Nerd Nite 45: a Nerdy reprieve before the chaos of the Christmas break

It’s time for one last hurrah… before the holiday season verily takes over our lives. Oh, don’t worry, we’ll be back for more nerdy nites in the New Year (alliteration!). But you’ll want to get your fill now. Because who know what can happen between now and the turning over of that annual clock.

Nerd Nite: It’s like the Discovery Channel, but with beer!

When: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 (doors @ 7:30pm | show @ 8pm)
Where: Westbury Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: $20 in advance — AVAILABLE NOW!

Our line-up of talks includes:

The State of Wireless in Canada. Or; Why Is My Cell Phone Bill So F*cking Expensive?
Aaron Hoyland

Smartphones are great. They let you keep in touch with family and friends, help you stay organized, and allow you to take amazing photos wherever you are. It’s just too bad that you have to remortgage your house every time the bill comes due. Ever wonder why Canadians pay such high rates for our wireless devices? Think the only explanation is greedy cell phone companies? Think again! Join us for a deep-dive (or at least a shallow dip) into the wireless industry in Canada. What decisions brought us here? Why does this seem like such a difficult problem to solve? We’ll answer these questions and more as we peer into the fascinating world of wireless regulation, MVNOs, spectrum auctions, and why it really pays to live in Saskatchewan or Quebec.

An engineer by education and a nerd by birthright, Aaron has been fascinated by science and technology since he was a wee lad taking magnets to his parents’ computer screen to see what would happen. For the last decade, he’s been obsessed with the fast-paced and ever-changing world of smartphones and wireless technology and how they intersect with our day-to-day lives. As a former corporate trainer, Aaron gets his jollies distilling complex technical topics into something interesting and accessible. When he’s not staring into a tiny screen, you’ll find Aaron listening to podcasts, playing video games, consuming news and political commentary or hating himself at the local gym.

Moss: the BIG life of tiny plants
Mallory Hazell

Moss might be the saddest plant on earth; it’s terribly misunderstood and underappreciated. In fact, many people consider it a nuisance. But if you purchase an expensive hand lens, and dedicate thousands of hours to infuriating plant identification, you too can begin to see the beauty of these tiny plants. You’ve likely seen moss growing on trees and sidewalks, but you might be surprised to know that there are entire ecosystems dominated by moss, and that those ecosystems have a tremendous impact on our planet. In fact, the restoration of one moss-dominated ecosystem is becoming recognized as immensely important towards the fight against climate change!

Mallory Hazell is Vegetation and Wetland Ecologist with an eccentric passion for moss! She is a professional biologist with the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists, and recently completed a Master’s degree in wetland reclamation from the University of Alberta. She conducted research on how to design and construct a peatland (a moss-dominated wetland) on a former oil sands mine. While her love for mosses started several years before graduate school, it was during graduate school that she started to appreciate the impact some moss-dominated ecosystems have on our planet. She is a member of the Western Canada Bryophyte and Lichen Interest Group, but insists that she is still an absolute bryology beginner.

All the stats you never wanted about women in YEG politics
Lana Cuthbertson

Only about a quarter of our politicians in Canada are women. There’s been some improvement from the time (some) women won the right to vote, but the progress has been slow. Today, new challenges have popped up, like the public square that is Twitter and how it impacts women in politics. Then there’s #metoo and how that movement plays into this issue. We need to do better. But where are we at, exactly, and what do the numbers show? And why should we care? Why is this important? And most importantly, how can we make it better? There is a way—and it involves you.

Lana Cuthbertson is the Chair of ParityYEG, an Edmonton-based organization dedicated to getting more women into politics and public office. She also works in ATB Financial’s Transformation department, where she listens to other people who work at ATB and shares their stories throughout the company. She loves storytelling, innovating, and promoting women in leadership. She has degrees in journalism and English literature and sings in a choir.

Nerd Nite #44: Exercise your brain!

When we plan Nerd Nite, we look for variety. Something a little science, something a little arts, and something way out of left field. Your obsessive nerd bosses have delivered this month. Join us for the 44th ever Nerd Nite Edmonton, when you’ll learn something about kettlebells, the economy, and gluten-free vegan cooking!

You know when people say, “I want to have it all”? Well, mission accomplished, nerds.

Nerd Nite: It’s like the Discovery Channel, but with beer!

When: Tuesday, October 23, 2018 (doors @ 7:30pm | show @ 8pm)
Where: Westbury Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: $20 in advance — AVAILABLE NOW

Our line-up of talks includes:

When economics makes weather forecasting look good
Nick Ford

Maybe President Donald Trump is right: fake news is real! Whether you want to believe it or not, a lot of our news is adjusted for reality and that means fake news. In fact, plenty of important data that economists and policy makers use tell us that conditions in the winter are the same as summer months. See? Fake news!

Join economist Nick Ford as he peels back the seasonal adjustments of some data types. He’ll show through analysis that seasonally adjusting numbers results in ambiguity and confusion about facts. Nick will also show that by only selecting and reporting seasonally adjusted data, we actually encourage consumer complacency. Even worse, that this can lead to loss of culture. At the end of the presentation, you’ll learn a few ways the we can not just build a better winter city, but a warmer, livelier local economy, too.

Nick Ford is an economist at ATB Financial. It’s his job to research, track, present and report on economic indicators and trends that impact Albertans. Nick provides macroeconomic monitoring and analysis, is a regular contributor of ATB Financial’s daily economic comment, The Owl. He also hosts ATB’s We Are Alberta Podcast.

Nick is proud to sit on the Nuit Blanche Edmonton board and previously served on his community league board. Before crunching numbers and telling stories, Nick worked in anti-money laundering and as a customer service representative at a bank that’s not as cool as ATB. Other jobs Nick has had include serving up fries and burgers as a line cook and fitting cleats as a salesperson at a soccer (or as his Liverpudlian dad calls it: football) store in Edmonton. Nick is a native Edmontonian and holds a BA in Economics from the University of Alberta.

Finding your way to a healthier life in the sordid world of fitness and exercise
Mike Chomitsch

“I’ve got to start exercising and get healthier” is a familiar lament among all of us… But it can be easier said than done. The fitness industry itself, as well as mainstream and social media, have distorted the notion of health and have made this idea unpalatable for many. In fact, a large part of the industry cares far more about profit than it does health. Spewing myths, the industry focuses on misguided goals, familiar pain points (losing weight, sculpting your body) to make money, and takes advantage of our noble intentions to stuff its pockets with hoards of cash while delivering little in return. But worry not, friends! Mike Chomitsch, gym owner and industry curmudgeon, will help you find your way! His talk will help you get started, enjoy your journey and keep at it as you move towards a healthier, happier life. Along the way, and with much humour, he will debunk common myths, expose industry secrets, and poke fun at the sordid industry he has been a part of for nearly a decade.

Mike Chomitsch is the owner and operator of Ritual Conditioning, a small gym that focuses on calisthenics, kettlebells and community. A reformed big-box gym-goer, he found a different method to exercise, one that was enjoyable, effective and sustainable. It also meant he didn’t have to spend time in a big-box gym anymore, much to his delight. For the past decade, he has helped people get stronger and healthier while enjoying their fitness experience by providing a safe environment, effective exercise and large amount of humour. In the meantime, and from a happily safe distance, he was able to watch his industry and ruminate on how it works and how he and his wonderful coaches have done it differently. For more on his gym, visit

Need a Hand in the Kitchen? I GOT ONE!
Alexis Hillyard

I was born without my left hand, and people always wonder how or if I can do [insert random task here]. This nerd nite talk will take you on a stumptastic food adventure, exploring the whimsical one-handed cooking techniques that I use in my weekly YouTube series, Stump Kitchen. I’ll talk about WHY I have one hand, WHAT I do with one hand, and WHO having one hand has let me be. And of course I’ll throw some nerdy amputee stats and vegan cooking info in there too!

Alexis Hillyard is a YouTube Creator, self-taught vegan chef, and entrepreneur. Born without her left hand, Alexis uses her stump as a kitchen tool — from spatula to juicer — while expanding the vocabulary of what’s possible in the kitchen each week on her show Stump Kitchen. Stump Kitchen is a YouTube series that celebrates body diversity, gluten-free vegan cooking, and the amazing, unique ways we move through the world. In 2016, Stump Kitchen won Best Food Blog in VUE Magazine’s Best of Edmonton. In 2017 Alexis was named the first Canadian Ambassador to the Lucky Fin Project, an organization dedicated to limb difference awareness, education, and celebration.

Nerd Nite #43: the Seventh Deadly Season

Welcome to Nerd Nite Edmonton’s 7th season! There’s a lot to say about the number seven: it’s a number you want to roll in Craps (according to every casino movie out there); there are deadly sins numbering seven; and, it’s also one of the most common self-reported lucky numbers in western culture.

We’re kicking off Season Seven with three of our own deadly presenters. Join us for an evening of edutainment, adult drinks, and a terrific community of nerds.

Nerd Nite: It’s like the Discovery Channel, but with beer!

When: Tuesday, September 11, 2018 (doors @ 7:30pm | show @ 8pm)
Where: Westbury Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: $20 in advance — AVAILABLE NOW!

Our line-up of talks includes:

The Court Jesters: How late-night comedians became the most trusted voices in news
Lauren Sergy

Does the term “Fake News” make you want to scream? The feeling is entirely mutual, and not just because Big Orange down south trots it out every few minutes. News media — particularly American news media — seems shriller and more partisan than ever. As trust in traditional news dwindles, late-night comedians and satire shows have, for many, become the new “trusted source.” But how did Stephen Colbert become this generation’s Walter Kronkite? Is the rise of the comedian-cum-news-anchor such an unexpected twist? And why hasn’t Canada’s news and satire landscape had the same degree of toxicity? Join Lauren Sergy — public speaking pro, rhetoric wonk, and satire enthusiast — on a fast-paced look at how we got to today’s mind-bogglingly bizarre news and satire landscape.

Rhetoric wonk Lauren Sergy is a professional speaker and trainer in public speaking and communication skills. She spends entirely too much time picking apart speeches and obsessing over presentations while stress eating chocolate chips. Lauren grew up on political satire and hopes to teach her audiences how to use the power rhetoric for good. She holds a Masters of Library and Information Studies, and a BA in English. Lauren is the author of The Handy Communication Answer Book, which was featured on the Best Reference 2017 list by Library Journal (which probably doesn’t excite you unless you’re lucky to be a librarian). You can find her online at, as well as on Twitter and YouTube. Be sure to check out her YouTube series “Pop Up Rhetoric”!

Engineering fuck-ups and why they happen
Lisa White

Engineering disasters happen every day across the globe. Think of Lac Megantic, BP Deepwater Horizon, Algo Mall in Elliot Lake, and Walkerton, among many, many others. As far back as we’ve been engineering things, we’ve been fucking some of them up. In 1919, a 2.3 million gallon tank of molasses in Boston failed and the ensuing flood killed 21 people. How would you like to drown in a sea of molasses? Who screwed up? What went wrong? How can we prevent similar incidents in the future? Welcome to the fascinating world of root cause analysis and risk management elements! No really, it IS fascinating! Join me on a journey through engineering safety and risk management to discover why we don’t always get it right.

Dr. Lisa White is an Industrial Professor at the David and Joan Lynch School of Engineering Safety and Risk Management in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alberta. Founded in 2016, the School is the only one of its kind in Canada designed to provide organizations with leaders in engineering safety and risk management through exceptional teaching, research, and advocacy. This 2017-18 academic year, upwards of 1,000 U of A engineering students will graduate with the skills and knowledge to prevent engineering incidents in the workplace.

Freaks and Geeks Athletic Club: Aerial Circus Arts
Erik Luber

Have you ever thought about running away and joining the circus? Well, it turns out you can (and you don’t even need to quit your day job)! After seeing a Cirque du Soleil show a reasonable human may conclude aerial circus is only for the adrenaline-junkie, bat-shit-crazy, risk-taking, elite athletes. It turns out it’s actually accessible to most everyone, but takes a pile of hard work, dedication, problem-solving and an intimate relationship with pain. I’ll introduce you to the most popular apparatuses, what a typical training session looks like and discuss what makes aerial circus so rewarding. And, of course, I won’t just talk about circus; we’ll finish the presentation with a live aerial straps performance.

By day Erik is a research scientist at the University of Alberta, working on green energy technologies such as solar-driven water splitting, batteries and photovoltaics; by night he is an aerial straps coach at Circofit and runs an open-access website for learning straps. He started doing aerial circus seven years ago and discovered it was an ideal playground for creativity, weirdness, suffering and community for a nerdy athlete.