Be Prepared To Do Something Awesome

Several months ago (December to be exact), my friend Carolyn offered up a review of the 2007 documentary Spirit of the Marathon. After reading her review, I added this documentary to my ever-growing list of movies I wanted – nay – had to see.

And here we are, 6 months later and I have finally sat down and watched it. I wish I had made the time sooner. I loved this documentary. After watching it, I felt like running another marathon – which probably means that signing up for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October was the right thing to do.

Actually, after watching this, I may have felt like taking over a small country. The movie was motivational, inspiring, and having just run a marathon, a bit cathartic. No, I didn’t cry as I watched the individuals followed in the documentary as they crossed the finish line – but I did get excited and goosebumpy, and maybe, perhaps, I might have also become a little verklempt. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Mike Myers does an excellent job of demonstrating it.

The documentary follows several different people from all levels of physical fitness; new runners, seasoned runners, and also two amazing elite runners. You know, elite as in someone who can run a marathon in under 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Think about that.

Elite runners pace themselves such that they can run 42.2 km in 2 hours and 30 minutes (or less – in many cases, much less; the world record is 2:03:59 for men and 2:15:25 for women). That means they can run 1 km in approximately 3 minutes and 33 seconds. For the world record, that pace becomes approximately 2 minutes 56 seconds for men, and 3 minutes 12.5 seconds for women. I don’t think I could run that pace even if I were being chased by a pack of zombies and wild rabid dogs. And these runners hold that pace for 42.2 km. Insane!

Photos from Katherine's website. Here you see the race officials trying to remove her from the race, only to be checked by another runner (Thomas Miller)

What did I take from this documentary? Well, clearly people can do anything they set their mind to. And in all honesty, if I can run a marathon, anyone can.

Additionally, I had no idea that women were excluded from marathons at one time because of some unfounded notion that they were too ‘dainty’ to complete the race. I also had no idea that Katherine Switzer ended that by signing up for the Boston marathon using her initials (thus tricking the organizers into thinking she was a man). I also did not know that while running the Boston marathon, the race officials (specifically Jock Semple) tried to physically remove her from the race. She of course continued to run and finish the race in 4 hours 20 minutes (although Jock Semple disqualified her after the attempted-removal).

Seriously, how can you not be inspired by that?

I was also inspired by watching the story of Deena Kastor, an elite American runner who won bronze in the 2004 Olympics. She is shown in the documentary dealing with a foot injury which was not the result of running, but from twisting her ankle stepping on a pine cone! I won’t lie – I was on the edge of my seat watching her as she attempted to win her first marathon. My heart was actually racing as I sat there hoping she had enough gas in her tank to beat out the runner just behind her (who was gaining). And this was for a race that is now part of the history books. Awesome!

Anyway, even if you aren’t a runner, I highly recommend this documentary. I’ve attached the preview below, and you can find more information about the documentary here. Now go grab some popcorn and watch it. But be prepared to feel the need to go do something awesome afterward. Consider yourself duly warned.

Soy My God, It’s Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream!

So if you recall, I recently posted about Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream and all of its glorious deliciousness.

Well, hold onto your hats folks. While the website for Purely Decadent listed other flavours, it was only this past week that I actually found another flavour. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I don’t like vanilla – I actually love vanilla – but I thought it might be nice to try the other flavours given how much I enjoyed the coconut based awesomeness. The flavour I found – chocolate. I mean, how could I not buy it? I’m a self admitted chocoholic and I’m not ashamed of it. It’s like the coconut gods and the chocolate gods got together and had a delicious love baby. I for one am glad they did.


As expected, the ice cream was delicious. Chocolate plus coconutty goodness – awesome! So after my Hydro Cut adventure on Sunday, I decided that I’d indulge a little. Specifically, a bowl of my remaining vanilla coconut ice cream, some of the new and just as awesome chocolate ice cream, and a butt load of market fresh raspberries and strawberries. So tasty. So full of awesome.

I’m betting after reading this, you’re probably thinking about berries and ice cream too, aren’t you? Well, don’t let me stop you – go get some.

Double Pi, What Does This Mean?

Happy \tau-day folks. What exactly is \tau? you ask. Well, \tau is a greek letter. But it also happens to represent the mathematical constant 2\pi. And why do we care about that? Well it turns out that some math-lovers think that instead of teaching students about \pi, we should focus on the number \tau. You see, while \pi is ubiquitous, it is often accompanied by the number 2. As in 2\pi. As in \tau.

Anyway, the arguments for the use of \tau are quite valid from a pedagogical perspective. I won’t get into them, as they are all explained quite nicely here. Of course, standard practice is to teach students about \pi. Is one better than the other? Perhaps. To be honest, I think the debate is entertaining in and of itself. And any conversation that gets people thinking about math makes me happy.

Given that it is \tau day, you might wonder how best to celebrate. Well, since \tau=2\pi, and \pi-day demands the consumption of pie or pie related foods (pizza pie, for example), clearly \tau-day demands, yes demands, that you consume twice as much pie as you would on \pi-day. And any day that recommends the consumption of pie can’t be bad, right?

Another note of interest: Today’s date – June 28, or 6/28 was selected for \tau-day because 2\pi\approx 6.28. Even better, 6 and 28 are the first two perfect numbers.  That means that 6/28 is actually a perfect day, which makes celebrating \tau-day even that much better!

Happy perfect \tau-day all y’all. Now go hug a nerd.

Because My Mountain Bike Was Feeling Neglected

On Sunday, I loaded up my mountain bike, helmet, and biking related gear, and headed to Kitchener with Mark to hit up the Hydro Cut, a group of trails perfect for trail running and mountain biking. This would be my first visit to Hydro Cut, and to be honest, I was a bit nervous. Why? Well, this was a new course and I really had no idea what to expect. The paths and such that I bike in Guelph are well-known to me, so I feel comfortable biking them given my vision issues and lack of depth perception (vision and depth perception being rather important when you are flying through rough terrain).

My trusty Devinci mountain bike.

But, not liking to stay in a comfort zone for too long a period, I immediately said yes to Mark when he called Friday to set up the mountain biking adventure. We were agreed: Sunday was going to be an adventure of epic proportions. Okay, maybe not so epic, but it was going to be awesome.

Hydro Cut Part 1

Anyway, the trails were awesome, and all were very clearly marked, and each came with their own name; Bypass, Double Bypass and even Triple Bypass, Andy’s BBQ, Rockin’ Ronnie, and our personal favourite Stinky Girl (to name a few). We aren’t exactly sure who named these runs, nor what prompted such names as Andy’s BBQ or Stinky Girl. Regardless, the trails were fantastic. And while the Stinky Girl trail had an aroma that I couldn’t quite place, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was stinky. Perhaps on a hotter day?

One of the things that jumped out at me once we started our trek, was the fact that we didn’t have to worry about oncoming traffic – the bulk of the trails were set up as one way trails. Additionally, they were labeled by level of difficulty, much in the same way that ski hills are labeled – blue square, black diamond, double black diamond, etc. That too was something I enjoyed as I hadn’t yet been out mountain biking this year (tending to favour my new swanky road bike), and felt perhaps a little rusty.

Hydro Cut Part 2

We started off on the intermediate level trails – labeled by the blue square. They were great. Lots of twists and turns, ups and downs, plenty of rocks, branches and roots to navigate, some mud, and great scenery. After spending some time on these, we moved up to black diamond. We avoided the double black diamond, as neither of us felt quite ready for it, and I’m sure I would have had a huge spill if I didn’t spend at least my first outing getting the feel for the trails and developing my biking legs.

My minor scrape.

We ended up biking for about 2.5 hours, not including a short break for snacks and rehydration. And thankfully, I survived without too many tumbles – only two to be exact. The first I don’t even remember. I know I lost my balance or caught my foot on a root and fell over, but was left unscathed. The second time I wasn’t so lucky. I was on a black diamond run and misjudged the steepness of an uphill section of the course. Needless to say, I got part of the way up the hill, lost my balance and came down on my right side. I sort of wrenched my thumb in an awkward way and got a bit of road burn along my right side; but otherwise, felt fine. I’m taking the fact that I only biked into a few trees (depth perception/vision issues) as a sign of a very positive bike ride (as I’ve been known to bike into trees, parked cars, etc.).

Ultimately, we biked about 18km and every single one of them were amazing. If you get the chance, you should check out the area. The trails are awesome, very scenic, and provide a great challenge for all levels of bikers. I’m definitely going to be returning to check out some of the other trails that I haven’t had a chance to bike yet. This may or may not include the double black diamond courses. That will definitely depend on my comfort level, and whether or not my eyes are cooperating. Regardless, I’m sure the next adventure will be just as great as this one.

Ph.D. Prom – 1 Year Later

Can you believe it? A year ago today, Dr. Dixon and I celebrated our doctoring by having the biggest, awesome-est, danc-y-est, nerdiest, and promiest prom in the history of ever.

And what do I mean by promiest prom? Well, I think the pictures speak for themselves. Everyone came in their prom-best. From tuxes, to faux-tuxes, suits, ties, top haps, big glasses, frills, bow ties, gowns, skirts, and everything in between, our family and friends arrived in style.

Anyway, the night was an amazing way for Steph and I to finish our degrees; a great way to blow off some steam; and a great way to thank those that helped us in any way, shape, or form during the many years of research and education. And we had a lot of people to thank.

Of course, the event itself was a long time in the making. Steph and I worked tirelessly to make sure the evening was a great success (read we spent several nights drinking wine and talking about what we wanted the night to be). Truthfully though, Steph, being the amazing organizer that she is, had so much under control that I don’t feel I really had to do anything. And our parents took care of speeches, a slide show (in an attempt to embarrass us, but we don’t embarrass easily), and posters of the two of us from all stages of childhood to the doctors we are now. Marilyn & Steph were also responsible for the lovely King and Queen of Stats sashes we were sporting for the evening.

Clearly the event wouldn’t have been what it was were not it for the most excellent owners of the Diana Downtown, who opened up their restaurant to be flooded by a group of nerds, nerd-family, and nerd-friends. Shelina and Nuru are two of the most amazing people you will ever meet (who are now in charge of Montana’s and the Keg). They closed their restaurant for us on a Saturday night, and allowed us to stay until the wee hours of the morning. The Diana staff were awesome, and the food deserved the rave reviews that everyone there gave it.

Overall, I just want to say thanks again to everyone that shared our night, and a super huge thanks to Steph – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – you have made me a better person and I’m so glad that the Fates brought us together for this amazing adventure. We really do need to have another prom to celebrate again.

Friday Night Wanderlusting

It’s Friday night, and instead of going out and having fun, I’m staying in and trolling the interwebs in search of my next travel adventure. Yes, I’m really that cool. Okay, well I’m not staying in all night. I am going to wander the mall for a bit, mainly in search of a coffee. I could make coffee at home, but then I’d be a complete loser who stayed in on a Friday night. This way I can be a complete loser who wandered the mall on a Friday night in search of coffee. Zing!

So why am I spending Friday night trolling the interwebs in search of my next travel adventure? Well, partially I’m trying to figure out where I’ll next be heading to keep on top of item #195 on my Not-So-Bucket-List list, and partially I am suffering from a serious case of the wanderlust this eve, and partially I just saw a picture of Rick (whom you will probably remember from such great things as our trip to Hawaii, and my face-smashing adventure) doing an amazing jump shot in front of the Eiffel tower. Because he is currently on a 3 week vacation in Europe. Without me. And while he definitely deserves the trip, I am uber jealous and might hate him just a little. Or a lot. Okay, I don’t hate him, not even a little, but I am uber jealous and this has served only to stoke up the fires of my wanderlust. And once those fires get going, I can only sate them with the thought of a new trip. I am clearly a travel whore. Or maybe a travel addict. Let’s just play it safe and call me travel whore who is addicted to travel.

Anyway, as of today I am batting 6 for 6. That is, 6 travel destinations/round-trip flights in 6 months. This all in accordance to the rules that I set forth in my 12 trips in 12 months challenge (described here). Granted, I haven’t stuck to the original plan perfectly; my 6th trip only included Nova Scotia, and not New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island. But this is okay, as the only strict rule is that which states (and I paraphrase, because I’m allowed to do such things):

The only travel that counts is that which requires one or more plane rides.  Thus, allowed trips include local, domestic, and international travel that involves me travelling first to Pearson International Airport.

So here I am, perusing the intertubes. On a Friday night. Have I mentioned how cool I am?

Me and the wave. We're like best friends and stuff.After the race. Wet, cold, but feeling great.
After the race. Wet, cold, but feeling great.
The return of my homunculus.
Gastronomic Adventures in Ottawa
Outside Good Enough To Eat, prior to eating.
Outside Good Enough To Eat, prior to eating.
Dan, looking just as stylish in my mask

Dr. Beth Comes To Town

This is Dr. Beth's office door.

So remember how Dr. Beth (of Not To Be Trusted With Knives) is playing in the Longest Hockey Game to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis Research (and how could you not remember her, what with her being a huge slice of awesome pie)? Well, this week Dr. Beth just so happened to be in town, and Dr. Beth also just so happened to be on campus, and Dr. Beth just so happened to be giving a lecture to my graduate class. This may or may not have been due to the fact that she came as an invited speaker (invited by yours truly). And I have to ask, where were you when all of this awesomeness was happening?

All I can say is that clearly, you missed out.

Dr. Beth gave a most excellent talk on the Scientific Method. It was an engaging conversation – not a lecture – between her and my students (who at first were a bit shy, but opened up by the end). I’m hoping the information the Beth provided will give my students the tools to write epic projects for my class; their proposals are due this Friday. I’m sure it cleared up some misunderstandings they may have had of science, hypothesis testing, predictions, falsifiability, testability, cause and effect, correlation, and several other topics. And for some, it was an excellent crash course in the philosophies of science. Well done Dr. Beth.

After Beth’s talk, I worked through the Birthday Problem with the students. The Birthday Problem (also known as the Birthday Paradox) can be described with the following question:

What is the probability that in a room full of n people, at least 2 of them share a birthday?

We broke the problem down by first setting up simplifying assumptions, and then working with the mutually exclusive event where no 2 people in a room of n people share a birthday. This gave us a simple formula to work with, and allowed us to discuss the idea of using the product of probabilities when dealing with independent events. Awesome! For those of you who may never have heard of this problem, check out the wiki page. The most surprising result from this example: we only require 23 people for the chance of 2 people sharing a birthday to exceed 50%. Stats are awesome!

Following class, Beth and I grabbed tacos and beer at the grad lounge, then headed out to wander campus for a bit. Once we had our fill, we returned home to do a bit of work, before her sister Nancy picked her up for further Ontario based adventures.

Thanks again Dr. Beth. You are a huge slice of Awesome Pie!

Oh, and don’t forget to support Dr. Beth as she takes part in the Longest Hockey Game. The money raised will go a long way to help fight Cystic Fibrosis. Donate by clicking the link in the side bar of my blog. You know you want to – 95% of people say they are more attracted to people who donate to good causes. True story.

In other news, I received the following tweet today.

Deep-fried onion rings arranged in a line on a...
Image via Wikipedia

I can’t believe I was unaware that today is National Onion Ring Day! I love onion rings (Thanks Dr. Mark for passing on this important information). So onion-y and deep-fried. To celebrate, I’m clearly going to have to grab me some onion rings for lunch. Happy National Onion Ring day all y’all.

Oh, and for those wondering – this will clearly be added to my list-o-nerdidays.

The Idea Of Running Another Marathon Still Makes Me Feel Slightly Throw-Uppy

So on June 1st I posted a list of 3 goals for the remainder of the summer/fall. They included:

  1. a 30 day yoga challenge (starting some time in July),
  2. a Century Bike ride (that is, a 160 km bike ride, by the end of the summer/fall), and
  3. a sub 4hr marathon (the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October).

First off, I should state that my original post indicated that the century bike ride was 100 km. It is in fact 100 miles, or 160 km. Despite the difference, I still want to try to do this by the end of the summer. However, I will be more than satisfied if all I manage to accomplish is the 100 km bike ride.

In other news, you’ll be happy to know that as of today, I have officially registered for my second full marathon. That’s right folks, I’m taking the plunge again – this time for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. While I don’t feel as throw-uppy as I did the first time I registered, I’m still feel slightly throw-uppy just from signing up. Why does this make me nervous given that I’ve run a marathon already? Who knows. Perhaps it is the added challenge of breaking the 4 hour mark; perhaps it’s the fact that I am scheduled to have my hernia surgery in August and am unsure if my body will be ready for the run by October (it should be though, right?); or perhaps it is just because 42.2 km (26.2 miles) is a really long way to run.

Whatever the reason, I’m stoked to compete again. The race is scheduled to begin at 9am Sunday, October 16th. That’s only 117 days from now folks. So that means all y’all should have plenty of time to practice your cheers, design some inappropriate yet supportive signage, and set in motion the necessary plans so that you can line the race while thousands of us pound 42.2 km of Toronto’s finest pavement. I’ve provided a map of the route so you can figure out the best place for you to cheer us on. :)

Planky McGee Rides A Big Blue Wave

Planky McGee planks the big blue wave in Halifax Harbour. W00t!

When last we met, the heroes of our story were wandering the mean streets of Halifax. And by heroes, I clearly mean Aidan and me. And by mean streets of Halifax, I mean anything but mean. Seriously, the people in Nova Scotia are ridiculously friendly. Everywhere a smile, even despite the craptacular weather that we were experiencing.

But being the adventurers that we are, Aidan and I chose not to let the weather keep us from enjoying the wares of Halifax. We spent part of our Friday morning enjoying breakfast and lattes at Starbucks, and doing a little work. Then it was off to buy Aidan some new hiking boots. From there, more food. And by food, I mean seafood of course. We wandered the public gardens across the street from the Lord Nelson hotel, and then returned to the harbour where I insisted on getting a planking shot on top of the big blue wave monument (I guess it’s a monument, although I have no idea what it is a monument to). Getting up required a running start; partly because it was slippery due to the rain/fog/mist that we were walking through; partly because a running start is more fun than simply walking up the side. The plank was well received by several passersby, and this despite a clear sign that indicated that the wave shouldn’t have been climbed. Oops, my bad :)

Friday night turned into a bit of a booze-y night. We started with some pints at My Father’s Moustache, then headed to Durty Nelly’s pub. There we met several visitors from P.E.I., and proceeded to drink the night away with them. It was a really good night. I remember that our walk home was cold, it started to rain, I was hungry, and I just wanted to be in my bed. We managed to deal with the hunger by stopping at a chip wagon. Probably not the healthiest choice, but I didn’t really care.

Saturday we slept in a bit (probably a function of the booze the night before). When we did finally get out of bed, we noted that the weather had significantly improved. This of course means that it wasn’t raining, and the sun was poking its head out for a bit. While it wasn’t exactly hot, it was still a nice change from the constant rain and cold. Have I mentioned that I don’t like cold? Anyway, while Aidan was showering, I went next door to the Smiling Goat coffee-house and ordered some of the best coffee I’ve had in a while. I also picked up some juice and some bagels.

377 - Halifax Citadel
Image via Wikipedia

Following breakfast, we set off to explore the Halifax Citadel; a military post that took 28 years to build. The Citadel is quite large, and a definite must see should you visit the city. It provides a really great view of the city and the harbour, and is sure to satisfy any history buff. Aidan and I spent several hours wandering the grounds snapping photos, chatting with the ‘military’ folk who work there (they were actually hired students), exploring the museum, and getting jump shots and plank shots.

Afterward, we went to Salty’s for lunch. And wow, was it good. We each ordered a pint and then shared a platter of mussels. I also had some bacon wrapped scallops, while Aidan ordered clam chowder. We left very happy, very full, and wanting more. From there, we wandered the city some more, taking in some of the monuments and statues, enjoying coffee along the way, and the random people that we decided to strike up conversations with. For dinner, we opted for – you guessed it – more seafood. This time at Murphy’s. And despite being stuffed to the gills, we then moved to the Red Stag pub, which is part of the Alexander Keith’s brewery. There we had the ‘sampler’. On our way home, we again stopped in to Durty Nelly’s. However, we were so full at this point, we managed only a pint before we decided to return to our rooms and pass out.

Sunday, being our last day, began with a trip to Starbucks for breakfast (the Smiling Goat hadn’t opened), one last trip to the harbour, more random jump shots and such, and then a return to our hotel to pack up and ship out.

Shipping out started off well. But I’ll leave that for another post :)

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Shucking Awesome Part Deux: The Re-Shuckening

Thursday morning, Aidan and I decided to head to Halifax. Initially we were thinking of heading to Moncton and then some random little town in P.E.I., but ultimately decided that all the driving would be annoying. Well, he decided it would be annoying. I simply agreed, which is all I can do because I don’t drive.

Anyway, we arrived Thursday just before noon and found ourselves in the Lord Nelson hotel. Swanky! After check in, we spent the day working. Seriously. We parked ourselves at a local coffee shop and got to it. I don’t really know what he was doing, but it involved several lengthy phone calls and madly typing many emails. Me? Well, I spent the day answering student questions (related to an assignment that was to be due today – but I’ve been nice and have extended the due date), reading several papers, and writing a paper of my own. I may also have sent an email to some trusted colleagues seeking advice on the paper I’m writing. Specifically, I’m trying to decide if I should provide a motivating example that includes vampires and zombies, or keep it real and use something like cancer cases or gastrointestinal disease. Personally, I like the idea of vampires and zombies. What say you, dear readers? Should I go the normal route using gastrointestinal disease or cancer, or should I be crazy and use vampires and zombies?

When we finally called the work day, we wandered down to the harbour and had an early dinner of raw oysters at the Five Fishermen. The hotel staff had informed us earlier in the day that they had a happy hour special from 4:30-6:30, and so we made a point to check out the establishment. The place was very nice. The oysters were delicious, and the atmosphere was far swankier than I had expected. Having enjoyed Chivas with my oysters when I was last in Ottawa, I decided to try this current crop with a 10-year-old Glenmorangie. Verdict: yum! I’d like to go back to try more of their food, but given all of the excellent gastronomic options, I doubt this will happen. Instead, I think we are going to try to take in as many different places as possible.

After dinner, we wandered the harbour, grabbed some photos, and then made our way back to the hotel to relax. And by relax, I mean nap. Because we were exhausted apparently. Given that we had spent the previous few nights enjoying local wares (read beer), we also opted to go easy. Instead of boozing it up, we went to the movies and saw Super 8. And this was the perfect way to end the day.

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I’m Cold And I’m Wet And There Are Wolves After Me

Okay, two out of three things in the title are true. Can you guess which ones? Ha.

Yesterday Aidan, Julie, Brian, and I decided to take a hike. Despite the rain and the cold, we packed up the car with essentials (food, water, and my large vanilla soy latte – yes, that is an essential) and headed for the Cape Split Trail.

We were warned in advance that the hike would take about 4-5 hours round trip, and that it would cover approximately 16km. We also knew going in that the idea that the clouds might break and the sun might shine was a bit of a pipe dream. Regardless, we set off.

Getting to the trail was easy. We followed the 358 the entire way (more or less). The route was beautiful. Winding through various little towns (Canning, for example), past some farmlands in the Annapolis Valley, and by many quaint houses overlooking the ocean.

I would say the drive from Wolfville lasted no more than half an hour, but I’m honestly not sure. I was lost in conversation and not really paying attention. Whatever the duration of the drive, we finally arrived to set off on our very wet, and cold hike.

The hike was beautiful. Given all the rain, it was quite lush. And as much as I hate the cold, once we got moving I really didn’t feel anything. Our pace was such that I felt warm all the time, except for those moments when we’d stop for a quick break. And I think the rain protected us from the possibility of death-by-mosquito as I didn’t see a single one. Granted, I’m often not the first thing on their menu; I’m not sure why that is. I don’t remember the last time I was bit by a mosquito. Even when I was travelling in the Peruvian rain forest, I didn’t get a single bite. And this despite the fact that my travel mates were eaten alive. But I digress.

After almost 2 hours, we entered a clearing that was Cape Split. The views were breathtaking, and sadly the camera did not do them justice. And oh how I wanted to climb the cliffs. However, logic prevailed – what with the rocks being covered in moss/lichen, and of course being very wet. Maybe next time.

We munched on some apples, granola, and chocolate, and then made our way back to the car. Our return time was much faster; only about an hour and 30 minutes. Perhaps because at this point we were already completely soaked so it didn’t seem to matter if we stomped through puddles. Regardless, I am again amazed at the time estimates that are often provided for certain activities. I don’t feel like I’m that fast when I walk, but clearly I must be. Our total hiking time including breaks was 3 hrs 30 minutes (give or take); which if we split the difference with the estimated 4-5 hr estimated completion time, means we saved about an hour. Awesome!

By the time we made it back to the car, we were covered in mud and drenched. But our spirits were high, and the trek was definitely worth it. We returned to Wolfville, dropped Julie and Brian off, and then headed back to our hotel to clean up before dinner.

Anyway, if you ever come to this area you really must try this hike. It is well worth the view. Also, make sure to stop in and say hi to Mark & Britney at the Mud Creek Grill and Lounge. The food was great (and definitely just what the doctor needed after hiking for 3.5 hours), and the beer was tasty. The service was also excellent.

A Banquet Of Nerds

So where did I leave off? I think the last we spoke I was describing the joy that was presenting at the SSC on Monday.

Anyway, since then I have attended several more talks. I think the two that had the biggest impact were not statistical in nature. Instead, they were talks about funding opportunities. That is, talks by NSERC and Mitacs. Thanks to both of these talks, I believe I have the necessary information to put together some seriously awesome grant applications. I may also try to recruit some colleagues so that the applications are just that much better.

After the talks, I wandered the town with Almost Dr. Lorna. We ventured down to the red mud; part of the Bay of Fundy. A few obligatory plank and jump shots were captured for all eternity, and then we met a little fury friend. Following that, we stopped off at a local art shop, and finally grabbed a coffee before proceeding to the Annual General Meeting of the Biostatistics Group of the SSC. Good times. Good times indeed.

Regardless, the conference hasn’t been all nerd-related talks and an orgy of statistics. It has also been a lot of fun. Tuesday night was no exception, as that was the night that all the stat nerds let their hair down to celebrate our common interests. That is, we came together to celebrate the past year at the Old Orchard Inn for the SSC banquet. And as usual, the banquet was awesome. It probably didn’t hurt that each conference attendee had a free drink ticket. It also didn’t hurt that each table had 4 bottles of wine. And it really didn’t hurt that the waiter kept bringing us more wine as he realized our table was one of the only tables drinking wine (I’m so proud of Guelph).

Needless to say, the banquet was great. The food was awesome, and there were several awards handed out to outstanding new statisticians, and to other statisticians that had contributed in some way over the previous year.

After the dinner, some of us decided that we needed to venture to Paddy’s for a night cap. Clearly that was probably not the best idea, but we went anyway. Some guy who went by the moniker of BLUE (best linear unbiased estimator) decided that we needed to drink scotch. I did not object. That was likely dumb.:)

Ultimately, it ended up being a great but late night. Fun was had by all, especially those of us that didn’t need to present the following day :)

Let The Nerdfest Begin! An Update From Acadia

Aidan and I arrived safely in Halifax on Sunday eve. From there, we made our way to Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

It turns out that Acadia has a really beautiful campus. This is the first time I’ve been here, so everything is new to me. The buildings are typically older, hence they suffer from the curse of awesome architecture and being beautiful (a curse I know all too well – ha! I kill me). And despite the rain, the campus itself is pristine, well maintained, and full of flowers in bloom.

Our first night had us venturing to Paddy’s Pub, a local pub, brew house, and eatery. Being in the East Coast, I’ve made it my mission to consume my weight in seafood while I’m here. I started at Paddy’s; specifically, I ordered the fish cakes. So. Freaking. Tasty. They came with a spinach salad and chow-chow – a traditional green tomato relish. I also sampled the beer of the day – blueberry – and the Annapolis Valley Ale. Both were tasty, but I preferred the ale.

Monday was presentation day. And as luck would have it, my presentation was over within the first session of the day (after the key-note speaker of course). So by 10:30 a.m., I was completely free to relax and enjoy the rest of the conference unimpeded by the looming cloud of presenting. Of course, I don’t really get too panicked or freaked out by the thought of presenting. That’s not to say that I don’t get nervous – I do get the butterflies and such just before I present. But they are manageable, and provide a bit of excitement that I try to capitalize on while presenting.

Anyway, the presentation went well. That is to say, I didn’t faint, vomit, blurt out obscenities, or suffer a wardrobe malfunction. The talk was well attended, and seemed to be well received. Of course, a few of the late comers seemed genuinely shocked when they walked in and I was rambling on about zombies and vampires. You see, my original abstract was about waterborne and foodborne disease. However, given time constraints and my desire to spice up my talk, I opted to change it. This led to some confused expressions, and some smirking, but overall, I think it went well. You can check out my presentation below – assuming my embedding skills are working.

My suspicions were confirmed later in the day when the Andrew Lawson mentioned my presentation during his talk. And then again later at Paddy’s when a random stats nerd approached me to find out how I put together such a ‘slick presentation’ (his words, not mine), and to tell me that it was a ‘great talk’ (again, his words, not mine). W00t! I celebrated by having a pint or two of Acadian Cream Ale. :)

I also have to give super high fives to Almost Dr. Lorna. Her presentation was awesome. She is such an amazing presenter, and she too got the nod from Andrew Lawson. That is to say, he actually chatted with her after the session to learn more about what she was doing. To be honest, we were both as giddy as school kids. After he left, we may or may not have high-fived each other. Okay, we totally high-fived each other.

Anyway, further nerdly updates to follow. For now, I’m off to some more talks. And if I’m lucky, I might run into Dr. Lawson again.

East Coast Bound

Well folks, in a few short hours I’ll be boarding a plane with my brother. This marks the 6th travel destination so far this year (which has, up to this point included Hawaii in January, New York in February, Ottawa in March, Calgary in April, Ottawa again in May, and now Nova Scotia in June). A good travel year for sure.

So as I’ve mentioned previously, my destination today is Wolfville, Nova Scotia, via Halifax. The purpose of said travel: to attend (and present) at the Annual Meeting of the Statistical Society of Canada (also known simply as the SSC). W00t! I’m pretty stoked. This will be the first time that I will be presenting at the SSC as not only a Doctor of Statistics, but also as an Assistant Professor (but just call me Ass. Prof. for short). Hopefully my presentation goes well.

Of course, I’m not the only nerd speaking at the SSC. After perusing the schedule, I’ve decided that I should probably see several talks, including one by fellow nerd caucus member, Almost Dr. Lorna. Other talks that I’d like to see range from talks about wavelets, to others focusing on ecological risk assessment and natural resources management; all topics that are relevant to my research.

I also wish that I could have taken part in this talk (Dr. Banerjee is a bit of an idol of mine):

  • Banerjee, Sudipto, Sunday June 12, 9:00-16:00, Workshop of the Biostatistics Section: A Practical Introduction to Hierarchical Modelling for Spatially Referenced Data.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the conference. I hope my talk goes well, and I hope I get some new ideas for potential research projects. And of course, dear readers, I will keep you informed about all such goings-on during the conference, including any shenanigans that my brother and I get up to. For those unaware, shenanigans are the best type of nanigans to get up to. True story.

This Makes It Official

Apparently this makes my marathon official. W00t! In other news, you might enjoy the following videos and pictures from the marathon (click here to view the video – which I can’t embed unfortunately). The photos are bad quality; the point being you have to purchase them to get the good quality versions. Of course, I’m far too cheap for that, and to be honest – running photos aren’t the most flattering.

I do find it hilarious to see myself in the video. I look like a giant tool. Granted, a giant happy tool who was loving the fact that he was running a marathon. But a tool nonetheless. I make my appearance around the 24 second mark of the video.

Clearly the photos aren’t too flattering. Partly this was because I was running a marathon, and marathons are anything but sexy. Partly it was due to the fact that it was raining and so by the end of the race I looked like a drowned rat. And partly it was due to the fact that I looked like a tool, as previously mentioned.

Anyway – enjoy!