beboots: (Civil war lithograph)
 Oh man, you guys. I really should be working on my thesis right now because I have to hand in the next draft to my supervisor tomorrow... but I have to get this off my chest, because holy crap. >:(

So for the last few days I've been compiling everything for the job application for the English Second Language teaching assistant position in France, right? (The job title is so cute - "Assistante de langue vivante" - Living Languages Assistant) I had everything organized, with the due date for the application - March 15th - circled in highlighter in my agenda. 

So two days ago, on February 28th, I went off to see my old French professor to get a reference, essentially a piece of paper the provided with questions that essentially amount to - how is their spoken French? Written French? How strong is their regional English accent? (Canadian English is considered more "neutral" than, say, Highland Scottish.) There's also a comment box. So I got a good review from him. 

Yesterday, I went to see Professor Selina Stewart, who teaches me MLCS 400, or History of Translation. It's technically a "Modern Languages and Cultural Studies" course, in the same vein as the other translation theory class and other language classes, I think, but it's taught like a history class by a classicist who does translation on the side. No problem; she speaks French, she likes me and my work (and knows who I am) so yesterday I made an appointment for today so that we could like talk in French for fifteen minutes or so, so that she can evaluate my French level (having never actually taught me French) and voilà! Done. (Then I just have to print off second copies of everything, sign everything, get a few passport-style photographs to staple to them (times SIX, guys), send an enveloppe within an enveloppe with my return address so they can get back to me without wasting their own stationary...)
Cut for the dramatic bits... )
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 Sometime in April, I think, I'm going to organize an excursion for some friends of mine (history dorks, all), which I want to entitle "A Day of the Dead at the U of A". Essentially, it's going to amount to making an appointment to visiting the mummy (we have a mummy! The only one in Western Canada! His nickname is Horace - AKA Horus)... and then, we'll go into the bowels of the Health Sciences library (which is itself in the middle of the labyrinthine building that is connected to the university hospital, so it's a quest to even get that far), heading down to the special collections room to look at... THIS. 

LJ cut because I'm morbid and some people don't really want to see books bound in human skin. A (horrifying) part of European heritage, people. )
beboots: (Default)
I honestly am not sure if this was a bad day or not. I think, although it started off rough, it ended off half-decently. Let's break it down...

Bad stuff:
-woke up with a headache. Haven't had alcohol in weeks, so this wasn't a good sign.

-woke up tired, had to get out of bed.

-started sneezing, sometimes so violently my tummy hurts when I suddenly bend over double. :P

-I've gone all sniffly, and my cough hasn't gone away. Verdict? I have a cold. :( WHY, BODY?? THIS MONTH IS THE HOME STRETCH! DON'T GIVE IN NOW!

-It's cold again. -20C or so for most of the day, overcast, with lots of wind and snow. It's rumoured on facebook that factoring in the windchill, tonight it's going to reach -47C (!!)

-I didn't realize until I'd already gotten on the bus this morning that I'd forgotten my bus pass. :( That never happens to me.

-One of the girls in the group project that I'm working on for Women's Studies didn't show up to our brainstorming session. I'm worried that she'll be dead weight and ride on our coattails for a good mark. 

-Met an old friend of mine at the bus stop (an old bus buddy! We used to take the same bus all the time!) and ended up debating feminist theory for the hour-long bus ride. Epic. I love it when you can have smart, rational conversations with people. Very entertaining, and a good mental workout. Woke me up. 

-Although I forgot my bus pass, the first bus driver recognized me and let me on for free anyway, even giving me a transfer ticket so I could get onto the commuter bus for Edmonton for free! :) Of course, when I went to take the bus home at 3:00 after class, it was a grumpy elderly gentlemen driver that I didn't know, so I coughed up one of my commuter bus tickets from the summertime, which I still happened to have in my wallet. It's a good thing I'm a packrat and I avoid opportunities to clean out old stuff. >_> 

-I visited the Special Collections room in the Health Sciences library and spent some time with my favourite giant tomes, working on my thesis. Also, STAY TUNED FOR ANOTHER BLOG POST ON THAT, now with photographs! You are all very excited, I know

-Despite missing one person, the other two members of my assigned group seemed to have their act together. One girl was a science student and didn't really know how to research arts faculty papers, but me and the other guy gave her some pointers, and anyway she offered to create the powerpoint with our input because she has lots of practice with that. Less work for me! At the very  least I'm not carrying the whole group on my back, which has happened before. :P These other two seem all right! 

-Although I was very anxious about trying to chase down a French professor from last year to fill in a short piece of paper that says that I can speak French and English competently so I can apply for this job in France, and I had resigned myself to waiting on campus until 4:00pm for his office hours... I went to his office just to see if he had his hours posted on the door (hoping that they were earlier so I could go home and sleep), he walked up just as I was checking! And then he signed the paper and gave me a lovely paragraph-long review. :) I wasn't even expecting him to remember me very well, although I did take two French translation classes with him, but he remembered my name and the classes without prompting! :) He also asked me many questions about what I was going hoping to do in France, and I answered him fluently. The entire conversation took place in French. I felt strong. :) (I still have to chase down one more prof, though.) 

-In my History of Translation class, I got my first paper back! That was the one on the Métis translator who wouldn't take shit from anyone. I got an A+! :) She really liked it. Her comments were all like "fascinating!" and such. :) This makes me feel a bit better, although I'm still anxious for my midterm mark, which we will get back on Wednesday. Fingers crossed!

Anyway, so I'm now back at home and although I still feel sickly, I've had some honeyed tea and my little brother made me supper. (Kraft Dinner AKA Canadian macaroni & cheese, but hey, little steps.)

Stay tuned for a blog post that I've been wanting to make for a long long while...

beboots: (Elizabeth portrait)
 And all right, I normally don't pay ANY attention to the Oscars or awards shows or like ANYTHING to do with entertainment that isn't fandom, but I was kind of sort of following [ profile] cleolinda 's liveblog just now and I'm really, really happy that the King's Speech won things. <3 I really, really love this movie, and when I heard it was rated R in the US for silly reasons (I mean, that one swearing scene, come on! It was emotional and had a plot-related purpose!) I was really worried that it's audience would be ridiculously limited and that it would be forgotten by the ages or ignored in favour of other movies I couldn't care less about... (Not that I didn't love many other movies nominated - Inception is also amazing!) 

But... yeah. <3 

All right, I promise this is all you'll hear from me tonight. I'm done, I swear. ;) Sweet dreams, everybody!
beboots: (Harry Potter Face)
 I... can't help myself. >_> The shinies. They are so pretty. (ALSO: warning, the last one in this list is a (hilarious) SPOILER OF SPOILERS)

See more - MUCH MORE - under the cut!  )
beboots: (Awesome Iroh)
So this week off from school has been fairly productive, I suppose. More or less. I could have always gotten more work done. (And now I'm second-guessing the way I phrased that because my British mother always tells me that "gotten" is a filthy, clumsy Americanism and that I shouldn't use it. >_> BUT IT JUST COMES OUT NATURALLY THAT WAY WHAT SHOULD I SAY INSTEAD, "I HAVE BEEN"?) 

ANYWAY so I reached 10,000 words in my thesis! \o/ Woo! I'm sitting at 10,593 words right now, or 38 pages. It still needs a crapload of editing, but things are slowly coming together. 

I also got a decent amount of reading done this week, as might be expected. I'm about a week's in advance of my readings, which means that I can spend the coming week before and after class ALSO working on research papers. 

Anyway, I had a lot of fun a few days ago posting that mocking Twilight picspam, so I thought I'd do another one with all of the lovely GIFs I've picked up recently! (And this time, I swear, I'll figure out lj-cuts properly and make sure it doesn't overwhelm your friendslists. THIS TIME FOR SURE. 

How about I make this one AWESOMENESS-themed? (Note: as illustrated immediately below, a bunch of these will be Harry Potter themed, simply because of the inherent awesomeness of the books, but also because I did indeed pick up a lot of these from the comments of Mark Reads Harry Potter, which you should read too. 

Let us begin! )
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)

At the behest of [ profile] mightyinkas , I've been convinced to make a post of all of the really funny pictures I've compiled that, well, hate on Twilight. See original post here.  

I usually don't hate on something like this. I'm more of a live and let live kind of person. I'm normally not one for taking potshots... but Twilight makes it so easy. >_> Just to be clear, though, I'm not trying to be malicious. See this comment by me explaining my thoughts on the quality of Twilight. This is all in good fun. You'll laugh. I promise. 

The vast majority of these come from the Mark Reads Harry Potter blog's comments... which explains the continual references to Harry Potter as well. 

Let us begin.

Cut to spare spamming your friends list with LOTS of (hilarious) images. Many, many more under the cut, guys. Check it out! )

Book meme!

Feb. 23rd, 2011 10:22 am
beboots: (Default)
Just returned from the beautiful Rocky Mountains, to which I was dragged after being kidnapped by my family and left to escape down mountainsides in subzero temperatures. By which I mean that my father and sister dragged me away from my homework on an impromptu skiing trip, and I had fun despite the weatherman lying and saying it would only be -12C, when in fact up the mountain it was below -20C, plus a ridiculous windchill. My neckwarmer, pulled up past my nose, frequently froze over with ice (I once had a LITERAL icicle dangling from my nose, guys! I thought that only happened in movies!), so much so that when we retreated in to the chalets to warm up after every third or fourth run, my sister and I took to running our face coverings under the hand blow dryers in the washrooms to defrost, dislodge and evaporate the ice. Crazy. 

Anyway, in a continual effort to dance around my homework even though I'm now back at home and have no excuse not to work on it... Here is a meme!

Snagged from [ profile] anyjen . Bold the one's you've read! (The BBC estimates most people will have read six.)

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien - aww yeah. I had to read the entire trilogy before my dad would let me watch the first movie when it came out in theaters. I was twelve, and it was awesome. 
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible 
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman - another book series my dad introduced me to. I got the first one for my birthday when I was in junior high school, and I cried at the end... then quickly devoured the last two. 
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens  - grade twelve English class... the only way I got through it was by alternating reading it with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which is written in a similar kind of diction but involves magic and arrogant people and Napoleon. 
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott - No, but I have read her "Hospital Sketches" which she wrote while working as a nurse during the Civil War!
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger - SO AMAZING. I cried at several points, and was very touched at others. 
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell (twice)
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky - No, but I keep getting it confused with the English translation of Foucault's Discipline and Punish, which I have read, cover to cover, for a class?
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll 
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Graham
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis 
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis 
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell 
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown - read it while on vacation with father and sister in England and France in grade eleven during spring break. The only reason I enjoyed it was because it kept mentioning places I was travelling to RIGHT THEN as I read it. It had a weird synergy with my vacation. 
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery - as a Canadian, you kind of have to. When I visited the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, their English & French library in the basement had an entire section dedicated SOLELY to different editions of the Anne of Green Gables series, in many different languages. 
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding (we actually had this book at home, but I never picked it up)
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville 
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker - yep, and I kept having to remind myself that as cliché as some of the bits seemed, that this was the book upon which ALL of those other clichés had been based.  
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens - no, but seen a theatrical production of it in person?
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker 
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - reading RIGHT NOW. I'm on the fourth or fifth story in the collection.
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery - somehow missed reading this despite the fact that almost ALL other French immersion students in my high school had had to study it several times in the original French. It's on my summer reading list, just because. 
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams - no, but was traumatized by the animated movie version as a child. (NOTE: cartoon + bunnies = NOT AUTOMATICALLY A CHILD'S FILM OMG BUNNIES TEAR EACH OTHER TO PIECES IN THAT MOVIE). I will read it soon, just so I can exorcise my childhood demons. 
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas 
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

My score = 19/100? I am at least peripherally aware of the cultural impact of many others on this list, due not the least of which to movie and theatre versions of the books, but also due to things like Wishbone. >_> Anybody else remember Wishbone? Now I'm feeling nostalgic.. 
beboots: (Civil war lithograph)
 Remember how a while back, during my first week of classes, I had a little panicky moment about how much work I had to get done? Well, I thought that I'd write an update on that situation. Today's the first day of our "Spring Break": called "Reading Week" because it's a bit cheeky to call February in Canada "spring". 

What I have finished so far since January (strike through), and what I still have to do:

MLCS 400 - History of Translation
-5 page essay, a portrait of a translator. Came out awesome; I wrote about Jemmy Jock Bird, this Blackfoot interpreter who didn't take anybody's shit. Remind me to do a history post about him.
-study for midterm. Done as of writing it yesterday. 
-Final research paper: working on it. I'll probably be writing on Métis intermediaries at the numbered treaties in the 1870s. Some of the research is already done, because it overlaps with the portrait essay.
-Study for final exam (now, with special permission, going to be written a week earlier so I can actually go to Spain! :D Huzzah!)

Women's Studies 201
-Lots and lots of blog posts: half done. I've been writing a blog post each week for the class's website. I'm on track. 
-Write research paper (due first week of April)
-Work on group presentation on my paper topic.
(Yeah... this class I'm just coasting through. I'm doing the weekly readings, coming to class, writing on the blog... doing my time and not thinking about it too hard. I'll have to do a lot of reading for the final paper this week.)

History 450 - History of Slavery and Emancipation
-Biography of a historian short presentation
-Primary source short presentation
-Secondary source presentation

-Second secondary source presentation: in two weeks
-Work on final research paper - possibly on slave health? Like, the battle for control over slaves' bodies?

History 488 - the Health Consequences of War
-Long class presentation
-Three reading response papers
: two down, one to go
-Four-way book review final paper: halfway through reading book one, although I've skimmed two others before. Cleverly, I've doubled up my readings by picking four recent books on Civil War medicine that I've been meaning to read for a while for my thesis. Now I have the excuse to read them in-depth!

History 501 - THESIS
-50 pages: I've got 25 pages written (well, 28 if you count bibliography). I handed in this draft to my research supervisor last week and got it back a few days ago... and I've been avoiding it since then. I need to organize the crap out of it and elaborate on a lot of points. It'll get done. Probably. I'm on track, at least. I just need to think hard on my exact argument. I've thought of a brilliant framing device for it... but I need to sit down and write a really brilliant sentence or two that epically and concisely sums up my argument. 

On a separate note, here is something to make you smile, especially if you've watched Martin Freeman in BBC's modern adaptation of Sherlock. <3

beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
When I was answering history prompts on that meme a few days ago, I totally intended on including with each one an image or a video, but as I fail at html, I decided to make an entirely new illustration post for everyone! :)

(Also feel free to post more history prompts! Be a welcome distraction to me from my homework!)

For [ profile] beckyh2112 . Picture unrelated because trying to summarize the history of the world even in two semesters is a massive undertaking and I wouldn't presume to find a single picture that could represent all of the world's history. 

More pictures and videos for everyone under the cut! )
beboots: (Harry Potter Face)

 In a continuing effort to procrastinate on my homework (my thesis draft is staring as balefully as a pile of papers can at me from the corner of my desk), and, encouraged by the AWESOMENESS of everyone who seems to read this journal and their participation in that let-me-tell-you-a-history-story meme I held a few days ago... (People can still post prompts, by the way! It is by no means closed! You may even post a second prompt if you wish!) I've decided to participate in another meme that's been making the rounds of my f-list... 

Post the names of all the files in your WIP folder, regardless of how non-descriptive or ridiculous.

Upon request, I will post a random line or two from any of these you choose. Assuming that the file adds up to a full line, that is.

I'm not sure if very many people know, but I do write quite a bit of random bits and pieces of fanfic. My problem is that they're generally just snippets of scenes and dialogue at best... although I have a LOT of sometimes incredibly long outlines. So my WIP folder is actually quite large. My problem is that they always seem to STAY as WIPs, and never, well, progress to completion. In any case, I will post bits (or even more than bits!) for those curious. 

On a completely separate note, I'm also planning on making a picture post to go with all of the responses to the history meme, possibly tomorrow or maybe later today. You shall get a historical image to go along with the story, so that you can put names to faces! :) 

Anyway, here is the list of documents in my bulky "My fanfic" folder... Some of the titles you may recognize from pieces I have posted before, but others, not so much... I also tend to have rather descriptive titles (some with fandoms, some mysteriously without!), so hopefully some will strike your fancy! Feel free to request up to three at a time. :)

A Night Fury in the King's Service - Temeraire HTTYD cross
A Traitor Redeemed - Avatar(2009)
Against Thy Own Kind
An Extension of Trust
Avatar(2009) - Time travel
Aziraphale & the Werewolf - Crossover GO & HP
Azula's Revenge - timetravel
Blue Spirit Joins the Gaang, more or less
Carlisle & House 
Chid on the Dragon Throne
Childhood Friends - Toph in the Fire Nation
Chinese Formation - Temeraire
Crowley the Familiar
Dr. Horrible, turning on the League
Draco Timetravel actual fic
Dragon!Zuko fic idea
Fangs and Flamethrowers
Far Removed - hetalia idea
Fire Lord Iroh AU
For the Greater Good - Good Omens
Genderswitch Temeraire idea
Good Omens - HP crossover Idea
Good Omens X House crossover idea
Guillaume Laurent - Temeraire idea
Hallucination - a temeraire fic
Hikago - ghost busters
In a Land Without Technology
Invader Dib
Language barrier - hetalia idea
Laurence's privateers - Temeraire AU
Left for Dead - temeraire fic idea
Lieutenant Laurence - Temeraire idea
Meeting Fire Lord Zuko - timetravel
Nunavut Ascendancy - hetalia fanfic
Possession - Hikago
Professor Fell crossover idea
Reincarnation - Temeraire idea
Sasori Sensei of Suna
Star Command Zim idea
Strange, Norrell and Potter
Tea Cart Zuko & Iroh
The Betrothed - Mulan
The Tides of War - Temeraire
Tumnus in Spare Oom - Narnia HP crossover

Um... yeah. I get distracted easily...? Some of these fic bits have been sitting there untouched for several years... 
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 Good evening, everyone! Happy Valentines day, for those of you who celebrate it! 

First, a brief link recommendation. If you've never heard of Postsecrets, you should definitely check them out: essentially, people send in anonymous postcards with their secrets on them. Some are sad, some are quirky, some are touching, and all are absolutely awesome. This week they have a Valentine-themed series of postcard secrets for you to look at. This one was my favourite: 

Furthermore, the Edmonton Journal (which, along with the National Post, I read almost every day to keep up with news about the world) apparently held a contest for the best Edmonton-themed Valentines cards, most of them poking fun at the city. This particular one was my absolute favourite, mostly because I had to cross that bridge five days a week to get to Fort Edmonton this past summer. It was murder during rush hour when it was down to one lane. >_<; It's been under construction for at least two and half years.

For more, see here!

As a side note, I did celebrate this Valentine's Day as a single person. Here's hoping that I shall find my true love in the coming year! :) I should mention that I mostly enjoy Valentine's Day because it also doubles as my dearest mother's birthday! We have flowers and chocolate about the house, then, regardless of the state of our personal lives. :) Happy birthday, mother mine! Now, tomorrow is the holiday I look forward to even more than the events of St. Valentine... Cheap Chocolate Day! Celebrated: wherever chocolate is sold!

On a final note... I actually began writing this post in response to the lovely surprise left for me at [ profile] atla_valentine. I hadn't realized that people would leave me messages! :)  They made me smile. Therefore, my original plan had been, in response to people writing lovely flattering things about the history dorkery that goes on in this journal, to write a post about some of the crazy little tidbits I've been learning about in my History of Translation class... which just so happens to be what I'm studying for at the moment (even as I procrastinate reviewing for the midterm to write this post). I'll get around to that very soon! It will still happen!

I did, however, just have a thought. Maybe I could do something completely and utterly crazy and unprecedented. I could... do a history meme. I want to share the love with you guys. I love telling historical anecdotes; I like to think I got quite good at it while working at Fort Edmonton. Maybe no-one will want to play with me. I will still tell crazy history stories to the world! Just give me a direction, guys. :) What do you want to hear?

It shall be a shameless effort at trying to emulate the cool kids (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE), only instead of fanfic, it will be random history tidbits, in the style of the posts that have appeared in this journal before.

THEREFORE, what I resolve to do is ask you, the readers, for history prompts! Ask me a historical question: anything you like. For instance: "who is your favourite member of European royalty and what was the most interesting thing they ever did?" "What do you think is the silliest reason a war ever started?" "What is the most unusual historical artifact you have ever seen in person?" "What can you tell me about Canada's participation in such-and-such a war?" It can even be something like "tell me the craziest thing you know about the 17th century/the bubonic plague/aboriginal history/etc., etc., ad nauseam." I shall even search for an appropriate image to accompany the historical blather! 

If I don't know the answer to your question, I resolve to use my research skills and access to university databases to find the answer! You may get more coherent history squee if I've heard of the topic before, though. I have studied European history across the ages, some East Asian history, and lots of Canadian and American history, but still, don't let that limit your selection! I suspect that if you ask me something about the history of medicine or the French or English languages you will get extra-long anecdotes. Indulge your curiosity, and I will try to be interesting in return! :) 
beboots: (confusion)
 I've been thinking a lot lately on my childhood outlook on life. What were things that you believed as a child?

-My mother always tells me the story that when we moved away from Germany to Ottawa when my twin sister and I were three, we were under the impression that Ottawa was on a different planet. And what is a jet plane but a spaceship? (Also: were we that wrong?)

-I didn't understand the difference between "erase" and "wash". I remember once when my little brother scribbled all over a colouring book of mine in permanent marker. When my pink eraser wouldn't work, I filled up the bathroom sink with water and dumped the book in, assuming that the purple and yellow lines would come right off. I was sorely mistaken, and had a dissolved colouring book. I was not happy that this hadn't worked. 

-Cars had personalities, and their headlights were their eyes. I still judge cars this way: if the "eyes" are too big, I think it looks dopey. If a car looks "mean", I don't like it. There are certain vehicles that I simply will never consider buying because on some subliminal level I still think of them as having personalities like this. 
beboots: (Default)
 Hey guys! If you've ever been to Spain before (or, as I know some of you, have lived/are living there right now), I was wondering if I could pick your brains for suggestions. 

You see... I may be going to Spain for a few weeks with my family. 

My mother has been intending on taking me and my (twin) sister on a celebratory vacation after we graduate this spring. We've been throwing around several ideas, and a little while back mum came up with one that seems to be sticking: Spain. 

My mother's father and his wife (whom he ran away with when he abandoned my mum's mum... when my mother was taking her last week of exams before university, so, uh, drama there) live there. They're British, but they apparently live in this small city on the Mediterranean that is composed of roughly 60% older British people. I'm told it's like England's Florida, but, well, more Spanish. ;) Anyway, mum wants to visit Granddad and Claire, mostly because Granddad now has cancer and me and my siblings haven't seen him since we were five. He's doing all right, but if we don't visit now we may never get to. 

So at the moment the plan is to visit Granddad & Claire for a few days, then... head off elsewhere for two weeks or so. The thing is, none of us have really ever been to Spain before. It was never ridiculously high on my "must visit" places in Europe, although I'd always figured I'd make my way there eventually. We may yet spend a week in Spain then fly over to Italy, but I know that there are definitely lots of attractions and awesome historic things in Spain. 

So I pose the question to you, friends list: where would you recommend going? What is awesome in Spain? I probably want to go to Granada because of the interesting Moorish history it has, but... I actually don't know much about Spanish history beyond the Reconquista and its colonial history. Also, wars with France. Some of which involved Hapsburgs. 

(Also, I need to brush off my tiny amount of Spanish gained in a single semester during grade ten... like nearly seven years ago? Holy crap I'm getting older...)

P.S.: I don't think that this post came out as enthusiastic as I'd like it to be. I'm actually thrilled to be going back to Europe! I'm just ridiculously tired right now. Also, I think I need to work up even more enthusiasm by doing research into travel plans. 
beboots: (Civil war lithograph)
 As I think I mentioned in my last post, I've been doing a lot of research for my thesis, lately. A lot of it has involved microform. I just wanted to share a few amusing things with you from what I've dug up in the United States Sanitary Commission Records. 

One of the neatest handwritten documents I ran across was a letter written in 1864 entitled "Quarantine", all on the subject of how to improve health and sanitary conditions in New Orleans, which, I believe, was under the control of the Union at that point in time (and hence why the Sanitary Commission cared). 

I've been taking careful note of all of the hints as to the reasoning behind their recommendations. Remember, these are the pre-germ theory days, so the reigning motivation for doing any kind of cleanup work is to get rid of miasma: essentially, disease causing bad smells. 

As a side note, I've also been reading Florence Nightingale's highly influential Notes on Nursing: what it is, and what it is not. She is highly well-respected for her sanitary impulse and drastically improving conditions for British soldiers during the Crimean War (1854- 1856). She's known as one of the first "modern" nurses (who actually knew what she was doing), is praised in glowing terms, etc.,etc. But remember, she wasn't after germs. She was after miasma. Here is an excerpt from her book, in her own words:

"The very first canon of nursing, the first and last thing upon which a nurse's attention must be fixed, the first essential to the patient, without which all the rest you can do for him is as nothing, with which I had almost said you may leave all the rest alone, is this: TO KEEP THE AIR HE BREATHES AS PURE AS THE EXTERNAL AIR." (emphasis hers)

Yes, you read that correctly. If nothing else, you HAVE to make sure that the miasma doesn't get at them. Feeding, watering, scrubbing, etc., are all secondary to fresh air. She explains why: 

"A room remains uninhabited; the fire place is carefully fastened up with a board; the windows are never opened; probably the shutters are kept always shut; perhaps some kind of stores are kept in the room; no breath of fresh air can by possibility enter into that room, nor any ray of sun. The air is as stagnant, musty, and corrupt as it can by possibility be made. It is quite ripe to breed small-pox, scarlet fever, diptheria, or anything else you please."

Again, a lack of fresh air causes disease. Also, note, that until the line about "no breath of fresh air"... it reads like someone has been hiding out from a zombie apocalypse. 

Continuing along that vein, that list of recommendations for New Orleans, alongside things such as dissing the quality of milk available in the city and disdaining the current drainage system for sewage then in place, also recommends against having cemeteries near crowded residential areas. The author talks about the risk of "putrescence", and how such stinks will inevitably cause the whole city to fall ill. But I absolutely loved this line, because to me it really felt like the prologue to some sort of period zombie novel:

"It is quite impossible to seal a tomb[...] hermetically, so that nothing offensive shall escape."

(source: here)
beboots: (Civil war lithograph)
 These last few days I have spent many hours pouring over microform and microfiche, doing research for my thesis. I've looked at the Hospital Steward's Manual (essentially, how to run a military hospital, according to the Union army standards) and the first reel of at least two dozen that contain the United States Sanitary Commission records. That sounds dead boring. It really, really wasn't.

I thought that the U.S. Sanitary Commission records were going to be a republishing of documents regarding camp conditions, bureaucratic matters, and so on, like my favourite text of the era, The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. I was wrong. They're microformed versions of the ACTUAL, handwritten records, collected in person from military surgeons and soldiers and so on. Many of them have strange shadows on them; my dad assures me that they're probably not bloodstains but water damage. It doesn't always look that way. 

Anyway, I really enjoyed skimming through these records... which is good, for me, because if I find them interesting then I'll be able to work my way through at least a few more reels before giving up in disgust to rest my eyes. 

The super-neat thing about the microfilm readers in the Rutherford library is that they're brand-spanking new digital things, so I can create a real-time digital image on a giant computer screen, with a magnifying glass as well as the ability to create giant multi-page PDF files of copies of what I'm looking at, saved conveniently to my memory stick to peruse more closely from the comforts of my own home.

And in a continual effort to avoid doing homework while pretending to do just the opposite, as I was skimming over the stuff I looked at today I created a mini-collage of some of the lines that really jumped out at me from the page. Civil War surgeons had much nicer penmanship under duress than I ever will. 

In case you're having difficulty reading what some of the handwriting says...
Box on the left: On /Penetrating Wound/ of the Thorax/ Death. / Battle of Ruaca(?) / 1864

Flesh wounds of the forearm... Erysifielas(?? Latin medical word?)  Recovery
Lieut. G.G. Bickett, Co.G.46'' Ohio in the Battle of                                                        Pulse
Report of the Sick and Wounded                                No. of wounded admitted. 665
Died.                              Skull unusually thin.                     Death.                                      ???(illegible, blotted by water damage or rushe dpenmanship)
Wound of the back.   ???? Deaths.
nothing like gangrene
Ball extracted                              Pneumonia                             Gunshot injury           amputation
Post mortem examination            Amputation                                Everything progressing favorably
remaining 508
                                   Refuses amputation
             Received orders
                                                                The inflammation rapidly spread
               Died 2nd day                            left
Gangrene                        Death
                             From this time patient gradually rallied
                                             very cheerful
                                                                       U.S. Sanitary Commission (letterhead)
beboots: (confusion)
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Yeah, my username is quite weird, and there's a bit of a story behind it. I think it originates from a misunderstanding I had with the origin of a nickname my mother gave me when I was very young, after a cartoon character from a show we watched on German TV back when we lived there... I actually think it must have been Betty Boop. So that misheard set of words became in my toddler/child mind "Beboots", which was later shortened to "Boots", which my mum still calls me by today.

I've used this username since I was... oh god, I must have been eleven or so. First used for my Neopets account, back in the day. I think I used it for my first hotmail account, too, although I no longer use either of those two things. 

I don't think I would change it. I like it, I think it sounds cute it's easy to remember and it's relatively unique. Recognizable, perhaps... although I have been called "Reboot" and "Beboobs" before by people who weren't paying attention on forums. I think it's better than the username that the university computer bots randomly assigned me, which consists of the first letter of my first name and about half of my ridiculously long last name. It looks like gobbledygook and is impossible for people to remember off of the top of their heads so I always have to write it down. Also, I don't necessarily want to publicize my full RL name everywhere.

I do use my RL name for scholarly stuff, work-related stuff, and history dorkery, though, because I'm of the opinion that if future employers want to look me up they'll only see awesome intellectual stuff instead of, well, fandom. ;) Although my mother and others have tried to make me panic about the possibilities of my online persona harming my future job prospects (all of those horror stories about employers looking you up on the interwebs and seeing embarassing, stupid stuff), I'm of the opinion that it can work both ways: if I never let myself be photographed while drunk (which, let's face it, almost never happens - I'm a very sober person), I'll never have really stupid racy pictures of myself on the internet. It can work to your advantage just as much as it can to your disadvantage. Anyway...

As a side note, my other childhood (and current) nicknames given to me by my mother include "fidget-bum", "monkey face" (which doesn't sound as bad as it is because it's apparently a translation of a Dutch endearment), and "petal-fart" (yeah, I don't even know either). My mum always tells me that I live "in the future tense", too, mostly because I'm an impatient person and I'm always worrying about the next thing. I need to learn to live in the moment. 
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 History has been on my mind lately. (Can't help it. It's my major.) I thought that I'd recommend one of the most amazing documentary series ever made. That's not just my opinion - it got a lot of critical acclaim when it was released about a decade or so ago. It's called Canada: A People's History, and essentially goes through the entirety of Canadian history, as best can be known. One of the neat things about their approach was the way they used primary documents of the era: they chose "ordinary" people who had left writing behind. When they "interview" people, what those folks are saying is what was actually written. The narrator has original text, but those making speeches are quoting from historical documents. The actors were incredibly well-chosen, I believe. They went out and got actual francophones or Britons or Iroquois to get authentic accents. <3

Another epic thing about this documentary is that it was filmed twice. All of the actors are bilingual, and the scenes were filmed once in English and another time in French. It also has a beautiful soundtrack... a CD of which I actually stumbled upon on a shelf in the Rutherford Library while doing research on Confederation this summer. If I knew how to use sendspace or whatever, I would upload it for you all. 

In any case, I cannot recommend this documentary series enough. Watching it in my formative years is one of the reasons that I love Canadian History even today. Be wary if you order online, though, because some people have jacked up the prices unreasonably. There are four seasons: I love the first two, mostly, because I'm biased towards pre-first world war history. ;) One of the cool things about season one is that large chunks of it are told from the point of view of native tribes. It doesn't start with John Cabot and Jacques Cartier "discovering" the land, but with sensitively-done native origin stories as well as some pre-European contact native history like intertribal warfare amongst the Iroquois. It's intense. 

Unfortunately, there are only a few clips online, but here is one of the best ones I could find, and it unfortunately cuts off towards the end. It's one of those buildups near the beginning of the long episode to foreshadow what will happen throughout. I think that the CBC has actually made a point of deleting video content online to encourage teachers and fans to actually buy the DVDs instead of just using a handful of clips online to make a point. ;) And seriously, invest in them. They are amazing. <3 
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 (Oh hey, look, new icons! :D )

As I mentioned on Twitter, today was a good day on the "free stuff" front. One of my professors gets sent a LOT of American history textbooks by publishing companies, all in the hope, of course, that she will pick THEIR textbook to assign for all of her classes... She brought in a huge stack of them (it took several trips from her office) to class today and told us all to take one each. For free. Some of these are so new they're still in the wrapping! The one I ended up picking didn't even have a barcode. I think that it's print run is still on the way and that this one is just a preview copy or something. But hey, I'm not going to say no to a free textbook! :D 

I also got free food - pizza! pop! - at the public lecture by Christopher Moore. A bit of background: remember how last summer while working as a research assistant I used to talk about some of the interesting things I ran across while doing research for that course I was helping Professor Muir design, on the legal history of Canadian Confederation? Moore wrote the book I ended up recommending as a basic textbook: 1867: How the Fathers Made a Deal. Maybe I should have put it on yesterday's book recommendation list. It's very clear, informative, and downright entertaining in how it approaches what I always thought of as rather boring legal histories. Instead of having a revolution or something, we just waited until we were ready and then asked nicely. More or less. (Hey, did you know that Nova Scotia of all places was fiercely independent and was kind of conned into joining all of the rest of the British North American colonies into joining? Also, argued against Confederation with puns and other arguments.) Anyway, read that book if you're interested in Canadian history. I really want to read his children's books, too. >_> 

ANYWAY Professor Muir invited Moore to do a series of talks at the U of A on selected topics. I'm going to one on the 1864 Quebec Conference on Monday. Today's was on "Doing History in Public": AKA what someone passionate about history can do without going becoming a professor and getting mired in academia. (SO RELEVANT TO MY LIFE RIGHT NOW WHAT AM I GOING TO GROW UP TO BE??)

It was a really interesting talk! First he rambled a little bit about his own life story - which was immediately relevant because it was interesting how he fell into becoming an author. He actually had no clue what he was going to do after graduating with a BA in Honour's history in the mid-1970s, so he ended up working... at a costumed historical interpretation park! Well, as one of the historians working at the Fortress of Louisbourg back when it was just getting started. (Some of the stuff he was telling us about his work there was fascinating. For instance, they were really working on trying to furnish the buildings and glean clues about the architecture and interiors of the place, so he'd be searching through fascinating court records about someone being dragged before a judge for bashing someone over the head with a candlestick, killing them, and he'd be making notes like "had metal candlesticks at hand in house." XD )So I'm currently right where he was like forty years ago. 

But yeah, so he spoke about his different book projects for a while, spoke about "public history" projects... For instance, he's been commissioned by various (legal) societies to write their histories. He said that the advantage with working with societies of lawyers is that they can afford to pay for a history to be made. ;) He then gave us a few life tips, then opened the floor to questions. I remember one of the funny things he was explaining was that when he first started writing books of Canadian history in the 1970s, he was one of like five different historian-authors working in Canada at the time, it seemed. "I used to say that the others all starved to death", he joked to us. One of the messages he had was that, well, history wasn't necessarily very profitable, but it was interesting. ;) Also, that historical training can be immensely valuable in a huge variety of jobs... especially research-based careers.

I also asked him about his writing style, because he's written both legal histories as well as children's histories: what differentiates the two? He said that he's learned not to patronize children in his writing - so he doesn't gloss stuff over, I gather - but he does think twice about using certain "big words" and he never takes a reference for granted. For instance, if he makes an allusion to Pierre Trudeau, he will have a short aside explaining who the man was. Things like that. Super interesting!

Professor Muir introduced me to him afterwards. It was all very informal... but still, it's nice to make contacts! :) I'm looking forward to his talk next week as well! :D


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