beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 Today was a lovely day! ... Not the least of which was because I did next to no homework! (I may pay for it in stress later on, but man if it doesn't feel good right now. <3 )

The sun is shining! I feel that spring is on the way. After a long dark winter, the snow seems to be consistently melting. You get these lovely patches of crackly ice on the sidewalks that make a satisfying crunching noise as you walk over them in the morning just after the sun has risen. I've loved doing that ever since I was a child. 

Last class with my research supervisor. Feeling melancholy, but at least there were cookies. ) 

Happy news about pretty dresses at Fort Edmonton! )
Job interview for the Quebec program - definitely nailed it! )

 Today was a really good day. I needed a day like this, after weeks (months, really) of stress about my future and about papers and research and such. The end of the semester is in sight! I'm feeling really positive at the moment. :) I hope that some of my good cheer spreads across to you, o reader! I'm thinking positive thoughts your way. :)
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Day: Still one day away from departure

There's something so desperately appealing about maps. I honestly think that the only reason that Canada exists as a single country today is because we look so great on the map. Men in suits a hundred and fifty years ago looked at a map of British North America and said the early Victorian equivalent of "Damn, wouldn't it be cool if we had a country that spread from like, SEA to SEA?" And then they'd have drunk more champagne and claret and made it happen. Who cares if the Nova Scotians have almost nothing in common with the Canadiens of Quebec or the Métis of Manitoba? All of that land looks mighty fine, all joined up.

That was a bit of a tangent, but I just finished going over the cheap roadmap of the British Isles that I picked up at my local AMA. (Google maps just isn't as visually appealing.)  I spent ten minutes going through my itinerary and marking each city and town I'm to visit with a little "x" with my pencil. It was immensely satisfying, searching out some of the more obscure (to me, anyway) places.

Furthermore, I've decided that the British Isles have some of the coolest place names ever. Seriously. They have such a wonderful, lilting and sometimes even humourous appeal to them. In Ireland, for instance (try saying these out loud): Tralee, Caherdaniel, Ballycotton, Hook Head, Kilmore Quay, Blackwater, Carrick-on-Suir, Bantry,  Killashee... "Tipperary" will always be one of my favourites, from that famous First World War song, "It's a long way to Tipperary"

I know that the spellings and pronounciations of a lot of these places, especially those with Gaelic names and, well, almost any English town, have almost no relation to each other. My mother, who was born in Leigh (just outside of Manchester), raised in Brighton, and schooled in London, has been trying to pound pronounciations into my head from a young age... but they don't always stick. Me and my filthy North American English. :P I'll do my best, though!

I'm also going to be on the lookout for a book on British place names, and their origins. I'm certain that one exists out there, somewhere. 

Anyway, marking out where I'm to be going has been quite a satisfying experience. I like knowing where I'm going. It's a good quality to have for life in general, I think. :)
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"Trying one's best is a good thing, but trying one's patience is a bad thing. A blunt instrument is dull, but a blunt remark is pointed." (seriously, what the hell, English? D: )

A cheerful little story for you guys, also courtesty of Bill Bryson's book "The mother tongue: English and how it got that way": 
Sometimes words are made up for a specific purpose. The U.S. Army in 1974 devised a food called funistrada as a test word during as urvey of soldiers' dietary preferences. Although  no such food existed, funistrada ranked higher in the survey than lima beans and eggplant. Pg. 77.

Status report!

I haven't finished either paper (I haven't even opened the file folder for my history one), but I now have 503/1000 words of my French paper written! :D That's better than yesterday... and is, in fact, like halfway done! (Plus editing time, of course, mustn't get ahead of myself...)

I also had my job interview today. It went... all right, I think. I have no idea if I gave a good enough impression or not. I showed up a bare five minutes early, because I parked my car too far away without realizing, then got lost on foot. Googlemaps showed the place to be right in the middle of an intersection when it was, in fact, down by the river valley, like ten minutes walk away. Go technology! :P So the hems of my pants were wet from scrambling through snowdrifts (I didn't have time to run down four blocks to get to the stairs that led down to the river, so climbed down. It wasn't steep, but damn was the snow deep), and my hair was pretty windblown by the end of it.

There were like a dozen of us applicants there. We were interviewed in groups, and while waiting the rest of us did the written portion... which were pretty much scenario questions - like "You are a barker, write your speech to entice people to come to your booth!" (Barkers = also known as those guys who run carnival games and call you over, like "step right up, step right up!") and stuff like that. We also had a group activity... which was my weakpoint. We were split into three groups, and each of us got a period photograph, and from that photo, we had twenty minutes to come up witha skit. It was crazy. I'm not sure I did too well... Ours was a photograph of a 1920s fair at Greenwhich with a hotdog vendor. I think we did okay... but the other groups did much better. :(

I think the interview went well, though. I hope that it will all work out.

On another note, my Habsburg history prof has been trying to encourage us to listen to classical music for the entire semester, telling us amusing stories about various composers - and of course the majority of what he calls "good" composers are from Central Europe. ;) In any case, because my brother was in the next room, chatting, I was like "GAH I need something to listen to... oh hey yeah classical instrumental music is supposed to be good for you to study to, right?" So I've been raiding youtube for awesome songs... and yeah, I've saved a bunch to my delicious. (Check it: ) They've really been helping, I think.

So what kind of stories was the good Professor Szabo telling us, about these composers? 
For instance, Heiden wrote the Austrian Imperial Anthem after seeing/hearing a crowd in England sing "God Save the King". He felt so moved that he wanted something like that for his own people. He, as an old man, was in Vienna when it was occupied by Napoleon and his troops. Now, the French really respected Heiden, and so he actually got an honour guard of French soldiers. They were so impressed with him, they requested that Heiden play something for them. Heiden, being a shaky old man by this time, sits down at his harpsicord... and plays the Austrian Imperial Anthem. ;)

Oh snap.  
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If you said "Carmen Sandiego", you rock. :)

visited 8 states (3.55%)
Create your own visited map of The World or try another Douwe Osinga project

A map of the places that I have been to! The red in the united states is misleading, though - I've been to Maui, and haven't yet set foot on the mainland except as a stopover in Seattle.

Day 34

Jul. 5th, 2008 08:51 pm
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Day 34

Okay, so my luck seems to be flip-flopping all over the place. First of all, I got a really good deal on the train tickets to take Yan and I to Paris from Lille, online, for like half the price of what it is to buy them right there, on the day. And they were first class, not second class. 

...Then, Yan lost hers. And we only found out like fifteen minutes before our train left. D: She bought another one (she couldn't do much else), but I had to leave her to catch the train by myself, because it was a close thing. So there I sat, in the first class, wondering for the entire hour whether or not Yan had made it onto the train and what I would do if she hadn't. 

Luckily, she made it. :3 We had an almost tearful reunion on the platform. Then, we got a little bit lost looking for the place we had booked to stay the night.

First sign that the hostel may not be as conveniently close as you thought it was: when the first taxi driver you approach to take you there refused because it was "trop loin" (too far). D: Well, he actually relented and took us when Yan and I began looking lost and tearful. Also? It's not a good sign when the experienced Parisian taxi driver has to dust off his GPS to find us our hostel. D: 

Still, we made it. A bit late: I had planned to arrive at 10:30 or so, dump our stuff, then head over to the Japan Expo for 11:00 or so. Instead, we didn't arrive at the hostel until past noon, and then getting our train tickets and taking the train down to the Parc Des Expositions took like over an hour as well. D: It was really bad. Apparently, what looks to me (with my inexperienced eye) on the map like a distance of about 10 to 15 minutes (driving) translates into over an hour (and four transfers) of train. We have to do a loop to get there from our hostel, because there isn't a direct train heading in that direction. D: 

Anyway, other than the really stupid location, things are actually rather nice here. This hostel isn't technically a hostel: it's actually an apartment that you can rent out for however long you want. It's quite nice inside the rooms. They even have a mini-kitchen (including a stove, fridge, kettle, toaster, mircowave...), a TV (and DVD player), free wireless internet (hence, this post), etc.,etc. Except that it doesn't have a bed. Well, it has a fold-out couch, which is acceptable for three days. Plus, when I get the deposit back, this place is like 1/5th of what a hotel would cost per night. And there's a really nice chinese restaurant next door. I just ate there. It was delicious. OMNOMNOM.

Now why don't I talk about the Japan Expo? :D I went the first day with Yan (I was alone today because she flew back to Canada this morning), which was uber awesome funtime. Since we were so late (we arrived at nearly 2 o'clock), there were no lines whatsoever to buy our tickets (I got a three day pass). Then, I just had to pop into the vestiary to change into my outfit, and whabam! Instant awesomeness! :D 

The place is massive, by the way. The whole thing is one dealers room, with food stalls and speaker areas all around. This room is probably about fifteen times the size of the dealer's room at the Animethon at Grant MacEwan. No joke. And everything there is so awesome! :D They have a lot more original artists (they have like five artists alleys) than we do in Canada (I took advantage of this and bought some locally-made French doujinshi.)

Also, they have lots of hardcore cosplayers. And a lot of gothic lolitas hanging around. And a lot of lolital clothing stalls. I haven't given into temptation and looked at them in detail yet, because I honestly don't have enough space in my suitcase to fit anything that I buy there. But I still have one day, so I may yet succum to temptation... D:

Also, famous people. Apparently, Miyavi (a j-rocker) is hanging about the lolita stalls, but I haven't been able to get close. I did catch the last half of Takeshi Obata's lecture/ Question & Answer session today, though, but no autographs for me. ;_; (remember, he's the artist who drew Hikaru no Go, from which the character I dress up as comes from) I only caught the second half because it was right at 11 am and the entry crowds are crazy, even for people who already have passes. Seriously. I should have caught on yesterday when I saw all of the fencing arranged in loops in the front... 

But I did catch the lecture that the author of Hellsing gave! (That was for you, Ashley). I also got some good photos of the mangaka, and a video of him sketching a picture of Alucard. Badass.

I've also met many awesome people! Most of them were French, although I did run into a group of German cosplayers who were awesome, and a group of people from Britain (we've exchanged facebooks). :3 I hope to see them again tomorrow. I haven't run into Ashley's Alexandre yet, but it's a big festival, and again, there is tomorrow. 

Also, people like my costume! :D I acquired a fan that actually fits with the character design (before, I was using a bright purple one, not the white one like Sai has in canon). I have a nice pose, which involves the fan, and I have gotten many compliments and people asking me for photographs. On the first day, Yan and I kept count (31 photo requests between when we arrived at 2:15 or so until we left at 6:15). Today, I lost count at 15 or so, but there was at least thrice that ammount. A couple of times, a single person asks to take a photo, then when I pose, everyone in the area takes out their camera as well. D: I'm not swarmed as much as the epic Sakura (with feathers) or that angel guy (with the epic wings) or that blue elf-chick (with the overall epic-ness) (the photographs of these people shall be uploaded next week, probably, for your viewing pleasure), but I still feel awesome. :3 It's interesting to walk around, then hear someone poke their friend and go "hein, t'as vu Sai? Vite, regardes, Sai!" ("hey, did you see Sai? Quick, look, Sai!") One guy thought I was from Onmyouji, which is a believable mistake, since Sai and Abe no Seimei are from the same era and social class, and wear similar outfits. Most people recognize me, though (or, at least, the people who ask for photographs). It helps that there's a lot of Hikago merchandise around because of Takeshi Obata's attendence of the festival. :3 

I've stopped by the go tables (where people are being taught how to play go) a few times, and smiled at people there. (For the uninitiated, my character, Sai, is a ghost that "lives" for go, and is the most awesome go player EVAR). Tomorrow, I'll ask to be taught how to play. :3 I wonder if I shall get many photographs taken of me playing go... 

So I suppose that this post is enough for now! I shall add more details (and pictures) later on. See you guys soon!

Day 15

Jun. 16th, 2008 11:07 pm
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Day 15 (and other pleasantries)

Not only am I learning French, in France, but also English! :D Here's a random linguistic note that may interest a few people of my acquaintance... ever wonder why it's "chair" in English but "chaise" in French? Well, they were originally the same word (according to one of my two French professors). You see, way back when, apparently all the "r"s in French were trilled, like in Spanish. But after a while, the nobles in France decided that this sounded vulgar, and experimented with other sounds, like "y" and "z", instead of thoes trilled "r"s. But it was all very silly, and the Revolution put a stop to that concept (as it put a stop to many of those same nobles). From then on, most "r"s were pronounced the way they are now (Danielle dearest, could you provide me with the linguistic charts? ;) I cannot explain!) There are a few layovers from this time of experimentation, however... mostly just the word "chaise", though - the "z" sound replacing the "r"... as in "chair", which would have been brought over to England with the Normans, before they started with all of this linguistic business. Now you know...

Anyway, I hope to be brief, as it's quarter after eleven at night over here, and I'm tired. Last weekend, we managed to splice together a last minute trip to Amsterdam! Myself and six others went, entirely planned on our own. We randomly found a really nice hostel (Hotel Slotania (sp?) - thank you,! :D ) which was about 20 minutes from all of the interesting stuff in the city centre. It was far enough away that we didn't feel like we were right on top of the Red Light district, which was really reassuring. The trams and the busses were really efficient (and clean!) and everybody... and I mean everybody spoke English. Hurrah for the Dutch education system and it's emphasis on learning like minimum three languages! :D Banzai!

We ate dinner at a really lovely Indian restaurant Saturday night, which I totally reccomend to everyone reading this... except that I totally cannot recall it's name. D: Well, my only option is to take a bunch of you on a trip to Amsterdam to show you which one I mean. :3 

On Sunday, we went to the Rijkmuseum, which is awesome. We only really saw the Dutch history gallery (we were short on time), but what we saw there was gorgeous. :D Beside every work was a little explanatory plaque, which gave little interesting details (beyond just the title and the name of the artist) in Dutch and English - like, some of the paintings portrayed hunters showing off their game to ladies, which was apparently a metaphor in the 1600s in Dutch ("birding" = "courting a mistress"). I really loved the Rembrant paintings, but everything was so detailed and lovely and symbolic and gorgeous and oh! It was wonderful. If you're ever in Amsterdam, this is one museum to mark on the list. Thank you for reccomending it, dad! :D

We also visited the Van Gogh museum, but after seeing the detailed art at the Rijkmuseum, I wasn't as fussed about his art style. Plus, this museum was much more crowded, and it was also where Heeran and I got separated from the others, so I wasn't very endeared with the place. Heeran and I ended up waiting for half an hour in the entranceway of the museum, waiting for the others (who had left without us, due to a misunderstanding). We then waited outside Madame Tussauds, because that was where they had been heading, for an hour and a half, because we were worried that they'd come out the exit just as we went in. (Plus, it was really crowded). I wish that we had gone in, now... but I suppose that much of the displays I would have seen at the one in Victoria. We did meet up with the others at the train station, where we waited for another 45 minutes.

We didn't spend the whole day waiting for the others. We did stop by a nice shoe store, where I bought some awesome boots. :3 We also watched a street performer from New Zealand do his "juggling fire torches on a 10 foot tall unicycle while blindfolded" act, but he was really, really good at it. Plus, his accent was awesome, and he was witty. :)

Oh, and yes, on Saturday we did indeed visit the Red Light district. In broad daylight. I was going to call you, mum, and say "Hey, guess where I am" but I couldn't figure out how to use the Dutch public phones. ;) Oh, and mum, before my minutes ran out when I called you yesterday, what I meant to say was "tell dad I said happy father's day!" ... I suppose that dad's reading this entry too, so.... HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, FATHER DEAREST! :D

...and that's all for now.


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