Saturday, June 30, 2007

Saturday = work day.

JS and AT's BBQ was quite fun last night. Of course, we didn't make it back early enough to get much work done before bed, but at least we caught the subway home. Good.

A handful of the hosts' good friends were in attendance, and they are an interesting, entertaining bunch. Filmy types are cool, eh? Who knew! I really quite like them, though I can't partake in any of their conversations. ;-) I kept calling one of the guys by someone else's name. It's not that I get the two confused---they are quite distinct individuals in my mind---but, well, it's complicated, and I misnamed him several times. Sigh. My apologies. It's not you; it's me!

Happy Canada Day weekend!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Blogging break.

Still going through documents. No end in sight.

Yesterday evening FN, EC, and I went down to Bloor St. to wish farewell to (Dr.) JDS. Friends AG, JC, and EW came too. It was a nice time. Afterwards some of us went for shawarmas at Sarah's, picking up CLM on the way---because it's pretty near impossible to go to Bloor without running into someone you know. And then EC guilt-tripped me into accompanying her to an indie rock show at some sketchy underground venue on College St. (Well, under College.) And . . . it was actually pretty fun! One of BW's bands was playing, and they are better than when I saw them last. I was, of course, completely out of place clothing-wise, but no matter. To the right you'll see proof---in the form of black marker on my hand---that I went to a concert.

This morning saw me drag myself out of bed to meet up with fellow grad students who are putting our student society newsletter together. I love doing this stuff, so that was great. Looks like it will be a good issue!

Tonight: BBQ at JS and AT's place. Later tonight: back to work.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

So much to do.

It's just dawned on me that it might take several weeks---maybe more than a month---just to go through somewhat quickly just the most important material I've collected for only one of the groups of people that I'm researching. Oh dear. But I really do think this is necessary. At least for the moment. I'm beginning to get a handle on what actually was going on in Siberia during the civil war, and, boy, was there ever a lot. Haven't even scratched the surface yet. Going through this stuff could become incredibly tedious, so I'm really going to try and go as fast as possible. Hopefully after a few days of this I'll be able to go faster because the reports will start to repeat themselves. Hopefully.

It was incredibly hot in Toronto today. It felt like 41 Celcius, or 106 Fahrenheit. On my way to school I ran into SA, who was having some trouble breathing. I didn't notice the bad air quality, but I believe it: Toronto is polluted. (Not as much as NYC, but still too much.)

And since I had to go to campus to get some books from my supervisor and get a form signed by her, of course I ran into other historians. This almost always happens, which is kinda nice. In fact, on days when I pop into the department and don't see any other grad students around, it saddens me. WB and (Dr.) JDS---yay!!---were both doing well.

It's past 2:30am now, and I suppose I should head to bed soonish. I've learned a few interesting things today about the various Red Crosses in Russia. I picked up some new vocabulary too: "grass widows" are women whose husbands have left them for one reason or another, but who aren't actually widows.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Back at it.

I've now gone back to dissertating. But I should explain what that entails at the moment: going through the Red Cross documents I photographed in January. There is an enormous amount of key material I need to organize, hierarchize (that is not a word, I know), and then read and take a few notes on for myself. This is going to be a very long process. But doing this is absolutely necessary because only once I've read through this stuff (quickly and smartly) can I start laying out a chapter outline. And only once I've done that---or at least done a little bit of that---can I start writing. I'm happy the American Red Cross kept such good archives, but god damn I do have moments when I wish that maybe they hadn't. An older, well-known historian commented to me at the US National Archives one day something about fires being a historian's best friend. Indeed ;-)

But seriously, it's great to have this stuff, especially since there is pretty much nothing in the Canadian and British Red Cross "archives" from my period.

In archives-related news, I booked my flight to San Francisco today. I got what I think is a good price on a round-trip, direct flight on Air Canada in the second half of August. I am now seeing about getting myself a place to stay in Palo Alto for nine nights while I do research at the Hoover Archives at Stanford University.

Today was mighty hot in downtown Toronto. FN and I had a Cajun/Mediterranean-themed dinner, which was perhaps appropriate. Also had home-made fruit smoothies; also appropriate.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Back in T.O.

After successfully spectating at the US foreign relations history conference on the weekend (Thurs.-Sat.) I spent Sunday in DC proper with E. We took in a Nats game---a nice way to ease out of conference exhaustion. And, I survived my night in a hostel. It was totally fine. And last night, on the plane ride back to Toronto, I got an awesome view of Niagara Falls. Beautiful.

This is a disjointed post. Oh well.

Anyways, the conference was pretty good. The venue sucked rocks, though---suburban Virginia, in a faux fancy hotel-conference centre, far away from downtown. I have no idea what the organizers were thinking. I know they did their best under the circumstances, but hopefully this won't happen again. It would have been so much better if the conference had been held at a university or downtown DC. That way, there would have been things to do and places to eat after hours. This way, we were pretty much stuck. Good thing lots of Americans have cars and could drive us out to places if we asked them nicely!

It was nice to hang out with HD outside Toronto, get to know E a lot better, and meet grad students from other places who work on similar(ish) topics. There were some people I met last year who I caught up with, and profs I reminded of my existence. It's hard to listen to papers, but all in all, I think it was a useful venture for me. I quite like this crowd, grad students and profs alike, though obviously not everyone is marvelous. Next year's conference will be at The Ohio State University (yes, with a "The") in Columbus. I'm looking forward to it!

Many thoughts on the weekend, but I'll mull over them to myself for now. I do want to point out that out of the 7 people from U of T (5 grad students and 2 profs) there was only one man; the rest of us were female. This was quite remarkable considering the nature of this subfield, which is dominated by men. It's totally an old boy's club, but not necessarily in a bad way . . . I hope.

Should get back to work on my dissertation at some point tonight. It will be nice to reacquaint myself with my dead guys. ;-)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Packing once again.

In a few hours I'm off to Pearson International Airport to get on a plane to Washington, DC. I'm looking forward to spectating at the conference there, but I'm never too keen on packing and getting myself to the airport. Sigh.

The Air Canada website won't let me check in online, which is annoying, but not such a big deal. It does mean that I need to stop procrastinating/working and actually start putting some clothes in a suitcase.

Have a good weekend without me, Toronto!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New plan.

I've decided that what I was doing the past several days was not a very good use of my time. It's time for a new plan. I need to figure out what my chapters are going to be about. At this point I have only vague ideas, and too many of them. Before I can do anything else, I actually need to glance through my most pertinent documents. I haven't done that yet, hence the feeling of not knowing where the heck I'm going. This is going to be a long process, and my committee doesn't get that. I need to find a way to make them see. Well, I'll worry about that later.

Back to work.

Monday, June 18, 2007

FĂȘting JDS and TC.

Sunday night FN and I fed our marvelous friends a Mexican-themed dinner. Rather, I should say that FN fed them; I helped. The food was awesome, but it did take a while to put together. We worried in the afternoon that the salsa for the enchiladas was too spicy, but it turned out fine.

FN and I are huge fans of this couple, and will miss them terribly when they move away from Toronto for good in short order. How sad. But they are beginning a new life south of the border, down Connecticut way, and I'm sure they'll be fine. We'll have to visit, though! On Thursday JDS has her PhD defence, and TC had his a few months back.

I am in noturnal mode at the moment, for some unknown reason. This happened to me when I was writing my MA thesis, and I think it just is going to happen now that I'm working seriously on my dissertation. Oh well.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Day of errands.

I'm pretty happy at the moment with how things are going, work-wise. I don't have much to show for it, but I've made some important (if very, very small) progress on my dissertation. Gotta start somewhere, eh? I've been piecing together one part of my story from my notes and the materials I've gathered, and am in the midst of writing it up. It's been slow, but good.

I didn't do any work on Saturday, but that's because FN and I were out running errands---and eating ice cream at Greg's---for about 6 hours. Lots of walking and carrying of heavy bags. We first when to Goodwill to drop off clothing and other things we weren't using. Then it was off to Queen West to get FN a pair of pants, and Kensington Market to pick up food for dinner tomorrow with JDS and TC. Once that was done we came home and then had to leave again to head to Bloor St. to return a video and buy a few last things at the grocery store, before treating ourselves to dessert. (Note to self: the chocolate orange was good, but the mango-flavoured ice cream I had last time was better.)

We were quite tired after all of this, and after making a marinade for our chicken which we will eat tomorrow. And so we sat down in front of my computer and watched "The Bourne Identity" stream off the internet. It was much fun.

I'm feeling slightly more awake now, but it's rather late, so I think I might attempt to sleep. Tomorrow we must cook!

Friday, June 15, 2007

What I've been up to.

Dissertating. Check.
Tea at the Royal York with JDS and HD Tuesday afternoon. Check.
Shopping on Queen St. afterwards. Check.
Lunch with interesting retired international banker guy on Wednesday. Check. (He has many book ideas for me for when I'm finished my dissertation.)
Dinner with FPW and another old friend from high school on Thursday. Check.
Drinks with history and law friends last night at the Vic. Check.
And now back to more dissertating . . . .

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Time to get some work done, Toronto.

Stop being so much fun, ok?! It's just IMPOSSIBLE to get any work done in this awesome city in the summer. After Friday's many hours of museum-food-wine fun, Saturday involved food shopping and hanging out inKensington Market; Sunday was all about Indian food and movie-watching; and Monday, after running errands and having lunch with a prof of mine, I headed off to a pub on College St. to take in a . . . magic show! One of my newer friends from Massey moonlights as a magician, and it was really cute and entertaining. The second-coolest guy at the college was also in fine form, dancing up a storm as a side-kick of sorts. Odd sounding, I know, but trust me: it was fun times. A few of FN's cool school friends were there, in addition to a few Masseyites, so I mostly talked with them.

Anyways, so, yeah: work hasn't been happening much lately. However, I did have a brief meeting with my supervisor today, and now I need to get my ass in gear. Chapters need to be written! Wish me luck.

Oh, but first, afternoon tea at the Royal York hotel Tuesday afternoon with HD and JDS. Should be fun.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A quick update and a question.

FN, KC, and I had a super fun time yesterday at the ROM, followed by Chinese food in Chinatown, and cake and wine at the Queen Mother Cafe. Today I am hoping to get more reading done---for my dissertation. I have been working a little recently, but it's hard, what with it being summer and all. On Thursday, for example, I had to get up early for a meeting at school, then went for a quick lunch with JDS, then came home and had a much-needed nap, then read and did errands at home for the rest of the day. Not particularly productive, but I wasn't wasting a lot of time. It's ok.

I am in need of a place to stay in Washington, DC the night of 23 June (a Saturday). Anyone got a place for me?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My life = errands.

Sometimes I feel like I spend much more time doing necessary life things than other people. I probably don't, or maybe I do I am just really inefficient at them. Take today, for example. I got up and was out the door fairly quickly and on my way to York. Between 1 and 3pm I was busy there and then came home. By 4pm I was working again. But this means I ran errands like doing the dishes, filing, shredding, cleaning, backing up files, etc. All necessary things, but it took hours! And then it was time to check on the hockey game and help FN make dinner. Now it's time to read (for my dissertation) and go to sleep. I didn't actually do anything dissertation-related today, then. But I wasn't slacking off. I suppose I could have checked my e-mail fewer times, but still. I didn't manage to cross anything big off my to-do list either. Sigh. Hopefully I'll feel more accomplished tomorrow.

The mock dissertation defence at York went well. The Yorkies are an interesting bunch, and they are doing some cool research topics. Maybe it's just that there is a clump of people doing modern Canadian or American topics that in some way speak to each other over there. I don't feel I have that kind of community in the history department at U of T. There are of course people doing fascinating research, but I don't really know very much about what my colleagues are doing. Are any of them doing things that relate to my own work? I'm not even sure. This is unfortunate. Perhaps I should think about rectifying this situation. Maybe I should become a full-out Americanist and get in on their reading groups. But first perhaps I should start producing work of my own . . . .

I know . . . .

I haven't been blogging. I got out of the habit when I was in Israel and never got back into it, what with being sick and bumming around my parents' house in Ottawa. Yes, I am now back in Toronto and better and doing fun things (and sometimes not), but I think anyone who really cared about this blog---was there anyone ;-)---has a pretty good idea of what goes on in my life, and, well, it continues much as before.

It's been several weeks now since I've done much of any work, so I need to pick up the slack. Tomorrow I'm off to York University to take part in a mock dissertation defence for a friend who goes there. Her dissertation is about the Canadian Red Cross, so of course I'm very excited about it. That, and it's really very good. Yay! Also inspiring, which is a good added bonus.

FN is being good and giving herself some structure, which is something I need to do more of. I don't think "wake up, check e-mail, eat breakfast, shower" is enough of a daily plan. Must incorporate actual work! So I've made myself a to-do list and have already started crossing things off it. Good. Here's to another productive day tomorrow.

Anyone wanna come with me to a BBQ at Massey Sunday evening? BBQed things are $1 each, or $4 for all-you-can-eat. Might be fun, if the weather's good. Let me know.