Category Archives: Chocolate

Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie – Or How To Become Pie-abetic

Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie.

After a weekend filled with adventuring, hanging with the wee fuzzball, and getting to spend some quality time with friends, I figured I should somehow mark the occasion. But, how does one mark such a monumentally awesome weekend? I asked myself. The answer was pretty much instantaneous.

Pie1.

And just like that I spent the afternoon making pies for yet another awesome dinner with friends this eve.

Given the success of my previous pumpkin pie adventure, I decided that more pumpkin pies were necessary. Feeling adventurous, I also opted to try my hand at a dairy free pecan pie. Being the resourceful fellow that I am2, I queried the all-powerful and all-knowing Google. After scanning a few3 recipes, I settled on this one. I did however modify the recipe slightly (as indicated below). The result: a deliciously delicious one way trip to a potential diabetic coma known as Dan’s Dairy Free Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie.

I know. Saying it makes me salivate too.


Ingredients:

  • So many pies, so little time.

    2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter (Becel) vegan butter
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 bar of dairy free salted dark chocolate – chopped into pieces about the size of chocolate chips or smaller
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
  2. Blend eggs, brown sugar, flour, vegan butter, corn syrup and vanilla in a large bowl.
  3. Add the chocolate and pecans, and mix well.
  4. Pour the mixture evenly into the two pie crusts.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

1 Pie pretty much is the answer to anything. I don’t think I should have to tell you to write that down, but perhaps you should just for good measure.

2 Read lazy.

3 In this case few means 2.


A Certain Level Of Productivity

This is the best way to start the morning.

Another day, another…um…something. I’d say dollar but I’ve done nothing that I’d consider productive today. Hence, I’ve done nothing that I would consider worth a dollar.

What did I do today? Let’s recap. I started the day with an hour of yoga on the dock as the sun came up. If you’ve never started a day like that, I highly suggest you do. It’s fantastic.

After breakfast, Steph, Ryan, Sue, Danielle and I hopped into the boat for a little bit of zipping around the lake and wakeboarding. I think I may have gotten a little sun-kissed in the process. W00t!

The rest of the day consisted of eating, beverages, sitting in the sun, eating, beverages, and more sitting in the sun. Oh, and then there was more eating. And beverages. And sunshine.

I think you get the point.

Anyway, I’d like to say that I did more than that today but the truth is I’m on vacation and this was exactly the level of productivity I wanted to achieve.


Morning at the cottage. A perfect day for yoga.
Dr. Dixon wakeboarding.
Boating around the lake with Dr. Dixon

S’Moreos

Vacation day 2. Yup, I’m really going to give you a play-by-play of my vacation. It’s apparently the thing to do1.

Earlier today I ventured back to Toronto. What made today’s trip different from yesterday’s? Easy – today I had a purpose. You see, when Manon and I decided to head to Toronto we had no major plan, no goal, no specific purpose for our adventure. We were going to let fate determine whatever path our day was going to take. And as per usual, letting fate decide our day was perfect. We had a fantastic carefree day wandering the city, sampling its wares, and generally getting up to no good.

Today, however, I hit the big city with one purpose in mind: meet Steph and head to the cottage. And you’ll be happy to know dear readers, that I was most successful. I am currently sitting in a chair that apparently will massage my back, my shoulders, and my butt for free2 at Steph’s parent’s cottage3. I imagine this is what heaven must be like.

Shortly after arriving, the group of us4 headed into town for dinner and to do a little grocery shopping for the weekend. While shopping, Marilyn5 and I started discussing how awesome it was that Oreo cookies were dairy free6. It was at that moment that I recalled Steph picking up a bag of marshmallows.

I think you all see where this was going.

S’moreos.

That’s right, folks. I had a flash of brilliance. Two Oreo cookies plus marshmallows. It’s a S’more on drugs. Chocolatey, chocolatey drugs. And with a delicious vanilla cream filling. Best. Idea. Ever7.

But wait, there’s more.

After we returned to the cottage I realized that someone had also stocked the grocery bag with mini Reese peanut butter cups.

Another flash of brilliance.

S’moreeseos.

Yup. You guessed it. Marshmallows and mini Reese peanut butter cups sandwiched between two Oreos. I’m pretty sure I’ve just unlocked the secret to the universe. And I’ve just shared it with all y’all.

You are welcome.


1 Or perhaps I’m just a big jerk because I keep shoving in your face the fact that I’m vacationing.

2 I didn’t even have to buy it dinner!

3 The term cottage is used very liberally. Shangri-La might be more appropriate.

4 Steph, her parents, her uncle, and me.

5 Steph’s mom.

6 Something that I appreciate given how much dairy hates me.

7 Perhaps these already exist and the idea isn’t brilliant at all – I have no idea as the internet connection is weak and I figured I should upload my post instead of hunting down recipes. However, I’m going to assume the idea is brilliant because holy-crapshite-it’s-S’moreos.


Today I Wore Several Hats

Dinner in the Distillery District.

When I awoke this morning I immediately knew that something was different. I knew that I had slept in, although I also knew that I still had time to lay in bed as my alarm hadn’t gone off. Elliot was curled up next to me softly purring and likely dreaming about chasing mice or whatever it is that cats dream of. I could see a few sunbeams poking through my rather thick curtains, cutting the as-close-to-pitch-as-I-can-make-it that was my room.

I smiled. I stretched. I smiled some more.

Hello vacation I said out loud, I’ve missed you.

And so, dear readers, today was the first official day of my vacation. I haven’t been this excited about a vacation in a while – likely because I haven’t been travelling and vacationing anywhere close to the same amount as last year1.

All I know is that when I woke up, it just felt right.

I swear that I’m being followed.

After snuggling with Elliot, I decided to get up and get my day started. The plan: heading to Toronto with my friend Manon. The goal: we had no goal. Essentially we were just going to wander and let fate determine where we would go and what we would end up doing.

As fate would have it, much of our day was spent wandering the rooms of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) exploring art and history from China and Japan, as well as a great collection of fossils and dinosaurs2. In case I haven’t mentioned it before now, I am a huge dinosaur geek. I was stoked to see the skeletons and imagine what they must have been like when they were clothed with flesh and blood.

Get in my belly!

After the ROM we wandered over to the Distillery District. We may or may not have bought chocolate, and I may or may not have sampled and purchased some sake. I can’t be expected to remember everything I’ve done after I’ve sampled sake, right?

Needless to say the Distillery District was fantastic. We opted to stay there for dinner – trying out the wares of the Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill. Dinner was the icing on the proverbial cake that was my first day of vacation. Calamari and raw oysters? Hells ya.

Anyway I’m home now and completely content. I’m tired, but it’s not the same kind of tired one has after a day of work filled with meetings. It’s the kind of tired one has after wandering the city of Toronto, enjoying whatever might fall in his lap.

I can’t wait to see what the rest of my vacation has to offer.


1 Something that I really need to fix.

2 And hats. They also had a great and ridiculous collection of hats.

I love this hat.
I should lecture in this hat.
The Egyptian look.

GPS Or Naming Fail?

The newly minted Mr. and Mrs., sharing their first dance as bride and groom.

So as I wrote yesterday, last night I attended the wedding of my friends Erin and John. And I will repeat what I wrote yesterday – the wedding was fantastic.

The most important and amazing thing about the weekend was the opportunity it afforded to be able to spend time with friends that so rarely are able to get together under one roof at the same time. It’s not for lack of want, it’s just a reality of busy schedules, family commitments, work, and the like. The fact that some of the group now live in Ottawa and Montreal also limits the time we can all spend together.

Last night, however, was a perfect opportunity for everyone to come together and celebrate something awesome. The bride of course was beautiful, and the groom, well he didn’t look too bad either.

The day wasn’t without its glitches. Fortunately, these had nothing to do with the bride or groom, and a lot to do with GPS.

Let me explain. The wedding ceremony was scheduled to take place at 3:30pm at 29 Queenston Street, Queenston, Ontario1. Matt and I left the hotel at 2:55 with the Google Map knowledge that it would take us 15-20 minutes to get to the chapel barring traffic.

Now, let me show you what Google presented to us when I asked it for directions from our hotel in Niagara falls to the address listed above:

Everything looking kosher, we set off for the church. On arrival however, we quickly realized that something was wrong. Very wrong. While we did see a church, the parking lot was empty. The time, 3:20.

I want to marry this cake. Sadly it was full of dairy evil, so I could only admire it from a distance. Stupid dairy, coming between me and my one true love.

I double checked that the address I had entered was correct. No problems there. And yet, clearly, we were not at the destination we needed to be.

What the frick Google? What the frick?

We tried to call our friends, but of course they all had their phones off or on vibrate as the ceremony was only minutes away from starting. We quickly jumped to the website to learn that the chapel shared land with the Laura Secord Homestead.

Entering the Laura Secord Homestead into Google we discovered, much to our horror, that there was in fact a town called Queenston. Google had sent us to a neighbourhood of St. Catherines known as Queenston. Strangely enough, both the town and the neighbourhood had streets named Queenston. And strangely enough, both had addresses of 29 Queenston Street. And even more amazing, the Google directions sent us to a church in both cases2.

Gah!

At this point, Google informed us that we would need 22 minutes to get to where we were meant to be. As we were about to take off, we quickly identified another invitee who had made the same mistake as us. After running up to her car3, we had her follow us. She was clearly distraught and upset that we were all likely going to miss the ceremony.

The traditional Bride dances with 6 foot banana dance. So beautiful. Excuse me, I think I must have something in my eye.

On the drive there, both Matt and I discussed the probability of making it in time. It didn’t seem likely. We left the wrong address at about 3:28. Given that all weddings start late, we figured we’d have 10 minutes of grace. Assuming the wedding would last 30 minutes, and assuming all things worked out perfectly, we’d arrive at 3:50 with about 15 to 20 minutes left in the ceremony.

The good news: we arrived around 3:50. The bad news, and this came as no surprise given Erin’s organizational mastery, the wedding not only started on time, it lasted 20 minutes. We arrived seconds after the bride and groom were whisked away.

Fortunately, our friends shared in the humour of the situation4. From there, we returned to the hotel to freshen up and then head off to the reception.

As I wrote yesterday, the reception was amazing, the food was spectacular, and spending time with my friends was priceless. Thanks to Matt for driving all weekend. Thanks to Rob and Marina for getting me home today. And thanks to everyone for making last night such an awesome night.

And of course, congratulations to John and Erin.

Oh, and as for you Google Maps – I guess that you are forgiven. I mean, how are you to know that two places could have the same address and be only 22 minutes away from each other?


1 An address that will forever be etched in my memory.

2 Although technically the church we drove to was actually numbered 33. Twenty-nine Queenston was next door.

3 And likely scaring the sweet bejebus out of her.

4 Especially since Greg and Marla apparently typed in the address wrong (using road instead of street)5.

5 That error sent them to Private Eyes 2, which just so happens to be a strip club. Clearly not the typical place for a wedding ceremony.


I Think My Cat Is A Nap-Hole

Apparently this isn’t a cat, it’s a nap-hole. It’s a type of black-hole in which awake-particles can’t escape. Anyone caught within its event horizon are doomed to nap.

The Canada Day weekend continues, with this of course being the big day. So Happy Canada Day all y’all.

Today was another excellent day. I awoke around 7 this morning1 knowing full well that I had nothing planned and I really didn’t need to jump out of bed.

Best. Feeling. Ever.

This meant that I didn’t need to disturb Elliot who was still purring softly next to my leg. Which of course I used as an excuse to lay about for a while. I of course checked the interwebs and played a game of KenKen or two. However, eventually I had to get up. Nature called, both in the form of hunger, and, well, nature calling.

Once I was finally up, made breakfast, fed the fuzzball, and showered, I decided that I couldn’t waste any more of the beauty that was today. As such, I hopped on my bike for a casual ride. For whatever reason, I don’t think it’s possible for me to have a casual ride. The minute I’m on the bike I want to go fast. As fast as my legs will take me. While I can’t sustain any great speed for any substantial length of time2, I did manage to hit almost 50km an hour today3.

After my ride I was inadvertently tricked into a wee catnap by a softly purring fuzzball. He was stretched out on my stripped bed4 and I thought I would lie down and rub his belly. That lasted about 5 seconds before I myself had nodded off.

Anyway, the rest of the day included chatting with my parents, walking around, and basically doing everything that had anything to do with relaxing and recharging.

Mission accomplished!

Oh, and I may have also cooked5.

Now I’m getting ready to head off to Riverside Park for the Canada Day fireworks display.

I really do love this weekend.


1 So yes, yes I did sleep in today. W00t!

2 Yet.

3 For about 30 seconds.

4 Sunday is laundry day.

5 Well, if you call heating up some fresh berries and granola cooking6. I do, but then again, my culinary masterpiece is a toasted english muffin with avocado and tuna.

6 Full recipe below.


1. Fresh raspberries + fresh wild blueberries
2. Add dairy free granola
3. Microwave for about 2 minutes.
4. Add coconut milk ice-cream. I prefer vanilla with this particular dessert, but chocolate will do – and do very well.
5. Eat. Try not to smile.

Carbo-Loaded

Wine has carbs in it, right?

Today I boarded the train and made my way to Ottawa1 – day one of my Ottawa Marathon weekend.

The train ride was great2. I spent the bulk of it working – reviewing and commenting on a report, and prepping notes for a course that I’ll be helping to teach in June – the week after the Annual Meeting of the Statistical Society of Canada. The rest of the train ride included staring out the window as the train cut its way across Ontario.

After arriving in Ottawa, I met up with Mark – who will also be running the marathon on Sunday – and we made our way to our schwanky hotel for the weekend. Following check-in, we wandered to the ByWard Market for some good old time-y carbo-loading.

Translation: french fries and beer. Verdict: carbo-licious.

Sunset. Awesome.

After sufficiently stuffing our faces with carbs, we wandered the market some more and then decided we needed Starbucks. An icy cold tall Mocha Coconut Frappaccino (with soy-milk, hold the whip) for me, and a grande hot chocolate (with whip) for Mark. Of course, we justified the consumption of these high Calorie high sugar treats with the fact that we would be running 42.2km on Sunday morning. Clearly we need the Calories. Ha!

Our bellies now full of carbs and sugars and Calories, we headed to pick up our race kits and wander the pre-race expo. As per usual, the pre-race expo included free samples of various gels, running gummies, and energy bars, information on other races, and places to buy new running gear. A runner’s Mecca if you will.

Sun setting behind parliament. A great way to end the day.

Eventually we made our way to dinner – pasta and a beer of course. By the end, I was stuffed. Painfully stuffed. To be honest, I’m still stuffed (hours later). But it’s all for a good cause, right? And I need to keep reminding myself that I need the energy.

We ended the day by taking a walk around parliament and down to the river so that we could watch the sun set, and then returned to the hotel to chat and relax. After all, we are supposed to be taking it easy so that we are in prime form when the gun goes off on Sunday morning.

Anyway, tomorrow is another day to relax and fill my gullet with carbo-treats. Which means I should get to bed so that I’m rested for my day of gluttony and sloth.

Gluttony and sloth, two of the seven deadly sins, or the best pre-marathon game-plan ever? Something to ponder.


1 My trek also included a bus ride thanks to the Via Rail strike. Truth be told, the bus ride wasn’t too bad as it was only one hour long. However, the larger than average dude that sat next to me took up more real estate than I was comfortable with. I pretended not to notice, and instead focused on napping and watching Game of Thrones on my computer.

2 There’s something to be said for first class – lots of leg room, lots of service, and plenty of extras, such as chocolate3 and wine4.

3 Tasty carbs.

4 Tasty liquid carbs.


Chocolate And Beer You Say

Race day bib! Apparently I'm a dirty runner. Who knew?

So remember that time I ran for chocolate? Ya, those were good times.

For those who follow this blog1, you’ll know that I ran the Chocolate Race in Port Dalhousie yesterday, along with several friends. The idea – run 10 miles, or 16.1 kilometres – whilst celebrating the awesomeness that is chocolate. And by celebrating, I clearly mean eating. And by eating, I clearly mean gorging.

That’s right folks, the run wasn’t just a simple run. It was a run where you were encouraged to eat chocolate, because why the hell not? There were two chocolate stops on the run – the first offering chocolate covered fruit2, the second offering chocolate covered pretzels. Best of all, because of the nature of the course, we got to hit up both chocolate stops twice.

Best. Race. Ever.

Or was it?

Yes. Yes it was.

At the end of the race we received medals and tickets for free

  1. Chocolate truffles,
  2. A chocolate brownie, and
  3. A chocolate martini.

Seriously? Could this race get any better?

Yes. Yes it could.

Run Forrest, run.

We also were given freshly made and oh-so-delicious4 chocolate croissants, plus chocolate milk. If I were actually able to eat all of these things I likely would have gone into some sort of chocolate based coma. An oh-so delicious chocolate based coma.

Following the race we headed into town to collect our truffles, brownies, and martinis. Except sadly the bar that was serving the martinis had run out by the time we made our way through the line. Gasp! Fortunately, they had not run out of beer. And that dear readers is how finally, finally, finally, after many runs and after many dreams of such a thing happening, I ended a race with a tall and frosty beer.

Best. Race. Ever.

Oh right. You’re probably wondering how I did. Well, for those of you that are dying to know, I managed to run 16.1 kilometres with a gun time of 1:26:555. This means that my average pace was 5 minute 25 seconds per kilometre6 – not my fastest pace ever, but not too bad given my lack of sleep and the fact that I was intending to run a very comfortable and relaxed pace.

After the race, once I was able to review the results, I was surprised to learn that I placed 35th out of 216 runners. Even better, I managed 4th for my age and gender category (out of 9). I’ve never come that close to placing before7. Sweet!

So to recap: chocolate, friends, beautiful weather, great course, almost placing, and beer.

Best. Race. Ever.


1 And a huge thank you to all y’all for doing so.

2 Which sadly I could not eat as they were covered in milk chocolate3.

3 Milk of course being my arch nemesis.

4 According to those who could eat the butter laden chocolate pastries.

5 Chip time isn’t available at the moment – for some unknown reason.

6 Not too shabby for someone who was out until the wee hours of the morning at a friends bachelor party the night before.

7 The 3rd place finisher was only 3 seconds in front of me. Three seconds8!

8 Second place (in my age and gender category) ran the 16.1 kilometres in 1:22:38. I’m positive I could beat that. First place ran the course in 1:09:07. That might be a bit more of a challenge. Still, something to consider for next year.



Run. Chocolate. Run. Chocolate. Run. Chocolate. Repeat.

Another day, another 16.1 kilometres. Except today isn’t just any other day. Today is the Chocolate Race! W00t! The race begins at 9:15am and includes chocolate stations throughout the course. While I don’t have a page set up for a live race, those of you on the Twitter or on Facebook should be able to see the race once it begins (as there should be an automatic link generated for both). To all others, I’ll see you on the other side of 16.1 kilometres.

Oh, and for those curious, last night’s bachelor party was dignified, reserved, and very much proper. As a result, I am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning. Okay, maybe I’m not so bright-eyed. Regardless, I’m hydrated and ready crush another race.


All In The Name Of Science

Why don't Flintstone's Chewable Morphine exist?

Despite waking up exhausted this morning, I woke up with a giant smile on my face.

My smile had nothing to do with the fact that it was Friday, nor with the fact that I had spent some beer and chicken wing1 filled time with colleagues the night before. It also had nothing to do with some sort of defence against the potential evil that could befall me given that today was Friday the 13th.

While all of these things could have been the source of my big stupid grin, it was actually due to the knowledge that I was going to be getting my first massage in months. A much-needed, long overdue massage.

Normally I build massage, chiropractic visits, and acupuncture into my schedule of short runs, sprints, long runs, hill training, stretching, and yoga. In my mind, it’s essential to ensure that my body doesn’t fall apart, break down, or start screaming at me for putting it through the paces. However, given the insanity that was the previous semester, I just never found the time. It’s not that I didn’t have time, per se – I just chose to use the time I had to work on other things, or go for runs, or stretch, or in some very rare cases – sleep.

As a result of this negligent behaviour I’ve been extremely tight – especially in my hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, etc. I take every opportunity to stretch but it just hasn’t been enough. If Flintstone’s Chewable Morphine existed, I’d likely have taken them to treat the aches and pains that come hand in hand with extremely tight muscles. Sadly, they don’t, and this is the reason that I’ve been wanting to book a massage for ages.

This week I finally booked a massage.

Patrick and not me. But that could be me - getting a massage in the name of science.

And, dear readers, my massage did not disappoint. In fact, it was better than I expected. Yes, everything was sensitive and tight, and yes, everything felt bruised to touch. But my hips, hamstrings, glutes, shins, thighs, lower back, calves, feet, and pretty much everywhere else Patrick – my RMT – poked, felt about 10 gagillion times better after only an hour of massage.

I’m pretty convinced that Patrick has magic fingers, but haven’t yet been able to produce the evidence to prove this. As a science-y type person, I know the only way to determine this is via repeated experiments. As such, I’ve taken on the challenge of repeatedly exposing myself to potentially dangerous and life threatening massage treatmentsso that I might test this theory. The risks I take, I take not for fame or glory, but so that I might expand the collective knowledge of humanity. That’s right folks, I’m getting massage to benefit you. I’m giving like that.

Massage in the name of science – it has a nice ring, no?


1 A couple of pints of Flying Monkey Smashbomb with Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings and awesome colleagues at the Woolwich Arrow is a recipe for a pretty awesome Thursday night.

2 Potentially dangerous in the sense that I might slip into a coma or fall of the table because I’m so relaxed. Life threatening in the sense that should I fall off the table, I might smash open my face and die. Probability of occurrence – about zero.


Eep!

Just over 25 days until the race gun is fired. Eep.

I don’t want to alarm you, but according to RunKeeper my first marathon of the year is slightly more than 25 days away.

Eep.

Come close – I’m going to tell you a secret. I’m freaking out just a little bit1. Whew. Feels better to get that off my chest.

Part of this freak out is that I just don’t feel that I’m ready. A bunch of my longer runs have been – oh, what’s the word? – sucktastic. Mainly this is a function of not fuelling properly – which I will conquer come race day. But there’s also the tricky business of my IT band doing weird things. It doesn’t hurt, but my legs have been very tight, and my left knee feels like it’s tracking wrong.

And yes, before you ask, I stretch. A lot. It’s just really tight in the general area of my legs and glutes – a major problem given that this is the area that I’m going to count on to get me through 42.2 kilometres of running.

Beyond fuelling, and beyond the IT band, there’s also the stress2 associated with the other races that are happening prior to the marathon. The first of which is the Run for Retina Research half marathon this coming weekend3. Two weeks later I run the 10 Miler Chocolate Race. And then after that – 42.2 glorious kilometres through the streets of Toronto.

Did I mention eep?

Words of wisdom.

Anyway, I’m sure this is all just pre-race jitters. I will run the marathon, and I will crush it. I will also crush both the half marathon and the 10 Miler as part of my continued training for the marathon. And then I will look back on this post and laugh at myself for being nervous about something that I know I can do.

Or, I’ll laugh because I will have done what the sign to the right suggests that I don’t do before I have even crossed the finish line – thus becoming that guy that everyone is talking about.

Either way, I’m going to come out the other end of this thing laughing. So really, what’s there to be worried about?


1 Where the phrase just a little bit means a lot.

2 Stress on the body – which makes me worry a bit whether or not I’m over-training4, or under-training5. Am I hurting or helping when I do this versus that? It’s a nasty string of thoughts that I really try to avoid, but sometimes they creep in.

3 Don’t forget I’m trying to raise money for Retinal Research. Just click the link to the right over there. And thanks to all those who’ve already donated. When I see you, I’ll give you a solid leg-hump-o-joy or a hug as thanks (your choice of course).

4 My mind says unlikely.

5 My mind says likely.


Fairy Statsmother Or Statistical Gnome?

The elusive Statistical Gnome.

Holy crapshite, did that semester ever fly by. Seriously. As if it’s April. As if 12 weeks of coursework are essentially done1. As if I survived!

To be honest, there were moments this semester when I wasn’t sure I was going to come out the other end the sane person I was when I went in. Okay, this of course assumes I was sane to begin with, and it also assumes that if I had gone insane2 that I’d have the wherewithal to be able to identify it.

Hmm, perhaps I am insane and I just don’t know it.

Ah well, ignorance is bliss, right?

So, after a rather hectic semester, what have I been able to take away from the past 13 weeks3?

Quite a lot actually.

And as always, I have opted to present my list-o-learnings to you in, well, list form.


  • I somehow can function for weeks at a time with less than 5 hours of sleep a night4. This isn’t really anything new for me, but given that I am getting older, it’s nice to know that I can still keep up with the younglings from time to time. I just hope that the next time I need to prove that I can keep up with the younglings doesn’t happen any time soon.
  • Despite having 2 courses and 70′ish students to teach, I can still manage to somehow finish work on at least 4 different papers. Truth be told, I have no idea how this happened5. I’m going to assume I have some sort of Fairy Statsmother, or perhaps a Statistical Gnome watching over me.
  • When I’m this busy, running/yoga/some form of exercise is not an option. I have to stick to my schedule lest I go completely bonkers.
  • When I’m this busy, getting away for a weekend is mandatory. I clearly can’t do this every weekend – well, I could, I just opt not to – but I need to plan adventures. They too keep me non-bonkers. Thankfully, I have a friend named Rick who’s all about the adventuring.
  • Chocolate and coffee really do get me through some days. My stomach isn’t always happy about it, but what does my stomach know?
  • Sometimes a nap is absolutely necessary. And by absolutely necessary, I don’t mean that I get home and decide that I’ll curl up with the wee fuzzball for 20 or 30 minutes of zzzzz-time. I mean a necessary nap in the sense that I fall asleep at my desk. While listening to a student. Or, if that doesn’t suit you, I head-bob so hard that I smash my forehead onto my computer screen. Ya, I’m really that cool.
  • Being an examiner is far more stressful than I had imagined it would be. Apparently as an examiner I’m supposed to know stuff. Pfffft.
  • I love my job. I realize that I may be experiencing some sort of honeymoon phase, but I really do love what I do. Not all aspects of it, but overall – I’m a lucky S.O.B.

Fairy Godmothers love Statistics. True story.

Clearly, the past 13 weeks have taught me a lot. Some of the lessons were in the realm of the absurd, some were far more practical. Others – not listed here for the sake of brevity and in the interest of not boring my readers - were in the realm of mathematics and statistics.

Not too shabby for one semester.

Regardless of how fantastic this semester has turned out to be, I will be happy to see it come to and end. I need some sunshine to reboot my soul, some adventure to clear my mind, and some time to hammer out some more grant applications, some more papers, and ultimately some time to prepare myself for another busy semester.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I have to keep my eyes focused on the prize and realize that this marathon isn’t over yet. But at least the finish line is in sight.


1 The last day of class is Thursday!

2 And I can offer no evidence to suggest that I haven’t.

3 The thirteenth week brought to you by Reading Week.

4 In some cases, less than 4 hours a night. And yes, I do realize this is not good for me. Really, I do. I promise not to do this again until the next time I need to do this.

5 But I’m sure it has something to do with footnote number 4.


An Open Letter To Mother Nature

Dear Mother Nature,

He looks cute, but don't take your eyes off of him. He might punch you in the face.

I want to start off by saying thank you for the winter that wasn’t. For me – one who hates the cold with every fibre of his being despite the fact that I often can be found running on the coldest of days, hiking icy trails, and sometimes even ice-climbing, or bobsledding – this was a blessing. Walking to and from work were a breeze! Don’t get me wrong. I was still cold, but not bitterly so. Thank you. Me and my parts very much appreciated it.

And now, now you give us this – this amazing week of summer-time weather. Awesome.

But – and please don’t take this the wrong way – I have to ask: what gives? What did we do to deserve this? Or is this some sort of trickery? You’re not going to dish out these amazing days only to punch us unexpectedly square in the face with Old Man Winter? Or are you?

I’m keeping an eye on you.

Sincerely,

Me.


For those that aren’t enjoying the summer-time weather that Guelph and the rest of Southern Ontario are experiencing, let it be known that today we hit a record shattering 26 degrees Celsius. To my imperialist friends, that’s 78.8 Fahrenheit. On March 21st. The first full day of spring1.

It feels even warmer if we factor in the humidex. That’s right folks, I wrote humidex. On March 21st, which is – in case you had forgotten from an entire paragraph ago – the first full day of spring.

I can’t even begin to imagine what this might mean for the summer (if it means anything at all).

Now, you might be thinking Really Dan? Really? A post about the weather? Is that what this has come to? And the answer is I have no idea. In all honesty though, this is really an extended lead up to something that absolutely relates to the weather. I promise.

As I wrote above, I’m not a fan of the cold. So, given that spring is pretending to be summer you’ll naturally understand my delight. And how am I celebrating beyond wearing short pants (but not these short pants), and smiling like an idiot as the sun shiny rays hit my face on my walks to, from, and around the school? I’ve decided to book a wee adventure.

That’s right folks, I’ve decided to pack up my bags once again, hop on a plane and fly away from my home. My home where the weather is so amazing that a beach visit isn’t out of the question. And to where am I flying?

The record high temperature for March 21 was set in 1979 - at 15 Celsius. Today we hit 26.

Why none other than chilly2 Calgary, Alberta of course.

Wait. What? 

That’s right dear readers. I’ve decided to head to Calgary to visit Rick again. I’ve opted to leave this weather and fly to Calgary where the temperature was 4 Celsius today. Clearly I’ve lost my mind. But let me explain.

  1. I couldn’t say no to the deal. A seat sale meant a round trip flight with WestJet was only $447.23 (thank you so much @FCPenno.)
  2. Further, I had a $250 credit with WestJet that I had to use by April 20th.
  3. Remember that credit that I mentioned just a bullet ago? I bought that off of someone last year that was trying to get rid of it for $160. Which means my trip was actually $357.23.
  4. I felt the need to adventure, and Rick is my go-to-guy for adventure.

Anyway, nothing beyond running and hiking have been planned as of yet, but I’m sure something crazy awesome will present itself to us (it always does). I can tell you this much – I’ll be heading out for Easter weekend. I fully expect Rick to have chocolate on hand to satisfy my Easter related chocolate cravings. I also fully expect Rick to buy me a Better Than Nescafe beverage from The Coup, since last time we failed epically on this front. But most of all, I expect (and I know) that the weekend will be filled with a lot of fun, a lot of laughter, and some most excellent quality time with that ugly dude I like to go on adventures with (pssst – Rick, that’s you – ZING).

Whatever happens, I know it’s going to be awesome.


1 I write full day of Spring, because spring officially began in the Northern Hemisphere at 1:14 AM (EDT) yesterday – March 20th.

2 I realize that Calgary isn’t always chilly. In fact, by the time of my trip it very well may be the warmer of the two locations.


The Cost Of Running

I’ve often heard that running is one of the cheapest sports because you really only need a pair of good running shoes (~$200 every 500-700 kilometres or so), and that’s about it.

Of course, being the nerdy fellow that I am, it got me thinking Is that really all I spend my money on when it comes to running?

Clearly the answer is no. I mean, if I include visits to the Chiropractor1, Massage Therapy2running gear3, the cost of races, the cost to get to races, the cost of hotels to run in races, the cost of food before, during4, and after races, and of course, the cost of a very satisfying and deserved beer or two following a long and successful run5, well, I’m sure the cost is substantial.

Well, at least substantial in the short-term. I mean, if I’m going to consider all of the short-term factors, I should also incorporate savings related to the long-term. Savings made, for example, by reducing risks (and associated health costs) of cardiovascular diseasea,6, diabetesa, and musculoskeletal disabilityb,c (to name a few), and the associated avoided costs that could occur should I have to be off work due to one or more of these diseases. I’m also less likely to be disabled, which would surely be a cost benefitd.

Plus there is the associated cost of how running makes me feel. I have no idea how I would price that per se, but let’s just say that it more than covers the financial side of things, otherwise why the hell would I be doing it?

Anyway, while I am a self-professed nerd, I am not so nerdy that I’ve been documenting every penny related to running7. I have, however, been documenting the cost of the races I’ve signed up to run. So, for your viewing pleasure I present to you, dear readers, a cost summary of the races that I’ve decided to run in the next few months.

  • Number of races: 5
  • Total distance: 151.5 km
  • Total cost: $410.86
  • Average distance: 30.3 km
  • Average cost per race: $82.17
  • Average cost per kilometre: $2.71

I’m not sure how these costs relate to other sports. Regardless, I love running. I think I’ll stick with it. ;)


A list of the races that I’ve officially registered for this year (so far):


1 Mmmm, back cracky goodness. I’d estimate that I spend $500 per year at the Chiropractor, depending on my running schedule.

Mmmm, massage-y goodness. On average I get 18 massages a year. At about $75 per massage, that’s at least $1350 for the year.

3 Such as shirts of various weight – all breathable of course, shorts, tights, mitts, toques, rain gear, sunglasses, sunscreen, wind block, and the ever glamourous nipple protecting BodyGlide.

4 Okay, the cost of food during a race probably isn’t that much. I mean, most of the time one doesn’t really consume much more than the gels or Gatorade that is offered en route. But, there are times when gummies or other energy supplements are needed. Personally, I’ve never bought these things, so I have no idea what cost they might add. I only mention them because I know they are often used.

5 Really though, this cost should be minimal. I mean, I just ran for hours. Doesn’t that deserve a free beer?

Whoa – did I just footnote a footnote? You bet your ass I did. In this case, simply to identify that numerical footnotes are asides, and in no way based in science. Alphabetic footnotes are associated with journal articles that I have provided to support a claim. Consider them Footnotes of Science!

Shocking, right?


a Warburton, D.E.R., Nicol, C.W., Bredin, S.S.D. (2006). Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. Canadian Medical Association, 174(6):747-749.
b Lane, N.E., Bloch, D.A., Wood, P.D., Fries, J.F. (1987). Aging, long-distance running, and the development of musculoskeletal disability: A controlled study. The American Journal of Medicine, 82(4):772-780.
d Willick, S.E., Hansen, P.A. (2010). Running and Osteoarthritis. Clinics in Sports Medicine, 29(3):417-428.
d Charkravarty, E.F., Hubert, H.B, Lingala, V.B, Fries, J.F. (2008). Reduced Disability and Mortality Among Aging Runners: A 21-Year Longitudinal Study. Archives of Internal Medicine, 168(15):1638-1646.


What’s Another 67.1?

While in between meetings today I happened to check on my friend Carolyn’s blog, and realized that I had completely forgotten to register myself for an upcoming race.

Zounds!

The run that had slipped my mind? None other than the Run for Retina half marathon in London, Ontario. The run takes place April 15, and is intended to raise money and awareness for retinal health.

Specifically, the website states:

“Run for Retina is an event developed to raise funds for research at the Ivey Eye Institute in London Ontario. Thousands in our community and beyond suffer from genetic retina eye disorders such as Retinitis Pigmentosis, Best’s Disease, Usher Syndrome, Coat’s Disease, Age Related Macular Degeneration and Stargardt’s Disease, a juvenile form of Macular Degeneration.”

Given that I’ve been to the Ivey Eye Institute on numerous occasions, and given that my eyes are – shall we say slightly b0rked – I figured this would be a great way to support the research done there. Plus, I get to run a half marathon, and that’s a whole lot of alright. Further, since it is scheduled for the 15th of April, two weeks before the Chocolate Race 10 Miler (which I’ve already registered myself in), and three weeks before the first marathon of the year, it will act as a great training run.

Anyway, after I realized that I’d forgotten about the Run for Retina half marathon, it struck me that I’d also forgotten to hunt for a bib for the 30k Around the Bay in Hamilton (March 25). At this point, I’m not positive I’ll be running the Around the Bay as I’ve been slacking in the running department over the past few weeks. However, if I can manage to get off my butt and do some serious running over the next few days, I’m sure I’ll change my mind.

And when you think about it, that works out to an extra 3 races, and an extra 21.1+16+30=67.1km of running. How can I say no to that?