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. :)
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 I try to make mental lists of things that make me happy every so often, just in case I have a bad day.

What am I anxious about? Jobs, papers, group projects... )

Things to make me happy: visas, interviews, shopping wins, and free dinner & drinks. )
 
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 HEY GUYS, I FEEL LIKE WRITING THIS ENTIRE POST IN CAPSLOCKS BUT THAT WOULD BE ANNOYING. So I won't. But imagine a capslock mood. 

CUE JAUNTY, UPLIFTING, CELEBRATORY MUSIC

(I would totally use the serious Civil War man icon that I have for this post, because it's the most historically appropriate, but it doesn't convey the sense of glee I feel at the moment. Imagine me as the man on the right, Jacques Cartier, at least in expression and mood.)

I just got back from Staples (AKA the office supply store) and I came back with three printed copies of the final copy of my thesis: the one I'm going to hand in for my final grade. 

It's done. It's sitting in a box downstairs, by the door, so I can bring it to school on Monday when I return a huge stack of books to the library. I had to fiddle with the formatting this morning (you have to expand the left hand margin to one and a half inches instead of just one because they're going to bind them into BOOKS), but after looking over my conclusion one final time, changing two or three words... I declared it completely and absolutely finished. 

You can make tiny little nit-picky edits forever, you know? I could probably still be making changes in a month's time, if I wanted, adding in one more source, chasing down one more salient example... but I've made myself stop. It's as good as it's going to get. And it's finished. \o/ \o/ \o/

Here my honour's thesis is, by the numbers... 

Title: Too Easily Blamed: American Civil War Surgery and Medical Care in Context

Pagecount (main body): 51

Pagecount with bibliography, title page and table of contents: 59

Number of sections: 12

Wordcount: 14,789

Wordcount (including textboxes and footnotes): 17,789

Character count: 96,768

Character count (with spaces): 114,537 (THINK ABOUT HOW MANY KEYSTROKES THAT IS FOR A SECOND, NOT INCLUDING EDITING)

Number of items on bibliography: 15 primary, 37 secondary, 52 total

Number of footnotes: 215 (many of which cite more than one source)

Number of hours put into this project: COUNTLESS.
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 Guys, I... I think I just finished my thesis. 

\o/

There are no more notes to myself, no more highlighted bits, no more "well, I should probably cite this sentence as well, just to be sure"... I did all of that today. It's pretty much done. Even the conclusion is looking so much nicer. I may rework it a LITTLE, but tomorrow, after I've slept on it and focussed on other things for a day or so, but essentially... it's done! 

I'll read through it one more time just to catch any sneaky little typos and I'll read through every single footnote to make sure I get rid of errant commas in my formatting and so on and so forth, but most of that is also finished. 

Just to head any potential tragedies off at the pass, I've also sent copies of it to myself to two separate e-mail addresses, and I've backed it up on my external harddrive. I don't want all of this to end in tears. I have other, earlier versions of it floating around elsewhere, in those places, but I spent many hours working on it this weekend. 
 
I feel numb. 
 
It's nearly done!
 
(Good thing, too, because it's due on Thursday.)
beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 Good news, everyone! I'm actually FINALLY starting to feel somewhat comfortable with my thesis! I've been working on it for... way too long. Technically I began in October or November of 2009, when I took a 300-level history of American medicine class with my current Honour's supervisor, Professor Susan Smith. I wrote a short, 12 page paper on Civil War medicine and how it wasn't as bad as people say, really. 

Now, nearly a year and a half later, here I sit, with piles of books on the Civil War and 19th century medical practice surrounding me, threatening to topple at any moment and trap me here in my study space, and... the end is actually in sight. 

I'm planning on handing it in on March 31st, so I can get a chance at winning an award. (Money! Glory! Stuff that looks good on my resumé!), and I really am gearing on handing it in on that date and not two weeks later because there is only one other student planning on applying for it. That means on a most basic level I have a 50-50 chance of winning it. Odds don't get much better than that. 
 
Anyway, I've been working on this particular document - the thesis itself - really since this past December. I agonized over word choices, organization, numbers of sources, etc. I also beat myself up inside for not starting to write it earlier, like, last semester when I was only taking four classes instead of five like I am now. I felt WAY better this past Wednesday when all of us History honour's students met up to compare notes on what we'd done so far. Two of the other five hadn't even begun writing the thing yet, still finishing up their research. Even the mediating professor seemed taken aback by this statement. Granted, they're not planning on handing theirs in until April 15th, but when asked by the professor how long they thought it would take to write 50 pages, one guy answered: "two weeks."
 
Now I feel much better about the series of drafts I've handed in to my research supervisor. I just finished making the edits based on the second draft she looked over, and I'm still planning on handing in a third draft next week. 
 
Today, I read through the whole thing to make those changes. It's starting to come together. For pretty much the first time, it actually looks GOOD. 
 
And about an hour and a half ago, I reached 50 pages. 
 
AKA the required page count. \o/
 
Now if only meeting this goal meant that it was over and done with... ;) I've still got a bunch of edits to make, and there are some examples that I still need to track down, but... the bulk of the work is done. I'm going to FINISH it. 
 
I feel GOOD.
 
(Now I just have to stress out about the other four papers I have to write this semester, most of which I've done little more than do some reading, plus some outlining. That'll be my task for Sunday. But for now, I celebrate!)
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 Update on the whole France-job-application thing. 

I checked my e-mail this morning, at 9:20am Ottawa time (that's 7:20am here). I had an e-mail back from the Madame at the French embassy in Ottawa about that piece of paper. She had e-mailed me back probably within the first ten minutes of her shift. :)

She couldn't read the file (the scanned version of the sheet that needed to be signed). BUT she requested another version. Which said to me: hey, not all hope is lost! If my application was that bad, she would have probably just gotten fed up and said not to bother, right? Right. So I sent her several more versions in different kinds of image files. Still, no dice: the image was "flou" (a French word that means roughly "blurred, fuzzy, vague"). I sent her a different scan of it in the hope that the quality of that one would be better... but no. I found out later that while my handwriting was nice and clear, because the sheet itself is PINK (cursed colour-coded bureaucracy!) the rest of the text just wasn't showing up. As other people have to actually sign this form, this is no good. My scanner is very, very old, and not the best quality. I got no response to my last e-mail. For like an hour.

Checking the time, I realized that maybe she had gone to a meeting or to lunch. I mean, I couldn't expect her to hang at her desk for hours on end paying attention to me and my troubles, right? Anyway, I had to get to class, so as a last-ditch effort, I used the fax machine in the family's office room for the first time. I'd noticed that the Madame had had a fax number in the signature of her e-mail, and I didn't know what else to do. I sent the woman an e-mail explaining that I'd sent her a fax... but I got no response. 

For hours. 

I'd brought my laptop to school, but I just got more and more anxious at the lack of reply. (Last night I couldn't get to sleep for nearly two or three hours, I was so anxious about all of this). I couldn't have done anything more than what I'd already done, though. :( 

Then, after my last class ended just before 3pm (AKA just before 5pm, or home-time in Ottawa), I thought "screw it!" and phoned the long-distance number to the French embassy on my cell. The madame I'd been e-mailing picked up on the third ring. I politely explained who I was in French (I amazed myself at how calm, collected, and FLUENT I sounded, hellz yes) and she explained that the fax HAD worked! :D And that she was sending off my application to France this week! :D (I think she'd just forgotten to send an e-mail explaining this fact. BUT ANYWAY...!)

So, in summation: IT WORKED! EVERYTHING IS ALL RIGHT! I MAY STILL BE IN THE RUNNING FOR THIS JOB! I didn't ruin my application because I forgot one measly signature! The hours of stress and attention to my e-mail inbox over the past day have paid off!

But man, this application is giving me mood whiplash. Elated/excited to deep panic and fear and then excitement again! D: I'll still be really amazed if I get an interview... though I still hold out hope! We'll see how they like me in France.

On a completely different note, I spent some time this afternoon going over baby pictures of my twin sister and I with my mother. :) It gave me a good, well-needed dose of the warm-fuzzies.

Anyway, on that subject, here are a few things to cheer you (and me) up: 

Tutorial for how to make a cupcake fondue! 

Red pandas playing the snow in a Japanese zoo!

High definition video of a kitten jumping and playing in snow motion, with beautiful inspiring African music in the background!

Heartwarming story of a pseudo-tame lion released into the wild. LION HUGS!

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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. 

GOOD STUFF:
-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: (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 [livejournal.com 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! :) 
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 I've noticed that many other people have been making fanfiction recommendations recently, which I greatly appreciate. :) I thought that I would thus return the favour and rec a few to make you smile and get the new year off to a good start. :) Some of these are very recent; others have been favourites of mine for years. A mixed bag so there will be something for everyone. :)

Furthermore, in the spirit of good cheer and well-wishing, if anybody wants more recommendations of any fandom, feel free to comment and I'll see what I can dig up for you from my brain and/or Delicious archive. :) (Also, huzzah for the rumours of Delicious' demise being greatly exaggerated?)

Counting the Hours by Forthright 
Fandom: Inuyasha
Summary: "When Inuyasha calls in a favor, Kagome sacrifices her holiday in order to help him fulfill an annual familial obligation. Missed flights, misunderstandings, and mistletoe conspire to bring two strangers together."
This fic is absolutely lovely. Anything by this author is, but this fic makes me smile. Realistic fluff. The first chapter was posted over Christmas last year; the second chapter picks up where the last one left off, only covers the week afterwards, and was posted only a few days ago. The author intends to make this an annual thing, and I don't know whether or not to glee or be dismayed at having to wait a whole other year for an update... Of her other fics, I particularly love Unspoiled for sending Kagome to a past in which she encounters a very young and adorable Sesshoumaru. But really, if you love the series, read all of Forthright's works. 

This Kid I Once Knew by Minnow
Fandom: Calvin & Hobbes
Summary: "Daniel sends their whole improv group an e-mail saying "check this out its fun1!1" and a link to a web comic called The Adventures of Spaceman Spiff."
If you loved Calvin & Hobbes when you were younger like me (and still love it, again, like me), you will love this fic. :) And possibly The Roommate of +10 Confusion, a Calvin & Hobbes crossover with Foxtrot, in which Calvin and Jason become roommates and awesomeness occurs. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] beckyh2112  for pointing these my way. 
Oh, and speaking of Calvin & Hobbes, this should make you smile (especially, but not necessarily, if you're a history dork like me): "Few historians know of the heartwarming friendship between French Reformation theologian John Calvin and English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, the latter of whom may or may not have been real, considering he was not even born yet."

Strange Girl by Sunfreak
Fandom: Spirited Away
Summary: "She's a strange girl. They all say it. She talks to rivers and trees and animals and won't dissect the frogs in science class. And she always wears that same silly hair tie, no matter how she does her hair."
Oh come on, when you saw that movie don't tell me you weren't aching for Chihiro to meet Kohaku again, weren't you? ;_;

Flying Again by esama
Fandom: Harry Potter AND Temeraire. Crossovers = <3
Summary: "Harry learns languages and philosophy and mathematics and misses something important, while elsewhere Charlie thinks of pearls and foolish dreams and is unable to find the right dragon." 
A story told in (adorable and touching) drabbles, in which William Laurence is reincarnated as Charlie Weasley, and Temeraire as Harry Potter. Give it a chance, if you love Temeraire. Also, dragons.

The Kids Aren't All Right by Christine Everhart(?)
Fandom: Iron Man, movie!verse
Summary: “It’s been ‘a hell of a year’ since industrialist Tony Stark owned up to his alter ego in a move that stunned observers and longtime aides alike. With the US facing unprecedented homegrown suicide attacks, Iron Man’s contribution to national security is more than ever under scrutiny. As she follows Stark during a year of crisis, exclusively for Vanity Fair, Christine Everhart explores the many contradictions of the man behind the mask, uncovers tales of personal loyalty, patriotism gone awry and corporate betrayal, and asks whether Iron Man is the embodiment of an outdated American fantasy—a self-made, unilateral, technological solution to hopelessly complex problems—and whether he can survive the violent encounter with reality.”
...AKA someone actually wrote that article that the reporter chick was working on throughout the movie. You know the one, she who slept with Tony at the beginning of the movie, provided exposition throughout, and prompted him during That Press Conference to actually confess who he was. This fic has an amazing voice and really could be a part of official canon. It's amazing. Also, has pictures, like a real magazine article would!
This one is probably on my list of the top 10 most amazing fanfics of all time. This is the fic I point to/explain when someone asks me what the point of fanfiction is. 

The Cold We Hate by VioletzeEcoFreak
Fandom: Hetalia
Summary: "The North American Ice Storm of 1998, an indisputable example of the cold Canadians and Americans alike loathe."
America and England help Canada through a rough patch. I have a weakness for hurt-comfort fic. Also, Canadiana. This fic is particularly appropriate at this time of the year.

The Care and Feeding of Hobbits by Baylor
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Summary: "Ruminations on the Little People by Boromir, Man of Gondor."
An oldie but goody. Lord of the Rings was one of my first fandoms, way back in junior high. This one is still one of my favourites, and holds a special place in my heart. Fluff, but believable fluff, with hobbit cultural tidbits and not-a-bastard!Boromir. :)

I saw The King's Speech a few days ago with my Mother dearest, and I have to say that it was one of the most uplifting movies I've seen in a long time. It was funny, engaging, entertaining, intelligent... I especially loved the swearing scene, nearly cried at the scene where Bertie actually began to talk about his childhood and could barely get it out, and gleed when the speech therapist's wife came home early and found the Queen of England sitting down for tea in their tiny little flat... as well as dozens of other beautifully done scenes. :) Amazingly well done film. Even the trailer makes you feel awesome, watching it:


And as for tomorrow... I'm going to post those postcards and letters, apply for jobs, and actually work on my thesis. I promise. >_>
beboots: (Default)
 So [livejournal.com profile] beckyh2112  got me thinking about lists, and organizing my thoughts and goals, etc., in time for the new year. :) 

Awesome things that happened to me in 2010:
-For the first time in my life, I managed to actually KEEP a new year's resolution! This bodes well for the future. I vowed to take up push-ups: I began in January barely able to do one set of five knee push-ups at a time, and now I tend to do sets of thirty or thirty-five in a day. I think that I'll keep going with this, working my way up to fifty at a time by the end of school this April. :3
-I figured out a topic for my thesis! (Now, to actually WORK on it...) I've kept up with the honour's programme, which means that I have consistently kept a ridiculously high GPA... through lots of hard work. I just have to keep it up for one more semester... 
-Everyone in my immediate family has remained healthy and happy, more or less. No deaths! We're all going strong. :)
-I went on an amazing trip to the British Isles. The experiences I had there will stick with me for my entire life. :) I had fun, learned history, became independent, and realized that I can always work my way through the troubles life throws me. Keep calm & carry on, right?
-Despite setbacks, I was hired at Fort Edmonton in the funnest job I have yet to have. Where else would you be able to dress in costume and talk to people all day about fascinating subjects? Learn to light fires with flint and steel, and cook meals with wild game in cauldrons on fireplaces? I learned valuable skills that will serve me well in the case of civilization-destroying apocalypses in 2012. ;)

Things I am anxious about for the coming new year:
-Jobs jobs jobs. I have an almost guaranteed job at Fort Ed for the summer, but what am I to do for a career? I'm going to apply for grad school for the year afterwards, but in what program? Decisions, decisions... 
-I do feel a bit lonely at times. I mean, I have a very loving family and some very good friends, but I have to say I wouldn't mind meeting a special someone. Until last year, I never really understood that old adage: "all the good men are gay or taken." This year I found out that damn, that is so true! D: Still, I hold out hope. :)

Things to look forward to in the new year:
-During the second week of January, I get to be an extra in the short film "Northern Lights"! It's a ten minute movie that they're filming for the new Capitol Theatre they're constructing at Fort Edmonton which will serve as an introduction to the park and to Edmonton's history: it's to tell 10,000 years of the history of the area in 10 minutes. I'm going to be one of the extras in the background of the fur trade era scenes. :) I'll have to skip a class to do it, and there's apparently going to be a ridiculously early start time (like 7:30 in the morning at a place that's nearly an hour a way from my home during rush hour), but it will be entirely worth it. :)
-As of sometime in the next year, my little brother would have been in remission for five years straight, which means that he will be effectively "cured" of cancer! :D Huzzah and well-wishes for my brother dearest!
-While this could (and is) also placed up above under the "anxieties" list, this year will also be the year that I figure out what I'm doing with my life. Probably. :) So that's something.
-I have two very good novel ideas floating around in my brain right now. I'm not going to wait for November: I'm going to actually write them, I've vowed to myself. I'll work on them in between working on my thesis and doing other things. :) Which brings me to...

New Year's Resolutions. As I did so well on last year's resolution, I will have several this year:
-Keep up the exercise! I'll keep doing push-ups, and I will endeavour to do at least three days of intense exercise a week: that's swimming sessions, jogs, etc. I may join the fencing club or take up Tai Chi with Cassidy dearest. :)
-Stop chewing my nails. It's a horrible habit I've had for as long as I can remember. It's not as bad as some people, but I'm self-conscious about it and I want it to stop. Must resist...
-Be more confident in myself. Be more personable. Stay positive. I generally am an optimist, and I hope to stay that way. 
-WRITING WRITING WRITING. I'm going to try to be a more prolific writer. I've got my thesis to work on, but also those novel ideas as well as several fanfic in the works. I endeavour to FINISH some of these stories floating around on my hard drive. Also, schoolwork. 

Hopefully, these aren't unreasonable resolutions! ;) I love you all! Happy New Year!
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 I was really stressed out yesterday. Right now, I'm just focusing on getting through this semester, and finishing my degree, while still trying to find stuff to actually apply for. As of now, I have no clue where I will be in September. 

So for now, here are a couple things to distract you (that may indeed even prove useful!)

-Ten Words You Need To Stop Misspelling. (Also, others in that Grammar Pack of Posters)

-Sounds Familiar? A neat-o compilation of voice recordings of different regional dialects in England, some of which has analysis. If you've ever been fascinated by English accents, linguistics, etc., definitely check it out!

-Have a picture of a white peacock on the attack. And a video of an incredibly shocked hawk while I'm at it. And a video of an animal that clearly enjoys life.

Also, for when things get really stressful, have a gorgeous nature time lapse video of Japanese landscapes with soothing piano music:


(And now I need to stop procrastinating and actually get back to writing that book review. Hey, cut me some slack, I've written 7 pages already!)
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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)
 (Oh hey, my post this morning on the wearing of the poppy in November sounds so angry! I just wanted to clarify that I'm not angry, I'm just frustrated with people who have the knee-jerk reaction of "war is bad and anything to do with war must also  be bad" and thus taking it out on people who only have good intentions. I hope that I didn't come across as some kind of fanatic. >_> )

ANYWAY I just wanted to share something interesting with you guys. As you may or may not have gathered, I'm doing my honour's thesis this year (all 50 intimidating pages of it...) on perceptions and innovations in American Civil War medicine. I've been reading some really cool books with interesting titles, like Microbes and Minié Balls, Gangrene and Glory, The blue and gray in black and white: a history of Civil War photography, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War... Of course, you get the opposite end of the spectrum with books with absolutely boring/uninformative/uninspired titles like The Civil War... which is in fact a brilliantly written book! (If, of course, I'm talking about the one by that title by a man named Paul Cimbala.)

But to get back on track, I just wanted to share a passage with you from a book called Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War, by Edmund Wilson. It's bound in a serious-looking blue cover, with very thin pages that actually remind me more of books from the late 1800s, not one published in 1962. This, combined with the title and even the man's name (I always associate the name "Edmund" with sour-faced men with dark goatees), I expected this to be a serious, possibly even depressing, work. And it is. For the most part. Except for this one completely unexpected passage in the introduction in which he makes reference to something completely unexpected, right after talking about having lived through two world wars:

"In a recent Walt Disney film showing life at the bottom of the sea, a primitive organism called a sea slug is seen gobbling up smaller organisms through a large orifice at one end of its body; confronted with another sea slug of an only slightly lesser size, it ingurgitates that, too. Now, the wars fought by human beings are stimulated as a rule primarily by the same instincts as the voracity of the sea slug. It is true that among the animals other than man it is hard to find organized aggression of the kind that has been developed by humanity..."
Holy crap, guys. This author is... I don't even know what to think! I think awesome. He goes on to continue with a pretty serious philosophical/historical point about the inherent evil in humans and why wars are started and perpetuated and such, and he uses long words like "pugnacious" and "Lebensraum" and others, but I cannot get over the fact that he used Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID to start off this discussion. 

How did this serious historian, of at least fifty years of age (he lived through both world wars, remember?) encounter this movie? Did he go to the movie theater with his grandchildren with the American Civil War on the mind? 

Just thought I'd share. 

And always remember, guys: 
(Image courtesy of Harkavagrant.com)

 
EDIT: Wait, upon reviewing some respectable internet sources, I've realized that the Little Mermaid was only released in 1989. Now which Disney film was Mr. Edmund Wilson, the serious historian, referring to? He needs to source his statements better, OMG! :P 
beboots: (Default)
I have a bare 5 minutes left of paid internet time at a tourist info place in Portree, on the Isle of Skye, so I'll just post this to let everyone know that our tiny little plane didn't crash into the sea or anything!

In fact, Sara and I have been very much enjoying ourselves in the islands! :D I have about three or four posts written up on my iPod detailling our adventures (surprisingly few misadventures involved, I rescind any negative ideas I held about the islands before today), and I'll be spamming all of your inboxes with them as soon as I have access to free wifi. That could be tomorrow when we move to Armadale, or in three days when we get to Inverness. We'll see!

We're having an adventure. The sun is shining, the birds are singing (literally), and I love being served toasties with brie and cranberries. :)

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