Boy, she sure wishes that she had this spiffy fold out keyboard that would allow her to type on a full-sized keyboard on her Treo, but yet will fold up so small that it will fit even in her tiniest of club purses. She really hopes that Santa will bring her one for Christmas.

Hint hint.

1For the record, I don’t even *own* a pair of white Daisy Duke shorts.

2my still *nameless* Treo, by the way.

3driver’s license, Care Card4, credit & debit cards

4Clarification for my Ontarian readers, this is the BC equivalent of an OHIP card. For my American readers, we have this thing in Canada called universal health care – you carry around a card and the government pays your medical bills. You should try it out. I always bring my CareCard with me. Being superstitious, I feel it is a talisman against my becoming sick or injured and thus *needing* to have my CareCard with me.

{August 20, 2007}   Name My Gadgets

Anthropomorphizing1 my iPod and my Palm Treo in yesterday’s blog posting got me to thinking… I really should name them. My iPod and my Palm Treo, I mean.

Do you have any good ideas for what I should call them? The only rule is that you can’t use Vancouver Canucks player names. I have some other, um, electronics that I’ve named after Canucks.

1or would that be technopomorphizing?

{June 17, 2007}   Watch These Videos

These videos show what it would be like if shopping in the real world was like online shopping. Good for a chuckle.

Plus, by linking there, I could potentially win a gift certificate. And you know I likes me some free stuff. Plus, I know the guy who plays the search engine and the homepage.

{June 6, 2007}  

Is it wrong for me to love an inanimate object? I’m standing at a bus stop, secure in the knowledge that my bus will be here soon because now I, like everyone else, can call Translink’s automated system and find out when the next bus is coming. I stand here, pecking away at my little keyboard, the smell of pot from the joint the girl next to me is smoking burning strong, and I try to avoid being in the direct line of fire as she hacks up what I can only assume is both of her lungs.

Now I’m sitting on the bus, still pecking away at the tiny keyboard, because you really can’t type that fast on keys that are mere millimetres wide (or at least that’s what it feels like… I’m sure that my phone will soon announce “the fingers you are using to type with are too fat. If you would like to order a dialing wand, please smash the keyboard with your palm.”)

Soon, I will be home and I’ll upload this to my blog (which will then be automatically imported into Facebook, for those of you who read my blog postings there instead of reading my blog…). And the world will be blessed with yet another pithy blog posting from me, all thanks to my shiny new Treo. That, and the fact that I finished the book I was reading on the bus ride to dinner1, and so was bored enough to write this.

OK, so apparently I was bored enough to write that yesterday, but not motivated enough to actually upload it! It’s now the next day and I’m at Kalev’s in the middle of watching Night Watch, a Russian horror movie that we saw over a year ago in the theatre that just so happens to have the BEST. SUBTITLES. EVER. But we paused the movie ‘cuz Kalev keeps getting phone calls! You may be interested to know, however, that we are watching Night Watch for a very special reason… As it happens, Day Watch, the first of two sequels, is coming out in theatres this weekend. And as it also happens, there were two contests2 that Vancouverites could enter to win passes to see a sneak preview of said sequel. Contests that Kalev and I may have asked our friends ever so nicely to enter in the hopes of increasing our chances of getting our mitts on those tix. And, as it so happens, not only did Kalev and I both win double passes, but so did no fewer than FOUR of our friends!3 And just to add the cherry on top, I also just so happened to be one of the first three winners of the Georgia Strait’s contest to pick up my passes, so I also got a copy of the book “Day Watch.” A book, of course was what I really could have used yesterday when I started writing this posting!

Oh yes, for the record, I’m on yet another bus (and have been since about the middle of the last paragraph). And I have no fewer than 4 books in my bag today: the library book that I brought with me to read on the bus on the way to work this morning, the copy of Day Watch and two books that I picked up as Christmas presents, if you can believe that!4

1Minority Report by Philip K. Dick, in case you were wondering
2One from Videomatica and one from the Georgia Strait. I suppose it is possible there were more, but these were the two of which I was aware.
3I think that this is sufficient evidence that the Flying Spaghetti Monster was using his Noodly Appendage to ensure that I saw this movie.
4I don’t think I’ve ever started my Christmas shopping before Dec 19.

So, after several phone calls with accompanying freakouts, I finally got the cell phone deal that I was promised. Rather ridiculous that one needs to do that, but hey, I finally got what I wanted by having temper tantrums. That’s a good life lesson, isn’t it?

Notably, no one has yet phoned me on my new phone and said the magic words. Guess no one wants to win those valuable, valuble BTNaNN points!

So, I had a big fit at the cell phone company today. I tried to activate my phone and they informed me that I can’t have my good deal on the Treo I bought unless I get a dataplan along with the cell phone plan. Which is funny, because I bought the Treo for the sale price and was not sold a dataplan. And the guy on the phone was like “Well, you can just buy out the phone at the regular price.” And I was like “no way in hell! I only got this because the sale price was so good!” And he was like “we have to recover the cost of how much you saved by making you have the dataplan.” “So why did you guys sell me the Treo with only a cell phone plan if I’m not allowed to have it? And why should I pay for your mistake?” This conversation went around circles for a while and so I finally demanded to talk to a manager. Who will apparently call me back within 24 hours. Apparently this is a technique they use that is supposed to be a “cooling off” period so that I don’t talk to a manager while I’m in the middle of a freak out. Little do they know that making me wait a whole day is only making me more and more pissed off! Hell hath no fury like a Beth who thought she had a cell phone and then didn’t. Gah!

In happier news, we had a softball game today! It’s fun to play a team sport where people are not too super competitive, where they are more interested in having fun and supporting each other than in winning. We cheer for each other even when we get thrown out at first, or drop a ball or whatever. It’s just for fun. Another case in point – we walked off the field with only two outs, because we totally thought we had three. The other team let us get away with it, they just laughed it off. Granted, they were slaughtering us at the time, so it really didn’t matter.

Also, a few quotations from today’s game:

  • “Being drunk is a kind of winning.”
  • “We lost 20-3.” “Oh, we’re improving!”

I joined a softball team. It’s mostly people from Shalu’s fiance’s work – he’s a computer guy, so most of the team are also computer guys. Being a team of computer guys, they had some difficulty finding girls at their work to join the team – thus, Shalu and I were recruited. We were told that the team was called “The 13th Step,” we had me totally befuddled when I read it the email… on the way to our first practice tonight, Shalu and I were discussing what this could possibly mean – we were sure that it had to be some computer term with which we aren’t familiar. When we remembered, part way through practice, to ask about it, it turns out we couldn’t have been further from the truth…. apparently, the “13th Step” is a reference to 12-Step Programs… where the 13th step is relapse. Which I suppose is appropriate for a beer league!

When I got home from practice, my Treo was here waiting for me! Unfortunately, my service provider figures that no one ever needs to activate a phone after 9 pm at night, so I can’t get service until 10 am tomorrow when their phone answering people get back to work! They also figured that I didn’t need a working CD to install the Palm OS to my laptop. They sent me a CD alright, just not one that can be recognized by a computer. And you can’t download the most recently version of Palm OS from their website either – they only have an old version. Boo!! I have my new toy and I don’t get to play with it!

Anyhoo, I will activate my phone tomorrow and I will send out my new phone number to those people who I deem worthy of having my phone number. And the first person to call me on my cell phone and say “13th Step rocks!” will win BTNaNN points. You know you want it to be you!

Guess who is *finally* getting a cell phone?

And not even just a cell phone. I’m getting a Palm Treo 700p Smartphone. My current Palm Pilot is totally on the fritz (for example, it won’t recognize the correct date – for some reason it seems to think that every day is May 8… which makes it rather useless for alerting me to when things are happening), so I decided that rather than getting a new Palm and a cell phone, I’d get one gadget for both purposes. I was able to get a really good deal on it by signing up for a 3-year plan… and since my plan is to stick around Vancouver, I figure that that’s OK.

I was able to get a sweet, sweet deal on my cell phone plan by virtue of where I work. Interestingly, though, I didn’t have to prove that I work where I said I worked – I just said, “I work for X and I want to get on the corporate plan” and it was done. I recommend that anyone looking for a new cell phone provider should find out which employer has the best corporate plan and then just claim to work there.

With the aforementioned sweet, sweet cell phone plan, I’m actually going to be paying less than the cost of a landline. When Dani and I were splitting the cost of the landline, it was fine, but now that I’m paying the whole thing on my own, it’s cheaper for me to have the cell phone*. Which also has voicemail, so when you call me you won’t get my antiquated answering machine with the weird voice than neither Dani nor I knew how to program.

So, to everyone who has lamented my lack of cell phonery (whether those of you who have tried, repeatedly, to text my landline and those of you who have stressed over trying to meet up with me somewhere since not only was I phoneless, but all the payphones in the city have disappeared so I couldn’t even call you on your cell phone) – rejoice!

*I’ll be using Skype for long distance. Which reminds me – everyone who is not in my local calling area – get Skype already!

So, I think I’m going to join the 21st century and get a cell phone. Now that I have a paycheque coming in, I can actually afford one. And since Dani is moving back home in just under two weeks*, I’ll be paying for the landline all by myself. So I figure that I could just cancel it** and get a cell, and use Skype for my long distance stuff.

But I’ve never had a cell phone before, so I’m really rather clueless. Any suggestions of what a good company is for getting a not-too-expensive plan? I don’t want anything fancy – although I would like to be able to talk a lot and not have to wait until after 9 pm to do so. And one that has decent coverage in Vancouver. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

* =(

**Although I think that I might need to have a Telus line in order to keep my Telus internet. Does anyone know if that’s true?

{May 10, 2007}   Webcams

This is me and my neice, chatting on the webcams.

She was telling me about her day at school (“I was climbing a tree and I fell out of the tree”), her dinner (“I’m eating hummus”) and other important details of her life (“I’m going to buy a house” and “I’m going to Bermuda. It’s hot there. Grandma can’t come with me.”*).

I love technology!

*I have NO idea where she got these ideas from.

{March 29, 2007}   Thesis Data Cloud

A while back, Darren mentioned wanting to make a data cloud for a presentation he was giving at Northern Voice – he wanted to find a tool that he could enter all the responses he’d gotten on his Why Do You Blog survey to generate a data cloud. This got me thinking about how data clouds are an interesting way of analyzing data – you get a visual representation of how often each word is used in your document. So then I had the bright idea that I wanted to run my thesis through a program like this – I was curious to see what words I used most often. I happened to be chatting with a friend of mine who is all computer savvy and asked if he knew of any tools that could do this (as I could only find one that required that the document in question be pretty small and my thesis may be many things, but small is not one of them). And the next thing I knew, he’d written me a program! We had to do a bit of tweaking (like not including common words such “and” and “then”, not including punctuation and numbers, and, of course, I had to make it use pretty colours). And when all was said and done, it was just so friggin’ pretty! I love my thesis word cloud! You can check out the whole thing here, but I’ve included a bit of it below, just so you can get an idea of how beautiful it is!

binge biochemistry biol biological biology birth births bk black blank blind blinded blindly blood bloom blow blue boat bodies body bone bones bonjour born both bottom bouillon boundaries boundary brain breakdown breaking breed breeding briefly bringing brown bud buds buffer bull bulletin bullock burns but c ca cage cages calcification calcified calcifies calcium calculated calculation calendar caloric calories camera camp can cannot carbohydrates cardiac cardiovascular care cartilage

Seriously, go check out the whole thing here. It’s friggin’ cool.

Update: OK, that looks a little f’d up, since Blogger’s formattin apparently doesn’t work so well with the formatting of the data cloud. I guess you’ll just have to go here to see how it should look.

{February 27, 2007}   Final Thoughts on Northern Voice

So, I’ve looked at my notes and collected my thoughts from Northern Voice. And pretty much this is just a literal collection of the notes that I took (well, the interesting parts anyway), unprocessed*. Sort of a glimpse into the mind of Bethy at a blogging conference – I’m sort of using my blog as a “brain dump” (and a record of my notes should I want to go back and re-visit them) so feel free to skip this post if you find it less than interesting….

Day 1 was “Moosecamp” – the unconference.

At the end of the session called “Mashups for Nonprogrammers,” I made myself the following note:

Wow, this session is going way fast – lots of info in a short amount of time. I’ll have to check out these sites** to see what they actually do, because I can’t really follow at this rapid speed.

That was my first indication at the conference that I’m a veritable neophyte in the ways of computers.

At “Photocamp” and “Videocamp” I just made a bunch of notes of technical stuff that the pros were suggesting for taking better pics/videos for the web. Nothing really interesting enough to blog about***, but definitely useful stuff for me to use. Highlights included the fact that someone had a waterproof digital camera and someone else had a shiny red camera that takes 8 photos at the same time. Also, the idea of having a pocket camera that you always have with you was stressed… if you don’t have the camera, you don’t get the shot.****

The “Vancouver Transit Camp” session was quite interesting – the presenters talked about a barcamp event held in Toronto where the community of transit users came together to collaborate on ideas for a new website****. The idea was to start discussing the idea of having a “Vancouver Transit Camp,” or, as someone pointed out, a “Greater Vancouver Transit Camp,” as, unlike in T.O., Translink is responsible for transit in the GVRD, not just Vancouver proper. It seemed to me that a key point that seemed to come out of the session was that Vancouver is not Toronto, so a transit camp here would probably evolve into quite a different event than Toronto Transit Camp.

Stats: The Forbidden Love“, IMHO, should win the “best title of any session I attended at Moosecamp” prize, if there were such a prize. Which there was not. But I digress. This session was a discussion on how we don’t need to be ashamed of our obsession with how many people are reading are blog, and when, and from where, and how they found us, and… well, you get the point. The group was a lively bunch and I got a learned about a whole bunch of different stat counters I can try out.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Blogs” provided me with some tips for, not surprisingly, optimizing my blog for search engines. As well, I learned that Google used the concept from academics where how many times you are cited by other authors determines your reputation (i.e., searches are based on who is linking to whom and how often).

Other random thoughts from Day 1 that I felt it necessary to record in my notes:

everyone here seems to be using a mac. either that or writing in a notebook.. like with a pen. on paper.

also, there are a lot of people here using a lot of words (or more often, acronyms) that i totally don’t know. i feel like the least techy person here.

Onto Day 2… the more formal conferency day. First up was an interesting keynote talk from Anil Dash, whose job title of Chief Evangelist at six apart tends to be problematic at Customs.

Then I went to “Blogging 101,” where I could actually keep up with what was being talked about, what with being a techy neophyte and all.

How to be a Citizen Journalist” was a cool session on what journalism is and what makes something “news.” I learned that “reporting” requires you to (1) gather information, (2) filter it, and (3) distribute/publish. Missing any of these keys steps = you are not a reporter (you are either a plagiarist (or writing opinion pieces) (missing #1), a transcriber (missing #2) or a snoop (missing #3). Also cool: with the “Access to Information Act” – Canadian citizens/permanent resident has the right to information for any record under the control of the federal government (and there are provincial equivalents of this act). It only costs you a stamp (and maybe a photocopy fee). And they have to tell you. And they have to do it within a certain time period. Cool. Also cool to know: you can buy a microphone that plugs into your iPod and use it as a recording device, should you ever need to. Also discussed, and echoing what was discussed at a previous session: there are 2 rules of photography – (1) have your camera, and (2) take the picture *****. As well, if anyone is interested in Canadian law as it pertains to photography (like, hmmm… I wonder if I can legally post that pic I snapped of that random at the conference/party/protest/change room the other night), check out Apparently it has a lot to do with whether you can have a “reasonable right of expectation of privacy”… for example, if you are at blogging conference, it’s pretty fair to say you do not have a “reasonable right of expectation of privacy” and so someone can take your picture and post it… if you are in the change room at the gym, however, most reasonable people would expect some privacy.

The “Legal Rights & Liabilities of Bloggers” session taught us all about such fun stuff as defamation, copyright infringement and the like. Good times.

I found the “Why Do We Blog” session to be particularly interesting… there was a presentation by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward on why he blogs and then Darren Barefoot showed the results on the survey he conducted that I told y’all about a while back. And I have to include this photo montage thingy of his presentation, taken by leftantler and posted on Flickr, ‘cuz it’s just too cool for words.

And the last session of the day was a lively panel discussion about “Online Dating,” which drew a big crowd and generated lots of Q&A. And the woman who recruited me to her Ph.D. research study was able to recruit more subjects at this talk, so that was cool.

My random thoughts on Day 2 that I felt it necessary to record in my notes:

There is a lot of multi-tasking going on here. People uploading to Flickr, checking out Flickr, writing posts, etc. while listening to the keynote. Only at blogging conference would that not seem rude!

I ❤ technical difficulties at techie conferences. Blue screen of death on the projector, rather than the slides that the presenter probably spent a long time working on.

Why is everyone using the word “granular” all of the sudden? They are using it to mean like “very subtle differences,” which I suppose the word “granular” does invoke, but I’ve only heard it in the last, say, 4 days, but I’ve heard it about 70 times over those 4 days.

Whew, that was a super long post. Did anyone actually read it? 25 points to anyone who claims they actually read the whole thing.

*I know I promised processing. But I also promised Jorge that I would start using his Footnotz soon. Just goes to show that you shouldn’t believe everything you read.

**these sites = all the sites that they were talking about… which have all been added to the wiki for the sessions, so follow the link “Mashups for Nonprogrammers” if you are interested.

**But apparently the fact that I’m not going to blog about it is interesting enough for me to blog about.

***as I discovered, much to my dismay, at this Vancouver Giants game!

****apparently the TTC currently has an atrocious website and the transit users were like, “hell, we can make a better site than that with our eyes closed!”

*****of course, as learned on my run yesterday, “bring your camera” implies that you should have your memory card in your camera. So, for example, if you take your camera on your run because you know you are going to run by a cool sign that you want a photograph of, it really sucks if you carry your camera there and then can’t take the pic ‘cuz you left your memory card in your jump drive on your desk and so you carry your camera for 10 frigginkilometers and can’t take any pictures. I’m just saying.

{February 25, 2007}   Northern Voice ’07 – Post #2

Home from the conference now. Sitting in my toasty warm bed with my laptop (we got spoiled with a beautiful sunny day yesterday, but today it was rainy and freezing and this is the first chance I’ve had all day to warm up!), trying to process all the stuff I learned today! It might take a little while for me to do said processing, so you can expect a more insightful post once I’ve had a chance to check out the blogs of the cool people I’ve met over the past two days and to review my notes. Yes, I took notes.

In the meantime, here are a few photos to entertain you. First, I thought y’all would like to see that I wore my favourite boots* today:

And speaking of footwear, one of my new-found blogging friends can be found over at and I have to give her props ‘cuz I stole this cool camera angle from her:

Oh ya, if you’d like to check out all the photos from the event, go to Flickr and look at the “nv07” tag. As I type this, there are 1,312 photos from the conference, and people are still uploading stuff. This is what happens when you put 300 techies and their multitude of cameras in a wifi-enabled area for 2 days!

*And hopefully people were looking at my boots because, based on these photos, the rest of me looked like crap today. I looked much better yesterday.

{February 16, 2007}   O.O.T.S.S.O.E.R.A.A.A.P.

Got an email from Jody yesterday:

I hereby award you the “I blog about science” badge. Congratulations.

these scouts sound fun.

Thanks Jody!!

Man, I’m sooo special! Check out the shiny badge I get:So, being the internet junkie that I am, I needed to further investigate this organization from which Jody had bestowed me this honour. They are the Order of the Science Scouts of Exemplary Repute and Above Average Physique. And being that (a) I am a scientist, (b) my repute is exemplary, (c) my physique, above average, and (d) I meet their criteria for membership*, I have applied for official membership.

Perusing the badges on their site, I have decided to award myself the following:

The “talking science” badge:

This badge is required for all members and commemorates the fact that I talk about science. All the time.

Along the same lines, I give myself the “destroyer of quackery” badge:

“In which the recipient never ever backs down from an argument that pits sound science over quackery.” I totally, totally deserve this one.

Next up, I think I should get the “sexing up science” badge:

“In which the recipient has had experience with things such as selective breeding, crossing, mate selection, prokaryotic conjugation, fertility studies, STD related microbiology, and/or any other acceptable interpretation of the badge.” I feel like I should get this for another “acceptable interpretation of the badge” based on the following: I once gave a speech at closing banquet at a conference of science educators where I said, “Saying “I’m a scientist” is a great pickup line. No, seriously. Try it at the bar tonight!” I think this qualifies.

And finally, I wanted to give myself the “knows how to collect semen from more than one species“:

Although I never technically collected rat sperm per se, I did have check under rat breeding cages for dried semen (the graphically named “vaginal plugs”). But it doesn’t really matter if that qualifies me for this badge or not, as when you read the fine print you see: “That’s two species not including humans”.

*I will fulfill my committment to spreading the truth in a future posting.

et cetera