Monday, December 19, 2005

squeaky clean music

I'm really frustrated, because I spent a good, long time updating my blog earlier, but before I could get it published, Firefox malfunctioned and had to close down.

This morning I finished the two-day task of cleaning out my music files. I had collected about 15 gigs of music, and since I only have about 25G on my hard drive, I figured it was time to get rid of some of it. It's now down to about 11G. The task is not complete yet, since I still plan burn some music onto CDs (stuff like Christmas music that I don't listen to a lot but still want), but it sure feels good to have that much of it done.

I've been feeling really awful the last few days, with a terrbile cold. At least I think it's a cold, but it's quite different from my usual cold. Yesterday I even had my home teachers come over to give me a blessing. I felt silly getting a blessing for a cold, but it has seemed to help -- I feel a lot better today.

Right now I'm watching Going My Way with Bing Crosby on TCM. Bing is the star of the month, but I've seen very little on TCM with him in it. Tonight, though, they're showing three of his classic films, including Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary's. It's making me pine for some >Road movies.

The last quote was from The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Acting is acting like you're not acting! (28 points)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

graduating in England

Dad and I had a good time in England. Once we actually got there. We both were delayed getting to Chicago, where we were supposed to meet up for the same flight to Manchester. We had to stay over in Chicago for a night to take thse same flight one day later, but that turned out to be fine. We got really well acquainted with the international terminal of the O'Hare airport, that's all.

We got to Lancaster on Saturday. Riding the train from Manchester, I kept feeling like I was coming home again. Everything was just so familiar and comfortable.

On Sunday we went to church at the Lancaster ward, where I got to give the opening prayer in sacrament meeting and lead the closing hymn in Relief Society. I also got lots of hugs and got to introduce Dad to many of the ward. Vic and Sue Kureczko had invited Denise and Diana to dinner for that afternoon, and they asked us to come along as well. That made me very happy, because I really love spending time with Vic and Sue, and I also wanted Dad to get to know them a little, since they were such an important part of my life in Lancaster.

Monday was my graduation day. We spent about an hour in the morning doing a little shopping downtown, where I managed to find really good presents for Margo, Erin, and Kimberly. I was so excited about them! I could hardly wait for them to open their presents. :) But I still had about 48 hours before that, so ... Instead I showered and got pretty for graduation, and then Dad and I headed up to campus around noon. I got my robes and got dressed, and we went back to the Linguistics Department for our reception. (It was here that I fatally heard the song "Happy Christmas" by John Lennon. More about that later.) We got to speak to Jonathan and Elena, as well as Marj and a lot of the students who were there with me on the same course. I got pictures with them as well, some of which I've posted below.

me with Jonathan Culpeper (who supervised my dissertation)

me in Alexandra Park at Lancaster University

The graduation ceremony started at 3:00, so I had to be in my place by 2:00. Unfortunately, they didn't have the information that I would be attending, so I had to get them to squeeze me in to the line somewhere. I ended up with all the LLM graduands (as they're called in England), so I didn't have anyone near me that I knew. The girl next to me was really nice, though, so that made things better. (Oh, LLM is a Master's law degree, by the way.)

The ceremony itself was quite ... ceremonious. We had a knight and a princess present. Princess Alexandra, is a cousin to Queen Elizabeth, and she's nearly the same age as the Queen. She helped Lancaster University get its charter back in 1964 and served as Chancellor to the university from 1964 to 2004. At the end of the calendar year 2004 she retired from this (largely ceremonial) position, and Sir Christian Bonington took her place. Sir Christian is, I just learned, a famous mountaineer, and as Chancellor, he is the one all the graduands get to shake hands with when crossing the stage. I couldn't even tell, personally, which one was Princess Alexandra until after we had all walked, and she stood to receive an honorary doctorate in Music. There was a lot of standing up and sitting down, and there were trumpet fanfares when the academic procession entered and left the hall ... very ceremonious, as I said. Oh, and we also sang the first verse of the British national anthem right before the academic procession left the Great Hall. (I did sing along, in case anyone was wondering.)

That night, I went to sleep around 9:30, being very tired. I only slept a few hours, though, and woke up again just after midnight. I laid there for a while, found that I had John Lennon's "Happy Christmas" in my head, and eventually got up to sit in the bathroom and read a Georgette Heyer book I had bought on Saturday. After an hour or so of this, I got back in bed, closed my eyes and tried to think of nothing. Instead, I found I still had "Happy Christmas" running constantly through my mind. Try as I might to get it out, it just stuck like glue. After a few more hours, I got up and went back into the bathroom to read again. Eventually Dad got up -- apparently he was worried about me, sitting in the bathroom so long, and that woke him. He let me turn the light on again, so I got back in bed and read for a few more hours. Around 5:45, I finally fell asleep again. Unfortunately, we were planning to get up at 6:00 that morning to catch the train to the airport. Dad woke me around 6:40, and I happily still managed to get everything together all right.

We caught our train just fine, but it kept getting delayed on our way to Manchester. It seemed to barely crawl along most of the time, and I was getting pretty annoyed with them. Finally, they decided to terminate the service at Manchester Piccadilly, so we had to get out there and wait for the next train. That meant that we got to the airport around 9:15 instead of 8:45, and my plane was scheduled to leave at 10:00. Even after arriving there, we still had to go find the terminal, which took another 15 minutes. When I finally got to the American Airlines counter, the man asked me where I was going, and I said Boston. He looked at me and said, "You're joking?" Nope, I sure wasn't! He took me over to another lady, explained that I was going to Boston. She looked at him, looked at me, and asked, "You're joking?" When I managed to convince that I was not trying to play a very terrible prank on them, they got me a boarding pass and asked one of the security guys to take me down to the gate express. (Naturally, my bag was subjected to a random search on the way there.) We got to the gate before they had finished boarding, so it wasn't too awful. My flight was rather uneventful (except that the girl next to me got up to use the bathroom twice), and things were quite nice when I got to Boston. I hadn't checked any baggage, so I got through passport control and customs very quickly and had plenty of time left to get to my gate, have some lunch, and even finish grading my students' papers.

My roommates picked me up in Dallas, and we stopped off and had some dinner on the way home. It turns out that Erin and our friends Matt and Kimberly were going to see King Kong at the midnight show, and they had one ticket left. After a long struggle with myself, I decided to go with them. We enjoyed it immensely. It was very intense, and I found myself squirming in my seat a lot. I really love Jack Black, though, and he was wonderful in this role. The special effects were fantastic, too. All in all, we had a good time.

The last quote was from Dickens's "A Christmas Carol."

"I have a plan."
"Oh, you have a plan. You, who are practically incapable of any thought entering your head that is not - trivial."
(13 points)

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

nothing particular

Well, here I am. I really wanted to post today mostly so that I could inform my acquaintance that I have a new desktop/wallpaper picture. It has a picture of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby from one of the "Road to" films (I'm not sure which one). I found it on this great website called Great stuff.

Bing Crosby is this month's star on TCM, and we enjoyed that thoroughly last night. We watched the end of a film called Going Hollywood, then Pennies from Heaven was on. "Pennies from Heaven" is one of my favorite songs, and it was fun to see and hear it in its world premiere context. After that, they had two of the "Road to" shows (Singapore and Zanzibar, the first two), and then they played three Bob Hope movies to fill up the wee hours of the night. I really wanted to watch Bob, but I knew I was too tired to stay up for long, so I decided to sleep in the living room with the TV on all night. That way, I reasoned, if I woke up during the night, I would have some Bob Hope to watch. I didn't wake up at all, and I woke this morning with a terrible headache. (Now that I think about it, we probably could have recorded the movies, but I didn't think of that at the time. It was late.)

I'm getting excited to go to England in two days. :) I need to spend the rest of the day here trying to finish up some of my work so that I'll be ready to leave then. I have lots of writing to do for the Teaching Composition class I had at the beginning of the semester -- we have to turn in a Writer's Notebook, but it is due at the end of the semester instead of in the middle, when the class actually ended. So now I have to finish up all that work. I also have to work on a set of phonology problems, and continue reading about syntax for my online Linguistics class (which I really wish I hadn't taken).

Somehow, this all reminded me that I wanted to tell Elizabeth in particular about our cool friend Andrew. Andrew is in our singles ward down here, and he's a Thurber. His last name is Thurber. Right after I first met him, I asked if he might be related to James Thurber, and to my surprise he said he was. Just the other day I was talking to his dad about it too, and he says they're related to James on two different lines. In fact, Myron (Andrew's dad) has all kinds of genealogy and family history information about the Thurbers, which has never been published. Having read some Thurber and seen a few pictures, I can see the resemblance in both Myron and Andrew -- both their looks and their humor remind me of James.

Well, I suppose I'd better get along now. The last quote was from The Spanish Prisoner, a movie I really enjoy. It's by David Mamet, who also did The Winslow Boy (thanks, Emily!). The full quote is actually, "It just shows to go ya, you never know who anybody is."

This next quote is from one of my all-time favorite works. I just ran across it again the other day, and I have a new appreciation for it now, having been to St. Paul's Churchyard, which is undoubtedly one of the most "breezy" spots on the face of the planet.

If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot -- say Saint Paul's Churchyard for instance -- literally to astonish his son's weak mind. (32 points)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

home again

I had a super time in Kansas and Oklahoma City this week. I feel very much like part of Margo's family now -- they were all wonderful! I'm really happy for Warren and Rachael, too, and I'm sure they'll be very happy together. Rachael has such a fun sense of humor, and she and Warren are really fun together.

On Thursday we went over to Margo's Aunt Shelly's house, and there I realized that I had lived with Margo's cousin Kristie for a semseter at BYU. It was the one semester before I left for my mission. It was an odd coincidence, but I spent Thanksgiving in part with one of my roommates from six years ago. It was fun to see Kristie again, and it made me remember all kinds of fun things that happened that semester.

Friday we drove down to Oklahoma City, and the next morning Warren and Rachael got married. (Warren is Margo's older brother.) Margo's grandfather is currently serving as first counselor in the presidency at the Oklahoma City temple, and they have a condo right across the street from the temple. We had a little luncheon there for the family and a few friends who had come for the sealing. President and Sister Hill (Margo's grandparents) had invited the other members of the temple presidency to come over in the afternoon whenever they had time, to have some lunch. When the president and his wife came over, there were very few of us left. Sister Hill convinced Margo to play the piano for us, and at one point when everyone else was out of the room, a slightly uncomfortable silence fell, and I decided I'd best make some conversation. So I asked President Gillespie how things were over there. I really meant just over there by the window, where he and Sister Gillespie were eating. But he assumed I meant over there at the temple, so he started in to a long discussion of how this was one of the best assignments they'd had. He said they really enjoyed it because they could work together in this calling, where in all of their other callings, they hadn't really been able to. In the middle of this conversation, I began to realize that President Gillespie is also Elder Gillespie -- Elder H. Aldridge Gillespie of the Quorum of Seventy. I thought it was kind of funny, because it made me think how differently I would have behaved if I had realized that right away, but at the same time there was nothing at all wrong with the way I did behave. I was just much more relaxed and informal with them than I would otherwise have been. And President Gillespie seemed to really enjoy Margo's playing. A lot.

That night we slept at Margo's grandparents' condo. They put out an air mattress for us, and we put on a movie and lay in bed watching it. It was a great movie, Maytime, with Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDonald. I really liked it a lot! I wish that I could find it sometime so that all my friends can watch it. Until then, I guess I'll have to be content with the knowledge that Margo has seen it and can share all the little jokes with me.

The last quote was, indeed, Bob Hope. Congrats to Elizabeth, who gets 53 points (10 off for not knowing the exact source).

It just shows to go ya. (28 points -- another of those things that I always wish others were familiar with so I could share the joke, so if you know it, be sure and tell me and we'll be much closer friends!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

recent activities and Thanksgiving plans

All right, I know it's been close to forever since I posted, so I decided it's about time.

This morning I took Erin to the airport. She let me drive Sweetie (her new Scion) down to DFW and back. What an adventure! I've always enjoyed driving, and it's been a long time since I have, so that was nice. Plus, there were a couple of incidents that could have been much more serious than they were, so I was grateful to get home in one piece. I said a little prayer of thanksgiving. :)

Right now I'm watching Matlock on TV. Mysteries always make me happy, so that means I'm feeling pretty happy. Besides that, I'm having a great time procrastinating some of my more pressing schoolwork. I have at least three minor to major projects that I need to work on during Thanksgiving break, and I keep telling myself that I ought to be working on them now, but I just don't have the oomph to do it. I have to get them all done by Dec. 6, though, so that I don't have to worry about them once I'm ready to leave for England on Dec. 8.

For Thanksgiving, I'm going up to Kansas with Margo. I'm looking forward to meeting her family, and I also get to see two (count 'em, two!) new states. I've never been to Kansas before, and on Friday we're going to Oklahoma as well, where Margo's brother is getting married. Should make for a fun rest of the week. I'm a little sad that we'll have to miss our ward on Sunday, but beggars can't be choosers and all that. Plus, I'm actually looking forward to spending a Sunday in a family ward and seeing some new faces and all.

Speaking of church, I had a tithing settlement interview on Sunday, and the bishop did something I've always hated and dreaded. After talking about my tithing and making sure my records are correct, he asked me (and I quote): "Have you met any young men?" I really wasn't sure what to say to that. Sure, I've met plenty of guys here, but did he really expect me to tell him who I'm crushing on? What would he have if I had given him somebody's name? What makes it worse, I specifically asked Margo, and she says he didn't ask her about it. Does this mean that he's specifically concerned about me? that he knows of someone who's interested? I'm probably making a bigger deal about this than I need to, but I just can't help wondering.

Well, I suppose I'll get going now. I don't have anything else mildly interesting to say, and you're probably all bored to tears already anyway.

The last quote was from Clue, a movie that I just love! Tim Curry has always cracked me up, and he's especially wonderful in that one.

I'll have to kiss this girl because she's got just the kind of lips I love: one on top and one on bottom. (63 points, since this is a rather obscure one)

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Halloween weekend has been interesting. On Friday, Erin took me to go get the finishing touches for me costume, and that night we all went to a YSA dance in Hearst (about 45 mins away). The dance ended at midnight, and after that we decided to go to IHOP. However, Matt got us a little lost on the way back to Denton, and we took quite the detour through the heart of Dallas. We finally got to IHOP around 1:45, and we got back to our apartment about 3:00. That was not a good decision -- I'm still recovering from it!

On Saturday we mostly hung around in the apartment, recuperating. We got a couple of Hitchcock films from the UNT Media Library and watched those. In the evening we went to the Institute Halloween Party. We hung out there for about an hour or so, and then we all went over to Matt's house to watch Rope, another Hitchcock film. The Hitchcock touch is very apparent in that one.

Sunday we had been invited over to have dinner with some friends of ours in the ward, Nikki and Lauren. They fed us Hawaiian Haystacks, which was very good, and we had a fun conversation afterward. Nikki is fast becoming one of my favorite people in our ward.

Despite sleeping in quite a bit both Saturday and Sunday, I still have not fully recovered from Friday's lat night, as previously mentioned. In my first class this morning, one of my students even commented on it: "Wow, you look tired! Are you OK?" Well, at least I know they care about my well-being, huh?

Oh! and it rained today, too, which is always welcome, especially here in Texas. I had to walk through it in the rain to go to Institute today, and that was wonderful!

All right, here's the moment I know you've all been waiting for -- drumroll please! -- the pictures of my goth costume. (Well, all right, it's really only one, at least for right now.) I must add that I had a super time being gothic, and I have some fun stories about shopping at Hot Topic.

And finally, a great quote for the day. The last one was specifically from School of Rock, a hilarious movie.
"To make a long story short --" "Too late." (23 points)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

just cuz

This Sunday my roommates and I all stayed at home and just hung out. We haven't done that in a long time, and it was nice to just relax and have all that time. Not that we don't enjoy having people over, or going to other people's houses, but it's always nice to have a little change. We played Trouble, which Erin won, and then lots of Boggle, which Erin definitely won too. She's disturbingly good at that game. I might not be able to play with her any more.

I'm getting really excited for Halloween, but unfortunately my roommates this year aren't into it that much. I hadn't enjoyed Halloween much for several years, until I lived with Katie and Holly. Between the two of them, you would have thought Halloween was the biggest event of the entire year. Anyway, I couldn't get either Erin or Margo to take me over to Kroger last night for a pumpkin to carve. I might have to just do it on my own during the next day or two.

I also really need to get going on my costume. Ever since I went to Whitby last Halloween, I've been planning on dressing up as a Goth for this year. I have been intending to go out to Hot Topic at the mall and buy some clothes for that, but I haven't gotten to it yet. For one thing, I was hoping Erin would come with so that (1) I could ride in her car and wouldn't have to worry about taking the bus, and (2) I would have some moral support while I was in the store trying things on. That store still just makes me nervous, even though I've been in there several times before and have always found the people (especially the employees) to be super-nice. I guess it's just a little too far out of my comfort zone. But, the point is, I may have to go by myself tomorrow afternoon anyway. And hope they still have clothes left that fit me.

The last quote was from Chicken Run -- good job Paul and Elizabeth.

Those who can't do, teach. And those who can't teach, teach gym. (20)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

the weekend

Last night we went to our friend Matt's house. His family lives in Corinth, just a few miles south of Denton, and they let us come over all the time and feed us good food. His mom was making ribs last night for dinner, and she let us come and join them. Boy, was it good! After that we watched Sahara with her on DVD. Much better than I had been expecting. (I also figured out last night why it is that I always have to go to the bathroom so much at Matt's -- it's because I always go over there and drink all their Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper. :))

After that we went back into Denton and met our friend Andrew at the mall to see Redeye at the cheap-o theater. Kimberly and I enjoyed it a lot (partly because we really like Cillian Murphy), but pretty much everyone else felt that it was ... what were the words? ... I believe they said, "The worst movie I have ever seen." Yeah, that's right. To be honest, it wasn't that great, but I wasn't expecting it to be any better than that. After all, it was a rather low-budget thriller movie -- how much can you really expect from those these days?

Oh, yeah, and tonight is the ward Hay Ride. Whoopee! They're planning to give us hot chocolate ... I'm not sure how necessary that will be, since it's currently 74 degrees.

Now, the most important thing is, we have to work as a team. Which means, you do everything I say. (18)

Yesterday's quote was, indeed, from Batman Begins. I am going to try really hard from now on to use quotes that my roommates won't have an advantage in. Though, I was trying to do that last time, and it turned out that Margo remembered I had said earlier that day how excited I was the Batman Begins was out on DVD. Hmm. I obviously have to be much more careful, eh?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

another update

So, life here has been pretty hectic lately. However, this is the celebratory week of the semester, since my nasty six-hour-a-week graduate class on teaching composition is over now. YIPPEEE!!!!

On the other hand, that also means that this is now the middle of the semester, and classes are starting to get a lot harder. I have a Phonology test in a week and a half, and I need to start going on memorizing (and understanding) a whole bunch of phonological features and phonological processes. Yikes! That's what's got me most worried right now.

I am starting work on a new website that I would like to use for supplemental materials for the classes I teach. I'm trying to see if I can get it up to speed so that I can use it for next semester when I teach 1320. Speaking of which, I'm very excited about 1320, since it is more literature-based and has fewer actual papers for the students to write (or for me to grade).

Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society's understanding. (21 points)

P.S. I forgot to tell you the answers from the last post.
(1) "Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up." --The Princess Bride
(2) a word that is 'sandwiched' in another word (e.g., scrumdiddlyumptious) --tmesis
(3) "She foresaw that she was doomed to a lonely spinsterhood." --Gerogette Heyer, Regency Buck (BTW, I decided to give Emily 20 points for that, since she did know it was Heyer, just not which book it was.)

Friday, October 7, 2005

a new life, a new template, and a new scoreboard

Well, here is. Welcome to my re-designed blog. Happily, this one renders correctly. Let's hope that lasts.

I'm also starting the scoreboard over again. Congrats to Kimberly for winning on the last one. And congrats to Emily, for getting the Henry V quote from the last post. The final score stand as follows:

  • Kimberly: 465

  • Erin: 437

  • Paul: 279

  • Elizabeth: 263

  • Donovan: 205

  • Emily: 178

  • Margo: 107

  • Amber: 50

  • Christina: 10

We'll now start over on the points. Let me explain the rules again ... "No, there is too much. Let me sum up." (15 points for that one)

  • If you know the answer, post it to my blog. Answers will not be awarded points if submitted in person, in emails, or by any other method.

  • Even if someone else has already answered, you can still get points. (We're on the honor system here; if you say you know it, I believe you.)

  • However, you can't look the quote up. You have to know it in your head without help from others (the Internet is an other).

  • Points will no longer be awarded retro-actively; in other words, you can only get points for the quote in the current post.

In other news, a cold front has swept into the Denton area, and I've been having a fandiddlytastic time with it. (An extra 60 points if you know the term for a word embedded within another word, e.g. 'fandiddlytastic'.) I wore my black boots, black raincoat, and black Harry Lime scarf. Boy, did that feel good!

She foresaw that she was doomed to a lonely spinsterhood. (40 points)

Thursday, October 6, 2005

a new post, for Erin

Erin has been telling me that I need to post something new, so here it is.

Today has been bee-yutiful weather here. If you remember, when I lived in Lancaster, the phrase meant that the sun was out and it was over 60 degrees. Here in Denton, it means almost the opposite: the sun is not shining, the temperature is under 70. I was actually cold today when I went to Curves, and I was even wearing a long-sleeved shirt! The temperature was around 63 today, and the sun was nowhere visible. Oh, it was wonderful! It reminded me of school at Ricks College.

The other day I got my first paycheck from the university for teaching my composition sections. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I'm being paid twice as much for this job as I thought I was. Yay! That means I can afford to do things like getting a Roth IRA, and buying some clothes.

Now, though, I'm starting (already!) to get worried about the need for a summer job. I'm not sure yet whether or not I'll be going to school this summer, but I know I'll need a job. Dr. Raign reccommended that we apply at the local community colleges, but I don't have a car, and it'll be difficult to get that far to work every day. I have also been planning to start selling Pre-Paid Legal, but I'm not sure I can get that working for me enough to support myself in the summer. I'm going to have to give this some serious consideration.

Also, I just was looking at the website for the local community theater, and it made me think that I need to go see them about working as a techie backstage. They're about to hold auditions (Oct. 30-31) for Romeo and Juliet, which they'll be performing in January.

Oh! and my most exciting news. I'm going to England for a few days in December for my graduation. I bought the tickets on Sunday, and now I'm waiting to see if my dad or my friend Katie wants to come with me. Katie says she wants to, but she has to get some extra personal days off work, so she's waiting for approval from the powers that be.

You'll be interested to see that there's a new contender on the points board. Welcome, Kimberly! Kimberly is a friend of ours here in Denton, and she's studying for her Master's in Library Science (just like Erin, which is how they met). She's already out-stripped Erin on points, mainly due to the fact that she got my quote from Holiday Inn, which earned her 380 points off the bat.

At the suggestion and insistence of several persons (Erin among them), I am going to re-set the point board. But not until tomorrow. I thought I'd give you some fair warning before doing that, and a farewell quote.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. (30 points)

Monday, September 26, 2005

the results are in!

And they're good! I got a 76 on my dissertation (remember, anything above a 70 is an A grade at Lancaster). That means I also earned an overall distinction for my Master's degree, and that's definitely a good thing. :)

Erin wants me to mention her, so I just did. She is sitting on the couch behind me while I type this. I also have to just say that Erin is one of the best roommates I've ever had. She makes life very entertaining, and she's really mellow and laid-back about roommate-y issues (like clutter in the room, or who gets the bathroom when, or whose turn it is to do the dishes).

A couple of weeks ago, I had a really wacky dream about my classes, in which Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart were listed on my roll. Cary came, but Jimmy was absent that day. So when I went to teach that day, I told my students about it, and I was quite surprised by the reaction it got: "Who's Cary Grant?" Wow. The things my students don't know sometimes really shock me. I plan to show them a clip from a Cary Grant movie soon, in an effort to educate them for life and broaden their horizons -- while at the same time teaching them how to write, of course.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

eagerly awaiting ...

Assuming that Marj (the Linguistics Department secretary at Lancaster University) was nice and not overly annoyed by my early email and those of dozens of other eager Master's students, I should have an email waiting for me tomorrow to announce the results of my Master's dissertation. I'll be sure to let you all know right away as soon as I learn anything.

I have to get up extra early tomorrow morning so that I have time to go over to the media library on campus and check out 'Shrek'. I want to use the "ogres-are-like-onions-because-they-have-layers" clip tomorrow in my composition classes. We're doing a pracitce peer review in my classes, and I want to first discuss all the different layers of writing (e.g., grammar, spelling, wording, ideas, organization, etc.) and make sure the students understand that peer reviewing is much more than just saying that someone spelled a word wrong. Although I suppose I should check the media library's hours first, just to make sure they'll actually be there when I plan to be.

Monday, September 5, 2005

life in Texas

Well, here I am in Texas, and we finally just got our router working the other day so that I can get internet access on my own computer (instead of using Erin's to check my email, etc).

The first week of school was pretty hard to take. I just feel so disorganized and unprepared for everything, and it has already caused some small trouble. Luckily, with this being Labor Day, I've got some time to get myself organized and prepared before anything else really major comes up.

I am teaching two sections of Freshman Composition, which is a challenge. Along with that, I'm taking three graduate courses: one in teaching composition (which only lasts half the semester, thank heavens!), one in phonology (which makes me feel like a linguist again, since lots of other things are making me feel more like an English major these days), and one online course in principles of linguistics.

My roommate's family was wonderful in donating lots of furniture to us when we moved in to our new, unfurnished apartment. That means that all three of have beds (halelujah!), and we have a couch, a kitchen table and chairs, and lots of dishes and cleaning supplies. My other roommate also bought a washer and dryer, so we have our own laundry facilities, which is also great.

We are living just a few blocks away from campus, so we can walk to classes and to institute and church. I'm taking a church history institute class, which I'm pretty excited for. Also, all three of us just got callings at church yesterday. Margo is the ward pianist and Erin is a family history consultant. I'm either a Visiting Teaching supervisor or coordinator -- there was a slight confusion, and the RS president wasn't there, so we couldn't ask her. I haven't been set apart yet, and we'll wait until next week so that we can be sure I get set apart as the right thing. Either way, though, I'm feeling pretty happy about that calling. I do love Visiting Teaching, even though I'm not always great about getting it down, and I think it's frequently misunderstood and underused. And besides, I think it will take a lot less effort and time than many of the callings I've had recently -- no ward council meetings, no conducting RS meetings, etc.

Last, but not least, here's the movie I just finished watching on TV:
A man in a really nice capmer wants to put our song on the radio! (76 points)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Travelling to Texas

I am here sitting in our hotel room in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Dad’s on the phone with Mom, who claims to have been sitting by the phone waiting for our call, though we don’t quite believe her. Last night we stayed in Blanding, Utah, and this morning we went to church there. That means we got a later start today, and then we went to both Four Corners monument and Monument Valley. Dad was pretty excited about the latter of these, as there were apparently some great westerns filmed there. His favorite of those is She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, a John Ford film starring John Wayne. We stopped several times to take pictures. We were hoping to make it to Tucumcari, New Mexico, tonight, but with our late start, we decided that was just a bit too far. Tomorrow we will be going through Amarillo on our way to Denton, where I will be installed in a hotel for the rest of the week to wait for Erin and Margo to show up. On Friday we will then move into our new apartment. I just hope I don’t get bored to death waiting for that day.

My dissertation

I haven’t written much during the summer, as I’ve mostly been very busy with other things. I sent off my dissertation last Thursday, which was a great feeling. I felt like there should be someone there taking my picture at the post office while I handed it over.

I had the devil of a time of it getting my dissertation printed in the first place, actually. I had forgotten until Thursday morning that it had to be printed and handed in on A4 paper. A4 is the standard letter-size paper throughout Europe, but we don’t use it here in the States. I knew before I left England that it would have to be printed on A4 paper, but I didn’t think it would be a big deal. And, unfortunately, I had forgotten about that detail until Thursday. I called around to a few places to find out if anyone sold A4 (which they don’t), and got hold of someone at Falls Printing who suggested that I print it on 11x14 paper and then cut it down the right size (A4 is about 8.3 by 11.7 inches). When I got to the place, though, I talked to someone completely different who said it was really odd to want 11x14 paper, which it is. She cut some paper for me, though, probably close to 1,000 sheets of it, and gave it to me for free, referring me to Zip Print a few streets over to get it printed. Zip Print was unable to print it, though they tried diligently, and it was there that I had the inspiration to use a standard legal size paper, 85.x14, and then cut *that* down. The folks at Zip Print sent to someone at a place called Beta Graphics, telling me that he could do it if anyone could. So I tried him. His office was supposed to be just a few streets over again, but when I got there I found that he had moved. So I found his new location, clear on the other side of town. But no one was there. So I sat on the curb and called his number on Mom’s cell phone. I got him fairly easily, but it turned out that he was on vacation in Reno, Nevada, until Tuesday. Of course, I needed the job done by the next day at the latest. He suggested I try Eagle Press, so I headed over there. Happily, the folks at Eagle Press were able to get it taken care of for me. Sheesh, though! I sure wish I had thought about that particular complication much earlier. Although I guess I’m mostly just glad that I remembered it at all, and didn’t try sending it on 8.5x11 paper — that would have been a much bigger mess in the end.

Going to storage

The only other terribly important thing that happened since coming home from England actually happened during the first week. I went down to the family storage unit to get some things out of there and found that my big metal trunk, which was stuffed with my possessions, had been leaked into and several of my things were both water-logged and mildewy. I had to throw away several of my books, including my Holladay lexicon of the Hebrew Bible, my Hebrew grammar, and my cherished American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. I was seriously bummed! In fact, I was so upset about my American Heritage that I almost cried about it if I thought too long. A large part of my attachment to that particular dictionary was that it was a gift from my parents when I graduated from high school, so there will never really be another like it. Luckily, though, most of my other books were just fine, including my actual Hebrew Bible — I’d much rather have to replace my lexicon and grammar than the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.

Well, I suppose that’s about it for now. Dad and I are watching an old western on TV, and I’m feeling pretty tired, so I’d better go to sleep now. In any case, it’s certainly time to get dressed for bed. I’ll let you all know when I get to Denton ... provided, that is, that there is wireless internet access in that hotel.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

what i love about President Bush

I was just watching Andrew Card, the White House Chief of Staff, answering questions on MSNBC. The reporter started out with several questions about John Roberts, and then moved on to the ubiquitous Karl Rove-Valerie Plame "scandal". He asked Card whether there was an internal investigation going on and didn't get the answer he wanted. So he asked the question another way. And then another. Finally, Card said, "Look, you can ask the question any way you want, the answer is still going to be the same."

This is the kind of thing that I love about President Bush and the people he asks to work with him. They are not about appearances and looking good all the time, they're about doing what they believe is right. And they're not afraid of being looked at unfavorably for doing that. They don't allow the media, other politicians, or opinion polls to dictate the terms on which they will operate. As Jay Nordlinger frequently says, there will never be another quite like him.

Monday, July 18, 2005

still alive

I just want to reassure everyone that I am, indeed, still alive. I know I haven't been around much on the 'Net lately, as I've been working hard on my dissertation. I did read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince during the weekend, though, and I'm excited to discuss with anyone and everyone, particularly on Chronicles. But right now, back to the old grindstone ...
He who hesitates is sometimes saved. (23 points)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

a big update, and coming home

Amazingly, I finished packing myself up and cleaning my room about 10 minutes before the porter was supposed to come check me out (and he's still not here yet, anyway). So, I thought I'd let you all know what I've been up to for the last week or so, before starting War of the Worlds for the Chronicles book club (finally!).


From the 14th to the 21st of June, I travelled around Scotland. I first went to Inverness and 'made camp' there for the night. Inverness was a very lovely little town, the kind of place where I thought I could live. I also stayed in what became one of my favorite hostels (Eastgate Backpackers, if anyone's interested). The next morning I went out to Culloden Battlefield, to see where the Jacobites and Bonnie Prince Charlie were defeated in 1746, in the last battle to be fought on British soil (so far).

After Culloden, I hopped on a bus to Ullapool and then took the ferry to Stornoway, in the Outer Hebrides. Stornoway is the capital of the Outer Hebrides, and it's a 'big' port on the Isle of Lewis. The main part of town is rather blah, but when I walked out into the residential areas a bit more, I found it quite lovely. While there I also travelled across the island to see the Callanish Standing Stones, which were quite fascinating. After that I tried to take the bus up to the northern tip of the island to see the lighthouse at the Butt of Lewis, but I missed a connecting bus and ended up having to hitch-hike the 14 miles to the lighthouse. The first man who picked me up was a local, and he took me about halfway to where I was going, chatting amiably the whole way. (He had a great Hebridean accent, which is quite unique, and it was fun to listen to him talk.) After he let me out, I then found a nice little family from Wigan who took me the rest of the way to the lighthouse. There were a husband and wife, Terry and Irene, along with Irene's Aunt Irene and their dog Marcus. They were there on holiday, and they happened to be going to the lighthouse, so they took me there with them. In fact, when we arrived there, they offered to take me back to Stornoway. They were a very sweet family, quintessentially English, and I was very glad to have met them.

After a few days in the Outer Hebrides, I then went down to stay a few days in a little village a few miles from Loch Ness. I had to wait two hours in Inverness for a connecting bus, and while I was there, I ran into the missionaries, so I stopped and asked them if there was a ward in Inverness, where and when they met, and promised to do my best to make it there on Sunday. When I got to the hostel in Lewiston, there were lots of people there, all of whom seemed to know each other. I met a girl named Scout from Austin, Texas, who had been backpacking around the UK by herself for the last month or so. We walked down the road to see Urquhart Castle together, and I had a really nice time chatting with her. The castle (which has been in ruins since 1691) is closed at night, so we climbed a fence to get to it (only after having been assured by the lady at the hostel that no one would care). In fact, when we got down to the castle, we found half a dozen others there. We had a fun time exploring the ruins in the semi-darkness, having set out from the hostel around 11:00 pm. When we got back to the hostel at 1:00 am, there was still visible daylight in the west. That's one of the cool things about Scotland, how little darkness there is in the summer. In fact, that's one of the reasons I waited so long to go to Scotland -- I had thought about going in November last year, but decided I couldn't cope with the darkness for practically the whole day. There was very little to do in Lewiston or Drumnadrochit, unless you wanted to pay exorbitant fees, which I didn't, so I spent most of the day on some walks around the area. In the morning I walked through a wetland forest to get to the edge of Loch Ness, and when I got there I found a film crew just taking down their equipment. I got chatting with them and learned that they were filming a program for the National Geographic Channel about the science of the loch. Gotta watch out for that one in the future. (They said it was supposed to air in the States in about 3-4 months.)

The next day was Sunday, and so I first went to church in Inverness. The ward there was very small, but I found them very friendly. In fact, they were so friendly that they asked me to bear my testimony as the first speaker in Sacrament Meeting. (!) I told them I would, even though I felt very self-conscious and out of place in my courderoy pants and Lancaster University hoodie. I left church about 15 minutes early to catch my train to Edinburgh, where I spent the last two days of my trip. When I first got there on Sunday afternoon and checked in to the hostel, I really didn't like the city, and told my dad that when I called him to wish him a happy Father's Day. But as I walked around the city the next day and got more familiar with it, I began to like it a lot. Enough that I think I could live there, after all, but only for a few months at a time. Unless, that is, I could convince them to let me be a tour guide at the Georgian House. :)

Last Days in England

So, here I am, all packed and ready to come home. I was quite sure that there was no possible way to get everything I own into the two suitcases and two carry-ons that I have. Shockingly, though, I got it all in, and finished quite a bit earlier than I had expected to. The GradStock end-of-year festival is going on right outside my window (and I do mean right outside), so I get to listen to all kinds of loud live music until well into the night. Unfortunately, most of it is terrible, but occasionally a good band comes along. It's now well over an hour past the time when the porter was supposed to come check me out of my room, so I suppose I'd better go make sure he realizes he's supposed to see me. After that I'll call and order a cab for tomorrow, then call my parents, and then do some reading before going to bed.

"Let their motto be, 'Hunt, shoot, and fight - the rest is not worth a fillip!' Such should be my device, were I a man." (15 points for the source, plus an extra 10 if you can name the person who says it)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

hi there!

So, I haven't posted anything for a long, long time. Sorry that I don't have the time to do much more right now. Suffice to say, first, that I had a smashing time in Scotland; and second, that I am Chewbacca. (!)

The Classic Star Wars Test
Katrina M., you're Chewbacca

No disrespect to your hair stylist, but you have more in common with Chewbacca the loyal Wookie than you might think. Like "Chewey," you are a powerful force to be reckoned with. Whether you are playing pick-up sports with friends or interviewing for a job, your competitive nature is virtually unbeatable (and more than a little intimidating). But you have a definite gentle side too — a part of you that is more bark than bite and even longs for a cuddle or two.

When it comes to friends, it's quality not quantity. And you're usually the first one on the scene when someone needs a little rescuing (emotional or otherwise). You have a simple sense of right and wrong, and when someone crosses the line, you let them know. You're the ideal righthand man/woman — strong, stable, and ultimately incorruptible.

I took this test on Tickle, which has some interesting and very silly quizzes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

happy, happy day!

Please come now, I think I'm falling, holding on to all I think is safe. (23 points)

Check it out -- the weather forecast for the next 10 days is gorgeous!! Happy day! That makes such a difference, and I've been feeling much more productive lately. It's supposed to be relatively nice in Scotland at the beginning of next week, too, which is good since that's where I'll be.

Things are beginning to wind down here. I've been speaking to people about preparations for leaving -- how to submit my dissertation from home, paperwork that needs to be filled out, getting my housing deposit back, and so on. (Bonus quote for 11 points: "Et cetela, et cetela, et cetela.")

Nathan from the ward lent us his DVDs of The Office recently, and JoAnna and I watched the first 3 episodes last Sunday. It was very funny! I hear they're making an American version, but I wonder if it can possibly be as good without Martin Freeman and Ricky Gervais.

I'd probably better get going now. When I got lunch today, I fancied a Dr. Pepper, and now my fingers are trying to move way too quickly, while my brain has slowed down considerably. So before I make a complete fool of myself, I'll sign off!

Monday, June 6, 2005

my latest pastime ...

For Family Home Evening tonight, we had a little "bridal shower" for Sarah, whose wedding is July 30th. As our final activity, we played poker with candy for betting chips. We had a good time, and I really enjoyed learning to play poker. And it helped that I came out the clear winner.
Cards are war in disguise of a sport. (35 points)

diversions and Bath water

I went to Bath last weekend (Thurs - Sat) and had a very nice time. The Backpacker's where I stayed was right in the middle of town, practically, just around the corner from the Abbey, Pump Room, and Roman Baths. It was certainly not the nicest hostel I've stayed at, but it was very friendly -- I've never been greeted so happily by so many people at any other hostel I've stayed in.

On Thursday night I went to see "Princess Ida," performed by the Bath Gilbert & Sullivan Society. It was a very fun play/opera, but the performance was poor. They didn't take the time to really milk the comedy of so many lines and scenes. Also,
"the dancing was a lamentable mess!" (18 points).
They did it in sort of Tudor-ish period (16th, maybe 17th century), but I thought it would have been a lot of fun as a Regency or even Victorian period. Except that you might have to change some things around a bit (such as, perhaps, changing the kings to Dukes).

Friday morning I went to the Roman Baths, which are outrageously expensive. It's worth it if you're into Roman culture, as there are all kinds of ruins and artifacts in there. But I was mostly excited to get to the Pump Room and "take the waters." The room was very different from what I had expected it to be -- much more elegant. There is now a restaurant in there run by Searcy's, which is a very swanky, posh, expensive restaurant company that owns restaurants in some really high-scale places, including the Royal Opera and the National Portrait Gallery. And, of course, the Pump Room. Anyway, I decided to have breakfast in the Pump Room. Technically, it was elevenses, but I hadn't eaten anything else that morning, so it was doing double duty. The meal I ordered included a glass of Bath spa water, and I drank it with relish, hoping against hope that it would cure my awful cold. It wasn't nearly as bad as I had been led to expect by everyone I talked to in the weeks before my trip. There are 43 minerals in it, including a very high amount of iron, so you can imagine what it tasted like: warm water with an iron-ish flavor. I also got to be there while the Pump Room Trio was there -- a piano trio playing nice (mostly modern) classical music. It was very relaxing, and I completely understand how people could have spent a whole morning in that room.

After that, I mostly wandered around Bath for the day, looking at the beautiful architecture and finding as many as possible of the famous streets and places that are invariably mentioned in any romance novel set in Bath (including Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, the latter of which I used as my journal this trip). Along the way I listened to some talks on my iPod in preparation for my Relief Society lesson this Sunday. I stopped at the Assembly Rooms as well, and that was very nice. In the basement is a museum of costume, but I decided not to go in there. I just hung out upstairs, mostly in the octagon room. Annoyingly, all the rest of it was officially closed in preparation for some concerts for the Bath International Music Festival. They didn't tell me that, though, and so I managed to 'sneak' my way in to the Tea Room as well, but I was discovered there and informed that the room was closed, and that put a stop to any attempt to see the ballroom on the other side of the building.

That night I decided to go on a walking tour called "Bizarre Bath." It was entertaining, which was the point. It wasn't intended to really give you any information about Bath, but it took you around the very centre of town, and he pointed out some silly things to you, told jokes, and did some magic tricks. My favorite part, probably, was something I had also noticed earlier in the day; namely, the fact that, not 20 feet away from the imposing and quite beautiful Bath Abbey, there was a little shabby building labelled as the Seventh-Day Adventist church of Bath.

I got some nice pictures, though most of them look a lot alike: crescents of 3-1/2 - storey Georgian townhouses. In any case, though, I now have photos to prove that I was in Bath, and I can put an image with the places in Persuasion.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Chronicles Book Club

I have added a new link to my sidebar, and I thought I'd explain about it. It's to an online book club (called Chronicles) that my friends Paul and Christina recently started (recently being about a week or two ago). They had thought that they wanted to start a book club, but they had lots of friends they wanted to invite to be in it, and those friends were scattered near and far across the globe. So they decided to do it online. For our first book we've been reading Animal Farm by George Orwell and discussing it. It's been loads of fun! Feel free to check it out, and if you're interested in joining, send an email to either Paul (which you can find at the book club site) or me.

no title

It's been a long time, and I'm avoiding writing on my dissertation, so I figure this is a good way to while away the hours.

A few days ago I went to Harrogate to watch The Pirates of Penzance, performed by the local Harrogate Gilbert & Sullivan Society. Harrogate is a nice, pretty little town. Nice enough that I would live there. Plus it's close to be Leeds and York, so it wouldn't be that hard to get to some decent shopping. (I think about these things when I travel. It's probably a bit odd, but I do it nonetheless.) I got blisters on both feet, since I dressed up a little for the show and wore my dressy shoes for a full 72 hours.

Anyway, the show was nice. Very fun, as that show always is. I think my favorite part was the policemen -- their dancing was hilarious! They got a bit carried away with the sexuality of the show (most of you probably never even thought that G&S were sexual, but in today's world everything is sexual, so ...). And Frederick was just a little camp. (That's a great British word meaning that he seemed a bit gay.) But it was great fun. I kept thinking about the last time I saw that show performed, in Springville with my friend Elizabeth, with more people in the cast than in the audience. Good times!

Other than that ... I've been stressing out the last few days about the upcoming Enrichment night. Much more so than the last few I've done, since February. Last night we had a Presidency meeting, though, and that helped a lot. For one thing, I'm starting to feel like this really is coming to a close, and that makes things much more bearable.

The other day, we took a little church history tour for Institute, which was also fun. We went to Hale, where John Taylor came from, and then drove down to Downham and Chatburn, some tiny little villages where Heber C. Kimball had an especially spiritual missionary experience. When he told Joseph Smith about it later, the Prophet told him that ancient prophets walked on that ground and dedicated that land for the work of the Lord. I thought that was especially interesting, since it's right by Pendle Hill, where the Pendle Witches came from. After that we went to Preston and walked down to the River Ribble, to near the spot where the first baptisms in England took place. No one knows exactly where those baptisms were, but we have a good idea of the general area, and that's where we went. On the way home we stopped for some fish and chips. Yum!

As I said earlier, I am avoiding working on my dissertation, and that's about how that whole thing is going. I was going to go Edinburgh today, but decided to stay home instead. I thought I'd do some work. And have done basically nothing. Nothing productive, that is. So that's pretty much where I am right now.
Some people stay far away from the door if there's a chance of it opening up. (3 points)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

reporting for duty!

And though before my fall I was captain of you all, I'm a member of the crew. (16 points)
So, this week I went to Portsmouth. Well, not for the whole week, of course. But I ought probably to start with the weekend, when I went to Huddersfield.


I don't know if you may have heard of Huddersfield, but it was a very important town in the Industrial Revolution, though not so important as, say, Manchester or Birmingham. Anyway, that basically means that there is really nothing there to see, even though they try to pretend they have a cultural heritage. I went out there to see a performance of "The Yeomen of the Guard," a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, by the Huddersfield G&S Society. It was lots of fun, as always, though the first act lagged quite a bit. However, both of the finales were good, and that's very important in G&S. It was a bit depressing for G&S, too: of the 3 marriages at the end, 2 of them are not very happy ones, and there's even a jilted lover, which never happens in G&S. The story ends with the jilted lover falling dead to the floor as the happy couple set off, cheered by the chorus. Ee.


My great-great grandfather grew up farming in a little, bitty village community called Bucklebury, in West Berkshire. (This is on my Dad's side of the family.) So on my way down to Portsmouth, I stopped at Reading and took a bus out to see Bucklebury. There was basically nothing there -- the actual village consisted entirely of an old Norman church and a few cottages scattered about -- but it was sure beautiful country. (For those of you familiar with the Idaho Falls area, it was very much like taking someone to see Coltman or Ucon.) I had a nice little walk from the bus stop down to the village, and took some public footpaths through the field along the way. I felt a lot like Elizabeth Bennet, walking the three miles to Netherfield and in the process getting her petticoats soaked "six inches deep in mud" (7 points for that quote, though I hope you all know it). It had been raining on and off all day, and so my pants really were soaked through by the time I got back on the main road. I took some lovely pictures of the countryside, which I will put up on my website ASAP so that you can see them. By that time, though, I was worried that I wouldn't make it back to the bus stop in time to catch the last bus back to Reading (there are less than 5 buses to Bucklebury per day), so I didn't linger long in the "village." And on the way back, I did something really daring and ... hitch-hiked! (Gasp! Oh, horror!) I think the guy was rather surprised when I told him I only wanted to go a mile up the road to the Bladebone Inn. I'm sure he would have taken me all the way into Reading if I'd asked him to, but it was probably best as it was. (He was a very nice, middle-aged man in a nice, clean car, on his way to a business meeting, apparently, so I would have felt comfortable going that far with him, too ... but I'd already paid for the return to Reading by bus.)


Portsmouth was just what I had expected. The worst I can say for the town is that the cabbie was pretty rude to me. But he may have been funning, I couldn't quite tell, since I could only see his eyes in the rear-view mirror. Anyway, I saw the HMS Victory, which was wonderful! I was a little disappointed that they didn't let us go up on the poop deck, but we did get to see just about everything else, so that was OK. We even got to see the Grand Magazine and the hold, so that was cool. And they showed us the exact spot where Admiral Nelson was shot, and then where he died.

I then went to see Charles Dickens's birthplace. His parents lived on the main street in town, though you wouldn't know that nowadays. It's tucked away in a little section of the old street that's been preserved (probably because of Dickens's home), while the city has grown around and away from there. The house itself wasn't that great, but it was nice to know that I was in the place where the genius Dickens spent his childhood. While there I bought a Dickens book (they had them for dirt-cheap in the gift shop), and the lady even stamped it for me so that I will know for all eternity that I bought that book at Dickens's birthplace.

In the afternoon I decided to go see Southsea Castle. It really doesn't look like much from the outside, and it isn't much on the inside, either. The former was intentional, though, while I don't think the latter was. It was purposely built very low to the ground in order to give the enemy a smaller target to shoot at. They are very proud of the fact that Henry VIII (who built the castle) watched his flagship, the Mary Rose, sink from there at the beginning of a big battle. They are also particularly proud of the fact that there has never been a shot "fired in anger" from Southsea Castle during the 400+ years that it served as an active military post. That seems a bit silly to me ... I would be more proud of a castle that had actively defended my city than one that had never had reason to shoot at anyone, personally. It seems to me that fact merely serves to point out that Southsea Castle was superfluous. Oh well ...

That evening I bought a bag at Debenham's -- which made me very happy, since I've been looking for one for a while -- and then went to have dinner. I seriously considered having Indian, but I ended up in a pub called -- wait for it! -- The Hog's Head! For you HP fans out there, you know how hilarious that is! My British friends, when I got back, told me it was rather a common name for a pub, but I still think it's awesome.


Well, back to the reason why I'm even here, eh? I went to pick up my marked coursework today, and did quite well. I had previously seen my dissertation proposal-thingy and discussed it with my supervisor, so I knew that I had done well on that one. I got 71 for that paper, 68 for sociolinguistics, and 66 for my crap class (also known as CDA). I can't read most of the comments on my CDA paper, either, since the professor was German (well, Austrian, really), and she has that loopy German writing. I got quite good at reading that writing on my mission, but it's been way too long, and I don't care enough to ask her what it means. In any case, I've done quite well overall, and that's really good to know. This means that if I can only get a 70 or higher on my dissertation, I'll have earned a Distinction, which would be great!

I had a really good discussion with my supervisor today. I've been doing some tagging work for him, along with some other stuff, and so I had a few questions about that stuff. He also gave me some more information on this program I'm trying to use to help out with my texts and my computer analysis. And then we ahd a good discussion about the reading I've been doing, theoretical problems I have to work with, and some of my concerns about my PhD program. It was very helpful, and I now feel like I can face my dissertation again. Which is good, since I really have to do so, especially tomorrow and Saturday.

Tomorrow, actually, I'm going to Kendal, which is where my mother's side of the family came from, and I'm meeing a member from the ward up there who's going to show me around a little. Saturday night is EuroVision (kind of a Europe-wide version of American Idol, or Pop Idol), so I'm planning to watch that with "The Girls." And then next Tuesday I'll go up to Harrogate to see "Pirate of Penzance," which I'm very excited for!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

parents and sushi and dreams ... oh my!


Last week my parents came to visit. We had a good time. On Tuesday we went to the Lake District, Wednesday we went to London (and Dad even came with us!), and Thursday we hung out and saw the "sights" in Lancaster (including my personal favorite, the ruins of the Roman bath-house). All in all, we had a good time. But it only took 3 days for them to start getting on my nerves. I'm starting to get worried about going home in June. I might have to take refuge at Wendy's house for a while.


I'm trying to get back to real life now. Today I've been working on tagging my James and Lily info, preparatory to crunching it through lots of computer programs to try and find something interesting to write about in a dissertation. I really should probably be reading, but this is both easier and rather more fun. Plus, I can take my reading with me on the trains more easily when I go travelling, such as this weekend, when I'll be going to Huddersfield to see a production of "The Yeomen of the Guard" (a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta).

Yesterday I helped out a friend from the Linguistics Department. Katsura's doing her dissertation in sociolinguistics, and she needed some native English speakers to get together and talk about stuff. She's from Japan, and when we were finished, she fed us all some home-made sushi. It was the first sushi I've ever had, and it was quite nice. I don't know that I'd make it myself, but it was better than I had expected. That might be because it was California Rolls, and there wasn't a whole lotta raw fish in it.


My dissertation is already starting to get to me, apparently. Sometime during the night I had a dream, which I only vaguely remember, about Harry Potter. This has only happened to me on a few rare occasions. And this dream wasn't really about Harry, it was about James. I don't remember most of it, but I do recall that it had something to do with James being evil, and I found that highly disturbing. It seems like he had something to do with Lily's betrayal and death, and it really gave me the colly-wobbles. I suspect it was triggered by my thinking about the quote where JK said that James did not switch bodies with Lupin before being killed, because "James would never have saved himself and then left his wife and son to die." The dream woke me up briefly, probably because of the colly-wobbles I was getting from thinking about James being evil, and then I went back to sleep again and dreamt about something else. I hope I can last a whole summer like this.

He was her man, but he was doin' her wrong. (23 points)

Sunday, May 1, 2005


Stratford was really nice! I kept hoping the weather would be good while I was there, and I was not disappointed -- otherwise, I would have been really annoyed, since it was such a nice weekend here in Lancaster, from what I gather.

I took Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with me, hoping to make some good progress in my data collection for my dissertation. I planned to get at least through the chapter "Snape's Worst Memory" and maybe a little past. And that's just where I did get, by the time I got home. Yay for me!

Friday night, I arrived and found my B&B, then went out for a little walk. I thought I would go find Anne Hathaway's Cottage, just to see what it looked like and decide whether to go back in the morning to go inside. Halfway to the cottage, though, I found a lovely park, strewn with people walking their dogs, children playing football (that's soccer, for most of you), and clumps of summer-scented, recently-mown grass. It was just such a perfect scene, and I couldn't stand to walk through that park without stopping, so I plopped down on the grass and read for a while, then just lay in the sun, enjoying life to the utmost. I got to know a few lovely dogs this way, who were all quite happy to walking and frolicking in the sunny grass. Finally, I moved on to complete my walk to the Cottage. Just outside the park, though, I had to stop again, as I then came upon a little triangular field with a horse grazing in it. I clucked at the horse, and he came over, and then I felt bad that I didn't have anything to give him. As soon as he realized that, he went happily back to munching the grass by my feet. Continuing on, I came across a black cat, which was absolutely beautiful and let me pet it, though not too pleased about it (I could see his tail swishing). After making it to Anne Hathaway's Cottage and peeking in the garden, I decided I would have to come back in the morning and take a look inside.

The next morning I went back to the Cottage and had a nice look around, and then strolled through the gardens. I walked the labyrinth (which, to my utter annoyance, they insisted on calling a "maze"), which was rather fun, even though the yew trees outlining the path were no higher than 3 feet, so you never really felt lost or overwhelmed at all. I suppose that's just as well, since that's really not the point of a labyrinth. I finally walked back into town then, vaguely thinking that I might stop at the Shakespeare Birthplace House. By the time I got to town, the sun had come back out (she'd been hiding in the morning), and the town was filled with people eating ice cream and enjoying the sunshine. I walked down to the river, got a little something to eat, and then sat and did some more reading. Then I got my theater tickets, but discovered that I had another hour before the doors opened. So, I walked around by the Swan Theatre and found a nice spot in the grass to read some more, intermittently watching the family picnicking nearby, whose kids were playing tag with each other.

Finally, I went in to the theater. My seat was right at the very back of the theater, and I mean the back. However, there wasn't anyone directly next to me, and I found it easy to stretch out and enjoy my comfort. The play, Twelfth Night was definitely worth it. I love Shakespeare's sense of comedy, and this performance did not disappoint on that front -- Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Feste the fool, Malvolio the steward, and Maria the maid were all marvelous. The others, though, left a little to be desired, particularly Viola, which is just a shame. Sebastian (Viola's twin brother ... in the play, not in real life) was only slightly better, Olivia was rather too emotional, and Orsino -- apart from being really good looking, which is definitely a necessity -- played the tragic lover just a little too strongly. But it was still worth seeing.

I often think that Shakespeare is highly over-done, but then I watch something else of his, or I read a few sonnets, and I think, "He may be over-done, but he probably deserves to be." And there are plenty of other over-done things I can think of that I still really enjoy (Harry Potter, for example, and Orson Welles). And I often remember a student in high school claiming that Shakespeare was nothing but a bawdy old man, and then I think, "Maybe he was, but he sure could write!" For that matter, I know plenty of other artists who were little more than bawdy old (or young) men, or even women -- except for the fact that they were blessed with a great talent, which they chose to share with the world.

The journey home was probably the worst part. I had to walk from one Birmingham station to another, which was a little annoying, even though short. And then, I had to take a coach from Crewe from Preston and another from Preston to Lancaster -- the trains are still terrible on the weekends right now, even though they were supposed to be done with their work by March or April.

I kept my journal for the trip in my copy of OotP -- and every time I wrote something, it made me first think of JoAnna, and then of how apalled Dad would be if he knew what I was doing. :)

"Words are grown so false, I am loath to prove reason with them." (13 points)

Friday, April 29, 2005

just a note

Well, I'm really off to Stratford now. I'm writing this from an Internet Cafe in Lancaster, en route to the train station. I had to check my email about something important before I left, and I forgot to do it at the university before I left. And I still have 12 minutes of 'net time left, so I thought I'd make the most of them.

I also (finally) updated my website today on the Lancaster server (see link in the sidebar). I've added some pictures, and taken some out (since they were taking up so much space, and most of them weren't that great, and most of you probably don't care about them that much), and I also added a section with some of my academic writings in pdf format, so that you can see what I've been working on this past year.

I'm getting excited about my dissertation. I need to speak to my supervisor a bit more for some direction/instruction in the computer-analysis part. There are some important things I need to use the computer for, and I've asked him to introduce me to some programs I haven't used before. But other than that, I'm mostly reading right now, both Harry Potter (I'm about halfway through the last book) for data analysis and other stuff for background reading. I hope it goes well.

Well, I'd better get going now. I'll write again later when I have been to Stratford and have more interesting things to talk about. Until then!

coming home! coming home!

Well, I bought my tickets today to come home. For good. June 24th. I'll be arriving in Salt Lake around 5:30 pm, if anyone wants to come meet me. :)

Driving down the road I get a feeling that I should have been home yesterday. (4 points)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

I'm away again ...

I just decided tonight, rather last minute, to head out to Stratford-upon-Avon tomorrow after my class. I found a ticket online for 10 pounds to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Twelfth Night, so I bought it. Now, though, I need to find accommodation for the night, which is a little tricky, since this is May Day weekend. Hope it all goes OK. I'll report back later.

I never can see him but I am heart-burned an hour after. (15 points)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Cornwall trip

Cornwall last weekend was a lot of fun. Ironically, on the day I left, the weather was beautiful, which doesn't happen often in Lancaster. In fact, the weather was apparently wonderful here all weekend, while I was down in Cornwall. Cornwall is supposed to be one of the sunnier places in England, but you wouldn't have thought it from the weekend I spent there. It was pretty yucky most of the time I was there. But at least it didn't rain too much.

On Saturday, JoAnna and I went to Land's End, and then walked from there to Sennen Cove, about a mile or so up the coast. The beach at Sennen Cove is beautiful, and it's apparently considered one of the best beaches in Europe for surfing, body-boarding, and the like. There were lots of surfers there Saturday. We had some fish and chips from a local shop and then walked on the beach. The water was cold, but it was nice anyway. Then we went back to Penzance. We were going to walk along the Esplanade (the longest in Europe, so I hear), but we didn't get very far before we decided to give that up. The tide was in, so we kept getting sprayed with sea-water (if not doused in it), and then it started raining to boot! We went back to Market Jew Street, the main shopping street in town, and bought some groceries for the next day. Then we went back to the hostel for a rest, and after an hour or so went back out and ate at Wetherspoon's.

On Sunday we got up bright and early and headed to Helston to find the church. We did find out, although we had to walk up a honking long street to get there. We arrived right as they were beginning the sacrament, and the usher didn't let us in until they had finished with the bread. So, we got to take the water, but not the bread. Kind of odd. Anyway, while there at church, we met a few members, and one of them told us he worked at St. Michael's Mount (near Penzance). We said we were hoping to go out there before we went home, and he told us he would get us in for free. Wow, we thought -- OK, that sounds great! He wanted to introduce us to his wife, who would be working there, but we were going to leave during Sunday School, so we didn't have time for that. So instead he asked us for our names, and he said he'd phone and have them let us in free. "Just introduce yourselves at the ticket office," he said, "and they'll let you in.

So, we left and took the bus back to Marazion, which is the town next to St. Michael's Mount. The mount is only about half a mile out from the coast, if that, but during high tide you have to take a ferry. We got there at low tide and walked over the causeway to get there. When we got to the ticket office, we rather awkwardly introduced ourselves.

"We're Katrina Wilkins and JoAnna Hunter," I said.

The ticket lady looked at us blankly. "Excuse me?"

JoAnna repeated, "I'm JoAnna Hunter, and this is Katrina Wilkins."

"Hello, I'm Dawn Evans," she replied. "Nice to meet you." And she held out her hand.

JoAnna and I looked at each other, unsure what to do next. "Does that say anything to you?" JoAnna asked.

Dawn looked blank again, and then, while I sought for the words to explain the situation, she suddenly seemed to get it. "Oh! Who are you here to see?"

"Uh ..." I stammered. "I ... can't remember her name ... she's married to Richard ...?"

"Oh, Maggie?" Dawn exclaimed.

"Yeah!" I responded excitedly. (I need hardly add that Richard had never told us his wife's name. To this day, I'm not sure if he really is married to Maggie.)

Dawn printed out our two free tickets, and we then went to watch the 15-minute-long informational video about the Mount.

St. Michael's Mount, as I mentioned, is about 1/2 mile out to sea from the village of Marazion. Back in the day (around 600 AD, if I remember correctly) some local fishermen had a vision of St. Michael the archangel there, and so some monks built a monastery there. The Benedictine monastery was there for several centuries, and then the island was captured and given to some noble family. They used the monastery as their castle, and a few more centuries later added on to it. The castle is still owned by the St. Aubyn family, and they are said to still live there as well, though I'm a bit incredulous. Anyway, the mount was nice. It's supposed to be based on Mont St-Michel in Brittany, but the latter is much more impressive, I must say. By the time we left, the tide was in again, so we had to take a ferry back to the mainland. We could have swum it, to be honest, but I guess then we'd have had wet clothes and that's no good.

We then went back to the hostel and made dinner/lunch. After a very nice meal, we decided to head over to St. Ives, wanting to make the most of our time there. St. Ives was also very nice, although it would have been nicer if the weather had been. We walked along the beach again, "having a marvelous time" (7 points), and then went back to Penzance for one last night.

The whole time, I kept wishing I had my "Pirates of Penzance" music with me. I kept singing snatches of the lyrics to myself, but I don't know them well enough. Somehow, I ended up without Pirates on my computer, so I'll have to copy the CD when I get back home again.

Speaking of coming home ... it looks quite likely (I'd say about a 98% chance) that I'll be coming home in mid- to late June. I had a good talk with Jonathan (my supervisor) today, and he seems quite confident that it will be no problem at all. He also let me take a look at his comments and marks on my dissertation proposal, which I gave him last week sometime. I was pleasantly shocked to see that he marked it at 71 (recall from last term that anything above 70 is a "distinction," which means it's really good). I honestly didn't expect more than the high 50s, although I was hoping for something in the 60s. I hope the other essays from this term come out as well as this did.

I had intended not to intrude myself upon your notice in this effective but alarming costume. (13 points)

Friday, April 22, 2005

i'm away again this weekend ...

I'm leaving for Penzance in a few hours. JoAnna's been at surf camp in Newquay, and the two of us are going to meet up tonight and hang out in Penzance and Land's End for the weekend. I'm pretty excited. Everyone tells me great things about Cornwall, so I hope it lives up to my expectations. From all appearances it's supposed to be yucky weather all weekend, but I'm not going to let that ruin it for me.

Fill my heart with song and let me sing for evermore.
You are all I long for, all I worship and adore. (11 points)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

giving in to the lure of the meme ...

Because I liked the idea. I didn't include two of my very favorite books, just because they're so ridiculously easy.

Note: Answers have been added for those that have been guessed correctly. I'm still waiting to hear from anyone on #5 and #10.

1. List the first line(s) of 10 books you really like.
2. And then you all can guess.

1. There was no possiblity of taking a walk that day. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte; correctly guessed by Donovan, Elizabeth, and Erin

2. 3 MAY, Bistritz - Left Munich at 8:35 p.m. on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. Dracula, by Bram Stoker; correctly guessed by Donovan and Erin

3. Every one has heard people quarrelling. Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kind of things they say. Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis; correctly guessed by Elizabeth

4. The intense interest aroused in the public by what was known at the time as "The Styles Case" has now somewhat subsided. The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie; correctly guessed by Elizabeth

5. The short answer to the question 'Who is stylistics?' is that she is a friend of mine, and that I hope by the end of this book she might also become a friend of yours.

6. Who that cares much to know the history of man, and how the mysterious mixture behaves under the varying experiments of Time, has not dwelt, at least briefly, on the life of Saint Theresa, has not smiled with some gentleness at the thought of the little girl walking forth one morning hand-in-hand with her still smaller brother, to go and seek martyrdom in the country of the Moors? Middlemarch, by George Eliot; correctly guessed by Donovan and Elizabeth

7. My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens; correctly guessed by Donovan and Elizabeth

8. On August 16, 1968, I was handed a book written by a certain Abbé Vallet, Le Manuscrit de Dom Adson de Melk, traduit en français d'après l'édition de Dom J. Mabillon (Aux Presses de l'Abbaye de la Source, Paris, 1842). The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco; correctly guessed by Donovan and Elizabeth

9. The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could ; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. (actually a short story, but unquestionably my favorite by this author) "The Cask of Amantillado," by Edgar Allan Poe; correctly guessed by Donovan and Elizabeth

10. We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.

an invitation

I've been using my Gmail account a little more the last few weeks, and I just realized that I have 50 invites to give out. So if anyone wants a Gmail account, let me know.

You have no idea how much trouble I'm having trying to decide what to get you for a wedding present. Oh, I know!-I'm enough. But I do want you to have some little trifle for the occasion. At first I thought of a fountain pen, but you've already got one. And then I thought perhaps a villa in the south of France, but they are so difficult to gift-wrap. (17 points)

Monday, April 18, 2005

Eco, Short, and Watson

I finished The Name of the Rose last night -- great read. It's an excellent murder mystery, but with so much more going on. I've never known more in my life about monastic orders, medeival philosophy, and the politics of the Holy Roman Empire.

The historical aspect of things gets the book a little bogged down at times -- the stuff about monastic orders, politics, and various heretical groups -- but the plot keeps you moving along the whole time, which is important. The best part, though, is the philosophy scattered throughout the book. Most of it is discussed in a very accessible way, and it can really get you thinking.

Eco is a semiotician (he studies signs) who started out as a philosopher, particularly interested in the Middle Ages. During the last part of the 20th century, he's had some influence in linguistics, specifically the philosophy of language. That means that he resonates with me, and I always appreciate that in an author. Anyway, he brings up several interesting notions such as abductive logic, the application of logic, and the pervasiveness of semiotics. It's gotten me interested in Peirce again, as well as in Roger Bacon and Aritsotle. He made me realize (once again) just how little I really know about the world. So today I checked out some books, by Eco, Peirce, and Aristotle. I'm hoping that I manage to get through them decently before my interest is claimed elsewhere.

I handed in my assignments today, but with a little bit of trouble. I printed them out in the computer lab, then took them down the hall to photocopy them (we have to turn in two copies of each essay). While they were being photocopied, I realized that the diagram I had inserted in one of the essays hadn't printed out. Apparently it had gotten lost in cyberspace, sometime between finishing my essay and then transferring it to my USB key and taking to the lab to print. So, I went back to the lab and re-drew the diagram, figuring I could just insert an extra page into the essay. But then, I didn't know the page numbers for the source that it was taken from. So I cited some random page numbers, saved the diagram, and went over to the library to find the book it came from. That part wasn't hard, and I soon had the right page numbers. But then I went to get some of my books (Eco, Peirce, and Aristotle), and in the meantime forgot to change the page numbers. I didn't realize until just about 20 minutes ago that I handed in the essay with the wrong page numbers cited for my diagram. I hope it'll be OK -- I'll go have a quick talk with Jonathan and explain what happened, and I'm sure he'll be fine about it. It's not as if he's unfamiliar with the diagram or anything, so I doubt he would try to look up the reference anyway. (Oh, the diagram was taken from a book by Mick Short, hence the reference to him in the section title.)

After handing in my essays (even if they had false citations!) I went in to town to run a few errands. While there, I stopped to get some lunch at KFC. As I sat looking out the window and munching my yummy chicken sandwich, I noticed a man across the street who looked just like a modern-day Dr. Watson. I could just imagine him hanging out with Sherlock Holmes and trying to solve mysteries. He even had the mustache right, and he was wearing an earthy-toned overcoat and tweed cap. The only thing that could have made it any better would have been a smoking pipe in his mouth. Or a friend who looked like Sherlock Holmes

Why, you could melt that girl like butter, if you'd only turn on the heat! (380 points, if you know this one, you're my friend for life!)

Friday, April 15, 2005

may you never ...

I just tasted what I think is quite possibly the most rancid milk that ever existed. I sniffed it several times, but couldn't tell for sure whether it was still good. So I poured a tiny bit (say, half an ounce) into a glass and drank it. That ended all doubts on the subject. I kept wondering what induced me to actually swallow it, why I hadn't been smart enough to just swish it around in my mouth. Oh well.


Thursday, April 14, 2005

one more down

I know I haven't been around much lately, and I'm sorry if anyone's been looking for me. But I've been really busy working on a paper. I finished it today, but I have another one to work on. Anyway, I thought I'd take a minute to mention some of what I've been up to.

For one thing, I'm seriously considering coming home in June instead of August (which would also mean not attending the Accio Harry Potter conference). It would sure save me a lot of money, and that's always a good thing. Besides which, there'll be pretty much no one here after June, so that's no fun.

This weekend I'm going to Hadrian's Wall in the north of England. I'm really excited for it. I have recently been learning a little Latin on the Internet -- not enough to really do much, but I can identify the cases in phrases like "in nomine domini" and stuff -- and we will be visiting a Roman fort up there. Besides which, it's Hadrian's Wall, and that's just really cool.

I've also been reading The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, which has been lots of fun. Plot-wise, it's a medeival murder mystery, but it goes far beyond that, really. Anyway, very interesting reading. If any of you have read it, be sure and let me know so we can chat.

I don't like my work, but I get a good deal of satisfaction out of it after all, so I won't complain. (10 points)

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

today's scripture study

This morning I was reading in Alma, about Alma and Amulek teaching the people of Ammonihah. I was especially struck by Chapter 10, where Amulek begins to speak. The people are particularly annoyed that one of their own is speaking out against them and their actions, and so the lawyers and judges decide to try and trap him. But he, with the help of the Lord, figures out what their up to, and he again condemns their actions. This makes the people even more angry, and they claim that he is reviling their laws. Amulek explains that he did not speak against their law -- rather, he spoke in favor of their law, and that law condemns them. The people's response? "The hypocrite! First he speaks against our law, and now he claims that he didn't speak against our law. He's a liar and a child of the devil." (To read the real version of what happened, as opposed to my personal summary of it, click here.)

Anyway, what struck me with this account, was that it sure sounds a lot like what's been going on in our country lately. I think it's particularly relevant to the fiasco surrounding Terri Schiavo these days, but it's been going on for years. It really brought home to me Mosiah's prophecy that "if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction" (Mosiah 29:27). For several years, that's been one of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon. Now, it almost scares me.

And now, to lighten the mood of this rather somber post, I leave you with this light-hearted quote.

"Surely you can't be serious?"
"I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."
(5 points)

Monday, April 4, 2005

Williams does it again

I just had to share this article by Walter E. Williams. Not his most recent, but I just found it today. He makes a good case for the "original intent" school of Constitutional interpretation. The only person I've ever heard make better arguments for that school is Justice Antonin Scalia.

Anyway, here's the article: The law, or good ideas?

I'm sitting in the library right now, working on my assignments, and boy is it hot! I'm sitting next to the window, and it's unusually sunny outside. On top of that, i'm also wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and dark jeans, which doesn't help the situation.

Laugh it up, fuzzball. (5 points)

Sunday, April 3, 2005

happy birthday, Leslie Howard

In the past few days, I've been learning a little more about Leslie Howard, the famed actor. His most famous roles include Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind (1939), Henry Higgins in Pygmalion (1938), and Sir Percy Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934). (This last explains my current interest in him.) Howard was a man of high principle and courage. Before acting, he served briefly in World War I. After a very successful career in acting, directing, and producing, he became dissatisfied with Hollywood and returned to England just days before Britain entered World War II. Along with many others, Howard had sensed the coming of war in Europe, and he returned home largely in order to assist in the war effort. At the time, he was just shy of 50 years old, and he spent the next few years actively speaking out against the Nazis. In 1943, a few months after his 50th birthday, he was killed when the commercial airplane, in which he was returning to England from Portugal, was shot down by the German Luftwaffe.

I always highly admire those in Hollywood (or any other high-profile career) who leave it to do what they feel is right. I also am constantly in search of celebrities who marry before becoming famous, and stay married to that same person, after fame and fortune make their appearance. Both of these are true of Leslie Howard, and that makes him particularly admirable in my opinion. Happy Birthday to a great man!

Devilish clever race, the French. How they speak that unspeakable language of theirs defeats me. (12 points)

Friday, April 1, 2005

further exploits

Today I tried making Yorkshire parkin. It's a traditional sweet bread made in Yorkshire, a lot like gingerbread. I found a simple recipe on the internet for it, so today I decided to try it out. It turned out decent, edible, but it could have been much better. It was a learning experience, in other words.

First, I didn't have any baking powder, only baking soda. I had heard once long ago that you could substitute these for each other, but you really can't. But I tried it anyway. I think it would have been OK, but I should have used about half as much baking soda. It overflowed in the oven, and I had to scrape it off the bottom of the oven while it was still baking.

The other problem was that the recipe said to bake it in a moderately slow oven, and I just guessed at what that was. I guessed high. So, it also turned out rather over-cooked. Like I said, it's still edible, but it could be much better. At least I'll know next time.

Maybe the dingo ate your baby! (10 points)