beboots: (Elizabeth)

In the continuing effort to avoid doing more homework (hey, I managed to finish that four-way book review in time to be handed in this morning, okay?), I've decided to write a review of a book that I read last week (again, in an effort to avoid doing homework). 

1632, by Eric Flint, the first in a series. (Note for anybody who knows me in RL: other books in this series besides "The Baltic War" and "The Ram Rebellion", which I already have on my bookshelf, would be an excellent Christmas gift. :D )

First, take a moment to contemplate the awesomeness that is this cover. 


Yes, that is what it looks like. The plot goes thusly: the West-Virginian town of Grantville is displaced in time and place from the year 2000 to the year 1632, essentially dumping them in the middle of the Holy Roman Empire in the midst of the Thirty Years War, one of the most bloody conflicts in European history. 

And lo, it was awesome... )

I want to read this later book in the series just because of the cover: 

Aww yeah! >:D
beboots: (Default)
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We celebrate Thanksgiving, but in October, as Canadians will. I think that the timing really speaks to what it means to the majority of us up here in the frozen white North. It's a harvest festival, a time to celebrate what we have (and be thankful for it) before the long cold winter (and therefore shortages of food) comes. 

(In case I didn't make the connection clear: the further North you go, the shorter the growing season, therefore the earlier harvest is. As I think you may have gathered from whining I've done on this blog before about Canadian weather, winter can sometimes come before fall even really seems to start.)

For us, it's a time in which our family (all five of us - my extended family is scattered across North America and Europe) work together to clean the house, cook the meal, eat together and talk for hours. We're not the kind of family to say grace before a meal, but we always go around the table before we eat (even as we stare, hungrily, at our turkey and vegetables and such, having starved ourselves for most of the day since breakfast) and talk about things that we're thankful for: the fact that my little brother is still in remission, the fact that we haven't been as hard-hit by the economy as some (the government will always seem to need nurses and military engineers), the fact that we haven't lost anybody close to us in a while... It's generally a good time.

This year, dad was, unfortunately, away, and as he's the one who normally cooks the turkey, and mum was still mighty busy at work, I took it upon myself to bake the turkey and create a lot of the veggie dishes. I'm proud to report that it was a success! The largest thing I've ever cooked. :) We had delicious leftover sandwiches for days. 

Our meal included a turkey with stuffing (I rubbed the skin with butter, pepper and paprika), gravy, scalloped potatoes, broccoli with cheese sauce, and others... plus a pumpkin pie for dessert. We generally only make enough to last us for two or three days in leftovers: most gets eaten. 

I know that there are nasty stereotypes associated with Thanksgiving, especially in the states (see: historically inaccurate pilgrims in stove-top hats and buckled shoes being helped by the natives whom they eventually wiped out due to disease), but that meaning is sort of divorced from our current experience. And hey, I celebrate Christmas, thinking of it more as an opportunity to do good by my family and enjoy the winter season than specifically as a celebration of the birth of Christ. 

So happy (belated) Thanksgiving out to my American friends!

(... and now I'll throw myself back into homework. :P )
beboots: (Civil war lithograph)

I have decided to blog about the research I am doing. I swear that some of it must be of interest to others who enjoy history!

Cut for an explanation of the course I'm helping to design, as well as quotations from a particularly interesting source... )
beboots: (Civil war lithograph)
Here's a picture of cross-dressing/dress reformer Dr. Mary Walker (the only female military surgeon in the Union Army!) for you:


Hey guys, who else here has studied Hamlet? Well, even if you haven't, if you're familiar with the famed "To be or not to be, that is the question" soliloquy, and/or you have a dark sense of humour, listen to what I've just run across in my Civil War research...

(cut for mentions of gore)
Let me tell you a tale... )
beboots: (Civil war lithograph)
 
Let me tell you of medicine in the American Civil War... and interesting things hiding about at the University of Alberta.

History is full of serious-looking men.

Follow this serious-looking soldier into the abyss... )
beboots: (Default)
"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: http://delicious.com/Beboots/music ) 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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