Saturday, September 30, 2006

When will I ever do work?

Thursday: Recital at the Four Seasons Centre for the Perfoming Arts. The pianist---Jean-Philippe Sylvestre---was really good (well, as far as I can tell). He seemed like a really nice guy too, which is always important. And he is, ahem, younger than me! (And also kinda cute, which doesn't hurt.)

The Richard Bradshaw Ampitheatre, where the perfomance was held, is bizarre. Imagine a big landing area at the top of a staircase with a glass exterior wall overlooking downtown Toronto. The floor is light-coloured wood and the ceiling is high above. You are welcomed at the top of the open-concept stairs, and then directed to stairs heading up. Except that they aren't really stair; this is the "amphitheatre" seating. You're sitting on what amounts to the floor/stairs. And there's no cushions or anything. So you watch the perfomance and are distracted by the traffic and people and scenery outside. And you're really distracted the more uncomfortable you get. See, I don't have a lot of butt padding. This usually isn't a problem, but in situations like this, it is. Ouch!

After the recital, I headed to campus to take in the afternoon sessions of the 1956 conference. It was good, and I met a fellow grad student at NYU who does similarish stuff to what I do. I should make sure to remember him in case I have a question later on about the organization he studies.

After dinner, FN's friend came over and we watched Rushmore (1998). The friend is very entertaining, but the movie got boring, so I escaped to my room to do a little bit of work, or something.

Friday: Got up early to be at the conference for 9am. Did that all day. The conference talks were only occasionally interesting, but the in-between times are what makes conferences really fun. Although I wasn't presenting, and I don't study anything to do with 1956, it's always good to see real-life historians in action. I guess I'm always taking mental notes about what I should do when I do present at my next conference. I also met a few good people, re-met my external examiner from my MA thesis defense, and hung out with great former and current grad students from my department. All of my dissertation and comps committee members were at the conference at various times yesterday, so if nothing else, I at least was able to remind them of my existence and prove my interest in advancing my education as a historian of international relations!

After a long day at the conference, I went across the street to Massey for the Founders' Gaudy, a fancy high table event. I missed the college photo---the announcement went out over e-mail while I was at the conference, so of course I didn't get it in time [I'm mildy unimpressed, but whatever]---and then dinner eventually started. Massey is an odd place. I will elaborate at some point, I'm sure. I do have a new friend there, I think. She's a PhD student in Near and Middle Eastern Studies, and she was nice enough to give me a ride home. We agreed about the strangeness.

Saturday: Social life continues. Ack! But first, blogging and laundry.

P.S. My supervisor's new book is out today. Congratulations!! How exciting.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Historians, and more historians.

How I love them so. Today was a pretty inspiring day, academically speaking. I went to two talks, and was introduced to some new ideas and interesting approaches . . . and on topics which are somewhat related to what I do! First up was history prof. and the chair of Holocaust studies at U of T, Michael Marrus, on the Holocaust and humanitarian interventions. Next was a book launch session featuring Anne-Emmanuelle Birn, who's book on the Rockefeller Foundation in Mexico during the interwar years was recently published. I met up with old friends and colleagues at both, and met some new professors. In between the talks I finished my microfilm research---finally! FN, HD, and I had dinner together here afterward, and we wished HD well on all her travels over the next few weeks.

Plans for tomorrow include a piano recital at the new opera hall and then back to campus for the 1956 conference. I'm looking forward to both!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What I learned in school today.

I spent a few hours staring at microfilm this afternoon. The most memorable thing I learned was the meaning of "night soil." When I first read the term, I didn't know what it was, but I quickly caught on. Night soil: human excrement; used as fertilizer. What a strange term. It was used in the report of the chief medical officer for the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia. I particularly liked this choice excerpt:

Reference is made, however, at this point to the custom of the Chinese to fertilize with liquified night soil the growing vegetables and as the Chinese coolies are the principal truck gardeners it is extremely dangerous to use uncooked vegetables in Siberia. Much difficulty will be experienced with untrained troops who have recently arrived and are ignorant of this method of fertilizing the vegetables to prevent them eating uncooked vegetables as those of Siberia grown very luxuriantly and are very attractive to the eye.

Let's hope the American soldiers were quickly informed!

What's more relevant to my own research is this comment on sanitary conditions in Siberia among the refugee population:

The condition of the [Trans-Siberian Rail]road was very poor owing to lack of funds and the chaotic state of the government; with literally thousands of the inhabitants living in the freight and passenger cars as they lay in the railroad yards throughout Siberia. These people had no way of disposing of their night soil, as a result the yards surrounding each station are covered with human excrement as no effort has been made in the past to remove it but once a year . . . .

Awful. As for using night soil to fertilize crops, it seems that the practice is unfortunately more widespread even in today's world than sheltered me might have realized (had I ever thought about it before).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Maybe I will get a job.

Earlier I scrolled through the H-Net job announcements that came to my inbox. And I'm feeling better about my job prospects. Of course, I don't mean to say that all of a sudden I am more impressive than I was before, but just that it looks like there may be some call for historians who do US foreign relations and international history stuff. Yay! Now all I have to do is work hard, write a damn good dissertation that's about something interesting, publish a couple of articles, and wow lots of fancy historian-types at conferences and the like.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Word on the Street.

I've just come back from a rainy few hours at the Word on the Street Festival at Queen's Park. I went not because of my love of all things books and publishing, but because I wanted to see an old prof of mine who was there hawking his latest book. AT also said I should come out and see him at his film magazine tent, so I did that too. There were tons of booky people milling about, and though I didn't buy any books, I did come away with a bookmark (advertising my prof's book), a t-shirt, and a book bag.

It was really nice to see old prof. again. He's great, and he might have a few things for me that I can use for my dissertation. As for AT, he was looking good, I finally got to talk with his girlfriend, J. She's super cool! Despite my feeling that I really need to cut back on the socializing, it looks like I now have two parties to go to next Saturday night. So it will be kind of like yesterday again, when FN and I went to a bachelorette outing and then headed off to JDS's birthday party at her and TC's place. Too many friends! (And I suppose I will put AT back on my "to invite to things" list, since I saw him today, had a nice late lunch with him on Wednesday afternoon, and am invited to his new place next weekend. Okay, AT: you're forgiven!)

Now, about the bachelorette thing. The woman getting married is originally a friend of FN's. A bunch of us met up at The Clay Room, where we chose ceramic pieces and then proceeded to paint them. FN did a vase, and I did a serving dish. We'll have to go pick them up in a week after they've been fired/glazed/whatever they do. I'll let you know how our attempt at art turns out! FN and I ditched out on the fancy (read: expensive) dinner to grab take-out gyros on the Danforth. Yum!

Now, about the bachelorette crowd. They are nice, pleasant people. They aren't especially exciting or entertaining. All this is fine, but it's just a little different for me. What I mean is that most of my friends are funny, entertaining people. When we get together, we laugh a lot. Or we have deep, interesting conversations. Or, often, both. It's great! I just passively assumed that this is true of most people, but now I think it may not be. I could be completely wrong, of course. At the very least, I can't imagine having the same kind of deep, wildly amusing conversation marathons with these people as I'm used to having with some other people.

The grown-up party at JDS and TC's place was really fun. I met or re-met some nice scientist-types, but of course the historians were the most entertaining ones there. Unfortunately, I completely lost track of time---I don't wear a watch---and all of a sudden it was 2:30am!! Wow, way to overstay our welcome, eh? Sorry JDS and TC! If it's any consolation, we were having an awesome time. Of the historians, AG, HD, DS, and DR are equally guilty of staying way too late.

Plans for tonight include eating a shawarma and baking banana bread. Oh, and perhaps working on my dissertation proposal. I think it's due at the end of the week.

P.S. FN is sick. She wants sympathy and bouquets of flowers.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Must. Work. Harder.

Don't get me wrong: I am doing work. But just not enough. Yesterday, for example, I had big plans to go to the library and work on those pesky microfilms I've been avoiding. That didn't happen. Instead, I went off to a friend's house to visit her and her 12-week old baby. I hadn't seen her since before she gave birth, so I needed to drop in bearing cookies. It was a very nice visit. She's someone I met in my reading group last year, and she's not a U of T student, so she isn't part of my usual crowd of historian-friends. The visit ended at 6pm when I told her I needed to leave the dog park and go home! (Which is unlike me, because I really do love dogs!) So much for the library. After a quick dinner at home, I rushed off to our student society's pub night. Tons (relatively) of new people came out, so it was great. And then after that---I clearly wasn't going to do any work that night---YT and I went back to HD's house to watch the season premiere of Grey's Anatomy of that she'd taped.

Now, about Grey's Anatomy. FN and I watched it last season, and had some tense moments being unimpressed with the characters. (We even had a big GA season finale party at our place, which was so much fun.) So of course I wanted to watch the season opener. And so YT, HD, and I did. But it was wierd. It just didn't feel like a season opener, and some storylines were confusing, like we'd missed something. We didn't get to see the last minute or so of the episode because HD's tape had stopped recording. But . . . HD had set her TV to tape the episode at both 8pm and 9pm on two different channels, just in case. So she fast-forwarded an hour to see if we could catch that last minute of the show on the 9pm airing. Things then got very confusing. Because what was on an hour later seemed to be the ending of a completely different episode, one that we'd never seen before! We began to realize that we'd just watched the second episode of this season rather than the first, and that the 9pm show was in fact the premiere. So we watched that. Things were a little out of order, but at least we saw everything . . . except that last minute of episode two. I don't know why the channel which showed GA at 8pm aired episode two rather than the premier last night, but oh well. (FN later told me what happened in that last minute---whoa!) UPDATE: Read about the episode airing foulup here.

Today was a little less confusing! I went to the Munk Centre for a talk by David Wright (former Canadian ambassador to the UN and permanent representative to NATO) on humanitarian interventions in times of crisis. It was good, and semi related to my own work. The free food was a plus, because I didn't expect there to be any. I then went off to meet some people to talk about finances for the student society of which I am no longer the president (how sad!). And then I finally made it to the library.

Another busy weekend ahead of socializing---having a social life is my part-time (unpaid) job, it seems---and hopefully getting some work done. Like my dissertation proposal. It's almost done, but I really should have the thing finished by now. Sheesh.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

$375 later . . .

Guess what? The archivist from Minneapolis called me today to talk about my research. We agreed that a week should cover things, though of course it's difficult to know before you actually do the research. But I felt confident enough about it that I just booked flights for my research trips to Minneapolis and Urbana-Champaign. I'm happy with the costs (so far), but still need to book a train or bus ride from Chicago to inner Illinois. Oh, and find places to stay. So there's lots more money still to be spent!

I've planned it so that I'll have a few hours on a Friday and Saturday to hang out in Chicago. Perhaps I'll try and hit a museum or art gallery, or so something else equally touristy.

I was a good grad student yesterday, and actually ventured to the library to look at some of the microfilms I need to go through. I also attended a TA training session in the hopes of learning something I didn't know . . . but alas, the session mostly annoyed me. Invariably these kind of multi-disciplinary information/training sessions just reinforce my belief that grad students are incredibly stupid. My goodness. The extent of the stupidity is astounding. The assistant to the chair of my department and I were complaining to each other about this yesterday. She is stupefied by the dumbness of administrative staff and faculty. Sigh. And then my friend MLH told us about the geniousnesses he's been dealing with who may be incredibly academically talented, but who have zero common sense or ability to function in the world.

The Massey people at lunch yesterday did not strike me as dumb, however. Yay! It was nice to have a good meal---even if it wasn't free---so I could head off to stare at microfilm on a full stomach. I should do that more often. Yes, it will cost me, but I think it's worth it. It's better than lazing around at home and not really working anyways.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Food, glorious food.

Last night I went to a baby shower at PR's apartment in honour of SF and GO. It was the best kind of fun---good food and good company, low key, and an early evening. Perfect! The expectant parents were really pleased with the gift HD and I brought. There was lots more socializing on the menu for today: dim sum for lunch with about 15 of my and FN's closest friends, and then EW and CW's housewarming.

Dim sum was excellent. Tons of people came out . . . everyone who said he or she would except AT, who is now off my "invite to things" list. Seriously, AT: you've never come to anything. You claim to be mildly fond of me, and yet. Grumble. Whatever. Everyone who did come seemed to have a good time, after which rumours were flying---mainly between EC and I---about people who will remain nameless. Awesome.

HD2, YT, DS, PR and I went off after lunch to College St. We quickly started to notice that there was something going on because there was a seemingly never-ending line of buses parked on College, some of which had military license plates. I then noticed a crowd of people in Queen's Park, and loudly exclaimed at much. A man on the street explained that some new war memorial was being unveiled. Cool! So we crossed the street in time to watch a military parade. It was so much fun. Bag pipes and men---actually, most of them were barely men---in very nice uniforms from the different branches of the military. (I do like a man in military dress uniform.)

Once the parade had passed us by, we walked to Winners for a little shopping. I was only slighly embarassed to be shopping there, and came out with a couple accessories for our bathroom. Yay! It took, however, forever to pay for EC's and my purchases. A woman ahead of us in line needed a price check or something, and it took ridiculously long. EC and I were unimpressed ("In this situation, the appropriate thing to do is decide you didn't want that item so much after all," said EC) but we eventually managed to leave the store. Sheesh.

The walk home was lovely. It was such a beautiful day. It's been cold and rainy and generally depressing for a while now, so today was especially nice.

Once back at home FN and I quickly made cookies before heading out again. Yes, again! But we had a good time at the housewarming. The food was very yummy. We are both pretty wiped, though. And I just realized I need to wake up at 8:30am tomorrow. How awful. Maybe I'll actually get some work done in the afternoon (after a TA training session and lunch at Massey---unless I chicken out of that) before another social engagement in the early evening which will, of course, include more food.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Nepalese/Northern Indian + High Table = stuffed.

Still busy but getting little done. Yesterday I stayed home and ran errands (while sitting at my desk) until EC summoned me to go to the grocery store with her. She was very excited about Loblaws. I am not kidding. She was dismayed that I wouldn't let her walk down ALL the isles and take it all in. But she lives 5 minutes away, so she can go again. EC then made this super-yummy veggie oven-baked concoction which we ate with good old fashioned tortière (AKA meat pie). My mom would be proud.

Today was filled with more eating, as you can tell by the title. EW (who does not like that I refer to her as that), YT, HD2, AT (who came uninvited) and I had lunch at this fabulous restaurant on Bloor. Mmmm. After that we (minus AT) headed off to a meeting of our student association. The meeting was good. I think we completely confused the new kids. There's just so much going on and it'll take them a while to get in on everything so they know what we're talking about. But it's really good to have a lot of new bodies involved this year. Let's hope they stick around!

I headed home after the meeting to chill for a bit and catch up on my e-mail before I had to leave again for Massey. It was the first "High Table" dinner of the year. My. What a feast. Let me explain, briefly:

Massey is an exclusive community associated somehow with U of T. It has a "Master" who heads the college (sort of) and who lives there with his wife. There are junior fellows (both resident and non-resident, which would be me), senior fellows (professors attached to the college), and a few other kinds of people, including journalism fellows. It's kinda like a graduate residence, old boys network, English-style club, Greek house, Oxbridge, and boarding school all rolled into one bizarre, but calm and friendly (and slightly pompous) place. A few of the people there give off a "I'm better than you" vibe, but most don't.

High table dinners happen every two weeks, and they are like regular formal dinners---if you go to a regular dinner you have a wear a gown---plus free wine and fancier food. With a break for speech-making between the main course and dessert. This is what I did tonight. I traipsed over to Massey, borrowed a gown (size small), and off I went to hob-nob with the Masseyites. Dinner consisted of salad, tuna (etc.), and fancy custardy dessert. Afterwards there was port and coffee and tea. I was told that the port was "vile," but I didn't have any myself.

Because of my fear of walking home alone at night, I left relatively early. During dinner and afterwards, I met and talked to a few cool people---not including slighly wierd law student guy who was of course there and talked to me for a minute. It was nice, but I couldn't stay for a party on the grounds afterwards. I did, however, talk to handsome guy for a bit. Are you proud of me, FN?

I think I'll head to bed early tonight. Yawn. I will have a very full weekend of socializing. I need to start cutting myself off from people and all the other distractions on campus. Must start working!!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Spending too much money.

Oy. But I need stuff. So money must be spent. And I'm gonna spend more soon on a digital camera. This is a necessary tool for a historian. And I'll get a good deal.

In other news, my laptop is driving me crazy. It keeps switching between battery power and power power (you know what I mean). I'm pretty sure the only solution is to reinstall Windows. So, as you can imagine, I've been putting it off. I'll need to backup all my data soon, though, and get it over with, because I need a properly functioning laptop for when I go off on my research trips.

Speaking of which, I'm going to head back to Ottawa soon for a visit with my mom and to hang out at a couple archives there. And I've got a date to talk to an archivist in Minneapolis soon, after which I should be able to plan my trip down there.

HD and I went shopping today to pick up a shower gift for a friend and fellow historian who is expecting. The party's on Saturday evening, and it should be a lot of good, clean fun! (That's the best kind, after all.) It'll be a full weekend: on Sunday a bunch of us are going for dim sum in Chinatown (yum), and I've got another party on that evening. And Friday's the first meeting of our student association. That should be good. I'm also contemplating going to a similarish meeting at Massey tomorrow (er, this) evening. Should I get involved in things there, or should I just go to the occasional social event? By the way, if I get elected to any position at the college, I get to have dinner with the Swedish royal family in October (well, we'll all be in the dining hall at the same time, anyway). What do you think?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Busy, but getting little done.

Today was one of those days. They seem to happen more often that they should. I've been up and doing things since before 10am, and now it's nearly 8pm, and I have little to show for the day. We now have internet again---yay!---and my laundry's done. But what about all the research I need to do?

A major problem I'm discovering is that I prefer doing my work in the afternoons and at night. But I can't work these hours if I want to use microfilm machines. I may have to start getting up early, going to school, eating lunch of campus, and then going back to do more research. This would be a good "normal" schedule, but it sounds awful to me!

I've been noticing bizarre outfits on people. I think I may have reached the age where I can no longer dress trendily. I always sort of could before---not that I always did---but I don't think I can deal with the odd 1960s/1980s combo outfits that seem to be all the cool kids are wearing these days. And, what's with wearing flip flops or other summer shoes AND a winter scarf, all in the same outfit? Pick a season, people! In other fashion (crime) news, I've been caught a few time recently carrying an umbrella on days where there wasn't a cloud in the sky. And then was out one night when it started to rain a couple hours after I'd decided not to bring an umbrella.

As I contemplate my place in the fasion universe, FN is busy crafting 30-something cover letters for summer jobs. Yuck! While she's delivering them tomorrow, I will be at coffee hour and then in lecture. I'm looking forward to this, but not the trek out to the Pharmacy Building. Don't ask me why a third-year history class is being held there, but I hear that there's a tree growing inside that building, which is kinda neat.

Post-comps normality ensues.

My meeting with my supervisor went well on Friday. She said that I should try to have my dissertation done in a year and a half. A year and a half! Well, it would be great if I could, but I suspect it might take a little longer. We'll see.

Now that orientation is over, things will get back to school-year normal. I start TAing this week, coffee hours are back on, and Robarts will be seeing a lot more of me than before. I didn't get through much of the microfilm that I wanted to last week, so I need to do that. There are also a few printed documentary collections I need to go through and take notes on. Some of this will be tedious, but I still think it's exciting! Today I finally did my ArchivesMadeEasy tip on the PEI archives, so that's one errand off my to-do list.

These days I've been feeling somewhat in demand by my friends. This is great, but it's difficult to hang out with some people as much as they'd like me to. One friend I didn't see for months during comps, which is perhaps a little excessive, but I do hope my friends don't get too upset that I sometimes have to say no. Not only do I have work to do and a life and home to maintain, but I occasionally need time to myself. And the fact that I talk to FN every day doesn't mean I want to socialize with other people all the time too. Roommates are different that way, or, at least this roommate is. There are a few friends I really need to make plans to see, including one who had a baby a couple months ago. I must do this pronto!

FN is currently suffering from lack of internet. This has been an especially unhappy weekend in some ways, but it will be over soon. Our internet service has been down since Friday evening. I have been able to steal a wireless signal for most of the time, but FN's computer is not being so cooperative. And this comes at an especially bad time of the year. Sigh. Hopefully it will all be fixed in the morning. My fingers are crossed.

Finally, let me just say that I lead a charmed life, and provide you with reason no. 379 (or thereabouts): FN's "Emeril inspired" dinner tonight. Just the thing to get my grammarian juices flowing in preparation for a cover-letter refining session.

P.S. How are you doing, EC?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Orientation exhaustion.

I've been quite busy the past couple days. My business has included:
1) Proving (once again) my indispensability to the department;
2) Discovering the high schoolness of the new college I'm a member of;
3) Hanging out with cool people---ones I already know, and once I've just met;
4) Eating for free;
5) Taking in a few minutes of a concert by some group whose name I do not know, but who were pretty good;
6) Deciding my dissertation committee, and squaring my research plans with my supervisor;
7) Running into friends on the street.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Goodbye, Steve.

E from Alien has been writing about Steve Irwin, who---as I'm sure you all know by now---passed away tragically over the weekend.

My brother and I used to watch "Crocodile Hunter" together. Yes, we were probably drawn in at first by Irwin's crazed Australianness. But we very quickly saw beyond that. His larger-than-life personality could not mask Irwin's sincere love for animals and mother nature. Irwin may have been a stereotype of himself---his signature outfit and shaggy haircut, not to mention an abundance of bizarre-sounding (to North Americans) expressions---but he was also, and more importantly, deeply devoted to the misunderstood creatures he "hunted" on each episode. It was his fundamental humanity that drew us back to the show again and again. Heck, it even took me away from my thesis research, and you know how I love researching Siberia.

So, here's to Steve Irwin. You will be truly missed and fondly remembered.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Orientation week.

Goodness, there's lots to do! There's something about school beginning again, and the campus crawling with undergrads that makes me want to work, work, work. Massey orientation continues, and our departmental orientation day is almost all set for Thursday. It will be good to meet some new historians, and catch up with people I haven't seen in a while. As for the Massey kids, well, I went by there today and met a few more. It really does seem like a nice place.

It looks like there's only one (public) microfilm reader on campus with a scanner attached, which is fine as long as I'm the only one who wants to use it! Unfortunately, it's at Kelly Library, which is probably the farthest library from home. For the moment, though, this is fine, since the walk through Queen's Park is nice during the fall. Come winter, I won't be so enthusiastic.

The plan for tomorrow is to lug my laptop and that box of microfilms to the library so I can start looking through them. There should be some good stuff on at least one reel, and I'll try and get through as much of the finding aid for the other (huge) collection as I can. After that I can start looking through printed document collections before heading off to archives in the U.S.

My TA work is beginning soon---I'm just a grader this time around---but I'm kinda looking forward to this assignment. I'll be marking for a course that covers some of the stuff I read about for comps. It will be good to put some of my book-learning to use! Plus, I'm grading for a prof. of whom I'm a big fan, so that's good too.

Back to contemplating my dissertation proposal in preparation for a meeting with my supervisor on Friday . . . .

Monday, September 04, 2006

Catching up . . .

. . . and looking forward to starting the new school year. Things are already looking hectic, with parties to plan, receptions to go to, microfilm to scroll through, meetings to make, talks to give, and on and on and on. I am chilling at home this holiday, having a vacation in my apartment. I've been out and with friends way too much over the past few days. Am tired of people.

Now that school's starting up again, I'm finding myself caught up in potential conflict. Someone wants to institute secret paper ballotting for our departmental grad student organization. While this sounds like a good idea in theory, I think it may be a bad move for the organization. I mean, in my experience, the informal elections have worked well. When people don't get elected to one position, they can volunteer for another one right after. And etc. Stuff like this is more difficult if you formalize the thing. Plus, there are a lot of positions, and proper elections will take forever! Grumble.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Lack of space.

Yesterday had a busy day running errands and meeting up with friends I hadn't seen in a while. As for actual school work, I picked up a box of microfilm reels so I can start my dissertation research in earnest. And I returned my carrel key and requested a book locker instead. I hardly used my shared carrel---the only working/office space on campus for history grad students---at all last year, so I figured that someone else could make better use of it. That's good of me, eh?, considering U of T gives us no space?

It's actually really bad of the school that we have no work space. When I was a Master's student at my old university, I had shared office space in the department with 6 or 7 other MA students. But I had my own desk, chair, etc., and the office was equipped with a phone. I expected that at "the Harvard of the North," PhD students would have somewhere to work on their dissertations other than being at the mercy of the carrel office at Robarts Library, but no. In fact, I didn't get a shared carrel until half-way through my second year as a PhD student! I'm not sure what can be done about this situation, especially since the space issue varies greatly across the 90 or so graduate departments on campus. To make matters worse, U of T is significantly increasing graduate enrollment. Ack! Although I do like this school---the library holdings are great, my professors are awesome, and I have made good friends with my fellow grad students---there are many things that annoy me. And lack of space is a big one.