Friday, October 29, 2004

an interesting day

Today I didn't have any classes, so what did I do instead? Well, for most of the day, I did what I do every day. No, that's not trying to take over the world. That means sitting around in my room, surfing the internet, listening to OTR or music, and doing some studying.

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


I could have sworn that I had updated this more recently, but I guess not.

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

new website

Today I finally got my website up and running on the Lancaster University server. To get to it, follow the link below (which I will also add to my links on the sidebar).

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

shabbat tov

I had a great day today! First, I got to teach the Relief Society lesson on the sacrament and Sacrament Meeting, which was wonderful. It made for a really productive week, as I kept reading and re-reading the materials and thinking more and more about the significance of the sacrament. I'm afraid that it didn't hit home as strongly as I would have liked, but I'm trusting the Lord on this one, that He touched those who needed it most.

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

Green and Gold Ball

Well, I did it. I went to the Green and Gold Ball. Or rather, the Gold and Green Ball. That's what they called it out here, but I seem to remember it being called the Green and Gold Ball. Whatever.

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

i found this hilarious!

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
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

the Preston Temple ... finally!

Well, today I made it to the Temple for the first time. I thought I'd go today, so that I could just go to institute right afterward -- that way I got two things done on the same ticket!

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!

i made a boo-boo!

So, I got up this morning and showered. I listened to a little George Burns and Gracie Allen, and I checked my email. And then I left to go to my first class. I started up the campus, and as I went along, all of a sudden, I realized that I was an hour late! Yes, since last night I'd been thinking that my first class of the day was at 11:00. But it's at 10:00. Oops!

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

"I just got a letter! I just got a letter! Wonder who it's from?"

(50 points to whoever can tell me what that quote is from!)

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 !

feelin' fine

Before my stylistics class today I was sitting out in the "mixing bay" reading a little, eating my lunch, and listening to a girl talk to her friend about her nieces and nephews, and suddenly I thought, "Wow. This is weird. Here I am in England, sitting here surrounded by British people, on an MA course in Linguistics, and feeling very much at home. How'd I get here anyway?"

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

Friday, October 8, 2004

first week of classes

OK, so I have on more class to go to ... but it's a support module, which means I don't really _have_ to go to it, and there's really not much work I have to do for it or anything. So, I figure this is as good a time as any to write about the first week as a whole.

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

first day of classes

Well, it was a good day, all in all. Mondays are my busiest days this term, as I have three classes, taking 4 hours in all. The university system out here tends to split each class into two parts, the lecture and the seminar. The seminar is interactive, and students are expected to actually think and contribute. But during the lecture, you just sit there and listen to the professor speak for 50 minutes. That's it. Just listen. Wow. It's like Unisom personified. My 1:00 class is especially hard, as I'm already rather tired during that time anyway. And then the teacher actually read his lecture for today. That is, he had it all written out, and he would look at it, and then look up and re-phrase (presumably) what he wanted to say. Not very intellectually stimulating, to say the least. I think he's a rather new teacher, and I hope he gets better with the term.
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

new general authorities

I was just listening to the first session of General Conference, but I got there late. So I didn't get to hear the beginning and the announcement of the new Apostles who have been called. But during President Faust's talk, I heard him welcome Elder Uchtdorf and Elder Bednar to the Council of the Twelve. I was so excited, and trying not to be, just in case there was another Elder Bednar somewhere that I didn't know about. But as soon as Conference ended, I learned that it was indeed Elder David A. Bednar who has been called. I'm so excited. I have admired Elder Bednar ever since I was a student at Ricks College, where he has been President of the school since 1997, the year I started there. He is one of my all-time favorite speakers, and now I will get to hear him twice every year, along with millions of other people. I know we shouldn't have favorite general authorities -- and really, with all the other wonderful authorities we have, especially in the Quorum of the Twelve, I couldn't declare a favorite, even now -- but I must admit that I am particularly elated to hear about this calling. He will do the Church an enormous service in this capacity.


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

desperate plea for help

I just finished reading A Tale of Two Cities the other day, and I am desperate to discuss it with someone! Please, if anyone has read it and would be willing to discuss it with me, drop me a line. Or, if anyone knows of a good website for discussing literature, specifically A Tale of Two Cities, let me know.

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.