Friday, March 30, 2007

Ten down, 75 to go.

There's not much to say, really. I've had some decent papers and some less successful ones. No howlers yet, which is nice. It's really unfortunate when students just don't do what they're told. Because it means I have to dock marks not for the papers they did write but for what they didn't. Sort of. But, heck, read the dang instructions! Whatever. I don't know whether there's any way around this. We'll see if/when I ever teach my own course.

[Random thought: I just watched Avril Lavigne's video, "Girlfriend." I'm confused: I thought she was a proper adult now. I guess not. Ok, moving on . . . .]

I took a break from grading today to join a few historians and one former-future historianness at pub night. I will see more of them tomorrow at our history society meeting. Although I tried to be pleasant---and I think I was mostly successful---I of course managed to make a bit of an ass of myself by telling all and sundry about my love for AT, who of course was sitting right beside me. I can't help it: When I have love for you, I can't stop myself from letting everyone know. Sorry for embarrassing you, AT. But you're a big boy. You can deal. (And MS wasn't there to share in my love telling, so you can blame him too.)

Should grade one more paper before reading and bed. Night!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Grading is upon me once again.

I can no longer avoid it. Sigh. This is really the worst part of teaching/TAing. A shame, really, since students (hopefully) put so much effort into their written work. I always liked writing essays as an undergrad. Well, ok, I shouldn't say "liked writing essays" exactly, but the process of researching and producing an original piece of synthesis and analysis had its appeals. It was cool! Marking isn't so much.

But enough complaining. I have some good news: I just bought myself a ticket to see Les Misérables in New York! Someone told me I really had to see that one, so I am. (Who told me that? Does anyone remember?) This is definitely the season for shows for me, since I'm going to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show on stage here in Toronto on Friday night. (And I saw a musical in London, too.) On Sunday afternoon, perhaps after dim sum with some Massey friends, I'm taking in a concert of classical music. Really looking forward to that. It's happening at the Glenn Gould Studio, a place I've seen on TV but have never been to myself. And free tickets are totally my thing ;-).

Today I ran a few necessary errands in record time, stopped in to see FPW at Robarts Library---he's been bugging me to say hello for over a month now, and then accompanied SF and baby K to a reception at Hart House. A handful of historians were in evidence, and I got a wee bit affected by half a glass of wine.

My life for the next while will be all-grading, all-the-time. In-between concerts and lunches and meetings and talks and parties, of course. Oh, and checking of e-mail and favourite internet sites.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Why I love my guys.

When I talk about "my guys," I invariably mean "the dead men (and women) who worked in Russia (esp. Siberia) and who are the subjects of my research." So, my guys. One of them is entertaining me at the moment. I'm going through more images and just came across a short letter from an American Red Cross representative to the American ambassador, David R. Francis. The letter was written from Petrograd (St. Petersburg) on 4 July 1918, and looks like this:
So, yeah. The ambassador wanted an imperial Borzoi to keep him company in Vologda, where most western officials were now living. Nice to know the American Red Cross was doing important work in Russia, eh? ;-) Now I want to know if Francis ever got a dog . . . .

(Source: National Archives, College Park; RG 84, Diplomatic Posts, USSR; Miscellaneous Correspondence, Reports, and Memoranda 1916-1919; Box 2; Miscellaneous Correspondence & Memoranda 1918 [1 of 2].)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More brainless work.

I've spent most of today---well, ever since I woke up at 3:20pm---making up my list of archival sources for my progress report. (The thing I'm sending my dissertation committee members before my annual meeting with them in a week.) It's boring, but good to take stock of what archives I've visited and which collections I still need to see. It reminded me that I may have to visit East Lansing, Michigan. I'm going to try and get around that. We'll see. At the moment, though, I have material from more than 20 archives!

In related news, I booked my flight to New York. I don't think I'm getting a good price, but I want to have that trip over with before the summer starts. Toronto is too much fun in the summer to spend too much of it away on research trips. And I haven't seen DN since August 2005, so it's definitely time to visit him and hear all about his awesome New York life.

On Sunday FN and I met up with one of her law-school friends and EC and AG for and afternoon Brunch on Bloor St. It was great fun, and nice to catch up with those fabulous people. EC came over later too to hang out for a bit. We chatted some more and played on the internet. (Hours of entertainment, that.)

Tuesday will see me leave the house for a bit of babysitting, followed by lecture (at which I will collect more essays to grade). If I'm up for it I may end my evening with a junior fellow lecture at Massey.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Did I tell you?

I've finally finished reading my supervisor's latest book. I've had the book since, oh, November, took it with me to Washington and London, but by early March I'd only read about, say, 60 pages or so. (LG had already read the damn thing long ago by this point, and he's not a historian at all.) But, I spent a few days with it and now it's done! And I rather liked it. It may not be as super fantastic as her last book---which was, after all, an international bestseller and winner of numerous awards---but it's really quite good. So says I.

While I'm at it, I've decided---pushed in part by an upcoming discussion---to tackle the latest offering of another member of my dissertation committee. Now 160 pages in, I'm very much enjoying it. My faith in and love of narrative is restored. (Good, critically smart narrative, of course.) It's awesome to have these two on my committee. Hopefully some of their skills and generally fabulousness will rub off on me.

Dissertation wise, I won't be able to do much in the next little while. What with several hundred more pages to read of that book, a report to write for my committee, and many essays to grade by early April, the .pdf'ing work will slow down a bit. Oh, and I must plan a trip to NYC to do research and visit excellent friend DN!!!

Lost her already.

Tonight (Friday night, that is), the coolest guy at Massey chose me as to take care of Elvisina, a female manikin bust acquired last year to keep Massey's golden Elvis bust company. Yes, this is bizarre. But that's not the point. The point is that it is my job to keep Elvisina and bring her around to Massey events. However, she's already been stolen from me! Some nefarious res or non-res fellow snatched her while I was dancing. A couple hours into the job, and I've already failed! [Thanks to TaV for the pic.]

Anways, back to less ridiculous occurrences. Thursday evening I took in a junior fellow lecture about quantum mechanics, which included such crazy (theoretical) topics as quantum cryptography and quantum bomb detonation, and entanglement. The lecturer did an excellent job because I left understanding what he'd been talking about, even though I have not taken a math or science course since high school.

This afternoon I went to the optometrist, and the good news is that I'm just as blind as I was before. Yay! So no need for new glasses. The doctor put these drops into my eyes which made my pupils bigger, and thus made light brighter. I had to wear this ridiculous dark plastic thing behind my glasses (like reverse clip-on sunglasses, but much stupider looking) as I walked along Bloor St. I ran into AG on the street and quickly whipped the thing off my face. But then it was too bright (even though we were standing in the shade) and I eventually had to put it back on. Ridiculous.

By 6:15pm I was at Massey, and didn't leave until about 3:20am. Massey was fun tonight. There is a good group of kids there. Not the most exciting people on the planet, but that's fine. (Heck, I'm not super exciting myself, so who am I to judge?) I partook in the dinner and the after-dinner conversation, witnessed the entertainment and the speeches, did some square-dancing---I was almost certainly the worst one on the dance floor, but whatever---and then went and chatted more until M (whose last name I don't know) walked me home. Oh, and handsome guy was there tonight and told me I should move in next year (!). No can do, but thanks for saying it ;-).

Now it is after 4am, and I must sleep. Happy Caturday, all! (To introduce you all to my new favourite website/blog. It made me laugh until I cried Wednesday night. No joke.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


The past couple of days I think I've been talking too much. And just generally being too much. I think it's time for a little retreat. Time to go into hiding for a bit. Ok.

Yesterday I was walking with LG---we ran into each other at Massey and walked to our respective destinations together---when we passed another Masseyite. Said Masseyite saw me first (I waved and smiled, as usual) and gave me the usual acknowledgment. But the next instant he saw LG and this elicited a large smile and excited "hi!" Harrumph. And earlier in the day I think I annoyed/was rude to a couple friends. Sigh. And then later I sent LG three different e-mails---they were legitimate ones---when I really should be leaving him alone to work. Grumble. I. must. stop. this. behaviour.

In a bid to appease the universe and get back in its good books I've just baked strawberry-bran muffins and will do some cleaning of the apartment today. Oh, and continue working.

And . . . working is much better now because I have a brand-new extra monitor to spread out my desktop on! I am loving it. Much recommended.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Films are cool, and other unrelated thoughts.

Who knew? Not me. Why am I only discovering this now? Well, today I sat in on AT's guest lecture to a film class! I was very impressed with his easy delivery and clear grasp of the material. That man is a smartie. Good for him.

After the 3.5 hour lecture/clip screening I went over to Massey to hear the election results. Turns out all positions were acclaimed (including mine) except one. But this means that I am now officially an office holder at the college, so I'll have to hang out there more often next year. Which I think is a good thing, but I don't want it to become a time suck.

And speaking of time sucks, after talking with AB2 and SA yesterday I'm feeling more comfortable about not TAing at all next year. Because of my funding situation I don't need to, and it seems unlikely that there will be a course that I'll feel compelled to TA for professional reasons. (This isn't quite true, but the one course I should do would likely require me to do a lot of hours. And I won't do that.) With the Massey job, probably being an organizer of the grad student conference in the department next year, and maybe also sitting on that governance council, I'll have enough to do besides my dissertation!

Today was another day when I got very little done but didn't do much apart from necessary things. I don't quite understand how this happens, but it happens a lot. And tomorrow will likely be more of the same! I guess I should just go with it and put off hopes of being productive for a day when I don't leave the house. That's really the key, you know: not leaving the house.

Food day.

This morning I left the house and walked south to Massey to meet up with historians YT and AB2, Masseyite PB, and an out-of-town visitor for dim sum in at King's Noodle in Chinatown. On the way I walked by people in full bagpipers regalia, one man in a leprechaun suit, and various other expected (and usually unexpected) things one might see preparing for a St. Patrick's Day parade through the streets of Toronto. Dim sum was yummy.

After we'd had our fill, AB2 and I journeyed on further south to the business district to meet up with historian SA at the Design Exchange. We caught a bit of the parade in progress on the way, and AB2 stocked up on some cheap food goodies in Chinatown. Once inside, we chatted and then took in this great exhibit on modern Japanese design. It was such fun! Now I want some of the stuff we saw. It was quite cool.

There was time for a nap and a home-made muffin before FN and I went for sushi at New Gen with TF, TL, and Googler JR. Also very fun. They are a good crowd.

Now I'm feeling slightly ill to my stomach. Too much Asia for one day, perhaps. I don't like this feeling. It's like I might want to throw up; or not. Annoying.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy birthday, FN!

Have you ever been to a party at a former warehouse/once-future S&M club/current studio-loft apartment? That's where the shin-dig was last night! The place is occupied by a friend of a friend of FN's, and last night's festivities included mostly talking, a spot of dancing---TF insisted I salsa with him, and averting my eyes from the nakedness in the hot tub a few feet away. All in all, it was pretty fun, though not perhaps a raging success. FN had a great time hanging out with all her awesome school friends, from school both past and present. Just shy of 3am we headed out onto the snowy streets in search of General Tao's chicken at Rol San in Chinatown. We were home by 4:30am.

At several points during the night we discovered unknown connections partly thanks to facebook. One of TC's friends is also friends with TF (unknown to TC, who had never met TF before); she came to the party at TF's invite and surprised TC! (She saw TC on the facebook event site.) One of FN's friends drove down from Kingston for the party, and it turns out he's in the same facebook work-group as TC. And we discovered that TC (again) also knows the girlfriend of another of FN's friends. (And I only know what the g/f's name is because of facebook.) Facebook. It makes the world a smaller place than it already is!

Today was a laundry day. Although it's St. Paddy's Day, I am tired and in need of at-home time so I can go out again tomorrow! And, please forgive me, Massey, for skipping out on Tea Hut. Maybe next year.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Many Massey hours.

Some comments on recent activities: I have now officially put my name in for a seat on a university council. JDS's papal talk was pretty interesting and very well delivered yesterday. I had dinner at Massey (and it was good). So too was chatting with the second-coolest guy at the college. Voting began at Massey last night after a very long election meeting. The historians left the bar at 11pm. (But I'm mostly surprised that so many people came to pub night at this terrible time of the academic year.)

This afternoon I took JDS, TC, and YT to Massey for lunch and conversation. We were celebrating various things, including two future defenses, one postdoc, one sessional job, and one looming comps exam.

I really did almost nothing of use this week. Too much running around, I think. Hopefully I'll be able to get some more little things out of the way this weekend so I can get back to research work. Oh, and I ordered myself an external monitor to use in addition to my laptop screen. And once this comes I'll have no excuse not to get working on my .pdf files! Something I am not particularly looking forward to. Taking notes, while interesting because I get to learn lots of new things, is quite tedious. Sigh.

Tonight we're celebrating FN's birthday (which is technically tomorrow). Should be a good party!

Oh, and good luck to EC and AG who are presenting at a conference this weekend!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Just call me Ms. Election.

This blog is not the place for me to rant about the abject foolishness and unreflective moronity of the vast majority of people. But I want it noted that I object to idiocy in all its forms, and that critical thinking---question everything, or at least recognize when you are choosing not to question something for reasons of survival, etc.---is the most important thing in the world. A proper humanistic outlook is a necessity of life. Only one you've got that can you go on and make the world a better place. I am quite serious.

Anyways, back to the usual day-in-the-life posting.

Couldn't sleep last night until very late and I apparently didn't actual turn on my alarm clock, so I missed JS's talk. And this after I went on yesterday about the importance of supporting fellow graduate students. I suck. Ah well. I will partially make it up to him by taking him to Massey for a discussion relevant to his area of interest.

Once I did manage to wake up, I worked on the computer until it was time to make muffins. Strawberry bran muffins. Oh wow they are so good. Mmmm. I ate one on my way out the door to the department meeting. I ran into TC2 on the street---this happens occasionally because we live so close to each other.

The meeting was semi-interesting. The regular talkative profs weren't in evidence so there is not much gossip to share. I do like my department and have great respect for the chair. Basically I am a huge school nerd and even administrative discussions keep my attention! And speaking of administrative discussions, tomorrow I will put in my name for a seat on a university governance council. That means I will have entered into two elections this week.

I am still annoyed thinking about people's lack of what I consider to be basic common sense. Sigh. Grrr. Life project: teach young people (and hopefully others) what thinking actually means.

P.S. I'm going to what promises to be a fun party on Friday. Anyone wanna come?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Quick life update.

I'm not feeling particularly articulate right now. So I will just tell you what I did today: reading group meeting at the York history department; lunch at Massey (including nominating myself for an elected position); gabbering and gossiping with Masseyites; coffee social in the U of T history department; hanging out with Africanist JS, tall MS, and other fabulous (and slightly less fabulous) historians; lecture; super amazing dinner with FN---you ought all to be jealous of my life, seriously; intelligent gabbering with FN; MSNing; organizing my life, i.e. responding to e-mails; ordering books and a present for FN from And now here I sit. It's a hard life ;-).

Actually, there was a pretty decent group of historians in the common room today. Good times. And the reading group was helpful, too. Plus, the trip out to York didn't take nearly as long as it might have. Nice.

Later . . . It's 4:30am and I still can't sleep. This is most annoying. Maybe I have too many things going on in my life right now and my brain won't shut down. Damn it, brain! Perhaps I will take this opportunity to post more pictures up on Facebook.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Five for feminism.

E tagged me to do this, so here goes. These are my "five things that are awesome thanks to feminism." I realize this issue is complex, but I offer these in the spirit in which the meme is intended, and not to engage in a discourse on the nature of structural inequalities and etc.

1. Birth control pills. A few decades ago women finally got themselves a real way to block unwanted pregnancies. (Of course it also meant there were fewer excuses women could give men for not wanting sex. Hmm.) Birth control pills also give women "regularity" (I hate that word). Perhaps more importantly, the pills can also be taken in such a way that they block menstruation altogether, for as long as the woman wants. A while back I read a really good article on this. No idea what it was, but see this site for more information.

And, more lighthearted . . . .

2. More comfortable clothing. Who wants to wear a corset and have a few ribs removed to fit into the latest fashions? Not me. Ouch!

3. That excellent analytical trio, race, class, and gender. Where would historians be without them? 'nuff said.

This list is making me uncomfortable. I don't like straight-forward, direct causal explanations. They just don't ring true: the world is complex. But whatever. I'll keep going. Bear with me.

4. The Indigo Girls! In fact, I'm listening to them now. I'm just assuming they were feminists (whatever that means). Good music for when you're in a certain kind of mood.

5. The poster in our bathroom. An Italian opera named "Femminismo" was advertised with a painting of a woman in heels, stockings, and structured undergarments putting on pants over her old-school ensemble. It's excellent.

Sorry I can't do any better than this. Let's have a serious discussion about it instead.

Unrelated P.S. Did anyone ever get a postcard from me from London? I sent a whole bunch.

What can I say?

My life is boring recently. Sunday was a day of rest and grocery shopping with FN . . . and seeing Masseyites and Yorkies on Bloor St. It's the place to be on Sunday evening. Today has seen me holed up in my room, procrastinating (read: Facebook), sleeping, and working. I spent a while going through the introductory chapter of one of my friends. (We have a reading group meeting tomorrow.) The chapter is really good: yay! Plus, it's a topic that really interests me, so even better.

On the morrow I must make the trek out to York for the 10am meeting. York is awfully far away that early in the morning. Sigh. But it'll be good to discuss the chapter and catch up with some of the York historians. They are pretty cool.

I hope you all's lives are more exciting these days!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

"The Amphibian Man"!

Last night was so much fun! FN and I joined EC2 and a very tall German articling student for dinner in Baldwin Village before going to the AGO to take in an old Russian movie. The movie was pretty awesome. Highly recommended ;-).

Afterwards most of us---me, FN, historian-turned-law-student CLM, film critic/historian AT, EC2, Russianist MK---went for drinks at a couple different places. It's been a while since I've properly hung out with AT and CLM: they are too cute and too awesome. AT and the lawyers complained about lawyers; AT told us about his new TV job (!); MK got on famously with EC2 and another pretty girl; and I took it all in. FN and I dragged ourselves home at about 3:30am. Super fun. And to all those people I invited to come along who didn't: sucks to be you!

Sunday. Day of rest. I need it. But first, groceries. Oh, and I finished my stapling yesterday. Yay!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Let's just leave things as they are.

Last night I went to high table at Massey and then stayed for the party afterward. Dinner was very good, and I thankfully got to sit beside someone who kept me entertained. (Sorry, Massey, but this isn't always the case.) Thanks, CG!

The coolest Masseyite likes to tell me about the various "cute" and "hot" single guys in residence. Although topic of conversation is an entertaining---if perhaps frivolous---way to pass the time, I am not really looking for a partner. Or someone to, ahem, pass the time with. I have too many other fun things to do. But I'll let him keep telling me about his attractive residence-mates. It makes me laugh.

At the party after dinner things started to drag on for too long. At some point (before I left) someone needed to take over and put on good music. But I suppose there's very little one can do to really enliven a smallish group of tired, nerdy, dressed up 20-somethings. I don't mean to be mean. It's just the nature of the thing. A raging dance party isn't to be had in the JCR after high table.

I do like Massey and many of the fellows I've met there this year. I hope to hang out there again next year.

Lastly, a bit of gossip. LG's best friend has herself a very handsome young man. ;-)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Taking time out of my busy stapling schedule.

Don't you feel honoured? Here I am interrupting my stapling to update you all on my recent adventures.

Since yesterday was International Women's Day I decided to do some proper women's work. No, I don't mean cleaning or cooking or taking care of children. I mean---you guessed it---secretarial-type work. Yes, that's right: I've been stapling pages together for many hours the past two days. I did this for more than 5 hours yesterday, and I've been at it for a few more today.

Why, you ask? Well, a large box of photocopies from one of my archives arrived earlier this week. In in were a few thousand pages of documents, accompanied by the order slips I used to request the copies. The slips also indicate what folders, boxes, and collections the material is from. So I've been stapling the slips to the documents. (I'm more than half done---yay!) If I didn't do this there'd be no way of knowing where the pages came from. And that would be a disaster. But I don't really mind stapling. It's like a break for my brain. (Not that my brain's been particular active over the past few months.)

Last night, tired of collating, I went to a prof's house for Indian food and a talk by a visiting scholar. The talk wasn't about her research, but about her life as a historian. I've been to a few such events, and they are always very interesting and fun. I chatted with fellow grad students and a couple undergrads who were there, and actually took home some good advice about how I should go about starting my research. (By "research" I mean what will happen after I've collected and organized everything, but before I can really start writing.) So that was good.

This morning JDS and I went to visit lovely SF and her baby, K. The baby was quite happy the whole time, and found us rather entertaining. Good morning; yummy Russian pancakes too. Afterwards JDS and I did some quick shopping and browsing, and did the usual grumbling about various things. Awesome. In a bit I have to leave the house again and go to Massey for dinner. I do lead a pretty active life, in between the stapling!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

International Women's Day . . . et al.

Today is International Women's Day, 8 March. But I must confess that I am a bit confused because it is also---for this year only, let's hope---Student Day of Anger here in Toronto and the anniversary of what many historians (and the general public) see as the beginning of the Russian (February) Revolution in 1917. The fact that 8 March was International Women's Day had, actually, something to do with the timing of the revolution in Petrograd lo those many years ago. Women took to the streets of the capital to protest food shortages.

Today is also "the anniversary of the day last year when the McGuinty Liberals cancelled the tuition fee freeze and hiked our tuition by 5 -- 8% this year," according to an e-mail I got via our grad student listserv. Maybe so, but I question the wisdom of staging a "Student Day of Noise/Anger" today, of all days. Have some respect, people. Sigh.

By the way, I think today is also Alanis Morrissette day in Ottawa. I have a vague memory of this being declared years ago when I lived there . . . .

Anyways, for a proper posting on International Women's Day, please point your browser to Alex's excellent blog.

Money trivializes?

Historian Michael Marrus's lecture on Wednesday was about a specific legal case involving the deportation by railway of one man and his brother from Toulouse to Paris in 1944. Their forced railway trip was part of the Holocaust in France, which was then under a German puppet regime. What made Marrus's talk so interesting was that it was more generally a series of observations he, as a historian or layperson, makes when looking into the intricacies of legal proceedings stemming from a period of history about which he knows so much. I wasn't able to formulate any thoughts about the talk Wednesday night, but I want to make some comments now.

One of the main points Marrus and other make about monetary settlements in disputes between the victims (or their descendants) and the perpetrators (or their heirs) of major crimes---in his case, "administrative wrongs" ("fauts de service") committed by French National Railways during the Holocaust in France---is that they trivialize the crime. I was reminded of his lecture this morning while reading about the Japanese comfort women who, during the Second World War, were forced to become military sex slaves by Japanese authorities. Today's NYT's article notes that

In 1995 a private fund was set up to compensate the women, but many refused to accept any money because they saw the measure as a way for the government to avoid taking direct responsibility. Only 285 women have accepted money from the fund, which will be terminated at the end of this month.

In Marrus's case the direct victims are all dead. So too are all the perpetrators. But of course heirs, whether human, corporate, or governmental, do exist. And this in part makes legal recourse possible. At the lecture, Michael Bliss argued for the victims, seeing moral justification in their anger and desire for monetary compensation. Well, sure. But Marrus was making a bigger point, one that the Japanese comfort women would agree with: that although a judgement or administrative admission of responsibility for past crimes is of course a possible recourse for victims, it also trivializes the nature of the crime itself. And, he continued, the anger of the descendants of his railway victims had not diminished because of the trial and judgment. In the end, they got some money out of the company and the government---version 2006, not 1944---but this made little difference to their feelings about the crime. An interesting point.

In the question period, Eric Jennings, a modern French historian here at U of T, pointed out that the case, because it got so much press during and at the time of the settlement, at least made the French public more aware of it's own complicated WW2 past. Exactly by pointing an accusatory finger at French National Railways, an institution held in high regard by many French people not only for its good service today but also for railway workers' roles in the resistance during the war, the court case gives the French public an important history lesson. In the end, then, the legal proceedings may have a bigger impact beyond the monetary settlement. Soon enough, one might imagine, remembrance of how many euros were dolled out will fade away, but the sense of the railway's---and indeed the country's---complex past will remain. Hmm.

The final verdict? The law is an ass . . . or maybe not.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The tedious part of research.

Now that I'm back from my recent travels and am content to stay in Toronto for the next while I am getting to the business of dealing with the material I've been collecting. While at the archives I've been either noting pages for later photocopying or else taking digital pictures. I have done very little entering of data into my notetaking program. So I have tens of thousands of images, and a few thousand pages of photocopied material, to go through. For the most part I haven't even read what I've collected. First up I am turning individual images into .pdf files. After that I will take notes on the contents.

I think it's important to take stock---even if only very quickly---of what I've got before I can really lay out my chapters. At the moment I have only a vague sense of what topics might make good chapters. So for the next little while I will be doing very tedious work, but necessary work. It's not boring, exactly, since I like learning new things about my research, but it will take a long while. After I've organized the images I think what I'll do is pick out the topics I want to take notes on and go through everything topically that way. Maybe I will be good and write, if not whole chapters, then at least sections of potential future chapters once I'm done the research on discrete topics. Hmm. We'll see. But that seems very far away. Remember: tens of thousands of images.

Anyways, back to chronicling my life. Yesterday I went off to Massey for dinner and a lecture given by Michael Marrus, a well-known holocaust historian. Dinner was good, as was chatting briefly with a small handful of Masseyites, and the lecture was interesting. LG showed me his enormous 22'' monitor. I need to get an extra monitor myself, but I think 22 inches is a smidge too big. Also, I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on one.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Slightly odd professor behaviour irks, confuses grad student.

I attended a talk at the Munk Centre today. It was pretty interesting, worthwhile, etc. I'm glad that I went even if the topic isn't related to my dissertation. But I have a few complaints to make about some of the members of the audience. The older man sitting beside me sniffed the whole session. A lot. And it distracted me from the talk and, more importantly, seriously grossed me out. An occasional sniffle is fine, especially in this weather, but, dude, c'mon: get a tissue. I'm befuddled that he didn't quietly leave the room and blow his noise. There's a washroom down the hall. He was known to many of the people in the room, so he is clearly a professor of some sort. Didn't his mother ever teach him to blow his noise when it was stuffed up? Ick.

The chair of the session fiddled around a bit with a laptop throughout the talk. She was being quiet about it, but---and again I express my bewilderment---the computer kept beeping when she opened and closed the screen, and when she plugged and unplugged various cables. Why she didn't mute the sound after the first or second beep, I will never understand. She was sitting right beside the speaker, and it was kinda rude! (She also whispered a couple comments to the man on her other side during the talk.)

A third older professor type had both a computer which beeped a couple times and a cell phone which rang half-way through the talk. He immediately turned the phone off . . . except he actually didn't, since a minute later the thing vibrated in his pocket---very loudly. Sigh. I am unimpressed by these professors. Why do they behave this way?

Among those of us who were well-behaved were the two historians in the room. I don't mean to imply that all historians are better than all other people, but recent personal experience does tend to lead me in that direction . . . . ;-)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

My life, continued.

LG and I had dinner at a good Mexican place near campus and then took in a student production of Chekhov's "Vaudevilles." It was fairly entertaining and pretty well done. I enjoyed it. The evening ended a smidge oddly, but everything's fine now.

I am always amazed at the amount of stuff---primarily paper stuff---that accumulates in my room over time. Yesterday I spent hours going through paper (mail, receipts, flyers, things I've printed, etc.), organizing and filing away some of it, and recycling the rest. My room feels less cluttered but it's still not tidy! There are still clothes and books and bags on the floor. Sigh. I think I might do something about that shortly. And clean off my desk of electronic bits. I will feel better about working once the clutter is out of sight.

Last night I went to a friend's birthday party. MLH turned, ahem, "27." It was great fun, especially chatting with TC and all the historians. They really are an entertaining bunch. Even the one who is currently walking around with a cane as a fashion accessory. (Ridiculous and weird, but that's fine.) Many of my friends asked after you, FN. I made an MBA student justify his school and life choices to me, which he did willingly. I left satisfied that not all business types are bad people. Different from some of us, certainly, but not necessarily irretrievably bad. ;-) DS, as he is sometimes wont to do, talked to me about dating. As in, "Jen, have you considered Lavalife?" I know he's only looking out for me, but really, I have no need for men. I'm not going to spend time that I could otherwise be spending hanging out with fabulous FN (or my other excellent friends) on the off-chance that I might meet my male soulmate. You read this blog. Does is sound like I am depressed and in need of distraction?! I think not.

What's the plan for today? Nothing! How excellent. I might need to go buy food or something, but I'm definitely looking forward to just chillin'.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Four days home and still jetlagged.

This is very annoying. I've been trying to stay up each night, with some success, but I must say that in the evenings I rapidly get exhausted. I couldn't take it anymore last night and went to bed at 11pm. I mean, that feeling of super tiredness doesn't usually hit me until much, much later! I think it might be because I've been really quite busy for so many months without any proper time off. Travelling, sightseeing, archival research, and my busy work and social schedule in Toronto keeps me out and about most days. It's good, but it's tiring, I guess. (And yet I still don't manage to get that much work done.)

But enough complaining. After a beautiful morning yesterday it started to snow during my office hours. We had a mini blizzard in Toronto! Drivers couldn't handle it and started honking and just generally being rude and idiotic in the snowy conditions. Good thing I walk everywhere. Although it was a mite windy, it's not so cold when it snows, so walking wasn't so bad.

Speaking of office hours, they were really good yesterday! I had a steady stream of students for 2 and a quarter hours, and gave out what I think was good, solid advice. The students seemed to all leave the office more certain about their essays and what they needed to do next. I hope they still feel that way! Afterwards I chatted with another PhD student from my department in the hall, and then met a former student of mine. She and I chatted for a while, and it was nice to hear that she's been doing well, etc. (She was one of the good ones two years ago!)

Last night I went over the HD's for dinner. And then we trekked over to the pub to hang out with more historians. It was good to talk to people I hadn't seen in a long while, though I was pretty tired by then. Some of the MA students had good news to share with us. Congrats to them!

Today is another busy day. Student association meeting at noon, followed by more errands, and then I'm having dinner and going to see Chekhov's "Vaudevilles" with friend LG. Should be fun!