Thursday, August 30, 2007

Back home.

I'm home! My flight landed this morning at about 6:10am. And although I took a nap or three on the plane, I recently woke up from a proper sleep.

Yesterday I finished my work at the archives. I managed to look at everything I had marked out ahead of time as most useful, and even at a few collections I figured there wouldn't be much in. Once I was done, my researcher friend and I went for a coffee/iced tea on campus. It was a nice way to end a research trip. I took one last walk around campus and up to the Palo Alto bus station, went home to pack, then back to the station to catch the train to the airport. Lots of travelling! But I scored three free bus rides because of "Spare the Air" day, and successfully bought a train ticket . . . good thing, too, because our tickets were checked this time.

While I was sitting in the reading room looking at documents, I got a bit of a sense of what it would be like to work in an archives (as a job). And I think it's not for me. In fact, I'm pretty sure working in any kind of office where I'm not in charge would drive me crazy. Anyways, I'm not complaining about the archives---it's a great facility---but let's just hope for everyone's sake that I don't find myself in a regular job one day.

I'm happy to be back home. (My bed is SO MUCH more comfortable than the futon I was sleeping on in Palo Alto.) But it's a little sad that I can no longer hang out while all the cute men I met in California! ;-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Second last day at the archives.

I've been going through material a bit more quickly than I anticipated, and things are looking good for getting pretty much everything done tomorrow before I leave. There are of course collections that just might have something interesting, but one can't look at absolutely everything that's potentially even remotely connected to one's research if one hopes to ever finish a dissertation. So, with that in mind, I'm happy with what I've been able to do here. This may mean that I won't have to come back, which---while good---is also sad, because here is so awesome!

This morning before the archives opened I got a tea and drank it on a bench by a fountain. There was no one around, and it was lovely. Part of my view is to the left. I then looked around the Hoover Tower building for a few minutes, reading all the names on the wall and soaking up all the Hooverness of it all. For lunch I met up with GCC at the back of Memorial Church and we had a good California-style lunch on a picnic table. He showed me around campus a bit more, and then we decided to hit up the tower part of the Hoover Tower. And . . . wow! At 250 feet up, Stanford's campus and surrounding area is even more beautiful, if that's possible. Great view. You all definitely need to come visit this part of the world if you can. I had a really nice couple of hours with GCC. It's kinda sad that I have to leave soon. I've had an awesome time with FN's Waterloo friends (Googler JR, TF, and AMcG) and the other guys I hung out with here.

But Toronto awaits, and there's lots of socializing coming up. Oh, and school starts soon. Eek. I totally have things to do before then. Crap. Reality awaits.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back at Hoover.

After my weekend of fun, I was back at the archives today, bright and early. In fact, I was on campus at 8am, which is 15 minutes before the archives even opens. I've been a very early riser the past week. (Though I did take a 2 hour nap yesterday afternoon.) I suppose most people would go grab a coffee if they were early for work; I wandered to another part of campus and took pictures! Because I am obsessed with taking photos! I still can't get over the gorgeousness of Stanford. It's seriously the nicest place.

Thursday and Friday I sat beside the same woman at the archives, and---this now being a thing---we sat together this morning too. We chatted a bit about our projects before going in, and decided to have lunch together. Yay! An archives friend. Those are always great. (I have fond memories of MK from the US National Archives and Columbia, and the prof. I hung out with at the UK National Archives.) Looks like today was the first day of school for the undergrads here, because campus was much fuller than it was last week. And, perhaps fittingly, we ate lunch outside the cafeteria. Please avoid this place. The cafe I was getting lunch from last week is much better. At least now I know. After lunch we had a drink outside one of the libraries, and then it was back to work.

Looks like I will get through almost everything I wanted to on this trip. There's one collection that's gone missing, so I can't see that, and a couple others that are unexpectedly enormous. Otherwise, I should get it all done. And, heck, there are worse places to have to come back to, eh?

The pic is of me (clearly) in the arcade of Encina Commons.

California adventures with Canucks, a Scot, and an Aussie.

Wow, super fun times the last few days! Because it's now late and I need to head to bed ASAP, I'll give you a quick run-down.

Thursday I worked in the archives, had an awesome lunch in a gorgeous spot at Stanford, and then took pics of campus once my work-day was done. For dinner I met up with that guy I met on the plane and one of his friends. They both work in the Bay area and did their degrees at Waterloo. We had sushi at a place in downtown Palo Alto, and then hit up a local bar for beer and darts. Although this was really not something I've ever done before---and, heck, I didn't even really talk to the guy much on the plane, since we weren't sitting beside each other---it was great! They guys were fun and cool and I would totally hang out with them again if I lived here.

The next day I packed up my things for a weekend in San Fran, and after spending the day at the archives, met up with my new Stanford friends, AMcG and GCC, with whom I hung out Wednesday evening at the postdoc BBQ, to drive into the city. We took the scenic route to avoid heavy traffic, so I got to take in some lovely nature-y sights. The countryside around here reminds me of parts of Israel, especially the area around Jerusalem.

I left the 'burbs on Friday night because the Aussie roommate---the only roommate I hadn't met before in Toronto---was having his going-away party. So I got to join in the festivities and meet a couple more Waterloo guys that FN knows. After hanging out at the awesome Haight St. apartment, we headed off to a nearby bar for drinks. The bar was ok, but extremely preppy. Like what happens when frat boys get office jobs and decide to drink US$9 mojitos. Ok, fine, it wasn't that bad. But it's certainly not like the dive/hipster bars I tend to frequent. Not at all. The evening ended back in the living room. Perfect, since I was pretty tired by this point, and so was everyone else.

Saturday morning jack-hammering woke us all up---me later than the rest of the crew, it seems---and then TF (in whose room I was staying) and I went out for breakfast at this great place just down the street. I had a breakfast burrito. Oh my. Where can I get this in Toronto? In the afternoon I took the bus to the Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and walked around a bit in a touristy/shopping area. The weather was gorgeous. And the museum was great! Thanks for suggesting it, EW! There's a Matisse exhibit on now which consists mainly of sculptures. It's really well done, and a nice follow-up to my Rodin tour a few days earlier at Stanford. I also loved the photography exhibits, which surprised me. The museum doesn't have a whole lot of super famous artwork, but it's a really lovely space. I went on a guided tour of the Matisse stuff, then spent a few hours looking at the rest of the gallery and listening to the audio-guide. To the left is a photo of part of the lobby.

Back outside and ready to do more exploring, I found City Hall---where a couple had just gotten married---and walked along the United Nations Plaza. I eventually found my way back to the Googlers' apartment.

I got back just in time to head out with the Aussie to pick up some dinner, so we could quickly eat before . . . wait for it . . . going to the Beastie Boys' concert at Berkeley! I had a great time with the guys---the Aussie (yes, that is what I'm going to call him), Googler JR, and TF---on the drive over and walking through the gorgeous Berkeley campus, and then at the concert itself in this amazing outdoor venue. Although I don't really know the Beastie Boys, and the frat-boy crowd isn't really my thing, it was, well, a thing, so well worth it. FUN. I went to bed late after chatting in the living room with the Aussie.

Today, Sunday, got off to another awesome start. TF and I went shopping to pick up some stuff for him for Burning Man---most of the people I met this weekend are either there now or headed there in a couple days---and have another yummy breakfast. (TF refused to let me pay for my breakfasts.) Back in the apartment, I took a long nap, and then went for a late lunch with a bunch of the Burning Man people. Food is good in San Francisco. Or, that's what my very limited experience of it tells me. After lunch I went shopping with the women in Upper Haight, this awesome area of town just up the street from the apartment. I loved it. And I even bought myself a shirt at one of the vintage clothing stores. The area was kinda like the indie-hipster area of Queen West, but with more (homeless/hippie) people and a less corporate vibe. And more of it.

I'm now back in Palo Alto after leaving all those lovely people back at the apartment, packing up a van. I took a streetcar and then hopped on the Caltrain to the suburbs. I got a glimpse of more of the city; I definitely need to come back to be a proper tourist some day. I boarded the train without a ticket because the streetcar ran a bit late, and then the ticket machines wouldn't take my credit card! But thankfully I was never asked to show my ticket. Another free ride in California. Excellent.

Bed time. The archives await.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

In San Francisco, too busy to write.

Will let you know about my adventures since Thursday another time . . . but suffice to say, I've been having a great time! See facebook for pics.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Research and fun.

This morning I was off to an early start. Alarm woke me up at 6am, which gave me lots of time to get ready and have breakfast and be out the door by 7:30am to catch the free shuttle to the train station. And then I transferred onto one of Stanford's free shuttle buses to get to campus, and was at the archives just a few minutes after it opened. Awesome.

I found some good material today, but spent a long time looking through boxes that contained nothing of interest. It's how it goes sometimes. I'm pretty sure now that I won't be able to get everything done before I fly home next week, but, again, it's how it goes. At least I will know what's here. This way, I'll have an excuse to come back! It's really a nice place to be this time of year. It's warm and bright and relatively empty. (The undergrads don't get back until late September.)

In the afternoon I took a break from researching to go to the campus museum---the Cantor Arts Center. Every Wednesday at 2pm there's a free tour of the center's Rodin collection. It was fun, and I even learned some interesting things. I'm glad I did that, though it did take me away from my work for an hour and a half. Oops.

Once the archives closed, I headed off to discover a bit more of the campus and eventually made my way to the postdoc BBQ that a friend of mine organized. She invited me along . . . and thanks to free wireless in the archives (and all over campus, I believe), I got her e-mail about it. And it was fun! The night ended with a drive home. Seriously, this research trip has been awesome so far. Free transportation, free food and drink, good company! And there's only more fun times to come, I'm sure of it.

Here's more images from the museum. It's lovely. You should go if you're ever at Stanford.Detail above the main doors.Part of the lobby.Deborah Butterfield, untitled, 1999. I saw a similar horse at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.Rodin's "The Kiss" and part of my tour group.
Oh, and P.S. Ottawa is apparently "the San Francisco of eastern Canada."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Day one at the archives.

Good, productive day. It started off a bit late, since I couldn't bare to wake up as early as I should have, but I was still out the door by 9am, so not too shabby. At the bus stop round the corner, a shuttle came just as I walked up. It wasn't the bus I was expecting---I was a few minutes early according to the scheduled time---but I asked the driver, and it turned out to be a free bus (the Palo Alto Shuttle) that would take me where I wanted to go. So, I saved myself $1.75, and then hopped on another free shuttle (Stanford's Marguerite) to campus. The trip was a bit long, but I got to the archives no problem. I think I'll do the same trip tomorrow, but hopefully earlier in the day. Must maximize my time at the archives, especially since I might skip out for an hour or two for a free tour at the campus museum Wednesday afternoon . . . .

The archives are less impressive than I imagined they would be. The holdings are fantastic for me, and the staff helpful. But the campus is so gorgeous, that it's a bit incongruous to find the archives hidden away in a basement. I will deal. I left the basement for an early lunch---got a recommendation on where to go from the campus visitor's centre, which I stumbled upon in a nearby building. So far, so good. (Cob salad: mmmmm.) Back at the archives after feeding myself, I got some good work done. Lots more to do, but I'm happy with what I've got so far. Oh, and one of the other researchers is a British professor whom I heard speak at the SHAFR conference in Chantilly, VA, back in June. No idea what her name is, of course, but still.

Once the archives closed for the day, I decided to snap a few pics and take the scenic route back to the Palo Alto Trasit Station. The walk was a bit longer than I thought, but I got a look at some of Stanford's amazing campus. Wow. The bright sunlight and hot weather only added to the effect. I made a beeline for Palm Drive, the main entrance into campus, and walked along tall palm trees. It felt good to do something touristy. But doing so meant I missed the last free shuttle home, so I had to pay that $1.75.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I've arrived in California.

Today was such a long day. I spent 10.5 hours travelling---the self-portrait is how I was faring 3/4 of the way through. (Exhausted and with disastrous hair, but energetic enough to get out my camera to capture me waiting for the BART train.) Since I had an early flight, I didn't end up sleeping at all Sunday night. I just packed and organized and lazed about.

Here's a run-down of all the modes of public transportation I was on today. I was out the door before 6:30am and soon was on the subway. Took two of those. Then the bus to the airport. Escalators and movators don't count as public transportation, right?

The lineup at the newish terminal 1 at Pearson was enormous! It was fairly fast-moving, but partly because me and a couple other people got pulled ahead a few times. Seems we didn't get to the airport as early as some other people did. In the end we got on the plane in time, but others didn't, so our departure was delayed by a few minutes. Some people got left behind because they didn't manage to get through customs on time. Craziness. I think it's something about Monday morning travelling. I was at Pearson more than an hour ahead of time. While waiting in line I chatted with a woman on my flight who works as a sommelier and was off to tour the wine country . . . for work! Nice.

The flight was fine. I slept through much of it. About 30 minutes before landing, I opened up the window, and discovered that the view was absolutely amazing. We were flying over the Nevada desert, and then some mountains, and then could see the Pacific. Wow. Too bad I was so exhausted that I really couldn't stay awake to sightsee. The landing views were pretty neat, too. San Francisco is certainly not Toronto, as one of the kids in the row behind me pointed out! I'm now sad that I'll be leaving on a red-eye.

One of my seat-mates on the flight was a young guy from Waterloo who works in the tech industry and lives in Palo Alto. We decided (at my suggestion) to take the train out to the 'burbs together, but then he got called away to work so that didn't end up happening. I almost had my very own Ethan Hawke, FN! He was totally cute, too, in a 21st century hippie kind of way. We had matching shoes and thinness. He went to the Comic Arts fest in Toronto; I went to a Trek fest. Anyways, he was a nice guy. Oh, and he had a great 'fro. ;-)

The trip out to Palo Alto was totally uneventful. I think I've now travelled on enough public transportation systems that they don't phase me in the slightest. Three trains later, on three different systems, and I was in downtown Palo Alto. A friendly woman pointed me in the right direction once I got off the Caltrain, and I found the bus stop a few blocks away without any difficulty. What I saw of downtown was nice, if much richer and cleaner than I'm used to. The bus was late, but it came eventually and before long I was at my new home. It did take me about 2 hours to get here from the airport, but it was cheap and meant I got a bit of a feel for the place. This way I will be much less nervous about going out to the archives early tomorrow morning.

I took a nap later in the afternoon, and eventually dragged myself out of the house to get some groceries. Again, super easy. I know I'm anal about planning things ahead of time, but this is why I do it. So that when I'm exhausted and carrying heavy bags around a strange place I don't have to use up a lot of brain power worrying about how to get where I want to go. I fully recommend taking advantage of trip planners on public transportation websites. They are seriously a great, great thing. The TTC website will be getting one soon, I hear. About time!

Well, speaking of trip planning, I should figure out how I'm getting to the archives in the morning.

I promise to take and post pictures at some point. Was too out of it to take any today. But anticipate palm trees and terracotta-coloured buildings.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I hate packing.

I really, really, really hate packing. I just don't want to do it. Partly it's because I'm indecisive about things and like to be organized; the uncertainty that comes with going to another place and not quite knowing what I'll find once I get there makes me slightly crazy. It's quite ridiculous, I know, especially since I'm flying into San Francisco and renting a room in a house in Palo Alto, where Stanford University is. The weather is going to be approximately the same as here, except hotter. And hopefully drier. If I forget something, it will be no problem to get a replacement. And if I don't bring enough clothing, I can do laundry. Easy peasy. And yet I procrastinate because I don't want to deal with figuring things out.

If all my previous trips are any indication, this one should be all kinds of awesome, and I'll get some great stuff at the archive I'll be working at. I can't take pictures with my digital camera this time around, so I need to remember to leave a bit of room in my suitcase to pack photocopies. All of which is quite annoying, since . . . [insert rant about the damage done to one-of-a-kind historical material by photocopying, and extreme idiocy of no photographing policies because the whole point of an archive is to preserve historical documents for future use]. Grrrrr. Maddening!

But I promise to take photos outside the archives.

And now I really should go pack. Or at least start packing. Sigh.

Another busy weekend.

Let's see, let's see. Thursday evening FN and I walked over to the Victory Cafe to meet up with a bunch of historians for what's become our monthly summer pub night. I had a great time, as usual. There are some good people in my department (and in the separate history of science department). I like them.

On Friday my new friend CG2 and I went to the ROM, then hit up a variety of eating and drinking establishments. Super fun. Saturday was more fun, this time at Tranzac's (and PB's) trekfest, followed by FPW's going-away party at his loft. To the left is a photo from the loft party. That's FPW, and, ahem, me. I don't remember this one being taken.

And now I am chatting with EC and thinking about maybe starting to prepare for my trip to California tomorrow morning! Eeek.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Did you know . . . ?

I do not have pierced ears.

From the summer of 1989 through the summer of 1992 I lived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. When I came back---just in time to start grade 8, I apparently had a funny accent. Or so my uncle later told me. Oh, and I was very tanned.

It's been almost five years since I first started studying humanitarian aid workers in civil war Siberia.

I lived at home (with my parents) until I moved to Toronto three years ago.

I'm concerned about what will happen once I finish my degree. (Assuming I finish my degree.) Do I really have what it takes to be a professor?

I have never owned a cell phone.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I seem to have settled into a routine that works for me. I wake up around 1pm and right away check e-mail and the internet. (I can’t begin my day without reading the Torontoist, Posted Toronto, and checking Facebook and the weather forecast, at the very least.) My internet addiction satisfied for the moment, I make my way out of my room to eat breakfast—yoghurt and cereal—and shower. Then it’s time to waste more time on the internet, perhaps taking care of necessary e-mail and home-based errands. Later in the afternoon I might leave my house to pick up food or do laundry or run more errands. After that, I try and get a bit of work in, and then it’s time to make and eat dinner. Once dinner is done, my work day begins in earnest. With few breaks—mostly of the internet kind—I work steadily until the wee hours. So you see that I am fairly productive, though I can’t say I spend 8 hours on dissertation-related things. Weekends and nights when I have social outings are a completely different story, but it’s ok: it’s summer.

This afternoon FN and I walked down to Bloor St. and then parted ways, me to campus to run more errands and she to pick up food for dinner. I managed to cross five things off my to-do list. Yay! And, naturally, I ran into VM (who was looking very lovely) outside the Bata Shoe Museum, cool CS in Robarts, beautiful SF and her super-cute baby outside the library, and then had a nice chat with the porter at Trinity College. All in all, a good afternoon.

The chapter outlining and reading of notes continues.

Making changes.

There must be something in the air. All around me my friends are changing up their lives. One has moved far away to begin her PhD; one is pregnant and preparing to start a full-time teaching job; one is planning to move to Europe to work and play for several months; one is going to be living alone for a bit, and then will join her partner in another city; one has just bought himself a condo; one is moving to Halifax to start law school. I could go on. In my case—apart from saying goodbye to friends who have moved away (or will shortly)—the new thing is friends. The new friends are quite new, but I hope they stick. I’ve become quite fond of them. Most of these people I’ve known for a while, but have only recently come to consider them more than just friendly acquaintances. And I’m including historians, Masseyites, and indie kids (for lack of a better term) here.

It’s interesting how friendships evolve, disappear, or suddenly appear. It can take a while to build up closeness, or it can take no time at all. Fascinating. Just when you think you know someone, he or she surprises you. Life is never dull. People: they are great.

But I digress. Let’s take this back to where this blog usually lingers: my daily life.

Today (meaning Monday) I’ve been getting back into work mode and running necessary errands. When I went to buy groceries, I of course saw someone I knew. My magician friend was sitting outside with one of his friends tying rope. I said hello and then quickly looked away. (I don’t want to know the secret to any of his magic tricks!) He strikes me as a lovely guy.

Now back in my pyjamas, I am making ever-so-excruciatingly slow progress on all things dissertation. I’m a bit scattered, though, going back and forth between reading notes, jotting down chapter ideas, reading secondary sources, and looking up important things (yes, for my dissertation) on the internet. Maybe this is just a scattered time in a dissertator’s life. More likely I’m just being unfocussed and need to get a plan and stick to it. Maybe that will be my next change.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Thank goodness the weekend is over.

As much as I do like hanging out with friends, it's nice to not be doing it right now. A bit of me time, you know.

When I left you last I was heading out of my room to watch a movie with FN, LT, and MB. Well, that movie was just dreadful. Dreadful. I of course can't remember what it was called, but I recommend avoiding any and all movies with Ethan Hawke in Vienna. I tried to sit through it---unhappily---but about half-way through I just couldn't take it anymore. I bailed and went back to work. I think maybe the stupidity on the TV screen made me feel the need to prove to myself that I am not an idiot, so I outlined my dissertation. (Very broadly.)

That was Saturday night. Sunday afternoon it was out to door to meet EH for brunch. The three of us rode the streetcar together toward Roncesvalles, and met up with MB at Mitzi's. The food was quite good, though the place was pretty warm. We chatted, dog- and people-watched, and then braved the rain to catch the streetcar back to the Annex. That evening FN and I packed up some Indian spices and walked over to JC's place. FN was to give him cooking lessons. It was a nice evening, and good to see him again. Lovely AG joined us a bit later. She had me laughing so hard that it hurt.

At the moment I am running some e-mail errands and getting ready to go down to Bloor St. to buy fruit.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I am a supportive friend.

I make this declarative statement in the hopes that it is true. I know I can do better, but I think within the limits of my time and abilities, I am fairly good to my friends. And so last night a bunch of us went to the Parkdale neighbourhood of Queen St. West to have dinner and watch a friend from my program (DR) perform with his band. Of course I wanted to go, and it was a great excuse to hang out with some great people. But I bring up my supportiveness because I was slightly surprised at how few other people showed up to cheer on DR. I guess lots of people are out of town. Anyways, it was a good time, and I quite enjoyed the music.

After the show a chunk of us headed back east and eventually made our way to this eclectic little bar at Dundas and Ossington called the Communist's Daughter. (And, yes, the punctuation was correct on the signage!) DS knew of the place and directed us there after asking random people on the street for directions! An ingenious move, DS. Imagine actually talking to people you don't know. Excellent. After chillin' and chattin' it was time to move on and grab Turkish fare at a College St. joint not far away. I had a shawarma, and though it was just fine, it didn't taste like any shawarma I've ever had in my life. And I've had my share of shawarmas (for a white girl living in Canada). Odd, but interesting.

Today I lazed around, talked to my parents on the phone, and took a nap in the afternoon. But I did get in about 20 minutes of serious dissertation work. So I feel good about that. Looks like no Saturday-night partying for me . . . though FN just called and she's coming home with a movie, and our friends LT and MB. Good life I live, eh? ;-)

Friday, August 10, 2007

No work Thursday.

It was bound to happen, eh. I was so good the past few days, working steadily. But then yesterday I had to get up "early" (11:30am---which is early when one doesn't get to bed until 6:30am) to have lunch with a friend. Well, I guess he's a friend. Let me explain.

See, I met this guy at the Historica council meeting back in November. We were in a breakout session together. I was only at the meeting because I did a research project for the foundation; he is on the council. Turned out he's friends with my supervisor. I didn't see him again until the spring, when I spotted him in the Massey common room before dinner. I was there to have dinner. He was there to eat and then join the other older folk for a book club meeting. (He's older than my father.) We ended up sitting beside each other at dinner, and had a great time gossiping and etc. He's quite interesting. Then we went out for lunch in June, and then again yesterday. It's been fun! I think he just really likes being around young people occasionally, and I get a kick out of hearing stories about his friends and adventures. Yesterday after lunch we stopped in at a bookstore that only sells mysteries and thrillers. Neat-o. Anyways, that's the story.

Last night I streetcar'd out to the Drake Underground for the Vulcan Dub Squad's CD ("s-e-e-d-y," said the frontman) release party. I went because Woodhands---aka one of PB's bands---was also on the lineup. Masseyite SH came too, as did scenester and dancer par excellence CG2. It was a fun time. Those guys, and others that I met and talked with, are just so nice and awesome. Oh, but I forgot to tell you what happened when I got off the streetcar and walked into the hotel. I got carded. But, it was funny, because the door guys said to me and another girl that we looked mighty young. So I whipped out my wallet and showed one of them my driver's license. Once he'd processed my age, he did a very pronounced double take! It was really obvious and funny. ("Yeah, I'm that old." Haha.)

The night ended relatively early, and then I was back at home and reading. I should return to that soon . . . .

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Things that make a dissertator happy.

In the past couple of days I've read some good things and am more excited about my project than I have been. Things are still a bit murky---ok, maybe a lot murky---but I'm definitely getting more and more into it. Yay! I'm feeling good about my current work plan.

At the moment I'm reading a cute little book. It was written by the son of an American Red Cross worker in Siberia during the Russian civil war years, and includes some of her published (and unpublished) letters and articles written while there. To string them all together, the author's filled in the context with some lively prose about what was happening. He's clearly not a capital-H historian, but it's pretty decent stuff. His admiration for his mother---"Mother," he calls her, his fondness for the subject, and empathy for the Russian people shine through. The book is also the story of his and his wife's journey to post-Soviet Russia to see for themselves some of the places that his mother lived. And there are some interesting photos included. One of them makes me especially happy. It's of a famous (for me) train that I had yet to see a photo of! Seeing the photo proves a funny anecdote that I found while doing research in 2003 at the National Archives in Ottawa.

I came across this book only after some determined Googling. [Is that not a word yet? Blogger's spell-check doesn't like it.] See, an article about this woman was published five years ago in a popular magazine about Russian life and culture. In the notes to that piece, the author noted that his subject's son was putting together a book about her. So I searched this guy's name . . . but only found that he'd died in 2003! FN might remember me being despondent over that. But I kept on searching and eventually came across mention of this book, which was finished by the author's son---the grandson of "Mother." It was published in Moscow in 2004; I ordered it up from a Russian-language book ordering service. Best of all, it's in both Russian and English!

All this is making me very happy right now :-). I must go back to reading it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


On Monday night I did a spot of community service by meeting up with one of my Massey "buddies." We went to a bakery on College Street for a snack and chatted about Massey. She's a new fellow this coming fall, and the point of the buddy program is to give newbies someone they can ask questions about the place, etc. But the reason we picked tonight to meet up is because we decided to both go to a magic show put on by another Masseyite. I went to one of his shows in June and loved it! So of course this was an event not to be missed. As my new acquaintance and I walked to the pub for the show, we ran into a friend of mine (well, mostly a friend of FN's, but I know him too) and convinced him to join us for the night once he'd had a chance to go home and have a bit to eat. So random, but since I was out and about in downtown Toronto, it seems only natural that I should run into someone I know.

The show was super entertaining and I enjoyed the company---FN, EH, indie DS, young SR, and BS, the random guy. Oh, and continuing my new thing of trying new beers, I had a Creemore. It was actually pretty decent (for a beer), though I still prefer water. But, you know, when at a pub . . . . I've now also tried 50, Steamwhistle, and Sleeman's Cream Ale.

And I am still making slow progress on my work. Though I spent too much time away from it today. But, heck, it was a holiday for regular folk here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The usual.

Saturday night FN and I met up with a clump of people at the AGO's Cinematheque for a Chaplin double-bill. We saw "The Kid" (1921) and "City Lights" (1931), and really enjoyed them, especially the first one. We'd never seen Chaplin before . . . even though my soldiers (research subjects) watched Chaplin shorts in Siberia way back when. Very entertaining stuff. Afterwards 7 of us went for drinks to the Red Room, a well-known bar not far from campus. A very fun night indeed.

Once I got home I worked for a few hours and before I knew it, it was nearly 7am! Time flies when you're working, eh? Today I've been fairly productive too, and also found time to walk to Kensington Market with FN to acquire a whole bunch of necessary food things. We can now eat at home again. Oh, and since it's strange when I leave the house and don't run into people I know, today's random bumping-into was a new one: a couple of the indie-scene guys I've gotten to know a little bit recently. Actually, I've never seen these people in daylight.

And, speaking of the indie scene, I should point out that, yes, I know I'm 27 years old and doing my PhD and all---and I should be over all this stuff by now---but, well, I'm just not, and it's really fun, and I want to keep doing it. You'll be the first to know if I ever get tired of it, though. ;-)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sorting and reading and dancing.

I finished reading through one of my stacks of YMCA photocopies yesterday---I have another set to do, but I may ignore those for now---and feel like I've accomplished a least a little bit this week. The new plan for this coming week is to compile a list of sources for the different subtopics of my dissertation, with this to form part of a report I will write for my committee. We'll see how it goes. At the very least it will be good to pull all my secondary sources together in some kind of topical list, and perhaps annotate it. This would be quite useful for me.

Yesterday evening I met up with a friend (AK, who was at UofT with me my first year here) for a beer and then headed off to The Boat for an indie music show and dance-off with CG2. That guy is now definitely my favourite person to party with! I had ridiculous amounts of fun, especially when the DJ started playing all these songs I remembered from high school. Awesome. I am, however, annoyed with myself for once again forgetting my ear plugs. I must remember next time I go out; I don't want to damage my ears any more.

I'm now going to get back to my secondary sources. Learning is fun! (Dancing is also fun!)

Friday, August 03, 2007


I did do laundry and buy groceries today (though not in Kensington). And I should also let you know that thanks for FN I can cross two more movies off the list of ones I have yet to see: "The Fountain," and "The Prestige." I quite liked the latter; the former was bizarre, though it seems really to have spoken to FN. It wasn't bad. It just wasn't speaking my language.

Back to the YMCA . . . .

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Life continues.

Haven't done anything particularly exciting recently. I am reading YMCA documents, but really I am procrastinating. There: I've admitted it. I will now stop procrastinating. But at the moment I'm undecided about the immediate future. Laundry? Grocery shopping in Kensington? Lunch? I suppose I could do all three, but not in that order. Might be smart to get everything over with so tomorrow there's no excuse not to work all day. Also, I kinda really want to go to the Boat---a wierd club-type-thing in Kensington Market---Friday night after catching up with friend AK.