Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Well, I'm back in Toronto once again. This time I'm not leaving for another three whole weeks! Ya-hoo. It was really nice to do nothing for four or five days in Ottawa. I'm nearly recovered from my nasty cold, and looking forward to a weekend of fun in the big city.

I haven't done much of any school work in the past three weeks, which is totally excusable considering my travelling and sickness, but still. I must get back to it.

Well, with that in mind, I best be off . . . .

Here's a shot of downtown Toronto from my plane this evening.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Slowly recovering.

I came back from the Middle East with a dreadful cold. And It's almost gone . . . finally. I was pretty wrecked last Wednesday, coughing and sneezing all over FN. So I haven't been such good company for my parents here in Ottawa since Thursday. But better to recuperate out in the Ottawa 'burbs than in downtown Toronto. Tomorrow evening I will head back to the big city, hopefully fully recovered! I didn't manage to get much work done over the past few days, and didn't hit up the archives. But it's ok, since my parents aren't moving away from here any time soon.

The Ottawa Senators are currently battling Anaheim in the Stanley Cup Finals. Woot woot! And right now they're leading Game One 1-0. Not that I particularly care, but it's still cool.

UPDATE 9:55pm: Ottawa winning 2-1 after the second period.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Here are a couple of photo slideshows of my Israel trip.

Israel 1

Israel 2

If you want to see more people photos, check out the albums I posted on facebook.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Not feeling like it.

I'm not particularly feeling the urge to write about my daily life on this blog. Maybe because I'm just back from a whirlwind of activities half-way around the world and there's no way I can do any of it justice here. Or maybe because I'm feeling kinda ill. My ears feel funny. Like all the shifting of air pressure---whether on airplanes or on land---over the past couple weeks has messed with them. Annoying.

Ok, so maybe I will blog.

At the moment I'm chillin' in Ottawa at my parents' house. Thursday evening I went to my old high school with my parents. The junior school boys were putting on my dad's play/musical. (He taught grade 7 there before retiring a year ago.) It was cute, and my dad was very happy with it, so good. He's a clever one, dad. I spoke for a bit with one of my high school history teachers and saw some of the major changes to the school building. So strange.

Yesterday I spent hours---hours---uploading photos of my Israel trip to facebook. You can check them out there. There are some nice shots, though most of my pictures are of my travel companions. I also have some good ones of our bodyguard, for whom I have love. Anyways, back to the present.

I found out recently that my grandmother (mom's mom) has Alzheimer's. She's been in steady decline for a couple years already, but this sucks indeed. The worst part is that she could live for years more in this state. It's a seriously sucky state. She would never, ever have wanted to end her days like this. Depressing. Please, when I get senile and unable to function as a person, end it for me, ok? She can barely hold a conversation, can't do anything mechanical (like use the phone), nor can she read, watch TV, or tell the time. She must be so frustrated to the extent that she is aware of her situation because she used to be very much a matriarch. (In a good way.) My father's father died with Alzheimer's disease too.

In other, happier, news, my dog is great, if still chubby and in need of a serious brushing. :-)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I'm back.

But I'm off to Ottawa in a couple hours. Must pack now.
In other news, the trip was awesome, but I came home sick as a dog.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Off to Israel shortly.

I've had a busy few days what with shopping for the trip, hanging out with historians, and general life things. At the moment I'm taking a break from packing, but will get back to that shortly. I'm really looking forward to the trip, but I'll feel even better once I'm mostly set and can get a few hours sleep.

Highlights of the past couple days: Our student society had our annual BBQ on Friday afternoon at JDS and TC's condo. It was much fun, and a lovely day. On Saturday EC came shopping with me along Bloor St. and at the Eaton Centre. Thank goodness she was there, because I was totally not prepared for the trip, and didn't know where to start with some of the things I needed to get.

I probably won't be able to check my e-mail until I get back to Toronto on the evening of 23 May. And I won't be updating this blog until that time either. I hope everyone has a good week-and-a-bit while I'm away!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Grading = done!

After a marathon grading session yesterday---35 exams---and 5 more today, I'm doing grading until next fall! I've agreed to TA the same course again next year, but with less grading and perhaps some tutorials. That will be good, and though I don't need the money, it won't take up too much of my time. I really quite like this prof. and the course and I've learned so much from his lectures this year. (Yes, and this is post-comps for me.) Plus, this way I can get him to write me a nice letter for when I want to get a teaching job of my own. ;-)

Spring/summer may finally have come to Toronto, which is good, but means I will have to do a bit more shopping. I'm also going to be doing a lot of walking in Israel next week, so I might go in search of good fashionable/comfortable shoes. And a pair of summer pants that actually fit would be nice. (But I don't have my hopes up about that.) The store that FN recommended to me on Queen West where I bought a few tops last Sunday was perfect for skinny people, but they didn't have many bottoms. Must find other skinny people-friendly stores.

Ok, time to make a list of things to do and buy before my departure on Sunday . . . .

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Grading zone.

Apologies for not keeping you as up-to-date as I would like. I've been busy. I essentially took the day off on Sunday, not originally intending to. But it just happened. You see, I went for lunch with a friend from my MA days who was in town this weekend; then I went to a free (for me) concert at the Glenn Gould Studio; then YT and I shopped on Queen west---and I got some good stuff!---and then it went home, wanting to grade. But not long after my return, LG called. He hadn't spoken to me (online or off) for a week, and I was happy to know that he does want to be my friend, after all. We figured I could go eat and watch a movie at his place and be home in time to grade 20 papers. Well, after lots of sushi and "The Constant Gardener," it was nearing 11pm so I left . . . only to be sucked into hanging out with a few Massey men for an hour in the common room. Yes, I have no willpower. But it was fun. Needless to say, I did not grade once I was home.

This (Monday) morning I had to get up bright and early to transport myself to York University for my reading group. Although I wanted to die on the subway/bus-ride over, the meeting was good, and then---again, because I have no willpower---I joined the other women for lunch. The others were all Yorkies today, and it's always interesting to hear what goes on in that history department. I managed to make it home just shy of 2:30pm, at which point I went to campus (mine, just down the street) to give a prof some papers and do some grading sans distractions. But of course I chatted a bit too long with a couple profs, a Massey friend, and a historian I randomly ran into, and only managed to grade 10 papers before I went home for dinner. And I've since graded only 15 more. Which still leaves me with 40 to do before noon on Wednesday. I can do it!

About grading, I will say that I've had some really very good exams. Some not do fabulous ones, too, but overall I'm impressed. Good job, students. You make me happy and hopeful for the history of our kind. (Well, maybe.)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Grading exams ain't so bad.

Exam grading is oh so much better than essay grading. ("Let me tell you," to quote FN.) Of course, I'd rather not do it---and next year I most likely won't be---but exams go fast. Fifteen minutes a pop. Sometimes less. And to think some of the students spent a full three hours writing. Ten down; sixty five to go.

The only other thing I did today, other than lots of procrastinating (by reading, cleaning, eating) was head over to EW and CW's place for a birthday party. Good food, and it was nice to see a couple people I hadn't chatted with in a long time.

Silly Facebook is eating up too much of my time. I must cut down on it. As well as cut down on general internet time wastage. There's some great stuff out there---NYRB, for example---and some entertaining sites for when I need a bit of a break, but seriously: I am a grown woman who has serious work to do. Sheesh.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Procrastination by dissertation.

I have to grade exams---75 of them---so guess what I'm doing instead? All that secondary-source reading I put off doing until now! And, actually, I must admit that I really should have read this stuff and digested it a year ago. But whatever. It's done now, and that's that. I continue to be pretty enthusiastic about my dissertation, though I can't say I'm actually writing it yet. But that will come. I'm gathering material for my background chapter.

Speaking of exciting things, Israel looms in just over a week, and then I'm off to Ottawa to visit my family, and then later in June I'll be just outside DC for a conference. I'm going as a spectator this year, and am quite thrilled that one of my supervisors told me I really should go. I think I mentioned before on this blog that a good contingent of us U of Ters will be there, and now it looks like we'll have one more: one of the current MA cohort who is coming back in the fall to start his PhD. He's keen on getting himself to the conference, but I heard that he wasn't sure about accommodations. So I took it upon myself to see about getting him a hotel-mate. Three e-mails later to grad students I met (if only briefly) at last year's conference, and he's got himself a couple people to share a room with. I'm feeling rather good about this, I must say. This is exactly the kind of thing us upper year students should do. And, we do! Nice to know we can be at least a little useful at times. I helped out another of my historian-friends today too.

Today wasn't all about good grad student karma. I had lunch with historian-turned law student (come the fall) FPW and an old acquaintance from high school who's now in med school here. I don't have particularly strong memories of the latter guy, but no matter: lunch was nice, and maybe we can catch up again in another 9 years. (Although lunch itself wasn't that nice, since I stupidly decided to order something spicy and it came very spicy. It was difficult to eat. FPW finished it for me and I think he suffered more than I did while eating it! Awesome. I think I've proven my toughness.)

After lunch I went to Robarts Library to take out a couple books and ran into CS and the cool upper years. So of course I went and had tea with them. It was great to see them!

This evening I proved something else, too: my ability to make a decent dinner on my own. FN wasn't feeling well so it was up to me to provide, and it turned out well. My secret? A good recipe ;-).

And tomorrow I suppose I really do have to grade some exams. Blech and a half.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

La Traviata = ehn.

Last night I went and saw the dress rehearsal of the Canadian Opera Company's La Traviata. I got a free ticket through Massey and there were a handful of Masseyites (and historians) there too. The concert hall---the new Four Seasons centre---is gorgeous and well designed; the music and singing were excellent; but I was less taken with the visuals of the opera. Apparently (according to the son of the opera company's general director) the last time this production was staged, there was a lot of outrage among opera-goers. I wouldn't say I was outraged, but it just didn't do it for me. The combination Rocky Horror/18th-century-ish staging was bizarre. It didn't transport me. I don't think I'm particularly transportable, but still. Whatever. I thought it was a great production (in execution). Just an odd production (in design). I must admit that by the third act I was just waiting for the heroine to die already. I was that bored.

Anyways, afterward my Massey friend TaV and I walked to campus where I dropped her off and then made my way to a nearby pub. A group of Masseyites were gathered drinking and eating chicken wings. It was a good time, especially since I got to talk to some cool people I haven't really talked with before. And it was nice to do it outside the confines of the college.

I left the pub to take the TTC home, and when I got the streetcar on Spadina, guess who was on it? EC! Toronto is a small city sometimes. (I feeling I also had when running into historian DS at the opera a few hours earlier.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The invigilator gets in trouble.

Tonight my students had their exam, and I had to be there as part of the invigilating team. (Isn't that a great word?) A few weeks ago in lecture the prof proclaimed that he wouldn't be escorting anyone to the bathroom, and, well, I think he's right in that. So us TAs decided not to do it either. Seriously, it's ridiculous. And there's no way the students could have cheated or anything, even if they'd want to. (And if they do, why should we care, really?)

Anyways, so we didn't escort people. The chief presiding officer watching over the other half of the gymnasium where we had the exam quickly got wind of our rule-breaking ways. We must escort students: it's in the regulations. She got upset with me, and the prof, and the other TA, and then apparently reported our chief presiding officer---lovely historian AB---for not doing his job! OMG, woman. Wow. She was so wound up about it that she got angry when those of us from our side of the gym allowed students from her side to go off by themselves. In my case, she followed me follow the student toward the door, and told me that I was to let her do it, and then she followed the student to the bathroom. Intense, in an insane kind of way. And, the thing is, she is just another grad student like the rest of us. What her deal is, I do not know. I mean, heck, I'm all for following the rules to avoid chaos, but I think the lack of escorting made for a more civilized experience for everyone. And it also meant that us TAs were around when we needed to be to hand out extra paper and answer questions. (Let's not discuss how over on the other side of the room this woman and a TA spent most of the time chatting and not paying too much attention to students with their hands up.) Anyways, that was me being a rebel.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Dissertating and other activities.

On Saturday I didn't leave the house---yes, I know, but I don't care what you think!---and worked on my dissertation. By which I mean I read part of a book related to my first chapter, took some notes on an article also related to my first chapter, and went through some notes. Yay me!

Sunday was a day of no work. Instead, FN and I met up with EC, AG, and YT for yummy dim sum at our favourite place in Chinatown. It was especially good that day, though I was less enamoured of the steamed BBQ pork buns than I usually am. The glutinous dumplings, however, were delish. Afterwards we did a bit of shopping in Kensington Market and then headed off home. EC and I then walked back south to meet up with some Massey kids and go to the Bloor Cinema. We saw (for free, thanks to the host of The Green Majority) "Everything's Cool," a documentary being shown as part of the Hot Docs festival. The film follows a few climate change activists---broadly defined---around for a while as they try to bridge the gap between public and scientific belief on the issue in the United States. It was quite entertaining and a little educational. It's not about the debate or the science, per se, but it was good for what it was. For dinner, EC came over and cooked up a lovely vegetarian pasta.

Yesterday I ran some errands at school. My supervisor gave me some books related to my dissertation. More books for my shelves! It just so happened that she was soon going to be meeting with a Russian historian friend of hers while I was around, so I got to hang around and meet him too. I've read his book (about the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-05), and he had some good things to say to me. So that was nice of my supervisor, and lucky of me. In ended the afternoon sitting in the Massey common room reading a book and enjoying the sunshine. How nice.

Now, what I've left out of my Monday adventures is that I kept running into people I hadn't seen in a while. I love this about campus---I can rarely go there without having to stop and chat. But this is of course also kinda annoying, since I am usually trying to get things done! But you can't keep me away from a conversation, so I love it. It was nice to see and chat with PM, BB, VM, and BB2 (hadn't seen her in months and months!). And at Massey I hung out with some of the guys, including SM, handsome guy, and the coolest guy. Good times. Not conducive to getting much work done, however.

The reason I was at Massey was not just to hang out but to go to a pre-departure meeting for my upcoming trip to Israel. There are 15 of us Masseyites going, and we got to meet our contact guy who will be coming with us, as well as have our questions answered. The trip should be amazing in several different ways. We're not going to do everything that we might potentially have done, but I'm ok with this because there's only so much one can do and expect to do in such a situation. The trip will be nearly free for us, and we leave on 13 May. Exciting. I just hope I can get along with the other 14 people. I think it should be fine though I may try to sensor my behaviour around at least one of the people, since she strikes me as the sensitive type. (I wish people were cooler, but maybe they equally wish people were less annoying.)

Ok, I spent way too much time updating this blog (which no one reads anyways), so I better get back to my day.