Thursday, February 24, 2005

like a chicken with its head cut off

OK, so that's not quite what I've been like lately, as I'm simply not busy enough for that, but I'm closer to it right now than I have been for a while. I've been trying to get things set up for Enrichment next week. Our original plans didn't work out, and we've been really late getting things set up. So tonight I made some phone calls to ask a few sisters to help us out, but that proves a bit difficult, since many of them are not in and I will be gone for the rest of the weekend. Ergh. So much for a fun, care-free weekend in London. Actually, I'm afraid I will be all too able to forget about this stuff once I'm on the train tomorrow.

Which brings me to the other part of my near-busy-ness. I've been trying to get myself packed for our trip tomorrow. I desperately need to do some laundry, so I will have to get up early to get that done before class. Then, I only have 30 minutes after class to run home, dump my back-pack, grab my weekend bag, and hike it back up campus to catch a bus in to town and catch the train. And I haven't been able to get hold of JoAnna (my travelling partner for the weekend) to confirm plans, figure out where to meet, make sure I have everything I'll need, and so on. I'm a bit frustrated about that -- somehow, talking to JoAnna always makes me feel more prepared, so not being able get hold of her makes me a bit edgy.

I'll be sure to blog my whole London trip and tell you how wonderful it was. I plan to have my picture taken outside of Sherlock Holmes's residence, and then outside of Danger Mouse's residence (the 'smart red pillar box' in the same street), and we intend to go to church at St. Paul's as well. I look forward to a good time.
"I just thought you had hidden depths."
"No, no, you've always had that wrong about me. I really am this shallow." (20 points)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

back in the saddle again!

10 points for that quote.

Well, it's been a long time. My good friend Katie has been here with me for the last week, and we've been busy enough that I couldn't bring myself to spend the time updating my blog. Sorry for that. And while I'm at it, I ought to let you all know that I no longer use my LiveJournal -- I really only keep the account so that I can keep track of my friends who use it. (*waves to Jen and Emily*) So, I will remove the link from here so that you don't get confused. And now, a few words about my week. OK, more than a few. It's quite a long post, but I tried to condense, and I've split things up so that you can pick and choose what you're most interested in.

Great news from Denton

Last week, I received an email from the University of North Texas, informing me that I have been accepted for a PhD in their English Department. Yay! They also gave me a Teaching Fellowship, which (if I remember correctly) waives my tuition, offers fairly minimal pay for my actual work hours, and includes a living stipend. However, I've been unable to find anything current on their website about the financial details of the position, so I'm not too sure. I'm looking forward to receiving more precise information from them. I do know that the Teaching Fellowship position requires that I teach at least two courses a semester. Anyway, I'm 100% positive that I'll be going there, as that just feels and looks like the best place for me to be right now. I'll be studying for a PhD in English, with emphasis in Poetics -- which means that I do the coursework for a Master's in Linguistics and in Literature, and then I do a dissertation that combines the two. I'm pretty excited for it.

Tripping with Katie Bills

Katie and I went to the Lake District last Tuesday, but we didn't have enough time to do anything other than taking a short walk from Windermere down to the lake at Bowness (that would be Windermere Lake). It's very touristy, and I was sad that we didn't have enough time to take a nice walk in the woods or anything like that. We did get some nice shots of the lake, though. Then we ate traditional fish and chips, with lots of vinegar and salt. Mmmmm!

On Wednesday, I had a class, so we stayed here in Lancaster and went to the castle. That's always fun, and we managed to catch them on a good day, when the courts were out of session, so we got to see lots more of the castle than usual. Lancaster Castle has been, and still is, in operation for about 1200 years, and that makes it very unusual. It has been a court and prison for nearly all of those years, and that's still what it is. So, the Crown Court is usually in session and you can't see the rooms they use, but this time they were gone and we were allowed to see much more of the castle, including lots of Gillow furniture. They also locked us in an old jail cell again, which was pretty creepy. I sure wouldn't want to ever be in one of those for an actual crime, or for a very long time.

Thursday we went to London to meet our two friends who have been on study abroad in Paris. In London we hit the really big, tourisy sites: the Tower of London, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, and then Harrod's. We had a good time, although it reminded me once again how much I detest living in large cities. With London, as with Vienna, I felt that I would be able to live there for a year or two, but certainly I wouldn't want to be there much longer -- definitely not for the rest of my life. I was very glad to get back to the countryside and Lancaster. I was quite impressed with the Tower of London, but wished that there weren't so many durned people there, as I felt like cattle being herded around the place. We did have a wonderful beefeater giving our tour, and he made things very entertaining! At Westminster Abbey, I was frustrated once again with the hordes of tourists, and the only part I really enjoyed very much was standing on Charles Dickens's grave and basking in his genius. Well, OK, I did also enjoy touching Henry III's tomb, but not nearly as much as Dickens. Unfortunately, there is now a gift shop at the Abbey, and that means that they no longer do rubbing of grave sites -- they used to supply the paper and chalk that you could take over to people's graves and make a rubbing as a souvenir of your visit there, and I fully intended to make one of Dickens's grave, but alas! it was not to be.

On Saturday we came back to Lancaster, which took pretty much all day, because of work going on with the train lines on the weekends. Sunday we went to church, and afterward we were invited to eat at the Kureczko's home. They are my favorite people in the ward, and Vic and Sue both are a lot of fun to talk to. We, the students, had been planning to feed the missionaries that day, so when Sue invited us over, we told her that was fine if she wanted to feed the missionaries as well, and she agreed. We had a good talk with the missionaries. One of them is from Shelley, right by Idaho Falls, and is a fairly quiet young man, although he gets pretty animated when you talk about things he's interested in. The main thing is that his companion, who comes from a little town in Arizona, is very extroverted and tends to dominate the conversation whenever he's around -- and the two of them don't get along very well. The next transfer is the first week in March, and both sets of missionaries are expecting to have one Elder from each set change during that transfer.

Monday night we had Family Home Evening with the YSAs in the ward, and that was also quite fun, as usual. JoAnna taught a few of us to play euchre, and Denise and I won. :) But all of this was only after we went to a charity event for Palestine. Let me explain: The Sunday before last, one of the girls in the ward told us that she had a good friend at the university, and this friend belonged to a society who were holding a charity dinner on Monday night, where they were serving Indian food and all of the proceeds would be donated to buy food and clothing for children someplace in the Middle East. So, we all decided to go and then have FHE afterward. Well, when we got there and had paid, we then found that the society was the LU Islamic Society (which I'm OK with, by the way) and the LU Friends of Palestine (which I'm not OK with, by the way), and they were sending the proceeds to Palestine. This is one of the problems with people who don't pay attention to politics or details of what their friends are doing ... :) Well, we were already there and we had already paid, and so we stayed. JoAnna and Katie and I just hope the pictures don't get back to our political roots, and that we'll all still be allowed back in the country when we go home. On the bright side of things, the food was good.

Oh yeah, Monday afternoon we went down to Preston and did a little shopping. Katie had been wanting to go to H&M some time, and that was the closest we could find one. Even if there had been one in Lancaster, I'm not too sure I would have wanted to go, since everything in Lancaster is so tiny, you don't get anything good anyway. However, Katie didn't find anything she loved and just had to have, but I found a great new shirt that I'm going to take with me to London for the theatre this weekend.

Speaking of which ...

This weekend

JoAnna and I are going to London this weekend to see Phantom of the Opera. We have big plans for what else we're doing while we're there, but I'll wait to tell you those things after we actually do them. But let me just say that I'm really excited for it. Not least because we're going to the West End for a marvelous musical, and I get to dress up for it.

Last but not least

School is ... OK, I guess. As I told Katie (who left this morning to go back home), last term was good for school, bad for social life, and this term is much better for social life, but terrible for school. I still hate my CDA class, and I'm really annoyed about having to do an assignment for it. I still have no idea what I'm doing for that class, but these days I'm leaning towards doing a 'theoretical' discussion of the concept of 'critical' (as in, Critical Discourse Analysis), mainly because that one sounds like it will give me the least trouble and nausea. Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing with my sociolinguistics assignment as well. I understand the concepts that we talk about just fine, but I don't feel like I have the necessary knowledge and direction to actually do a sociolinguistically-oriented analysis of anything. I know what data I want to use, but I'm not sure what to do with it. The only class I'm feeeling OK about right now is RIAL (Research Issues in Applied Linguistics), for which I have to write a 5,000-word introduction to my dissertation. I know exactly what I'm doing for my dissertation, and I've thought it through enough to feel comfortable with writing that long a paper on it. This week, my dissertation proposal is due, and that's what I'll be working on for the rest of the day.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

funny dreams, again

Funny as in strange, odd, unusual, weird ... you get the drift.

This morning, before I woke up, I dreamt that I, as a college student, had to take a high school, junior-level English course. I got there late on the first day, as I had a hard time finding the classroom on the second floor (my high school didn't have a second floor). The teacher was an absolute dolt, and he had given out these papers that we were supposed to color on with markers -- our names, the alphabet, silly stuff like that. I was sitting there with all my hand-outs, starting to color them, since I supposed that I would have to if I didn't want the teacher to hate me. I tried to listen to what he was talking about, but it had nothing to do with English. He was just prattling on about fluff, and then one of my old high school friends came in, whom I haven't seen for ages. Figuring I had found an ally, I whispered to her how much I hated this class, especially the teacher. She said that she didn't really like him, either, but was taking the class to get an easy "A". I said I didn't have any problem with getting an "A", but that I at least wanted to be treated like an adult. I remember feeling insulted that I had to take this high school class, in which I was being treated like a 5-year-old, when I was enrolled in a Master's program, for heaven's sake! I had just gotten up to leave the classroom and find my friends in the senior (not junior, for some reason) AP English class, since I knew that they would be at least talking intelligently about something like the Heroic Paradox. Something in the back of my mind told me that that class wouldn't count for whatever credit it was that I needed, but before I had even gotten out the door, I woke up.

These are some more quotes from the same movie as the wrist one recently, but since no one has gotten that yet, and since I just watched it again last night, I thought I'd throw a few more out there and see if they get any better response. First, I'll recap the first one. Since it's apparently a hard film, I want to give more than 10 points for it; but since I'm giving so many quotes, I don't want to award too high for it. So, I guess 25 will have to do.
"It's all in ze wrist."

"The 20th century? Why, I could pick a century out a hat, blindfolded, and come up with a better one."

"A woman happy in love, she burns the souffle. A woman unhappy in love ... she forgets to turn on the oven."

Thursday, February 10, 2005

conferences galore!

So, I think I posted something earlier about submitting some proposals to the Accio 2005 Harry Potter conference, in Reading, UK. I was supposed to hear back from them by the week of January 31st, and as of today, I hadn't heard anything, so I thought they hadn't accepted either of my proposed papers. However, it turns out that I had forgotten which email address I gave them, and I only checked that one today. They accepted me for a presentation called "Exploring the Language of Harry Potter", which is intended to be an overview of stylistic devices in the Harry Potter books. I will link the abstract on my website, for anyone who's interested.

Also, there's a Politeness Conference being hosted at the University of Nottingham this March, and one of my professors is a keynote speaker (he's been doing lots of work in impoliteness, and has gotten lots of attention for it recently). At the end of our pragmatics course last term, he told us all about it, and said that if anyone was interested, to email him around February, and we would get together a group of Lancaster people to go together. I emailed him recently, and so we're getting the plans ready for it. It looks like I'm pretty much the only student interested in it, so I will basically be going out there with Jonathan Culpeper, Mick Short, Geoff Leech, and a couple of others. These are heavyweights in the stylistics and pragmatics arenas, so that's pretty cool. And I've been waiting for a good way to get to know Mick Short better ... he's a personal hero of sorts. Should be exciting!
"You want the moon? Just say the word, and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Say, that's a pretty good idea. I'll give you the moon, [name]."
"I'll take it." (20 points, just 'cause it's such a great movie!)

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

email scams and Mozart

I went with JoAnna to see the Lancaster University Theatre Group production of Amadeus. Frankly, it was terrible. It was like watching a high school production. The pacing was laggard (the show lasted about 3 hours) and the acting was lamentable. Once again, as with David Thewlis in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I had to wonder whether these people are at all aware that sometimes an emotion is far more forcefully conveyed through its repression than its release. Mostly, I kept thinking, "These are people who have no real life experiences." They seemed to have no idea what real envy is, what real hatred is, what real depression is ... the list goes on. They certainly had no idea who a real God is.

Probably worst of all for me, because it could have been quite easily fixed, was the fact that everyone looked like 21st-century young men in tights, pantaloons, gold-embroidered waistcoats, and white wigs, and trying to look like 18th-century courtiers in Vienna. None of them actually contrived to look like 18th-century courtiers in Vienna. And this could so easily have been fixed by simply tweaking some body movement -- posture, stance, gesture. All that would have helped it immensely.

I'm deeply disappointed by the LUTG.

On the brighter side, though, I did get to hear some great Mozart music, and I am now motivated (a) to listen to some more Mozart, whom I've sadly neglected in the last year or so, and (b) to find the film of Amadeus and watch it again, just to clear my palette.

Email scam
Just how stupid do these people think I am?

D‮ae‬r Yaho‮!o‬ Me‮rebm‬,

T‮ih‬s ema‮li‬ was s‮tne‬ by the Y‮oha‬o! se‮vr‬er to ve‮ir‬fy yo‮ru‬ ba‮kn‬ ca‮dr‬ information. Your‬ ba‮kn‬ ask Y‮!ooha‬ to d‮ o‬so b‮ce‬ause s‮mo‬e of th‮rie‬ mem‮reb‬s no lon‮reg‬ h‮va‬e acc‮sse‬ to e‮am‬il add‮er‬sses on Ya‮!ooh‬ and they n‮ee‬d to v‮ire‬fy you. You mu‮ts‬ co‮elpm‬te t‮ih‬s p‮or‬cess by cl‮gnikci‬ on the li‮kn‬ be‮ol‬w:
*\link deleted\*
and ent‮re‬ing y‮ruo‬ b‮kna‬ A‮D-MT‬ebit C‮ra‬d n‮rebmu‬ and P‮NI‬ t‮ah‬t you use on A‮MT‬.

Maybe they didn't think I'd realize that I have never bought anything from Yahoo! or from any of their affiliates. Or that my bank would never ask me to click a link sent me by a some entity completely unrelated to the bank, and enter my debit card and PIN numbers. Or that if I click "Reply", I can actually see that the link provided is not a text link, but an image link, obviously designed to redirect me to a site on a different, non-Yahoo! server. And don't even get me started on the linguistic features...

Today's Quote
"It's all in ze wrist." (spoken with a French accent; 10 points)

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

on the lighter side ...

Well, to make up for yesterday's deeply serious (and rather critical) post, today we've got lots of lighter things.

Pancake Day
Today is Pancake Day here in the UK. That's their much milder version of Mardi Gras, or Fasching -- basically a day when you glut yourself before Lent begins (and you have to give up the sweets, etc). So they make lots of pancakes and eat them. But these aren't pancakes like we're used to -- they are kind of a thicker version of crepes. They traditionally eat them with sugar and lemon juice, but my friend Denise likes them better with fresh-squeezed orange juice instead. So, the girls planned a get-together for lunch, and we ate lots of pancakes, which were very tasty. We also finished some valentines from last night, and I made thank-you notes for the ladies who helped with our last Enrichment. Oh yeah, and JoAnna and I bought our tickets for London in two weeks, when we go to see Phantom of the Opera.

Chinese Spring Festival
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year, and I got to celebrate New Year's Eve with some Chinese friends from the Linguistics MA program. Since 2005 is the year of the rooster, we had lots of chicken (yum!). I helped make home-made Chinese dumplings, and I never knew how complicated it was to fold them up! We ate lots of good food, I was given several nice little gifts, and I got to use my chopsticks for the first time (which were a Christmas gift from one of my flat-mates). I also found out that my chopsticks are decorated with phoenixes, which made me very happy. (I really *am* a Gryffindor, after all!)

Today, I got my last two assignments back from last term. For all who might be interested, I got 68 on Pragmatics and 65 on Corpus Linguistics (that would be the paper that I hated). If you remember, 70 and above was a "distinction" mark, so 60-69 is a "good pass" mark. So, I'm quite happy with that, on the whole. I am still in line for an overall distinction, but a lot of that will ride on my dissertation, which has me worried right now. I plan to go talk to my advisor tomorrow morning, though, and see if she can offer me some advice for narrowing down my possibilities. I'm seriously considering doing an analysis of the characterization of James and Lily Potter in the Harry Potter books, but I have some worries about that. So I'll see what Elena has to say about it, as well as about some of my other options.

Today's Quote
Look! There's a rhythmic ceremonial ritual coming up. (10 points)

Monday, February 7, 2005

Marxism in the linguistics classroom

Remember way back when I posted something about Linguistics apparently not being as good a place as English for teaching Marxism, feminism, and queer theory? I based that statement on the fact that the English Department at Lancaster Uni had much better facilities than the Linguistics Department. If you remember that, I hope you'll also remember my retraction, in the next post. I would like to add to that retraction today, with a description of a brief encounter from my CDA (critical discourse analysis) class.

The class was focused today on the CDA approach of Norman Fairclough. After giving us some background about Fairclough, the professor then outlined the most recent evolution of his methodology in CDA. At one point, she mentioned that his work is clearly influenced by Marxist theories. A moment later, a young man in the back of the classroom raised his hand to ask a question, which went something like this: "Just what implications does Marxist theory have for academic study? Because in my country, Zimbabwe, we view Marxism as a totalitarian theory." The prof's ridiculous answer went something like this: "You have to be sure and differentiate between the theory and the application of Marxism. The theory is not the same as the application, and the theory itself is not necessarily totalitarian."

What tripe! If you've ever read the Communist Manifesto, the basis of Marxism (and note that it was he and not Stalin or Lenin, as the prof further claimed in her little speech today, who termed his ideas 'communism'), you'll know that it is an inherently totalitarian theory. If you disagree, please let me know, because I'd love to hear just how anyone thinks that Marxism -- either communism, or its 'softer' form of socialism -- could possibly be applied without a totalitarian government.

Even moving beyond that claim, though, I'd like to ask what is probably the more pressing question in modern Western academia: What good is a theory, if its application consistently produces bad results?

Today's quote (60 points):
"Rebellion to tryanny is obedience to God."

Friday, February 4, 2005

not much

I watched The Third Man again tonight, before I have to take it back to the library tomorrow, and it was just delightful. When I watched it last weekend, I was left feeling a bit disturbed, which I think is largely what the film is supposed to do. But tonight, it was just a great, well-made movie. I'm sorely tempted to share several of my favorite quotes, but I'd much rather you all go watch it for yourselves and enjoy the experience afresh. Oh, all right, you've convinced me -- just one, to whet your appetite. And it's a fairly innocuous one that won't give away any major plot points or themes.
Calloway: What happened to your hand?
Martins: Parrot bit me.

Next week is the Chinese New Year, and my good friends from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have invited me to join them in their celebration. I'm very excited for it, and I will get to use my new chopsticks, which my flatmate gave me for Christmas. :)

The same day as "Chinese New Year's Eve" (as we might call it) is also Pancake Day here in England. It's their much more mild version of Mardi Gras, for the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. To glut themselves before Lent, they eat all kinds of sweets, but mostly pancakes, which seem to be a sort of mixture between French crepes and American pancakes, mostly eaten as a dessert. We're planning to celebrate it another day, so that I can experience both that and the Chinese Spring Festival (as my Chinese friends call it).

Tonight's quote, 10 points:
Would you like to see where I was tattooed?
OK, I'll drive you around there someday.

Thursday, February 3, 2005


"Common? Man, I got class I ain't even used yet!" (20 points)
Last night we had Enrichment, and it went quite well. After BYU, though, it's weird to have Enrichment nights where a turnout of 12 is considered successful. In any case, everything went smoothly, and we had a good time.

I'm starting to feel like JoAnna and I are missionary companions or something -- we've done a lot together this past week, including Enrichment last night. She came early with me so she could get a ride with the Marshalls, and it just seemed that I'd seen a lot of her lately. And that's fine, because I like her.

Dinner with the missionaries the other night was fun. I really enjoyed cooking -- I do so little real cooking out here. I get lazy and decide that it's just easier to do "fake" cooking -- the kind that goes from the box into the microwave or oven, and it's done. So it was nice to do some real cooking and eat my own, homemade food. And guacamole especially.

So, other than that, nothing much to say right now. I'd best get going and try to do some real work. Hopefully I can make it through the whole chapter of my sociolinguistics book today.

Before I go -- I was just looking at my picture of Paul and Christina, from a Christmas card they sent me, and which I hung up on my bulletin board. They sure are cute!

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

lots of stuff

Once again, it's a beautiful day here in Lancaster. It started out pretty yucky, but by about noon, it had turned into a sunny, mild day. It's about 50 F outside, and I feel like I should be wearing shorts!

Last night we had FHE in Preston, and it was a blast. Before going on, I should probably explain that some of the YSAs from our ward go to the university in Preston (University of Central Lancashire), and they have a house down there that they share. Well, really only Nathan lives there, but the others have all lived there off and on before, and it's sort of their base when they're in Preston. Nathan and Alex have been coming to FHE with us lately, so we decided it was only fair that we should go to Preston, since they always come to Lancaster. I was uncharacteristically giddy during FHE, for my part. I think it was a combination of being somewhere other than Lancaster, not having to be in charge of anything for FHE, having funny guys around, and having eaten nothing but a Lion candy bar for dinner (I was starting on my dinner when I realized it was an hour later than I had thought, and I had to rush out the door without eating most of my meal). Anyway, I was very giggly and a bit irreverent for the first part. But luckily, I sobered up just enough to be respectable, and we had a fun time. We wrote to the lone missionary from the ward, who'll be back from Ireland in the summer, if I remember correctly. JoAnna had also brought fake, rub-on tattoos, and so we each did one of those. Mine is a feather. :)

Tonight we're feeding the missionaries, and I'm really excited about it. We're having chicken fajitas (the kind that aren't really fajitas, because they don't have fajita sauce on them, but they're a specialty of mine). We talked to the district leader on Sunday to make sure it was legit for three or four college-age girls to feed two Elders, but it's all OK. I've been wanting to feed them ever since I got here, and I just hadn't really taken the intiative to get it going.

This past weekend, both Sarah and Denise had gone home for the weekend, so JoAnna and I were the only ones there at church from the uni. JoAnna spoke in Sacrament Meeting, and it was really weird to not have her sitting next to me during the meeting. I kept wanting to poke her and tell her about something, but then I realized that Ruth Lisgo was next to me, not JoAnna. On the way home from church, she invited me to her place to have dinner with her, which was very nice. We had tacos, including yummy guacamole, and talked about a bunch of stuff. I've been really enjoying getting to know JoAnna a bit better, and I'm looking forward to going to London with her in three weeks for Phantom of the Opera.

I'm also really looking forward to having Katie Bills come out in two weeks! Today and tomorrow I plan to spend some serious time making firmer plans for when she's here, and figuring out how much things will cost and what-not. I've got to try and work out whether we'll be able to make it to Edinburgh or not. The north-south train lines are crazy-hectic these days, and while I'm not too worried about getting up to Edinburgh, I do worry a little about making it down to London in time to meet Scott and Elizabeth, who are coming over from Paris to spend the weekend with us. So, time to get down to some serious planning for all of this.

Well, I suppose it's time for me to get going, so here's the quote for the day:

"In a world where what we want is only what we want until it's ours." (10 points)

I'm still waiting for someone to get these as well, from earlier posts:

"You talk about him as if he had occasional bad manners." (upped to 30 points)

"Who put me in this bed? I'll bet his face is red. I call him down with every tear-drop that I shed." (upped to 30 points)