Friday, December 31, 2004
So while I was showering this morning, I suddenly realized: I'm now 26. Weird.
Anyway ... I'm not really doing much today. I've been reading lots of Harry Potter, and I'm now feeling like I've wasted sufficient amounts of time this vacation that I now have to get back to work. So today I will be forcing myself to actually write things for my two papers that are due at the start of next term. And in between, I'll be working on some other productive things, like adding photos to my website, or updating parts of the Linguistics Lexicon I've been trying to build. Should be good.
I'll probably end up hanging out with some of the YSAs from the ward tonight. One of them called last night, saying that he was trying to find out if anyone was doing something interesting. I told him I wasn't -- at least not yet -- and asked him to call me back if he found anything going on. He has an old mission companion visiting, and he said if nothing else, I could come hang out with them.
Oh, and tomorrow I have plans to spend the day with one of the families in the ward. On reflection, I'm not too excited about that. It's an older couple, somewhere in their late 60s or (more likely) mid-70s, and they have a 30-something son who lives with them (and is an absolute bore, in the most polite terms I can think of), and they are all very ... proper. As one of the YSAs put it, "The Queen would be proud." Hmm. I hope this doesn't last too long tomorrow. I've been before, and it wasn't that bad ... but I did have help then, with one of the other university students being there with me. I also hope I don't sound too terrible here ... Honestly, they're a very nice family. Just not the kind of people I would normally choose to hang out with.
Well, best get going. Happy New Year to everyone!
Monday, December 27, 2004
Yesterday was Boxing Day, and again I spent the day with a family from the ward. They were way nice! I have known them since I got here and always liked them, but I had never been to their home yet. It's very nice -- quite roomy, and very elegant. We again had Christmas dinner and Christmas pudding, then we went for a walk down by the canal (where I got my shoes all muddy -- not to worry, though, I cleaned them when I got home), and then went back home and watched TV for hours on end. It was very relaxing, and I had a great time. I felt very comfortable with them, more so than with the other family, which is kind of odd, since I've done a lot more with the others. Anyway, they brought me home around 11:00, and I called Katie and had a super conversation with her.
I've become very interested in the moon lately. I don't know exactly why that is, but it's suddenly quite fascinating to me. So I found this little HTML application to add to my blog, which gives the current phase of the moon. Kind of cool. It's very easy to use if you want to check it out. Just click the moon in the picture, and it links to the website where it's hosted. You can get the HTML code from there. I also found out today that the day I was born, the moon was barely into the waxing crescent phase, by about two days (which would make it ... about 4% of full).
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
I was just looking at Paul's blog, as it's been a while since I hung out over there, and he has two recent posts with commercials in them. Take a look at both of them. They're pretty great.
IKEA: The Lamp. You may have to watch it twice to catch what the guy says at the end, as he's got this little (presumably) Swedish accent. Hilarious, though!
Honda: When everything works. Absolutely amazing. Be sure to check out the article from Snopes.com that Paul linked here.
Harry Potter Update
In case some of you don't know yet, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is now finished and will be published 16 July 2005. You can pre-order it now from Amazon.com or BarnesAndNoble.com, and I'm sure you can order a copy at most any bookstore near you as well, if you want to be there for midnight madness and mayhem.
If anyone wants me to pre-order British editions over here, let me know and I'd be glad to do so. (You can either email me or just post a comment to this entry.)
Also, if you'd like a little more info on this, check out JKRowling.com, specifically the Rumour section and the News section. And if the Do Not Disturb door is still openable, you can find instructions on Mugglenet about how to get the clues. (I haven't been able to get it to work, personally, but be sure to give it a try.)
Fair Tax articles
I haven't heard much about the Fair Tax Initiative (House Resolution No. 25), but I read two great articles about it today. If any of you don't know anything about it yet, be sure to check out the official website, which you can get to from here, or by clicking the banner at the bottom of my sidebar. And then, if you're interested in hearing some more about it, check out these articles.
Walter E. Williams - National Sales Tax. Williams is an economics professor at George Mason University (if I remember correctly), and I've learned much more economics from him than I ever did in High School. He makes the point that while a national sales tax like HR 25 proposes might be a step in the right direction, there is still a much larger issue at stake that will not be solved by any kind of tax system.
Matt Towery - The 'Fair' Tax. Matt Towery supports the Fair Tax Initiative, and in this article he laments that it's creator and main advocate doesn't get the respect he deserves in Congress.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Monday, December 20, 2004
'Tis a great mystery, but somehow you have come to
belong in Jane Eyre; a random world of love,
kindness, madness, bad luck and lunatic
ex-wives. There really isn't much to say about
the place you belong in. It's your place, and
though it seems far from reality largly due to
how random the events are, you seem to enjoy
it. You belong in a world where not too many
people understand you, and where you can be
somewhat of a recluse.
Which Classic Novel do You Belong In?
brought to you by Quizilla
Woo-hoo!! I belong in Jane Eyre!! :D
Hey, you're not OOC at all! You are... Canon
Snape! You have the dubious honor of being the
ugly, sarcastic, greasy git so many of us know
and love. Regardless of whether you're in a
het, slash, or gen fic, you are the
detention-giving bastard who would never even
dream of cuddling a fluffy bunny rabbit or
wearing purple leather. Even if you do
something that seems OOC, your writer is good
enough to explain it so that it seems
believable. Unfortunately, it's fairly rare to
find you in fanfiction, but for those authors
who write you... Ten points to Slytherin!
What Wildly Out-of-Character Fanfic Snape Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Warning: If you decide to take this quiz yourself (which I doubt most of you will, knowing you all as I do), be aware that it's PG-13, in my opinion, because of all the ridiculously out-of-character Snapes out there who apparently think about little other than sex. Happily, I've never read any of those fanfics.
And last, but not least ...
Congratulations! You're a preposition! preposition
n. Abbr. prep.
A word or phrase placed typically before a
substantive and indicating the relation of that
substantive to a verb, an adjective, or another
substantive, as English at, by, with, from, and
in regard to. HELL YEAH!
What Part of Speech are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
LOL! I thought the idea of finding out what part of speech you are was hilarious! And hey, I'm a preposition, how cool is that? You know, you can do lots of things with prepositions.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Tonight was our second Stake Choir Christmas Concert, down in Chorley. It went quite well -- the tenors even remembered their entrance on For Unto Us a Child is Born! The local MP (Member of Parliament) was there as well, so that was kind of special.
I called Margo after getting home from there tonight, and we had a good 2-hour long, Nirvana-like conversation. It was wonderful talking to her, hearing her voice again, and discussing all of our issues and grievances, as well as good times. Though I think we did a lot more of grievances tonight, but it was quite cathartic. :)
Friday, December 17, 2004
Congratulations, Wendy and Bruce!!
Oh, and Bruce gets a second congrats for his college graduation that will take place this weekend. Way to go!
Monday, December 13, 2004
Exciting thing #2: A few days ago I got an email informing me that my parents had signed me up for Rush Limbaugh 24/7, as a Christmas present. Yay! *small happy dance* That means I can now finally listen to Rush again, and it's been grand. The computer network I'm on over here doesn't allow me to live-stream audio or video, or I would sure have been listening avidly to him for the last few months. But with 24/7, I can download the audio and listen to it whenever I want. Exciting.
Exciting thing #3: Tonight I went to watch the movie "Phantom of the Opera". Wonderful! I've never seen it on stage, but I felt like the movie was perfectly done to match the music and the general tone of the story. Wow. JoAnna and I are still planning to go see it on the stage in London, though, probably sometime in January.
Exciting thing #4: Well, there isn't one, really. But here's something ... odd, I guess. Last night I had the strangest craving for a traditional English breakfast: dry toast, baked beans, sausage, and all. Strange, I know. But I went ahead and bought some beans and sausage today anyway. Hope it tastes good in the morning. :)
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Sorry to be ranting about this again -- I know most of you have heard it ten times over already. Once again, my conclusion is that I have to go read the book again. I can handle that. ;)
Friday, December 10, 2004
Anyway, when I sat down with my food, I was surprised to see most of them using spoons to eat with, and they teasingly asked if I was going to use chopsticks. To which I replied that yes, I certainly was -- at least, I was going to try. The chopsticks were a lot longer than I'm used to, and they were plastic and didn't stick quite as well as the wooden ones I'm used to using in the States. And of course, the rice wasn't nearly sticky enough, but that's nothing that unusual for what I'm used to at home. Anyway, about halfway through our meal, one of the girls said that I use my chopsticks 'professionally'. ;D And they all were impressed that I done as well as I did with them. So there you are, you didn't even know it, most of you, but you are all acquainted with a professional chopstick user!
Many thanks to Sara, who used to eat Chinese with me all the time during our sophopmore year at Ricks College, where we used to have competitions to see who could make it the longest using only chopsticks!
Thursday, December 9, 2004
This evening I was sitting around in my room, reading random articles on the Harry Potter Lexicon (since I'm finished with my first assignment, I've decided to take some down time now), when my phone rang.
It was Sarah Hockley, one of 'the girls' -- meaning, one of the other on-campus students in Lancaster Ward. "We're at your door, and we have something for you," she informed me.
I made a brief attempt to clean up my room a little (it's been getting really terrible lately!), and then went down the corridor to open the flat door for them. Sarah and JoAnna stood there (Denise already went home, earlier today), and there they stood with a large, green-wrapping-papered Christmas present and a home-made stocking for me, along with a medium-ish brown envelope with my name written on it in red and green markers.
Apparently they did all of this on Sunday night, without telling me anything about it. They almost let it slip several times during Family Home Evening on Monday, they said -- especially with all that sugar in them, from eating brownies and pumpkin cookies and chocolate chip cookies at JoAnna's while making up my packages, repeated the next night as we baked holiday cookies for our activity.
They asked about my paper, and Sarah offered to let me use her printer if I was still having trouble with the labs the next morning. We chatted for a few minutes, and they said they couldn't stay because they had to go someplace. Just as they were leaving, I looked a little more closely at the stocking they had decorated for me and noticed that it had a potato-angel on top of the tree, singing at the top of its lungs (which I assume is a reference to fact that I like to sing, as they all know well). When they had left, I examined the stocking a little more closely and found that they had wrapped up several little presents to stuff inside it, along with the usual candy.
Earlier today, I had stopped by Denise's room to borrow her 3-foot Christmas tree. She had offered, even before it got here, to let me use it during the holidays, to lend some holiday cheer to my room. I had been intending all day to decorate it with the ornaments and tinsel she handed over with it, but I hadn't gotten to it yet -- maybe I just wasn't feeling the Christmas spirit yet.
But now, I will go decorate it right away and turn on the lights, so that I can put my stocking and other presents under it (including those that have arrived already from my sister). Good friends really are a wonderful thing to have.
Wednesday, December 8, 2004
I finished my first assignment tonight. That means that tomorrow I can take it to the computer lab and get it printed out, and maybe even hand it in that day. That would mean I'd have all Friday to just play! Happy, joy joy! (I will be posting the paper on my website, for those of you who might be interested in it.)
I think I'll be going to the movies this weekend. I really want to see "Phantom of the Opera", and I just learned today that it will be at our theater on Saturday! I didn't expect it to get here until after Christmas, really.
The last week or so I've been Harry Potter obsessing again. Yeah, I know ... I just may have to start re-reading the books from the library over Christmas vacation. I also am planning to send in an abstract for a possile presentation at the 2005 Harry Potter conference, which will take place in the UK this year. I know, it's pretty geeky, huh? Kind of like going to a Star Trek convention. But I don't plan on dressing up like anyone (although probably several others will), and I would be doing a presentation on a real, academic subject -- not just debating whether Hermione loves Ron or Harry! :) (BTW, my paper would be on characterisation in Harry Potter, particularly of James and Lily, since they get very little characterisation except through other characters.)
Welll, I guess that's it. I hope everyone is doing GREAT out there! I am almost ready to send out my Christmas packages, so be ready!
Saturday, December 4, 2004
And then, the whole way through the novel, I kept asking myself, "What the heck is wrong with these people? They've got major issues!" It wasn't just Heathcliff, but everyone else too: Catherine Earnshaw, Edgar and Isabella Linton, Hindley ... they all had such issues, and I just couldn't help but wonder what kind of freaks they were and how they got that way. Certainly, a lot of it has to do with the society they grew up in and the circumstances imposed on them: Catherine was spoiled from childhood, which makes her temper more virulent; Heathcliff usurps Mr Earnshaw's love from Hindley, which makes Hindley more jealous and cruel. But it seems that all of their flaws existed in each character before these external forces were inflicted on them -- what makes Catherine passionately tempermental in the first place? what disposes Hindley to jealousy and cruelty to begin with?
But one of the things that has really bothered me more than anything is the classification of Lockwood as an unreliable narrator. This really irks me, and I'll tell you why: it's because all the assertions of Lockwood's unreliability seem to rest on faulty reasoning.
One paper claimed that "Since both narrators [Lockwood and Mrs Dean] speak from their own, subjective point of view, they are necessarily unreliable." This is just plain absurd. This would mean that literally any first-person narrator is automatically unreliable, which is not the case. And we can even extend it to claim that any third-person narrator is also automatically unreliable. Of course, there's always an amount of unreliability in any narration -- narration is itself a subjective activity, and merely by choosing to tell us a particular story, or to tell us certain things about a certain character, or to note an otherwise un-noteworthy event, is a reflection of any narrator's subjectivity. But unreliability in a narrator is more than just subjectivity -- it is a question of whether or not the things presented in the text are believed by the reader to have actually happened, and to have happened as the narrator presents them. The narrator of Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is not unreliable merely because he is a first-person narrator (and thus, speaks subjectively), but because the reader learns that he has intentionally obscured facts from the reader. Furthermore, unreliability must depend on the actual text of the narration to create this doubt in the reader's mind. It is entirely conceivable that a reader might conclude that Jane, the first-person narrator of Jane Eyre, is deranged or delusional, and that nothing in the text ever really happened to her, but that she is in reality a warped, embittered old maid living by herself in her old age and pretending that all these things really happened to her. That's any reader's right to make such conclusions. But because such a doubt is not introduced in the text itself, Jane is not considered an unreliable narrator. There is no textual evidence to make the reader question the truth of what Jane tells us, although we know that it is all told from her 'own, subjective point of view'.
One commentary (by Cliffsnotes, even!) claims that Lockwood is unreliable because:
he mentions twice that Heathcliff does not extend a hand to him, yet Lockwood still considers Heathcliff a gentleman.
But, in these times (which by the way, are not Victorian times, but Enlightenment times, although they certainly reflect on Emily Bronte's Victorian society) a person's status as a gentleman really had nothing to do with their manners. It was a social position, determined mainly by the criterion of ownership: if you owned land, and especially if you owned lots of money, you were necessarily a gentleman (or a lady). Certainly, gentlemen and ladies were expected to behave in a more refined manner than other people, but that wasn't the main criterion. You could be the worst, rudest person in the world, and everyone around you could hate you, but they would still refer to you as a gentleman. So, Lockwood's conception of Heathcliff as a gentleman is entirely accurate, despite Heathcliff's obvious lack of courtesy.
The next point annoys me even more, since it is entirely text-based (as opposed to the last, which is based more on schemata and semantics). Cliffsnotes goes on to claim Lockwood's unreliability because:
Lockwood also notices that “grass grows up between the flags, and cattle are the only hedgecutters” but erroneously assumes that Heathcliff has a “whole establishment of domestics.”
But this is not at all what Lockwood has assumed. Look at the actual extract, from Chapter 1 of WH:
[Heathcliff] sullenly preceded me up the causeway, calling, as we entered the court, - 'Joseph, take Mr. Lockwood's horse; and bring up some wine.'
'Here we have the whole establishment of domestics, I suppose,' was the reflection suggested by this compound order. 'No wonder the grass grows up between the flags, and cattle are the only hedge-cutters.'
In other words, Lockwood has inferred, from Heathcliff's compound order, that Joseph is the only servant, 'the whole establishment of domestics'. This is a perfectly natural assumption for Lockwood to make, since if there were a whole score of servants at the Heights, Heathcliff would presumably order one servant to take care of the horse, and another to get the wine. Come on, Cliffsnotes! -- you're a published and respected establishment, please at least make an effort to get it right once in a while!
(NB: I should point out here the possible argument that Lockwood still seems to believe there is a score of servants at the Heights, since in Chapter 2 he repeatedly asks whether he could get a 'lad' to take him home to the Grange, and then send him back the next day. However, this is also a natural assumption for Lockwood. Since his conjecture about Joseph being the only servant, no one has explicitly told him how many servants there are -- indeed, it would be rather odd if someone did tell him. And, in addition to this lack of explicit knowledge, he has now seen Zillah (the 'lusty dame' in Chapter 1), and her presence there obviously contradicts Lockwood's previous assumption that Joseph is the only servant. Also, when he returns to the Heights in Chapter 2, Lockwood is introduced to Hareton Earnshaw, and he conjectures that the lad might be another servant, though he can't decide this for sure. All of this evidence seems to support what would no doubt be Lockwood's default assumption about the servants: namely, that a place as large as Wuthering Heights, with a master as rich as Mr Heathcliff, probably would have several servants.)
Again in the Cliffsnotes commentary, Lockwood's reliability is questioned on the basis of several of his actions, including the following:
[I]n an attempt to make polite conversation, Lockwood misidentifies a heap of rabbit pelts as pets and misidentifies the woman as Heathcliff’s wife. After being corrected by Heathcliff, Lockwood then mistakes Hareton as Heathcliff’s son. Lockwood’s inability to read people and situations make his narration suspect.
Once again, however, these misidentifications are not an indication that Lockwood is unreliable: there is no textual evidence that these things did not really happen, and merely being mistaken about someone or something does not mean that you are necessarily unreliable, no matter how many times you are mistaken. Rather, to me, Lockwood's mistakes in this chapter are an indication, not that he is unreliable, but that Wuthering Heights is an utterly incomprehensible place to him, as are its occupants. These blunders are not so much a reflection on Lockwood's character as they are on the character of Wuthering Heights and all who live there. This seems, to me at least, to be precisely what Emily Bronte was going for in the opening of her novel: she sets up a place and its inhabitants as being completely incomprehensible, and then proceeds to tell us their history so that at the end we do comprehend why they act in this strange way.
Of the two main narrators, I consider Ellen 'Nelly' Dean to be far less reliable than Lockwood. It is clear, for instance, that she wants Lockwood to marry Cathy Linton Heathcliff and take her away from Wuthering Heights. This desire may well drive her to present characters less reliably, in order to make Lockwood think that Cathy would be a desirable wife. The very fact that she does desire it, though, also seems to contribute to her unreliability as a narrator: I would expect, after all she has seen of the people at the Heights, that Nelly would know that such a marriage is hardly likely, considering Heathcliff's calculated plans for revenge, and his deceitful and powerful manipulation of so many others. If Lockwood ever did try to start up a courtship of the girl, Heathcliff would immediately be aware of it, and would never allow the marriage to take place (although he might possibly encourage the courtship, as a means to drive Hareton more passionately in love with Cathy in the face of jealousy, in the same way the he used Linton). Nelly's inability to foresee the consequences of her desire makes me wonder what other things she has had difficulty connecting. Is it possible that she is completely unaware that many of her own actions have encouraged some of these terrible events to proceed, or that Heathcliff had a calculated design in taking over Wuthering Heights, or that Cathy would inevitably fall in love with Linton purely on the basis of her not being allowed to see him? If she fails to see these connections, then it is entirely possible that she has drawn false assumptions about the causes and effects of events in the narration.
Furthermore, Nelly displays major hypocrisy throughout the narrative: she hates Heathcliff when he first comes to Wuthering Heights, then she begins to like him in comparison with Edgar Linton, then she prefers Edgar and despises Heathcliff when he returns after his three-year absence, then she seems to like him again at the end of the story when she is again housekeeper at the Heights; she first helps Cathy Linton to be naughty, allowing her to go out riding (where she first encounters the Heights) when her orders were to keep by her at all times, then she betrays Cathy's secrets by telling Edgar of her love letters to Linton and her visits to the Heights. This kind of inconsistent action on Nelly's part appears again and again througout the story. First she claims that it is not her place to meddle with anyone's affairs, and then she turns around and meddles with them all! This inconsistency may partly be due to a desire to make herself look good in Lockwood's eyes (after all, she is his housekeeper), or it may simply be due a terribly dual nature that makes her unable to decide where she stands, or to stand there when she has decided. In any case, though, it leads the reader (or at least it did me) to wonder whether she might not be displaying similar inconsistencies in her narration: maybe she's being more harsh to Catherine Earnshaw after her death than she was during Catherine's life; maybe she's being nicer about Linton in retrospect than she would have been in the present. Who knows? There is no absolute, definite point at which Nelly's narration is called into question (as there is, for example, in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd), but you still have to wonder whether everything she tells us is really how it all happened in the first place.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
That is to say, I've decided to stay at Lancaster for my PhD, as long as things work out like I hope they will. I am still applying at UNT, and there is still a possibility that I will end up there. But, Lancaster is now my top choice for a PhD.
My supervisor, Elena, also happens to be the Research Student Director (or something like that), and she has been amazing. Sometime in about Week 2 of the term, I asked her whether it was possible for research students to teach here, as I was considering staying for my PhD but wanted to be sure to get some teaching experience as well. She informed me that the possibility does exist, but that it would yeild much less financial aid than a teaching assistantship in the US was likely to. She also mentioned some other possibilities.
Well, then a few weeks ago I asked her if she might be willing to write me a letter of recommendation for UNT -- which I was really worried about, since I felt that the faculty here didn't really know me that well yet, and have had no assignments or anything yet by which they could assess my abilities. She said that she would be happy to, though, and even asked another of my teachers (who happens to be her husband) if he would as well.
Today, she gave me my letter of recommendation and then sat me down and had a long (well, 10-minute) talk with me about PhD options, and basically said that she and Jonathan would both be willing to do whatever they could to help me get funding if I wanted to stay here. Specifically, she mentioned a few research projects that they are each working on where they would be willing to take me on as a research assistant, and Elena also said that she will be teaching the undergrad stylistics course next year and would need someone to help out with the seminars for that. "And we have very few research students here who would be qualified to teach a stylistics course," she added (thereby implying, through flouting the maxims of relation and quantity, that I would be one of those few people).
Anyway, I guess the point is, that if Elena, Jonathan, and Marj (the linguistics postgrad secretary) are willing to put that much effort into helping me find a way to stay here for my PhD, and since this really is where I would most like to be for a PhD, I am also willing to publicly state my determination to stay at Lancaster for my PhD if it is in any way possible. Just wanted you all to know.
Oh, and Thanksgiving was very nice. We had a great meal, and lots of fun with all our American, British, and Chinese friends.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
I can make a window to discuss your deconstructed strategic paradigm shifts.
LOL! Too funny!! Check it out for yourself. And while you're there, take a look at the Plain English translations page.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
The village's claim to fame really is the Bronte family -- there's not much else that's ever happened there of interest to anyone outside the village itself -- and they show it! I was so amused by the constant references to the family and their works that I even wrote down a list of them.
- Rochester House
- Bronte Cottage
- Withens Cottage
- Bronte House
- Eyres 'N' Graces (one of my favorites - it was a shop)
- Villette Coffee House
- Ye Olde Bronte Tea Rooms
- Ye Olde Bronte Confectionery and Stationery Shop
There were probably several others that I didn't recognize, as I've never read any of their works outside of Jane Eyre -- a deficiency that I've always intended to remedy and never have yet.
I also was highly entertained by one of the shops on the Main Street (which looks very much as it must have 150 years ago): it was called "The Piano's Not for Sale", and outside the shop was a sign reading:
Dignified Haggling and Virtuoso Piano Playing Allowed
I ate a Yorkshire parkin, a local baked speciality, which was delicious. It was rather like a large, round piece of gingerbread. It filled me up quite nicely, and I was never hungry again until dinner time.
The Bronte Parsonage Museum was also wonderful. It is the original building that the Bronte family lived in while their father was the parson for Haworth parish. Much of the furniture in the house was original, with only a few large items having been reproduced from sketches by the children. This year is the 150th anniversary of Charlotte's marriage to her father's curate, a man named Arthuer Bell Nicholls, and there was a large display in Charlotte's room about their marriage. I hadn't realized until just the last few weeks that she was ever married. I was very interested in their story, and one of my next books will probably be "The Life of Charlotte Bronte" by Elizabeth Gaskell, who was a close friend of Charlotte's during the last few years before Charlotte died. In fact, if I remember rightly, it seems the Gaskell was the one who undertook a bit of match-making with the couple -- but that was after Arthur had already proposed once. It's a long story. Maybe I'll tell it another time.
I took a little walk around the village, about a mile or so to Penistone Hill, and then wandered quite a bit trying to get the right pictures with my camera. It was quite a task -- like chasing the horizon. I kept looking out and thinking, "Oh, that would be a lovely picture, if I could just get in the right position for it." So I would walk a little way trying to find the right position, and by that time it had disappeared -- or rather, shifted, so that I now thought that the scene over there would be a nice photo, and would walk around to try and shoot it. All in all, I had quite a job of it trying to capture the West Yorkshire scenery. I did get one or two good shots, though, which I'll add to my website as soon as I have a little time.
On re-reading this entry, I realize that it sounds unnaturally like Charlotte Bronte's style of writing. I suppose that's what I get for being so preoccupied with her lately -- I just finished Jane Eyre today, yesterday I of course thought a lot about her, and then I've also decided to use an extract from Jane Eyre for one of my papers (the stylistics one, and it's been quite entertaining so far -- have I menetioned before how much I love stylistics?).
Saturday, November 20, 2004
Right now I'm just waiting for the right time so that I can go down and meet my taxi. I've got about 15 minutes before I need to leave for that. Ho-hum.
Well, I will be sure to write later today, or tomorrow, and share my experiences of Haworth.
Friday, November 19, 2004
A while ago, on my first trip to ASDA, I realized that part of the reason I wasn't doing any cooking was that I didn't have the necessary utensils -- bowls, spoons, spatulas, etc. So I decided that I would go back to ASDA and buy some of those things, along with some more food, and that I would somehow find room for it all and I would start cooking no matter what! Well, that was today's trip. While there I got a few things for the family for Christmas as well, which I'm really excited about. And I finally found some adorable things for my newest niece, who will be born in a few weeks probably -- that had been a long and arduous search, so it was great to finally find some things! I got my cooking utensils, and was disappointed to find that they didn't have any big plastic bowls or the like -- that was rather frustrating. But JoAnna, an American student in my ward, is going shopping Monday or Tuesday for some things like that, and I might go with her and see if we can find something for it. I also found some Orangina at ASDA, which was very exciting -- the problem was that they only had it in a 2-liter size, so I had to get one of those! Oh well, maybe we can use it for FHE or Thanksgiving next week. :)
On my return home, I realized that I felt very content. It was late in the afternoon, and the sun had set while I was in ASDA, and the moon had risen as well. It was a very pretty half-moon, and it looked nice against the darkening blue sky with the bare tree branches between me and it. And I just felt happy -- a deep, heart-felt contentment that I'm where I should be and doing what I should be doing. There's no greater feeling on earth.
When I got home, I took all my things into the kitchen to put them away, and when I opened the cupboard where my one shelf is, I found the shelf beneath it empty. Luckily, one of the girls was in the kitchen, so I asked her if she knew whose shelf it was, and she replied that it had belonged to the girl next to her, but that she had moved upstairs sometime during the week, and I was welcome to take that space. Oh, joy of all joys!!! I could not have been happier! I had felt so long like I couldn't do anything in the kitchen because I had no space, but now with TWO shelves ... wow! I can do anything. I promptly moved all my dishes from my room into the kitchen, and it feels great to have that space back for my books and things again. I tell you, it's the little things in life -- you really don't realize how much things like bed sheets and shelf-space mean to you until you have to be without them!
And, to complete my happiness, I have to say thanks to my brother-in-law and sister for my little Thanksgiving package -- it made me feel very loved! :D
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Monday I left campus (via taxi, as the buses don't run that early) at 6:45 am to catch my train to York. I had to change in Leeds, and the train I was on was amazingly cold. In fact, I found that I was rather cold on all the trains during the entire trip -- except the last one (of course) from Carlisle to Lancaster.
Anyway, I first went to York. There I looked around at the Minster (cathedral), which was phenomenal. I would say I preferred it even to Notre Dame, although in different ways. I never knew it before, but apparently Constantine was declared emporor of the Roman Empire in York, at the site of the Minster. I don't know if that was the only place ... I would assume that he was proclaimed emporor in many different places ... but in any case, there's a statue of him in front of the Minster, which was quite nice. The Minster itself is just indescribable. The choir was especially intriguing to me, with its intricate and detailed wood-work. I also walked around much of the medieval wall that still surrounds York. Parts of it have been torn down, but by far the majority of the wall is still intact today, and in good repair. It makes for quite a nice stroll. I also went to see Clifford's Tower, the only remaining part of the castle that used to be in York. It was first a typical motte-and-bailey wooden fortress built by the Normans, although I think there may have been something there before that, too. That wasn't the most wonderful thing I've ever seen, but interesting nonetheless. Mostly York is just a pretty town, with a nice quayside and a woderfully well-preserved old town that still looks much as it must have 500 or 600 years ago.
I then went on to Whitby, found my room for the night, and slept soundly. The next day I spent almost entirely there in Whitby. Ever since going out there Halloween weekend of this year, I'd thought that I would like to go back there, and that really was the impetus for this whole trip. Whitby was lovely! Even in November. Unfortunately, two of the things I really wanted to do I couldn't. I'd been wanting to tour the abbey ruins and then see the Captain Cook museum. The Abbey is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the winter, and the Captain Cook museum is closed entirely during the winter. *sigh!* Oh well, I guess that means I'll just have to go back there again some time! ;) But the rest of the town was still wonderful. I wandered out for a stroll along the west pier, where I watched the locals fishing; I spent a good hour or so in the churchyard of St. Mary's, taking ominous-looking pictures of the graves and the abbey beyond them; and I toured the Grand Turk, a 1997-built replica of an 18th-century man-o-war, and the main ship used for the Hornblower series. That was quite nice, and I was glad that I had read up about ships in the age of sail ... although I wished that I had read something a little more recently, as I got the mizzen-mast and the fore-mast mixed up. How embarrassing!
Wandering around St. Mary's Church yard, I took several pictures of the graves. They're so fascinating to me -- the epitome of sinister Halloween-type gravestones, the kind that you see in cardboard on somebody's lawn at the end of October and think to yourself, "Yeah, right! That's so fake! Graves never look like that. There's no way they could stand up like that!" But they do. And they also get that great coloring, where it looks like the whole gravestone was dipped in white paint, and then somebody else came along and artfully poured a bucket of black paint across the top. As I wandered among them, I occasionally got a whiff of some foul, rank, pungent, smell, and I thought that must be what old, damp graves smell like after 100 years in the North Yorkshire mists. But then as I started back down the 199 steps, I realized that it was probably the goats that were grazing behind the wall on the other side of the steps from the church!
I also took the time to go eat fish and chips at the "world renowned" Magpie Cafe. It has a reputation for the best fish and chips in England ("and consequently in the whole world!" -- movie quote, 10 points), and deservedly so. I kept wondering how good fish and chips could actually be. But I asked the guy at my B&B the night before, and he assured me that, although he had been skeptical at first, he also had found the fish and chips at the Magpie to be worth the price and the wait. Luckily I went early enough that was no queue, and the fish and chips really was delicious! Much better than anything else I'd ever had before, definitely.
Also while in Whitby I learned of the famous Frank M. Sutcliffe, who was a local photographer and revolutionized the photography industry with his techniques. He has some really stunning photographs, and I bought postcards of a few of them, which I'm linking here for your enlightenment, edification, and enjoyment. Toy Boats| St. Hilda's Abbey, Whitby | High Seas on Whitby's West Pier (my personal favorite)
That night I went on to Newcastle, where I again found my hotel and immediately went to a nice, sound sleep. The next morning I got up bright and early and went to wander around in Newcastle's city centre. The problem was, I got up a little too early. When I got there, nothing was open, and the only people around were those going to work. But I found my way to the quayside there, too (which was a feat in itself), and got to see the famous Gateshead Millennium Bridge. Quite facsinating -- unfortunately I didn't get to see it in operation, I'm sure it's quite a sight! I popped over to the Laing Art Gallery for a minute, mostly to see the "Blue Carpet", which was not at all what I had been expecting. I wandered along in the shopping area and was pleased to find a high-class department store with a huge display in the windows telling the story of the Nativity. It's not often you see that sort of thing, at least not in the States anymore, so I thought that was great. I then went down to the Discovery Museum, a free-entry, family-oriented museum. It was fun, but a little skimpy on details -- that is, until you got to the 20th century, which I thought was funny. There they had absolutely every decade in its own little section, with tons more information about each decade than you could possibly want. I skipped that part. Partly because I had to catch a train ... but not entirely.
After Newcastle, I hopped a train to Carlisle, where I did a tour of the castle and met some fellow Americans (from Lancaster, Pennsylvania), and then looked through the shopping centre before heading back home again. By the time I got to Carlisle, I was so tired and exhausted I didn't have the energy to do half of what there was to do. I just wanted to get home, to my own bed, and massage my poor little (ha!) feet, and go to sleep in my own little bed. Which I did. It might sound like I didn't like Carlisle that much, but that's not true. Besides Whitby, it was actually my favorite place that I visited, and I would love to go back sometime soon, maybe to do some shopping (as they had some great stores there that, as far as I know, we don't have here in Lancaster), and to see the cathedral. It was a lovely town, and it is built mainly with sandstone, which is prevalent in the area.
So all in all, I had a great time, but was really glad to get home again. I gave myself a little pedicure last night, which felt great, and then I read parts of Jane Eyre before going to sleep (which I haven't read for years, literally), and fell in love with Mr. Rochester all over again. :)
Oh yeah, when I went out to do some errands this morning (including getting a much-needed book from the library, yay!!), I decided to wear my flip-flops, as my feet are so swollen and sore that I didn't want to put them back in shoes again. But I hadn't quite even gotten to the main campus yet when the right one broke! The little strap that goes between your big toe and ... the next toe (?) ... broke, and so I couldn't walk at all in any way that would keep it on. So I had to take it off, and walk part-barefoot back to my room to put some shoes on. LOL!
Thursday, November 4, 2004
Things have been going very well this week. My money is closer than ever to being here where I can actually use it. I found a great new skirt the other day in town. I found the ASDA store -- owned by the Wal*Mart family, and I'm a fan! I got a couple of books from the library today that I've been trying to get hold of for some time now. I've pretty well decided on what to do for my assessment essays. And I have partially finalized plans to travel next week, during my reading week.
I'm for sure going to York, Whitby, Newcastle, and Carlisle. I didn't realize it until just last night, but it turns out that the railway line from Newcastle to Carlisle follows Hadrian's Wall pretty closely for most of the way. So maybe I can get a decent picture or two from the train. I'm so excited to go to Whitby again. I've fallen in love with the town. I'm just sad that I can't stay in the youth hostel there. It's on the East Cliff, right by the Abbey ruins, but they're currently only open on Fridays and Saturdays.
I downloaded my photos from last week's trip and added an England page to my website, which will go live tomorrow.
Oh yeah, and I get to attend the Pasty meeting this week (Pragmatics and Stylistics resarch group). Last time I had something else I had to do at the same time, so didn't get to attend. But this time I will be there, and the topic is about mind style in Middlemarch, and I'll also get to meet Mick Short in person (presumably).
So all in all, I'm quite happy today.
Tuesday, November 2, 2004
Next week is a reading week, so I don't have any classes. I'm toying with the idea of making a big loopy trip, from Lancaster to Leeds, then York, Whitby, Newcastle (upon Tyne, that is), Carlisle, and then back home. Mostly because there were so many things to do in Whitby that I didn't have time for, but it takes to darn long to get there on the train that I thought it would be as well to stop at a few places and see more of the country. I guess I'm mostly worried about the expense and the logistics of it all. Anyway ... will let you know when I figure out what I'm doing. I suppose there's always the possibilty of staying here and reading ...
Friday, October 29, 2004
Around 1:00 I decided this would not do for the rest of the day. There are still some glitches with my finances, so I thought I'd head to campus and try to take care of those things, then go into town and go on a tour of Lancaster Castle for £4. After getting a few things sorted out on this end, I came back to my room and tried to call Zions Bank in Idaho Falls before realizing that it was still only about 8:00 am there, and the bank didn't open until 9:30.
So at that point, I finally headed into town. I was getting a little worried that I wouldn't make the last tour, and I didn't. I was about 5 or 10 minutes late for it. But I figured that was OK, I could still wander around the castle, and maybe still take some pictures. Boy, did I!
The route I took up to the castle happened to lead most directly to the Lancaster Priory and Parish Church, which is right next to the Castle. It was very nice up there. Very peaceful, removed from the hustle and bustle of the city center, only a few blocks away. Anyway, I took a few pictures of the priory, walked all the way around the castle and took pictures of it as well, and after about an hour or so walked back down into town. There I bought some dinner and did a little shopping. I found a great sweet shop. I had seen it while I was eating supper, and thought I would go take a look and maybe take a picture of the sign, just because it was so British. ("Sweet shop" instead of "candy store", you know ...) When I got to it, though, the first thing I thought was, "It's Honeydukes!" (That's a Harry Potter reference for those who are currently thinking "Huh?!") I went in and got some treacle toffee, some sherbet lemons, and some Kendal mint cakes, all of which are great! Kendal mint cakes, as you might guess, are from Kendal, which is where one line of my ancestors lived when they joined the church and eventually emigrated to Utah. They're not cakes in the sense of spongey things made with flour, but they are a kind of hard-but-softish candy, formed into little discs (cakes). They come in white and brown, but I only tried the white kind today.
Then I did a little shopping in town. I still don't have an umbrella (!), and I thought I would look in Marks & Spencer for one, but they only had black ones, and I made myself swear not to get a black umbrella. I already have far too much black, and it's time to branch out. I did find some small containers, though, to keep laundry change in, and one to keep some butter in so that I can put it in my cupboard and have some soft butter when I want it.
Tomorrow I'm going on a trip to Robin Hood's Bay and Whitby, sponsored by the GSA. I am planning to hang with Fu Pei, a girl who's doing my program and happens to be in all my classes too. We have little tutoring sessions every now and then where we ask each other about the things that are confusing us. It's nice. She's from China, and she's very sweet. I'll be glad to have someone around that I can talk to.
I have posted several pictures from today's excursion into town on my website.
the Lancaster page
**If this link doesn't work yet, don't worry -- it will in no time!
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Well, this past week has been rather uneventful. I tried going to the temple last night, but I accidentally got on the wrong bus going to the church (where I was going to meet other ward members and get a lift to Chorley), and ended up a little lost. By the time I got things figured out, I was pretty late for the meeting at the church, so I ended up just going back home. Well, I tried.
This weekend there are lots of things going on for Halloween. The GradBar is having a Halloween Ceilidh party tonight, partly in honor of the Celtic new year. I think I'll drop by for a few minutes. Then, on Saturday, there's a trip to Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay, organized by the Graduate Students Association. I'm definitely going to that, especially since I found out that Fu Pei (one of the girls in my program) is going, so I'll know at least one person. Both Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay are supposed to be little villages with a lot of olde worlde charm left in them.
Monday, October 25, 2004
Katrina M. Wilkins Homepage
It's not very complete as yet, and I will be doing whatever I can to improve it as time permits. And time may not permit me much.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
During sacrament meeting today, they announced that we'll be having stake conference in three weeks, and that got me to thinking about stake choir. I've really missed singing in choirs over the last little while, and there isn't a ward choir in Lancaster. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to see if I could make it to stake choir for conference. I thought I would ask Ruth Johnson about it, since I know she has sung with the stake choir before. But before I could get to her after sacrament meeting, Leslie Lisgow had come up to me and asked if I was interested in going to choir with them! I'm sure she was inspired to see a need.
Anyway, last week the Greatheads had invited all four of us university students to dinner with them. One of the girls wasn't at church this week, so it was just the three of us, but we had a great time. The food was wonderful, and for pudding we had lemon meringue pie and Viennetta ice cream. And the Greatheads are wonderful people. Big John is quite the character, and Jenny is the very essence of kindness. Their younger son, Simon, is now married and living in Ammon, working at Melaleuca, so that's pretty cool too.
So, when we were finished at the Greatheads', Big John took me over to the Lisgows', and Leslie and I drove down to Chorley together. I got her to tell me how she joined the church, which was quite an unusual tale. And she told me a little about the stake choir, too, and how good they were. I took it with a grain of salt, knowing how people can be about their own choirs. But -- I was deeply impressed by the choir, and that was only after one practice! We're practicing not only for stake conference, but also for the Christmas program, and we're doing some rather ambitious pieces: The Spirit of God with Hosanna Chorus (the one that's always sung at temple dedications), and -- get this -- For unto us a child is born, the chorus from Handels' Messiah! Wow. That one's quite a challenge, mainly because of all the runs, which nobody quite gets yet. But I'm sure it will be an amazing Christmas program.
The stake is so larget that they can't fit everyone in the stake center anymore -- people keep moving to Chorley to be closer to the temple. So they're having two sessions of Conference, one for the south half of the stake, and one for the north half. We're in the north half, but lucky us, we get to go to both sessions, since we will sing for both of them. And then they're having a young adult choir for the Saturday evening adult session, so I get to sing in that as well.
*deep sigh of contentment* Life is good!
Friday, October 22, 2004
Anyway, I debated with myself all week about whether or not to go. I knew that I would probably end up spending much of the time sitting by myself, feeling a little foolish and wishing desperately that I had a mate to hang out with. (That's 'mate' in the British sense of 'friend' - I don't mean a spouse!)
I was right.
But I also knew that I if I didn't go, I'd end up sitting home by myself, being geeky and doing some kind of homework (most likely), and wishing that I had a mate to hang out with. If I did go, though, I knew I was likely to at least meet a few new people and get to know some others better.
I was right.
First off, I didn't realize that this was a formal affair. I've never been to a Green and Gold Ball before (although I suppose the word 'ball' ought to have tipped me off), so I just thought, dance. And for me, dance means dress however you want. So I ended up just wearing jeans and a jumper (that's sweater to you folks). Felt a little foolish most of the night, but no one said anything (at least not until the very end, and it was OK by then). So that was all right.
I spent most of the first part of the dance talking to some of the people from Lancaster Ward who were there. That was nice, and I learned some names I didn't know before. And then I talked to Toni, the YSA leader in our ward, who is 22 and very nice. But that didn't last very long, as a few other people interrupted our conversation. A little later some of her other YSA friends from the stake came over to talk to her, and although she introduced me and they tried hard to include me, they had a lot of things to talk about that I knew nothing about (you know -- "What's Steven doing these days?"). I had a great time listening to the live band, though, who during the first part of the dance played some good old songs from the Golden Age of Radio -- Pennies from Heaven, The Lady is a Tramp, Fly Me to the Moon, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, just to name a few.
Well, after an hour or two of this, I decided to take a little walk outside. It was getting stuffy, and I wanted to figure just where the Distribution Centre was anyway. I walked around by the MTC, Distribution Centre, and guest hostel for a little over half an hour, and then went back inside.
By this time, the band was playing some more recent stuff. And by recent, I mean 30 years. Maybe 20. Probably not. I found the Lancaster people again, and took a seat by them. There was another girl there by this time whom I didn't recognize, and I ended up sitting by her. We got talking, and realized that we'd been in Institute together last week. She was very chatty, so we had a good time talking about church dances and institute, and boyfriends (I get asked about that a lot out here ...), and girls who take their shoes off at dances. Before too long, the band ended and we had a closing prayer (naturally), and I got up to try and find Matthew, whose Dad had given me a ride down.
On my way out to look for Matthew, I ran into Rachel, another girl from my Institute, who had given me a lift to the train station the first week. We talked for a minute, and she complimented me on my outfit ("Nice of you to dress up"). :) I laughed and explained, and she said she felt silly enough being dressed up, and that I probably didn't feel any more foolish in my jeans and sweater.
I suppose I'm glad I went. I had been hoping to find someone from Kendal there, so that I could ask about what to do and see when I'm there, but no one showed up that I knew, and one of the Lancaster members said she hadn't seen any of them there either.
I have been thinking that I would try to go to Kendal this weekend, but it's been very rainy, and I'm not sure I want to try walking around an unfamiliar town if it's going to be like this the whole day. If not, I think I'll still go into Lancaster and get an umbrella, if nothing else.
Friday, October 15, 2004
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
|Purgatory (Repenting Believers)||Very High|
|Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)||Low|
|Level 2 (Lustful)||Low|
|Level 3 (Gluttonous)||High|
|Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)||Moderate|
|Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)||Moderate|
|Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)||Very Low|
|Level 7 (Violent)||Low|
|Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)||Moderate|
|Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)||Low|
Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test
Happily, I've avoided hell and am going to Purgatory. And apparently, I'll be going to the Gluttony part of the Purgatory Mountain, so I don't have all that far to climb before I make it to Heaven! (I think my gluttony score was so high because of my answers to questions like "Do you like to shop for yourself, even when you don't need anything?" and "Do you think that rich people have a right to spend all their money as they desire?")
Now, how many of you are willing to honestly take the test and find out what part of hell you're going to? Hmmm?
Thursday, October 14, 2004
It took me a total of 9 hours (2:15 - 11:15) to get to Chorley, go to the Temple, attend Institute, and get back to the University. Much of that time, though, was spent just trying to find my way around. First, I didn't quite know how to get to the train station in Lancaster (I know, I know, I've been there before -- but I didn't know how to make it there with the bus). It was really quite easy to find. Then, I had to wait 30 minutes for the next train to Chorley. Then, when I got to Chorley, I had to wait a good 20 or 30 minutes again, just to figure out the best way to get to the Temple. Luckily, the ladies in line behind me knew where it was. Then, I missed the bus I needed, so I had to wait another 10 minutes. THEN, the bus stop where the nice lady told me to get off was actually not the closest, so I had to walk a ways more than I should have. But I finally made it, and they were very nice to me. (Although the man at the recommend counter almost didn't let me in -- "You can't get in with this." -- he was just teasing, of course!).
The Temple is absolutely beautiful! The architecture is very clean and nice, the furnishings inside were gorgeous, and I loved the patterns in the stained glass windows. But, more importantly, the spirit was beautiful too. It felt so good to be there, knowing that this was where I should be, and just generally feeling at peace.
The session got done around 7:45, 15 minutes after Institute had started, but I decided to go over anyway. I ended up in the Presidents of the Church class, which actually looks quite interesting. But now comes the hard part -- getting home. I had checked the schedule before I left, but I had thought that it said the last direct train was at 9:22. In fact, it said 19:22, which is two hours earlier! Oops. One of the girls in my class offered to drive me in to the station, and then she tried to wait with me. When it seemed that the train was a good 10 minutes late, we checked the schedule and found that the next one wasn't coming for another 30 minutes! Rachel had to go back to the stake building, since she had promised to drive some people home, so she left reluctantly. I hung around waiting for the train, which wasn't direct either -- I had to change at Preston -- which meant that it didn't get in to Lancaster until about 10:40. I waited around a few minutes to see if there was a bus going to the university (this time I found the bus stop, which was on the other side of the station than I had been to before). Finally, I decided to call a cab. It was either that or walk into town and take my chances that I would be able to still find a bus from the market to the uni. I opted for the cab, and the certainty of being able to get home. The fare was pretty steep, but I decided it was OK. Apparently the buses from market to uni run until fairly late, I found out, so I'll know that for the next time, I guess.
All in all, it was a good trip. But I'd sure love to be able to get a lift from someone next time!
In other news, I spent several hours yesterday writing a web version of a linguistics lexicon. I'm often annoyed that I can't find definitions of linguistics terms online. So I thought I'd try one out. I don't know that it will ever actually go online, but I thought I'd try it out. It was entertaining.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
OK, so it wasn't really a letter. But it was even better -- it was a package!! :D
And it was one I'd been expecting almost since I got here. I was actually starting to worry that it had gotten lost in the mail. It's a package of books, DVDs, and a few other things that I sent to myself from back home. I was starting to tally up what was in it, and to worry over how much money I would lose if it never came.
But it's here. I repeat, :D !
Same thing happened a little later, during the stylistics lecture. "Gee, I'm sitting in a class in England, listening to a lady from Italy talk about a theory of metaphor that was developed in California."
Other than that weirdness today, I'm doing very well. In fact, the weirdness wasn't a bad thing, either. It was simply a realization that I am doing something that I dreamed about for literally years of my life, and how comfortable I feel doing it, and how great that is.
Tomorrow I don't have any classes, so I am planning to head to the library for a little while and do some reading. There are a few books I don't have that I need/want to look into. I wish I could use it to start some serious work on a writing assignment. But they haven't given us the assignments yet ... grr. They don't give them to us for another two weeks, in fact. Oh well, maybe I'll do a little work on one of my ideas anyway.
Yesterday in our pragmatics class, the tutor used a clip from Monty Python and the Holy Grail to demonstrate performative verbs. :)
Also yesterday, I met a girl from Montana (Missoula, to be exact). She is doing her PhD in Linguistics, and she lives in the house next to me in the Graduate College. We chatted for quite a while, and we decided we'll have to do something this weekend. I know the Graduate Students' Association (GSA hereafter) have organized a trip to Liverpool this Saturday, and the Students' Union (LUSU) have organized a trip to Kendal, so maybe we'll do one of those. One of the ladies on my course also ... invited? ... me to come into town this weekend, so she could show me where some of the good shops are (I had asked her where she found a hole-puncher). So hopefully I'll have something to do this weekend, other than sitting around, reading, IMing, and playing games on the internet (all while listening to OTR shows on Live365.com).
Friday, October 8, 2004
First off, the Linguistics Department is getting / has gotten new furniture and equipment, etc. We now have tables, chairs, and carpet every bit as nice as the English Department downstairs. And even our logo has changed (not to mention the name--Linguistics and Modern English Language (LAMEL) has now changed to just Linguistics and English Language). So, I guess maybe we are a good forum for indoctrinating students with Marxism, feminism, socialism, etc. Or, maybe that kind of stuff isn't based at all on the indoctrination abilities of the staff .... nah, that couldn't be it! ;)
Anyway, classes are going just fine. Most of mine are at 1:00 in the afternoon, which is the hardest time ever for me! It's right after lunch, and I'm always sleepy in those classes. However, most of the classes aren't as hard to take at that time of day as Corpus Linguistics was. The others are a little more entertaining/interesting, and they keep me awake. I did have to buy a Dr. Pepper the other day, though.
Every other week, we have a course meeting. Which means that everyone on my course (read: degree program) meets together to discuss any issues we might have. Concerns. Questions. Social events. You know, that sort of thing. Usually they're run by some student representatives we choose during the first week's meeting. But the first week, since we haven't chosen them yet, it was run by Dr. Papen (the course director) and Marjorie Wood (the dept. secretary, who has a great accent! I love listening to her talk). They went through all the pertinent points, and then Marj asked if we had anything we wanted to talk about before electing representatives. And we talked for at least a good 20 minutes about how the size of the classes was too large. "20 or 30 people in an MA class is just too much!" Wow. Doesn't bother me, especially seeing how I came from a system where that is the norm, even considered small sometimes. They seem to be really bothered by it, though. At least the Europeans. The Asians don't say anything about it. Maybe they come from even larger classes in China and Japan? The other complaint was that "in a class that size, you don't get to participate." Well, that didn't seem to be the problem in my Pragmatics seminar, where no one seemed to want to say anything ... but maybe it's different in the other classes.
Well, after finally settling everyone down on the size of classes, we got to the real meat of the meeting: electing representatives. I volunteered to be a library representative, along with Eirini (from Greece), and this basically means that we get to keep the Common Room tidy and make sure that people put the old MA theses back in the right place when they're done using them. I knew I would have to do something to get myself more involved in the program, and I figured this was the perfect thing. I don't have to be outspoken (at least not that often) when I don't want to be, and I get to sort things -- always something I enjoy. Well, usually at least. And I don't have to think up things for us to do socially, like the social reps have to. And I don't have to go to any more meetings than I otherwise would have to, like the department reps do. And besides, now I get to work with Eirini, and she's really nice.
The content of the courses is ... well, honestly, it's a little less than I was expecting. At least so far. Pragmatics and Corpus Linguistics feel almost like reviews for me so far, and Stylistics seems like a review of the book I read this summer (which was, after all, written by one of the staff members here at Lancs, albeit not the one teaching the Stylistics course). I'm sure things will get a little tougher as time goes on. And the readings will be plent to keep up with, that's for sure.
I can hardly wait to get going on my written assignments. They wait until Week 4 each term to give you the assignments (this is Week 1, by way of reference), and I'm getting anxious for them already. I'm trying to use my extra time right now by doing some research in the library about topics I'm interested in writing about, in case I can use any of it for my assignments. Or my dissertation, for that matter.
Oh, and the other night was Enrichment. It was fun, and it felt good just to know that I was there with the sisters and that I should be there. I had to walk to the church in the dark, though, which was slightly nerve-racking. You never know. And I got to meet my future home teachers. It's a couple who live in the south of Lancaster, which is the closest to the university. They've therefore been given the assignment to "look after" all the university students during the year. They gave me a ride home from the church, and they are very nice. They informed me that Charles Dickens stayed over in Lancaster for a while, and that there's a plaque for him at the King's Arms Inn, near the railway station. Now I have to take a picture! :)
Monday, October 4, 2004
I also bought books today, which was fun. I'm very excited about them.
Today was my first experience with Cornish pasty, too, and that was great. Very yummy. (From what I've experienced so far, I don't think that British food is really so horrible as it's made out to be -- but then, I also don't think it's possible to read Dickens and still believe that all British food is terrible.)
The Linguistics department is right above the English department in Bowland College. Surprisingly, the Linguistics Department doesn't seem to get nearly as much funding as the English Department: their chairs are nicer, their tables are nicer, their carpet is nicer, even their logo is nicer. This seems to hold true for most universities, as far as I can tell. I presume it has something to do with the fact that Linguistics classrooms rarely offer so prime a medium as English classes for the liberal university's agenda of brainwashing students with ideas like socialism/Marxism/communism, feminism, and queer theory. But I digress.
I bought a mini bonsai for my room today, and it makes me very happy. It makes me feel like I have a little Japanese garden growing in my window.
And last, but certainly not least, I got some charts ready outlining pragmatics/semantics and felicity conditions in the Peircean paradigm (as taught by Dr. Manning, of course). Tomorrow I plan to print them, and then I can put them up on my walls. And I need to get a map of England to put up next to my big American flag. :)
Saturday, October 2, 2004
Elder Uchtdorf will no doubt also do a marvelous job, though I know less about him personally. I do know that he's German by birth, though, and that might be interesting to see what sort of things happen in connection with that. I've been trying to remember if it was Elder Uchtdorf or some other general authority whose sister we ran into while I was on my mission. We actually had a contact record for her, but she was a Seventh-Day Adventist and not particularly interested in hearing what we had to say (I'm sure she's heard a lot about it already from him). I have great admiration for people who are able to stay the course when they have family that so strongly disapprove of what they're doing. That would be hard for me in many ways. But, I suppose we all have to learn to stick to our faith around those who think we are kooky, whether they are in our family or elsewhere.
Friday, October 1, 2004
In other news, I took my first real trip into Lancaster city today. I rode in the top of the double-decker bus, and strolled around downtown in the shopping area. Much of it is covered by some sort of, well, covering, which is nice when it's raining (which it frequently does here). And everything, of course, is very close together, which is nice. I found several things that I haven't been able to get on campus, like clothes hangers. I also got some dishes for myself. That is, I got one plate, one bowl, and one cup. I think I'd like another cup so that I can leave one in the kitchen and keep one in my room. And I'd actually like another, for that matter, to keep pens and stuff in. Sometimes I was surprised by how cheap things were, other times I was surprised at how expensive things were. For example, I couldn't find a curling iron for under 25 pounds (which is almost $50). I wouldn't even pay 25 dollars for a curling iron! I also discovered that there's a Clark's shoe shop downtown, which is great! I love Clark's shoes. They had some great boots (which I still think I'll want), but they were pretty expensive. I'll have to keep them in mind.
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Today I had my first real British fish and chips. It was tasty, although a little greasy. They still wrap it in paper (although not newspaper, most places; that is, it's newspaper-like paper that has not been printed on yet), and they generally use haddock for the fish. They put all the little chips (and I do mean little) in the bottom and then put the fish on top of that, which makes the chips get soggier. I think that's supposed to be a good thing...
I also chose my classes today. I'm taking stylistics, pragmatics, and corpus linguistics this term (translated: semester). I'm SO excited for them! Along with these, I also have two required courses. Research Issues in Applied Linguisitics (RIAL) is kind of like a colloquium or senior seminar. That is, there is one particular person in charge of the class, but every week (or few weeks) the person actually teaching class changes. We talk about all kinds of issues in contemporary lingusitics. For the first (or Michaelmas) term, we only really take notes and such. I suppose they want to think too. ... Anyway, in second (or Lent) term, we have to write a paper for the class, but we also only have to attend class four times, or something. They have six or eight different topics going on and we just choose the ones that are of most interest to us personally. The other required class is Academic Discourse Practices. It's run by somebody from the Department of Student Support Services (or something like that), and they just give us help in knowing how to do good research and write well, etc. That one extends over all three terms (that is, Michaelmas, Lent, and Easter), but it's not exactly required. We can skip some classes if we don't feel they're especially relevant, and I don't think we have to do any assessment (read: test). It's also the only class we have during Easter term, as we are supposed to be mainly writing our dissertations (read: theses) by that time.
I'm hoping to do some writing today. Maybe a more detailed account of my arrival here in England, maybe some criticism and thoughts on A Tale of Two Cities, maybe something completely different. Who knows!
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
I'm infinitely sorry that this post is so amazingly long, but I wanted to let you all know what's been going on, partly because I thought I was funny (especially in retrospect). I'm considering writing it up in more detail, but that might turn out to be the size of a small story, so if I actually do it, you may not want to read it anyway. :)
OK, the short version of the story is this:
Friday, I arrived at Gatwick, took the train to Lancaster, and then found a hotel. All the hotels in Lancaster were full up for the entire weekend, so I had to stay the night in Garstang, a little village not too far from Preston. That’s when I started having money troubles, but I won’t bother all of you with the details right now. Suffice it to say, that the money troubles were many and numerous. In the morning, things seemed to be looking up — I actually managed to pay for the hotel room! — so I ordered a taxi to take me to campus, thinking that we could stop along the way to get some cash from an ATM. However, my card didn’t work. Eventually, he had to let me out, at the Safeway supermarket in Garstang. I had only a few pence left, and after exhausting all the possibilities I could think of, I decided to go sit outside with my luggage and try to think of other options. There, I cried a little and prayed a lot, and finally two ladies came out of the market and asked me if I were all right. I tearfully explained what was going on, and then remembered that I still had some Euros left from my last trip to France. So I asked them where I could get those changed. One of them stayed with my luggage while the other walked into town with me, and I got the money changed. Then they told me where to get on the bus that would take me to the University, which I did. Luckily, there was a guy on the bus who works at the University, and he helped me take my luggage up to the Graduate College (my residence). So, then I was settled in and had a place to stay.
During the next few days, money troubles continued, but they were all right. When I got to campus on Saturday, I still had about 10 pounds with me. I bough some supper and then settled in to hope that things would get worked out by Monday.
Sunday I found the local ward of the Church and attended. I unfortunately didn’t arrive until just after the sacrament had been passed, so I didn’t get to take it. But the members of the ward were very friendly, and one family even invited me to have dinner with them.
Monday I collected my check from my private loan. However, I couldn’t cash it yet, because it would take about six weeks to get it turned over. So, I called Mom and Dad and asked them to put some more money in my account at home so that I could get it out of the ATM here.
Tuesday morning, I registered and then tried the ATM again — no luck! By this time, I had a little over 3 pounds left, and I was beginning to be worried that I might not be able to eat for three more weeks. But, after attending some of my orientation activities for the Linguistics Department, I tried the ATM once more, and it worked. Yay!! I celebrated by getting Indian food for supper, and then by buying a bedding pack — never in my life until last night did I fully comprehend the true joy and felicity of having a blanket and pillow. (To my delight, the bedding pack even came with a duvet cover, which the people at the Students’ Union didn’t think it would. And my pillow cases fit the pillow.)
**NB: some people have been asking, so I'll tell you here that I had been using some folded up shirts stuffed into a pillow case for my pillow, and my big, long winter coat for a blanket.**
Today I got my computer to work. That is, it has power. I still haven’t gotten the internet connected to it yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll be in touch more frequently, and I’ll be able to provide more detail to the story of my arrival if you wish.
All in all, things here are wonderful! I love the British people already, I find them very friendly and helpful. And of course, it’s fun listening to all the different accents. Today I called Dell Customer Support in the UK, and I got a little Irish girl. The other day at the bank, the finance officer told me to “pop your details on that form, hand it to your accommodation officer, and then pop it over to me.” And last night, the porter asked me to “sign there, love” when I got my bedding pack. It’s fun.
(Break of about ... well, a few hours.)
Today I ventured into the library. I had to go there yesterday to get my library/ID card and some stuff from ISS (Information Systems Services) and so on, but today I really went in. I got a book, even.
I’m really not sure what cataloging system they use, but it is certainly not the Dewey Decimal System (thank heavens!) or the Library of Congress system (for obvious reasons), although it is more similar to the latter. Naturally, Linguistics, English lit, and English are on the top floor. Is there some law of the universe that I am personally unaware of, demanding that the Linguistics section in every library on earth must be on the top floor?
Anyway, I found the book. I have already run almost completely dry of things to read while I’m here (at least until my package of books and DVDs arrives, which should be in another week or two), and the last book I read was A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, which I adored! So, I decided to see what else I could find by him. I ended up getting Sketches by Boz. I always enjoy having some good short stories around, and I also generally enjoy reading early work by my favorite authors, for comparison with their later works.
Once I had found the book (which wasn’t too difficult, thanks to my many years of experience at the BYU library), I then had to find the checkout desk. Not as easy as you might think. I first looked around on the ground floor for something labeled ‘Check-Out’, but to no avail. Apparently it’s not called that here in England. So, then I went in to the bathroom instead (nature was calling), and while I was there, pulled out my map of the library. I scrutinized everything on it, trying to find something that might substitute checkout. I finally found something called ‘Loan and Return.’ That sounded likely, so I went there. It was the right place.
Things are settling in quite well now. My next big tasks are to try to get my internet connected in my room, and to make sure I keep things going with my loan money so that I can continue to live and study. Right now I’m going to work on the internet problem. Later tonight (when the banks in America are open), I will be trying to call the bank again to make sure they can do a wire transfer of my loan money.
Well, then ... Cheers for now!