Category Archives: Nerdidays

A Pi-Day Weekend

Mmmm, pie on Pi-Day
Mmmm, pie on Pi-Day

Happy belated Pi-Day all y’all.

For those unaware, Pi-Day (March 14th) is the mathiest of math days; unless you also observe Tau-Day (June 28th) – which I do. Since tau is equal to 2 pi, Tau-Day must be equal to 2 Pi-Days, and 2 Pi-Days is better than 1 Pi-Day, so by definition Tau-Day would have to be the mathier of the two. Math!

I digress.

To celebrate Pi-Day I opted to spend my day enjoying as much pie as I possibly could. This meant that I attempted to have pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m all about healthy choices.

Sadly my breakfast pie was not to be as The Joint Cafe was out of their oh-so-delicious banana coconut cream pie. I settled for a bagel and apple juice – which is about as far from banana coconut cream pie as one can get.

To make up for my breakfast pie failure, I sauntered over to the Woolwich Arrow for lunch-pie. I had learned the night before that they were serving pie from The Williamsford Pie Company. And it was oh so delicious.

To round out my Pi-Day, I enjoyed a delicious peach-raspberry-blueberry pie with friends. I made a point of having just enough pie to be able to say that I ate half a pie on Pi-Day. Why would I eat that much pie? Because half a pie is equivalent to pi radians worth of pie, that’s why.

Pi radians worth of pie on Pi-Day. Yup – I’m just that nerdy.

Happy Pi Approximation Day

Dinosaur Comics – go there. Read them. Laugh. You shan’t be sorry.


In honour of Pi Approximation Day, I thought I’d offer you this most awesomely awesome comic from Dinosaur Comics that approximately honours the approximately awesome awesomeness that is Pi Approximation Day.

Of course, I realize that I’ve offered this comic before but I enjoy the last panel far too much not to share it again.

“Failure is just success rounded down, my friend!”

Now if you don’t mind, I have some pie to rub on my face.



Remember That Time I Did That Thing That I’m Doing Again?

The original Edge-Walkers.

The next two weeks are going to be insane. You see, dear readers, for whatever reason I have an incredible knack when it comes to taking on multiple projects that all seem to have the same deadline1.

Because why have one thing due on a day when I can have 20 things due on a day?


Next week appears to be a perfect example of an everything-due-at-once week. It’s not that I went into my projects thinking that this would be a good idea. Likely I didn’t even notice the overlap, or I probably noticed two things overlapping but had forgotten about the eleventy-billion other things that might also overlap.

Double sigh.

By the end of next week I need to

  1. review and provide comments on two journal submissions,
  2. edit and resubmit one of my papers,
  3. edit and submit my NSERC grant application,
  4. finalize a major report related to an environmental risk assessment,
  5. present my research findings to a sponsor group,
  6. provide expert2 opinion on an environmental program, and
  7. provide a demonstration of a prototype to a client.

I’m sure there are other things that are due next week as well, but my brain is swimming and I am having one of those moments where focus has been replaced by fog.

Normally I’d fight through the fog. Not tonight. Instead I’m choosing to ignore the things I should be thinking about, and instead I’m thinking about my upcoming adventure.

Adventure! More adventure? Didn’t you just finish some sort of adventure?

Probably. I don’t remember things – that’s why I write them down here.

So what exactly am I doing this time? Well, I’m über excited because I’m going to be taking on the CN Tower Edge Walk once again; this time with my friends Dr. Beth, Nancy, and Jeff. If all goes well, I’ll be able to try out some new moves while leaning over the edge. If all doesn’t go well, I’ll be the reason that the CN Tower Edge Walk tour will suddenly require diapers.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with that lovely picture. Ha. Not really though. Instead I’m going to leave you with some of the images from my first Edge Walk adventure (see below). These are never before seen images3. Because I haven’t posted them here yet4. Because I’m lazy5.

1 Or in this case, deadlines that cluster around one particular date.

2 I always giggle a bit when expert is associated with my name, unless expert is used to describe my ability to get up to no-good, shananigan, or adventure, cuz I’m a wicked awesome expert at those things.

3 I think.

4 Or maybe I have.

5 Or maybe I’m not.

Hanging over the edge of the CN Tower – it’s all in a day’s work.
I’m hoping to be able to lean back farther on my next go-round. Much farther :).
Our butts on display for all of Toronto to see.

Dust Off Those Shoes

This could be you. DO IT.

It was brought to my attention recently that Wednesday June 6, 2012 is National Running Day (NRD). Although similar, NRD should not be confused with World Run Day which occurs November 11, 2012.

What is NRD? Well, according to some rather intensive research1,

National Running Day, held annually on the first Wednesday in June, is a day when runners everywhere declare their passion for running. Wherever we are and whomever we’re with, we run—fast or slow, alone or with others, all over town or just around the block. It is a coast-to-coast celebration of a sport and activity that’s simple, inexpensive, and fun. It’s the perfect way for longtime runners to reaffirm their love of running and for beginners to kick off a lifetime and life-changing commitment.

Of course, the National component of NRD seems to refer to the USA. But why should we let a pesky little thing like a border get in our way of also enjoying the benefits that running brings? Clearly we shouldn’t.

So with that, I’ve decided that on Wednesday I’m going to reaffirm my love of running by going out for – you guessed it – a run. At this point I’m thinking a 10km run should adequately inform the world that I love running. And if that doesn’t work, perhaps I should carry a sign that directs people to this particular blog, since I seem to write a lot about it.

1 Where rather intensive research means I Googled it, found the official NRD website, and very carefully copy-pasted my findings here. You’re right, it was exhausting.

The Sound Of Two Hands Clapping

Super Powered High-Five. AWESOME.

In case you had forgotten or in the event that you were completely unaware, tomorrow is a day that is sure to bring a smile to your face1.

For you see, dear readers, tomorrow is High-Five Day – the highest and five-iest of all days2. But tomorrow isn’t just any ordinary High-Five Day. Nope. Tomorrow is actually the 10th High-Five Day3. That’s 2 handfuls of fingers – the same number of fingers required for a High-Five. Clearly this makes tomorrow’s High-Five Day extra special.

What does this mean to us mere mortals?

It means that we should do everything in our power to high-five everyone we see.


Because high-fives bring joy to the world, and we all know that the world can use a huge helping of joy. So high-five every single success tomorrow, no matter how small or how large.

  • Finished that insane report your boss dropped on your desk on Monday? High-five.
  • Rescued a kitten from a tree? High-five.
  • Walked to work smiling because you had girded your loins in big-boy underoos? Double high-five.

The point is – celebrate each and every success because sometimes we need to remind ourselves that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously. And sometimes, just sometimes, we need to be our own standing ovation4.

Of course, if you hate high-fives don’t feel obliged to partake in the actual activity of high-fiving. Perhaps identify yourself as someone who is high-five-phobic so that you aren’t accidentally face-fived or put in the awkward situation of leaving someone hanging. There’s nothing sadder than a high-five that goes unanswered.

Anyway – a super high-five to all of you. Especially you – the one in the funny animal underwear – you know who you are.

Me too Calvin. Me too.

1 Unless of course you don’t like high-fives. But everyone loves a good high-five, right? *cough* Rick *cough*.

High-Five Day occurs on the 3rd Thursday of each and every April.

3 According to the interwebs, High-Five Day was invented in 2002 by several students at the University of Virginia.

My friend Jana taught me that. Smart woman that Jana.

Fear The Spatial-Temporal Pie-Free Singularities

Oh sweet Natalie Dee - we were ready for some pie, but it was nowhere to be found. Why do you insist on mocking us?

Yes, yes, we get that yesterday was Pi-Day. When are you going to shut up about it?

Great question. Soon, I promise1.

Until then, let’s get back to this \pi thing. Specifically, let’s talk about the little Pi-Day adventure that Jasper and I went on yesterday in our never-ending quest to eat pie on Pi-Day. And let me tell you, it was a rather epic adventure. In fact, it was so epic that it left me wondering

Does any Guelph restaurant serve pie anymore?2

Because, based on the number of pie-related rejections that were thrown at us yesterday, it would seem to me that very few of them do. It made me wonder if all of the pie in Guelph had been consumed – a sure sign of a successful Pi-Day – or perhaps, if they had mysteriously vanished. Perhaps all pies were raptured and nobody noticed until now.

Anyway, since I’m off to another meeting I will leave the full details of the story to Jasper. So without further ado, I present to you Jasper and Dan’s Grand Pi-Day Hunt for Pie3.

1 Whereby soon should be assumed to mean never. HA! I love Pi!

Cleary the answer is yes. However, I think Jasper and I had stumbled onto some spatial-temporal pie-free singularity. I know – it is as scary as it sounds.

3 Live the epic struggle of our intrepid explorers. Identify the very moment they became \pi-abetic. See the Pi-Day miracle with your very own eyes. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. It will become a part of you.

The Mile π Club

Pie #1: Apple-cherry pie. YUM.

As my regular readers are likely already aware1, today – March 14th – is Pi-Day. If you are someone who has never heard of Pi-Day, know that it is only the most mathemagical days of the year. That is, today is the day when nerds and geeks from around the world unite to celebrate the much-loved and ubiquitous constant identified by the greek letter \pi. We celebrate on March 14 because the first three digits of \pi are 3.14 – which looks like the date 3/14.

To celebrate, it is customary to enjoy pie in all of its glorious forms – apple pie, lemon pie, pecan pie, cherry pie, blueberry pie, or any other fruit filled pie, pot pie, or pizza pie you can think of.

And not being one to go against such a delicious custom, today I opted for not one but two slices of pie – because if one slice of pie is good, then two slices of pie would clearly be better2. The first, an apple cherry crumble topped pie, was enjoyed while meeting with Justin, my Undergraduate Research Student extraordinaire3. The second, a basic apple pie, was enjoyed with Mr. Jasper Tey4, pi and pie lover, and also a fellow member of the Nerd Caucus.

Pie #2: Apple pie. I'm sure I now have π-abetes.

For those of you who might be curious, the verdict on slice number 1 – de-freaking-licious. Sadly, the second slice wasn’t nearly as good. Perhaps it was because I was suffering pie overload, or perhaps I’m just a pie snob. Also, I think it gave me \pi-abetes. Ha! I kill me. Seriously though, that second slice was mad sweet.

Now, I’m not one to normally eat pie on a regular basis, let alone eat two slices of pie. So, to offset this onslaught of extra and definitely empty Calories, I decided that a run was necessary. Given the awesome weather, a run was required.

The run was great. My legs felt good, the weather was fantastic, the sun was shining, birds were chirping, and I saw my first robin (a clear sign of spring).

Now because I’m really that much of a nerd, I decided that my run should reflect the Pi-y nature of the day. And what better distance to run on Pi-Day than Pi miles5. That’s right folks, Pi miles – approximately 5.05590329 kilometres (rounded to the nearest 100 millionth of a kilometre).

My Pi-Day run.

Put another way, my goal was to run 5 kilometres 55 metres 90 centimetres, and a little more than 3 millimeters. Of course, RunKeeper won’t give me that fine a measurement – only providing a resolution of 10s of metres. That meant I had to either run 5.05 or 5.06 kilometres. Clearly doing less than Pi miles would be unacceptable. As such, I had to run slightly more.

And that, dear readers, is why I am now a full-fledged member of the Mile \mathbf{\pi} Club6. Entrance to the club is easy – you just have to run Pi miles on Pi-Day. Add it to your lists. You know you want to.

Anyway, I hope your Pi-Days were filled with whatever it is that gets your nerd juices flowing. Because that is what Pi-Day is all about – embracing and celebrating your inner nerd.

Happy Pi-Day all y’all. Happy Pi-Day indeed!

1 Because perhaps I won’t shut up about it.

2 This also should placate those that would rather celebrate \tau which is equal to 2\pi. Check out here for more details regarding the \pi/\tau controversy.

3 From With the Grain. Sooooo freaking good.

Jasper was also the mad mind behind the awesome PiDays website. Check it out and figure out how old you are in Pi Years. Seriously nerdy business.

I would have opted for Pi kilometres, but figured that distance was too short for such a beautiful day. Also, I need to get my butt in gear for the 30k Around the Bay race that happens in 11 days. Eep!

I may be the only member. I Googled “Mile Pi Club” and found nothing, except for the following joke:

What do really rich mathematicians all have in common?

They’re all part of the “Mile Pi Club”.

Squee – It’s Almost Nerdmas

Mmmmm, pi.

For those thinking I might have forgotten, don’t worry, I didn’t.

You might be wondering What exactly could Dan have forgotten? Well, it’s highly unlikely – although I guess within the realm of possibility1 – but I could have forgotten the most sacred and holy of all math days in the entire year. That day of course is Pi-Day. The day when nerds of all sorts unite and celebrate that most awesome of numbers – \pi.

Pi-Day officially arrives on Wednesday March 14, but I figured since we are already well into Pi-Eve (which actually started on the evening of the 10th – also known as the International Day of Awesomeness2), that I should probably remind all y’all, just in case you need to go out and do any necessary last-minute shopping.

You know – shopping for all the good little mathy nerds and geeks out there *cough*.

And because I’m extra thoughtful, I thought I’d provide you with a list of the best types of gifts to buy any and all mathy nerds and geeks in your lives. You are welcome.

  • chocolate
  • wine
  • scotch
  • pie

Might I add that this list is in no way biasedOkay, maybe it’s a little biased.

Don’t fret though. If for whatever reason you can’t get out to pick up a gift for that special math nerd/geek in your life – because you are perhaps too busy preparing the Roast Beast for the giant Pi-Day feast, or perhaps because you are finishing up the traditional dessert of chocolate covered pie-in-a-cake, or perhaps because you are putting the last trimmings of Koch Snowflakes on the mantle, or even perhaps because you are in the middle of decanting the special Pi-Day wine into the Pi-Day Klein Bottle – know that hugs are also customary, and most definitely welcome.

Happy Pi-Eve everyone.

To prep you for Pi-Day, I offer you the following links. Enjoy.

1 You know – like it’s plausible that a child might forget Santa coming to visit on Christmas morning. It’s technically possible that a child might forget, but really highly unlikely.

2 Yes, Pi-Eve and the International Day of Awesomeness occur on the same day. Your mind should be blown.

3 Yes, I really am this much of a nerd. I can’t believe you’re still surprised at this.

4 I know! Could this day get any more mathemagical?

You know – the Sierpiński triangle guy.

Give Me An E!

Happy e-day!

It’s e-day!

So happy e-day all y’all. W00t!

In case you have forgotten about e, let me remind you: e, also known as Euler’s number, is as ubiquitous as \pi. Anyway, I’ll direct you to this previous post for more detail about the number itself, because I have some celebrating to do.

As for why today is e-day; that’s simple. If you recall, e is approximately equal to 2.71828183. If we take the first two numbers, we have 2.7. Or February 7. It’s as easy as \pi.

How have I celebrated so far, and how am I going to continue celebrating this nerdtastic day?

  • I had a snack this afternoon. It was a cook-e,
  • I went to yoga so that I could get bend-e,
  • I’m going to have a scotch, because it is delicious and peat-e, and
  • I’m going to enjoy some chocolate – just because.

Anyway, I leave you with the following video (below). While not specifically about e, it is about science. And science has two es in it, so somehow that makes it applicable. Plus, the video is awesome. Of course, that isn’t surprising given that the speaker is Neil deGrasse Tyson.

A Not-So-Bucket-List Review


Last night I received the following text (left) from Rick. Clearly my answer was an immediate yes. Well, technically I responded with “I think we both know the answer to that :)” Anyway, after a few texts flew back and forth, we agreed that Winter Ice Climbing was going to happen, and it should be added to my Not-So-Bucket-List list.

Flash forward to this morning. After adding this new adventure to the things I have to do, I realized that the deadline for the original posting of was almost here (May 12, 2012). Okay, it’s still just over 6 months away, but time flies and such. So I figured I’d check out what still needed to be accomplished, and maybe prioritize those items such that I can accomplish as much of my original list as possible.

Without further ado, here is my original list (reposted below, from here). Of the 166-item long list (31 of which are actually due after May 12, 2012), I am happy to report that I’ve accomplished 80 of them. That’s 48.2% of them. If I exclude those items that are due after May 12, 2012 that have been accomplished (5), then I’ve actually accomplished 75 of 135 due by May 12, 2012 items (55.6 %). Not bad. And I still have 6+ months to go. W00t! I wonder how many of these I can cross off in that time.

Of those yet-to-complete activities, there are 40 that I would say are quite probable should I actually get off my duff and do something. Of those 40 yet-to-complete items, 6 are in the works and will likely be completed before the year-end. Further, 15 of the 40 are health-related goals, 11 are related to food or drink. Only 1 is related to travel (crazy).

Of course, I’m not the type to lament those things I didn’t or won’t have time to accomplish. Somehow, for whatever reason, these were clearly the lesser items on my list, and as such, are there for tomorrow. I’ll simply leave them on my list, and try to check them off as soon as I can.

Ultimately, I think what makes me extra doing-a-happy-dance happy about the outstanding list, is that the items on it are rather mundane compared to some of the other things I’ve done. They definitely aren’t skydiving, or hiking a volcano. And they definitely aren’t as difficult as finishing a PhD or running a marathon.

Inside, I'm doing a happy dance.

Complete by Description Date Completed
12-May-12 1. Find a full time faculty position OR a full time Academic/Job 01-Jan-11
12-May-12 2. Finish my PhD 09-Apr-10
12-May-12 3. Publish 3 articles in 1 year
12-May-12 4. Publish 5 articles in 1 year
12-May-12 5. Publish 10 articles in 1 year
12-May-12 6. Teach Differential Equations 16-Aug-10
12-May-12 7. Teach my first Stats Course 11-Jan-10
12-May-12 8. Teach the same course twice 30-Sep-09
12-May-12 9. Be an invited speaker to a conference 31-Oct-10
12-May-12 10. Bungee Jump
12-May-12 11. Climb another mountain 07-Sep-10
12-May-12 12. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and go on Safari
12-May-12 13. Glacier walk 05-Sep-10
12-May-13 14. Hang Glide
12-May-12 15. Insane 10K race with Matt
12-May-13 16. Niagara wine tour
12-May-13 17. Not Since Moses Race (Nova Scotia)
12-May-12 18. Scuba or Snorkel 24-Jan-11
12-May-12 19. Sky Dive (see Adrenaline Smells Like Awesome for details) January 28, 2011
12-May-12 20. Zip line (again)
12-May-13 21. Helicopter ride 21-Jan-11
12-May-13 22. Hike a lava field – again 16-Jan-11
12-May-13 23. Climb an active volcano 16-Jan-11
28-Sep-13 24. No pants subway ride
28-Sep-13 25. La tomatina (tomato fight), Brunal, Spain
28-Sep-13 26. Cage dive with sharks
28-Sep-13 27. Go to a shooting range
12-May-12 28. Raise over $1000 for BBBS bowlathon
12-May-12 29. Go to the symphony (again) 02-Jan-10
12-May-12 30. See a Ballet with Steph
12-May-12 31. See a play (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert with Rick) 28-Dec-10
12-May-12 32. See an Opera
12-May-12 33. See Sarah McLachlan in concert (again)
12-May-12 34. See Stevie Wonder in concert (with Gerarda)
12-May-12 35. See Tori Amos in concert
12-May-12 36. Determine Net Worth 18-Nov-10
12-May-12 37. Invest $20000
12-May-12 38. Pay off ~$15000 of my debt (not including mortgage)
12-May-12 39. Save $500 in change
12-May-12 40. Set up a budget 18-Nov-10
12-May-12 41. Have a champagne tasting night 13-Mar-10
12-May-12 42. Have a gin tasting night 31-Oct-09
12-May-12 43. Have a port tasting night 19-Sep-09
12-May-12 44. Have a scotch tasting night 30-Sep-10
12-May-12 45. Have a tequila tasting night
12-May-12 46. Have a wine tasting night 06-Nov-10
12-May-12 47. Have the rents over for a home cooked meal
12-May-12 48. Learn to cook a good fish dish
12-May-12 49. Learn to cook coque-au-vin
12-May-12 50. Learn to cook Goulash
12-May-12 51. Learn to cook lamb medalions
12-May-12 52. Learn to cook lamb vindaloo (and make it comparable to the Diana)
12-May-12 53. Learn to make chocolate tofu cheesecake (a la The Cornerstone)
12-May-12 54. Learn to make dairy free banana bread
12-May-12 55. Shop at the market 4 Saturdays in a row 26-Sep-09
28-Sep-13 56. Learn to make 2 types of bread
28-Sep-13 57. Learn to make pasta from scratch
28-Sep-13 58. Try 30 new wines (see Wines for details)
12-May-12 59. Buy a $100+ bottle of port and drink it with Gerarda & Alan
12-May-12 60. Buy a new camera
12-May-12 61. Buy a new MacBook Pro 08-Sep-09
12-May-12 62. Buy a new road bike
12-May-12 63. Buy a tailor made suit, or a fitted suit 25-Jun-10
12-May-12 64. Buy an indoor bike attachment for winter biking
12-May-12 65. Go to Hillside with Steph 12-Jun-10
12-May-12 66. Have a double bingo scrabble game 29-Aug-09
12-May-12 67. Have a PhD Prom 26-Jun-10
12-May-12 68. Learn Linux
12-May-12 69. Learn more Spanish
12-May-13 70. Polar bear swim
12-May-12 71. Read Oryx and Crake
12-May-12 72. See a live sex show 28-Jun-10
12-May-12 73. Get to bed before midnight (with at least 6hrs sleep) for 2 weeks straight Jan-10
12-May-12 74. Stop cracking knuckles and joints for at least a week Jan-10
12-May-13 75. Run, 30k Around the Bay
12-May-12 76. Bike 160K
12-May-12 77. Bike 30k Jun-10
12-May-12 78. Bike 40K Jul-10
12-May-12 79. Bike 50k Jul-10
12-May-12 80. Bike 60k
12-May-12 81. Bike 80K
12-May-12 82. C.N. Tower Climb (again)
12-May-12 83. Complete 100 push ups in a row
12-May-12 84. Complete 100 sit ups in a row 21-Aug-09
12-May-12 85. Complete 140 sit ups in a row
12-May-12 86. Complete 200 sit ups in a row
12-May-12 87. Complete 4 consecutive sets of 10 chin ups
12-May-12 88. Complete 4 consecutive sets of 10 pull ups
12-May-12 89. Complete 4 consecutive sets of 4 chin ups 07-Jan-10
12-May-12 90. Complete 4 consecutive sets of 4 pull ups
12-May-12 91. Complete 4 consecutive sets of 6 chin ups 10-Jan-10
12-May-12 92. Complete 4 consecutive sets of 6 pull ups
12-May-12 93. Complete 4 consecutive sets of 8 chin ups
12-May-12 94. Complete 4 consecutive sets of 8 pull ups
12-May-12 95. Complete 50 push ups in a row 23-Aug-09
12-May-12 96. Complete 60 push ups in a row
12-May-12 97. Complete 80 push ups in a row
12-May-12 98. Complete the 30 day yoga challenge 17-Nov-10
12-May-12 99. Develop abs (clearly subjective)
12-May-13 100. Run a 1/2 marathon (again)
12-May-12 101. Run 10k in 50 minutes 09-Sep
12-May-12 102. Run 12k in 60 minutes 09-Sep
12-May-12 103. Run 5k in under 22 minutes
12-May-12 104. Run 5k in under 25 minutes 28-Sep-09
12-May-13 105. Run a marathon
12-May-12 106. Run another 1/2 marathon 17-Oct-10
12-May-12 107. Run another 10K Jun-10
12-May-12 108. Try yoga or hot yoga 22-Aug-09
28-Sep-13 109. Do another 30 day hot yoga challenge
12-May-12 110. Buy new energy saving appliances (all 5)
12-May-12 111. Paint a wall with chalkboard paint (or set up a plexiglass wall), and use it
12-May-12 112. Paint my guest bedroom
12-May-12 113. Paint the kitchen
12-May-12 114. Paint the main bathroom
12-May-12 115. Replace the carpet in the bedrooms with hardwood
12-May-12 116. Replace the carpet in the living room with hardwood
12-May-12 117. Stretch carpet in the upstairs hall
12-May-12 118. Get a new light for the upstairs bathroom 31-Oct-10
12-May-12 119. Celebrate 35th birthday (plus/minus 1.5 months) in another country Jul-10
12-May-12 120. Go on at least 3 dates in as many months Aug-10
28-Sep-13 121. Start a blog 20-Jan-11
12-May-12 122. Travel to Alberta Sep-10
12-May-12 123. Travel to Asia
12-May-12 124. Travel to at least 1 Canadian Territory
12-May-12 125. Travel to at least 1 of: Prague, Vienna or Budapest 31-Dec-10
12-May-12 126. Travel to at least 2 of: Prague, Vienna or Budapest Jul-10
12-May-12 127. Travel to BC
12-May-12 128. Travel to Calgary to visit Rick & Karen Sep-10
12-May-12 129. Travel to Chigaco to visit Ben (again)
12-May-12 130. Travel to visit Arlene
12-May-12 131. Travel to Iceland, the UK, Ireland or Scotland
12-May-12 132. Travel to Manitoba May-10
12-May-12 133. Travel to Montreal 25-Nov-09
12-May-12 134. Travel to New Brunswick
12-May-12 135. Travel to New York Feb-10
12-May-12 136. Travel to Nova Scotia
12-May-12 137. Travel to Ottawa to visit Matt & Jhona 15-Oct-09
12-May-12 138. Travel to PEI
12-May-12 139. Travel to Portugal, Spain or Andorra
12-May-12 140. Travel to Quebec City (again)
12-May-12 141. Travel to Saskatchewan
12-May-12 142. Travel to South or Central America (again)
12-May-12 143. Travel to the Caribbean (again)
12-May-12 144. Travel to Vancouver to visit Beth (again)
12-May-12 145. Travel with Aidan 22-Dec-09
12-May-12 146. Travel with Matt Jun-10
12-May-12 147. Travel with Steph & Gerarda again Feb-10
12-May-12 148. Travel with Rick 14-Jan-11
28-Sep-13 149. Attend Carnival in Brazil
28-Sep-13 150. Travel to the Galapagos
28-Sep-13 151. Travel to Mt. Everest base camp
28-Sep-13 152. Travel the Great Wall of China
28-Sep-13 153. Travel to the Taj Mahal
28-Sep-13 154. Travel to Angor Watt
28-Sep-13 155. Travel to Germany (again) for Oktoberfest
28-Sep-13 156. Travel to Kruger National Park for Safari
28-Sep-13 157. Travel to Las Vegas
28-Sep-13 158. Travel to Petra
28-Sep-13 159. Travel to Christ the Redeemer
23-Sep-14 160. Travel to the World Cup in 2014
12-May-12 161. Watch Battlestar Galactica Season 1
12-May-12 162. Watch missing shows from Dexter Season 3
12-May-12 163. Watch Dexter Season 4 01-Jan-10
12-May-12 164. Watch Dexter Season 5 26-Dec-10
28-Sep-13 165. Watch 150 movies on IMDB top 250 (already viewed movies count)
28-Sep-13 166. Learn to do a hand stand (without ending up with stitches)

Holy Mole-y

Happy International Year of Chemistry all y'all

Not being strictly a math & stat nerd, I also feel the need to celebrate National Mole Day, which just happens to fall on October 23rd every single year. Why October 23? Well, a mole represents a specific number of atoms or molecules in a set unit of mass; that number is known as Avogadro’s number and is approximately 6.0221415*10^23. And as you can see, October 23, or 10/23 in mm/dd format represent the base and power of Avogadro’s number.

How does one celebrate Mole Day? I celebrate by playing Sporcle‘s ‘Can You Name The Elements Of The Periodic Table‘ quiz.  How many of the elements can you name?  Thanks to practice, I can name all of them in about 7 to 8 minutes. I mentioned I’m a nerd, right?

Of course, whenever I play, I find that the last few always have me stumped. I’ll have to sit for a while trying to remember them, but usually/eventually they come to me. And every time I finish I feel just a little bit nerdier than the last.

I remember some of the elements simply because I like the sound of their names. Others I have associated with various people, places, etc. For example, I remember Dubnium (Db) and Hafnium (Hf) by thinking of George ‘Dubya’ Bush, who may or may not have been a “Haf”-wit. Samarium (Sm) comes to me by thinking about the Good Samaritan. And whenever I get stuck on Cadmium (Cd), I somehow think of a Caramilk bar and remember it. Weird? Maybe. But it works. Also, I don’t normally have to think about the first 20 or so as I was required to memorize them when I was in high school – but I always loved that the sequence of Boron (B), Carbon (C), Nitrogen (N) and Oxygen (O) always, always, always made me think of bacon.

My shiny new Sporcle results

For complete nerd disclosure, I feel that I should also mention that I find a few elements particularly awesome.  Their awesomeness is completely subjective on my part.  That is, I like them because I think they have some pretty wicked awesome sounding names.  For example:

The first three of these elements are part of the Lanthanides, while the last is part of the Actinides.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with a couple of comics that I think are rather hilarious. Happy Mole Day all y’all.

Cyanide & Happiness #2334

It’s All About The Passion

It's World Teachers' Day all y'all

For those not in the know, today is World Teachers’ Day, a day set aside to honour and celebrate teachers. And while I’m not up on all of the official World Teachers’ Day rules (are there rules?), my guess is that a teacher is used to describe not only the profession of the same name, but also anyone in our lives that has taught us something. It could be your grade 8 teacher who taught you a new-found appreciation of books by introducing you to the Lord of the Rings series (thanks Miss Gillies), or perhaps the grade 6 teacher who insisted that you use the word yes and not yeah because yeah sounds like something a donkey would say (so were you actually calling me a jack-ass Mrs. Lewin? Well played. Well played indeed.)

Anyway, I’ve been rather fortunate over the years to have some rather excellent teachers. Perhaps this was some form of luck, or the planets aligning just-so, but in reality it’s probably related to having been in school for so damn long, and maybe, just maybe, there really are a lot of good teachers out there. Regardless the reason, my extended/ongoing education, and experience both as a student and as an assistant professor have provided me a bit of insight into what makes a good teacher. It’s clearly not just a mastery of the subject. Anyone can get up in front of an audience and throw facts and figures at them. No, it’s so much more than that. Teaching requires passion.

Honestly, passion plays such an important role in the learning process. I mean, how am I supposed to get excited or care about a particular topic if the person presenting doesn’t seem to give a rats-ass themselves? Unless the topic being presented is something that I’ve been passionate about a priori, a dull performance isn’t going to make me want to know/understand/integrate the information being dropped in my lap. A lack of passion is often a deal breaker in relationships and the student-teacher relationship is no exception. If one is passionate about what they are studying, that passion becomes contagious. The student opens to the ideas, and true learning can occur. Ideas start flying, and the next thing you know a course becomes more than just facts and figures; it becomes something tangible and exciting; a set of connections and ideas that stoke the imagination and leave the students wanting to know more.

Say what now?

I think this is as true within the profession of teaching as it is outside. Take a minute to think of some of the people in your life that have positively influenced you; those that have taught you something that you now hold dear to your heart. Ask yourself, why did that particular person leave a mark? Was it a collection of bullet points that left you thinking about their words? Or was it how they passed on their knowledge; how they engaged you; how they made their experience a living, tangible lesson? I’m going to bet it was the latter.

Anyway, as I wrote earlier in this post, I’ve been fortunate to have some most excellent teachers in my life. Some have been more influential than others. Some I have strived to emulate in my current position because I know how amazing they really are; how many lives they’ve touched; the difference their work makes. While I’ll offer a blanket thank you to all of them, I really feel the need to point out a few names in particular.

First and foremost, I have to mention my Grade 6 teacher – Mrs. Annette Lewin. When I first met her, I did not think that I would like her. She was stern, and demanding, and she insisted that I not say anything that sounds like something a donkey would say. I’ve never forgotten that, and while I probably sound like a bigger donkey now than I did when I was in Grade 6, she pushed me to succeed in ways that very few other people have ever done. Where other teachers might just give me a great mark, she’d give me a good mark, and then ask me for extra. I probably have her to thank for my workaholism.

When I headed to university, I met several amazing professors. While I won’t mention every awesome prof that I have had, I feel the need to mention Pal Fischer, Gerarda Darlington, Herb Kunze, and Jack Weiner. These four professors have taught me so much, I can’t even begin to explain it. What I can say, is that I am the man I am today because of what these people have taught me, and continue to teach me. Thank you all for being passionate about your work, and for demanding the best of me. I am forever in your debts.

Anyway, if you can, take the time today to think about the people who have influenced you. If possible, let them know.

Happy Teachers’ Day all y’all.

Today’s Lesson: Do It With Chocolate.

Wow – it’s September 4th already. Apparently I’ve been slacking off on my blog-related duties. I’d like to tell you that I’ve been so busy that I just haven’t had a chance to write, but that wouldn’t really be the case. I’ve been far busier in the past than I am right now, and have always managed to write something.

So what’s the problem Gillis?

I have no idea. I’m going to blame it on zombie-spiders, because why shouldn’t we blame them? They’re spiders, they’re zombies. Clearly they are no-goodniks.

Anyway, I realized this eve that I have been negligent in bringing to you, dear reader, the usual brand of nerdery that you’ve come to expect from Consumed By Wanderlust. For that, I apologize. And while I was going to write a few thoughts about the upcoming semester, I’ve decided they can wait for a day or two, as several other things have been brought to my attention that I feel must be shared with you.

What are those things?

Posing with a pineapple on the black cliffs below our house. Because it seemed like the thing to do.

First, September is officially National Yoga Month. Awesome stuff. This month is a month to embrace your bendy side (or perhaps discover your bendy side), by engaging in the ancient practice of getting one’s bendy on – a.k.a., yoga.

Clearly, the easiest way to celebrate this month is by getting off one’s duff and heading to the studio, or, if you are comfortable doing so, practicing in your very own home. Yoga is one of those activities that really doesn’t require much; some comfortable and stretch-friendly clothing, a yoga mat or towel, some water, and maybe some calming music or background noise. That’s it. And if you don’t know how to practice, simply taking the time to meditate, to stretch, and to breathe is a great start. YouTube also has a bunch of helpful videos, in case you are really curious.

Second, September 4 is World Chocolate Day.

You could be eating this right now.

Are you freaking kidding me?

No, my friends, I am not. You read that correctly. World. Freaking. Chocolate. Day.

So whatever you are doing right now. Stop. Seriously. Just stop. It is your duty, nay, your responsibility, to chocolate-up your life right now. If you are eating bacon and eggs for breakfast – turn that bacon into chocolate covered bacon. If you are having your morning cup of coffee; couldn’t it be a mocha styled coffee? If you aren’t eating or drinking anything, perhaps you should go get yourself a hot chocolate, or a delicious chocolate bar, or perhaps some cocoa puffs, or some chocolate covered coffee beans. Chocolate covered almonds are delicious. As are chocolate covered anythings, really. A chocolate dipped donut? Hells ya. A chocolate croissant? Do you really have to ask?

Ultimately, the most important thing you should take from this post is the following:

Whatever you do today, do it with chocolate.

Strangely enough, I thought I’d google both yoga and chocolate simultaneously. Apparently the idea of mixing yoga and chocolate is not new (see for example, Chocolate Yoga). So, if you feel the need to kill two bendy-chocolate filled birds with one stone, maybe treat yourself to a hot chocolate post yoga, or have some chocolate prior to your practice. Or maybe during it. Whatever. Just remember – do it with chocolate.

UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention by one Mr. Rick (a.k.a. Ricky Fierce), that today also marks Beyonce’s 30th birthday. Do whatever you wish with that information. It does provide a great excuse (not that you need one) to enjoy some chocolate cake. You know, to celebrate her birthday and such.

Happy Chocolate Day all y’all.

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What Exactly Is A Sporcle?

The other day I was looking over my WordPress statistics and noticed that someone (I have no idea who) had linked to my page via Sporcle. Clicking the link, I was brought to the following page, and I couldn’t help but smile.

Before I go on, perhaps I should tell you a little bit about Sporcle. Sporcle, for those unaware, is a website that was created some time ago (I don’t know when exactly). The point was to provide users with a list of random timed quizzes. The topics for the quizzes range from geography, to science, to art and history, television, movies, awards, etc. There really are no limits to what the quiz can be about.

I was introduced to Sporcle sometime during my Ph.D., and let me tell you it offered up many countless hours of stress relief and distraction from wavelets, conditionally autoregressive random effects, Bayesian analysis, and spatial correlation. Of course, I guess you really have to be a bit of a nerd to want to take time away from Ph.D.’ing to attempt random timed trivia based quizzes. Thankfully, we all know that I am such a nerd.

Some of my favourite sporcle quizzes include

So, back to the point at hand – someone had linked to my blog via Sporcle. At first I thought this might have been some sort of spam related linkage, so I clicked on the quiz. I recognized the topic area immediately and was quite excited to think that my List-o-Nerdidays might have somehow guided the creation of this particular quiz. And then I saw the source area on the page – that is, where the author of the quiz (who is listed as druhutch) obtained the information that fed the quiz. I may have squeed a little. This was proof positive that druhutch had in fact used my list to inform the questions on his/her quiz. W00t!

In other news, I also thoroughly enjoyed the following quote which they list as a disclaimer at the beginning of the quiz.

“I of course mean ‘geek’ in the most AFFECTIONATE way possible. I am a geek myself. I mean the term in a *loving* way. (please don’t somehow make my computer explode with your nerd magic).” druhutch.

The thought of nerd magic being used to make someone’s computer explode makes me giggle.

Get Your Geek On

Image found at

Happy Embrace Your Geekness Day all y’all. Apparently July 13, 2011 has been set aside by someone on the interwebs as the day to embrace everything about you that screams geek. And of course, it is on my list-o-nerdidays, so that makes it an official holiday here at Consumed By Wanderlust.

Of course, if you are convinced that there is nothing geeky about you (which I highly doubt — as I’m pretty sure that everyone has something in their lives that gets their geek-meter fired up), then feel free to embrace someone else that does subscribe to all things geeky. Be aware, however: if said geek is truly geeky (and as such, potentially lacking in social skills), be sure that you aren’t invading their personal space too much.

For those that prefer the term nerd (such as myself), you are also free to embrace your nerdiness today.

But, how might one embrace their nerdiness/geekness today? Good question.

I have opted to sit down for a nerdly talk with my former Mathematics Masters advisor, Dr. Pal Fischer. Not because we have any important projects that we are working on, and not because it’s required as part of my job. I do it, because Pal is one of the most intelligent men I’ve ever met in my life, and I love, love, love chatting with him. Every conversation with him is a walk in nerd-paradise. Clearly, this is one of the best ways to celebrate my nerdiness. As a side note, my use of the term clearly definitely comes from working with Pal. It’s impossible not to use it when working with him, because every mathematical concept is just clear to him.

Don’t worry though, I’m not going to just have a nerdly chat with Pal. I had breakfast with Almost Dr. Lorna and Jasper Tey this morning (clearly a nerdly thing to do). And I’m going to go for a run or a bike later today, which will require necessary calculations off the top of my head to estimate pace, and expected completion time. But don’t worry folks – that won’t be it – as I’m sure I will do other things that qualify as nerdly; I mean, it is my modus operandi.

Anyway, happy Embrace Your Geekness Day all y’all. Go hug a geek/nerd. They’ll surely thank you for it.